Oklahoma City police officer Jennifer Steele already knew about the dangers of the intersection at Belle Isle Boulevard and Northwest Expressway.
Steele worked five years as an emergency medical technician for the Emergency Medical Services Authority before becoming a police officer this year. She had responded to countless traffic accidents at the intersection in northwest Oklahoma City, where the westbound Interstate 44 off-ramp connects to westbound Northwest Expressway.
Steele, 28, was on patrol in south Oklahoma City the evening of Sept. 2 when she got a call from the chaplain at OU Medical Center where her husband of six months was in critical condition after an accident at that intersection, which has more accidents than any other spot in the city.
He died the next day.
Adam Steele, 35, a land surveyor and marathon runner, was riding his new motorcycle to meet some friends that evening.
He took the Interstate 44 westbound off-ramp to Northwest Expressway. As the curve brought him to the intersection at Belle Isle Boulevard, he collided with Colleen Argue, 48, of Vian, who was driving a Jeep west on Northwest Expressway.
The two lanes they were in are separated by a 3-foot-tall concrete barrier leading to the intersection. Argue's lane is intended for drivers to go straight on Northwest Expressway only, and a traffic sign indicates this with an arrow pointing straight ahead. However, Argue turned the Jeep right into the path of Steele. His motorcycle hit her Jeep. He wasn't wearing a helmet and suffered fatal injuries.
Argue told a police officer her GPS voice command told her to turn right, and she did so, crossing into the path of Steele's motorcycle.
Motorist Meagan Rodgers, 37, of Oklahoma City, a college English professor, witnessed the fatal accident and gave a statement to police about what she saw.
Argue has not been cited for any wrongdoing, but the fatality accident still is under investigation, police said. Argue said she did not want to comment.
“It was jarring,” Rodgers said. “The first couple of days after I saw it, I had trouble sleeping. I just feel horribly bad for the person who was killed.”
One week after Steele's death, about 1 p.m. Sept. 9, Rodgers saw another motorcycle rider come off the same westbound I-44 ramp and collide with a car that turned right from Northwest Expressway and into his path. It was the exact same spot where Adam Steele was fatally injured.
The second motorcyclist was not killed, but he was lying on the ground when Rodgers drove by the scene.
“It looked like to me it had happened again,” Rodgers said.
The intersection is dangerous and needs improvement, she said.
“I do try to avoid that intersection now.”
The intersection has had the highest number of accidents in Oklahoma City in the past three years, according to data provided by the state Transportation Department.
Stuart Chai, Oklahoma City traffic engineer, said city officials continue to look at ways to improve traffic flow in the area. About 35,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection, he said.
Seven of the 10 intersections with the most accidents in Oklahoma City are along a six-mile stretch of Northwest Expressway, from the Belle Isle Boulevard intersection on the east to the Rockwell Avenue intersection on the west.
That is because of the high volume of traffic on the expressway, coupled with frequent stops and turns, Chai said.
Jennifer Steele said she is not angry at Argue, and she knows her husband's death was an accident.
“I just know that that intersection there is built horribly,” Steele said. “I know there are wrecks there all the time.”
She met Adam Steele at Del City Church of Christ in 2011 and described him as “a very lively and bubbly person who everybody loved.”
He left behind a 12-year-old son, she said.
Steele said she has a lot of support from fellow police officers, her church family and friends.
“It's very, very tough,” she said. “I never expected at 28 years old to be burying my husband.”