By Conrad Dudderar
A recent crash that claimed the life of a Yukon businessman and veteran demonstrates why safety improvements must be made at the Banner Road/Highway 66 intersection, officials said this week.
A Celebration of Life service was Monday at Yukon’s Trinity Baptist Church for Ray Lee Davis, 73, who was killed when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a semi-truck at the dangerous intersection.
Ray Lee Davis, 73, died from injuries sustained in the traffic collision at about 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24 near Banner Road and Highway 66 west of Yukon.
Oklahoma City’s Donald Biffle, 26, was driving a semi-truck northbound on Banner Road when he failed to stop at a stop sign at Highway 66, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The intersection, one mile east of the OKC West Livestock Market, sees considerable large truck traffic.
Davis, who did not have a stop sign, crashed into the driver’s side of the semi-truck. He was wearing a helmet.
Davis was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force trauma, according to a state trooper’s report.
Biffle, who was driving semi-truck that collided with Davis’ motorcycle, was not injured. He was booked into the Canadian County Jail on complaints of causing a fatality accident without a valid driver’s license, negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended/revoked license.
Davis, who owned Davis Carpet on Yukon’s Main Street, was a United States Navy veteran.
Scott Kinney, associate pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, had known Davis for more than 30 years.
“He’s always been a very good friend,” Kinney said. “He loved Trinity Baptist Church and he loved to study the Bible. He and I had many great conversations on the subject of prophecy.”
Just a week before his death, Davis had blessed two widows by buying their breakfast at the church.
“Ray was just that kind of person,” Kinney said. “He was a very kind a thoughtful man.”
Funeral arrangements for Davis were under the direction of Yanda & Son Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Yukon. To leave online condolences, visit www.yandafuneral.com.
The Banner Road/Highway 66 intersection has been the site of several serious traffic collisions over the years.
“We’re all grieving and saddened from the loss of a life of someone from here in the Yukon community at that intersection last week,” Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader said at Tuesday’s Yukon Legislative Breakfast. “For a couple of years or more, I’ve been working to get some safety improvements at that intersection.”
Since the intersection is part of a state highway, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has jurisdiction. Hader discussed the Banner Road/Highway 66 intersection with state transportation officials during a recent interim legislative study.
“Statute says very plainly that ODOT’s responsible for maintenance of things from right-of-way to right-of-way,” the District 1 county commissioner said.
Northbound and southbound traffic at the Banner Road – Highway 66 intersection now have stop signs with flashing red lights.
Hader has offered for the county to pay a 30 percent “local match” of an estimated $150,000 project to install traffic signals at the Banner Road/Highway 66 intersection.
“I’ve even offered to pay for right-of-way acquisition if it’s necessary and utility relocation,” he said. “All the things that would cost big bucks. All I’ve asked is that ODOT maintain what they’re lawfully required to maintain.”
Hader said he made other suggestions during the interim study about a month ago. Possible options include a roundabout and j-turns at that intersection to provide safer ingress and egress for large trucks.
“I’ve even suggested we could put a four-way stop,” he said. “One example is State Highway 152 and U.S. 81 where it intersects with Union City is almost identical – two major corridors coming together. It’s got a four-way stop and a flashing light.
“We could easily change the amber lights that are on (Highway) 66 east and west to red, with some low-cost signage and flashing advanced warnings about a dangerous intersection. That will probably be our safest solution.”
Another suggestion made at Tuesday’s Legislative Breakfast is to lower the speed limit for motorists along Highway 66 approaching the Banner Road intersection.
The top administrator at the nearby Canadian Valley Technology Center supports installing traffic signals at the Banner Road/Highway 66 intersection.
Students from four of Canadian Valley’s sending school districts – Yukon, Mustang, Piedmont, and Bethany – pass through that intersection on their way to and from the El Reno campus.
“Student safety is a huge concern so that light is critical with all those big trucks,” Superintendent Gayla Lutts said. “I’ve known several people who’ve passed away there.”