Longtime Ashland volunteer killed in accident while loading meals

The Ashland Senior Center on Homes Avenue was the site of a tragic accident Tuesday, March 22, that resulted in the death of a volunteer who was hit by a vehicle on Hunter Court, which is to the left in this view. Ashland.news photo by Bert Etling
March 27, 2022

Michael Hersh was hit by a truck outside the Ashland Senior Center on Tuesday

By Bert Etling, Ashland.news

A longtime Ashland volunteer died Tuesday after, while loading meals to deliver to housebound seniors, he was struck shortly after 10 a.m. by a vehicle when its driver mistakenly slammed on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, according to police. Michael Hersh, 83, was taken by ambulance from Hunter Court, adjacent to the Ashland Senior Center, to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, where he died, according to Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara.

Hersh, a longtime volunteer with Food & Friends, the area Meals on Wheels program delivering food to homebound seniors, was loading food in his car when he was struck by a pickup truck driven by “another senior volunteer backing up,” O’Meara said. “He hit the gas thinking he was hitting the brake.”

The Senior Center, which fronts on Homes Avenue, shut down the rest of the week “for a period of bereavement,” according to a sign posted on building entrances. It’s due to reopen Monday, March 28.

A sign at side door of the Ashland Senior Center on Homes Avenue says it is closed to due to tragic accident on March 22 and will reopen Monday, March 28. Ashland.news photo by Bert Etling

Hersh was “devoted to his wife, Char (Charlotte), his adopted family and his community,” said Michael Seidel, a friend. He said Hersh was “proud of his roots and his life in the aerospace industry.”

Michael Hersh, as seen in a photo posted on the Ashland Emergency Food Bank Facebook page after his tragic death Tuesday.

The retired engineer was “very intelligent, educated,” Seidel recalled, and did a lot of volunteer work with the Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB), ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, and with Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) with the Ashland Police Department. He was also a volunteer with the Tudor Guild, which supports the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and served on the Ashland Senior Advisory Committee.

The AEFB remembered Hersh in a Facebook post on Thursday, writing, “Mike was a stalwart at the Food Bank in so many ways. Before COVID he worked at the food drives, before and during Covid he worked twice a week, Wednesdays and Fridays on our daily shifts, often in the back, stocking and sorting food. Mike was never hesitant about sharing his opinions, about putting the work in to make things change for the better, and was always able to laugh, no matter what. Our hearts go out to Mike’s family and friends. Ashland has lost a good man. He will be missed.”

The driver of the vehicle that struck Hersh, who is a licensed driver and 75 or 76 years old, was not arrested, O’Meara said. According to Char Hersh, Michael’s widow, as of Sunday an investigation by the district attorney is ongoing and no decision on charges had been made.

Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

March 21 update: Article updated with Michael Hersh’s age and the approximate age and license status of the driver of the vehicle that struck him.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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