Brooklyn couple dies in Warm Springs crash on December 26
A young Brooklyn couple, both teachers, perished in a three-vehicle crash on Hwy 26 near milepost 86 on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation on the day after Christmas.
Their four-year-old son, Felix, was in the back seat and survived the accident, but an adult in one of the other involved vehicles also died. The Brooklyn couple, Shannon O'Leary (age 39) and Adam Clausen (age 37), were well-known in Portland's Physics community. They had been on the road visiting family in Bend.
According to police reports, Clausen and O'Leary's car was slammed into from behind by a speeding car driven by Nathan Verhaeghe from Spokane, Washington. The impact forced the Brooklyn residents' westbound car into the eastbound lane, where it was struck by a van driven by Robert Burke of Reno, Nevada. Burke died at the scene, but his wife and 22-month-old child were transported to a hospital in Bend, along with young Felix. Verhaeghe, who caused the fatal crash, suffered only minor injuries
Marie Phillippi, a longtime figure in the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association and the "Brooklyn Neighborhood News" editor, was a neighbor of the Clausens. "They were such a dear family and wonderful neighbors," she reflected. "We were able to notify their other neighbors before the news media showed up. Felix was visited in the hospital by his uncle, while his grandparents handled things in Portland." A GoFundMe campaign and a memorial "Felix's Savings Fund" have been set up.
O'Leary joined Lewis and Clark College in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Physics. She was a mentor for and strong proponent of women in the Sciences. She had a BS degree from the University of Puget Sound, and Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon. She had been working with undergraduate students at Lewis and Clark on a quantum optics project, and is described as one of the stars of the Science faculty there.
Clausen was a technology consultant at Kolisch Hartwell, a Portland law firm specializing in intellectual property, patent, and technology law. He had previously spent eight years teaching physics at four different institutions, including Lewis and Clark and the University of Portland. He had studied general relativity at the University of Oregon, focusing on theoretical physics, and modeled cosmological solutions to Einstein's equations in an effort to understand the behavior of the universe. Marie Phillippi observed that both educators were talented and loved, and will be missed by many.