Yakima County settles wrongful-death lawsuit for $1.6 million and promises to improve dangerous intersection where 17-year-old lost his life.

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YAKIMA — After settling a wrongful-death lawsuit for $1.6 million, Yakima County now plans to improve the intersection where a head-on collision killed a 17-year-old Granger High School student in 2015.

A few months ago, the county agreed to the settlement involving the death of Angel Mendoza where Gurley Road forks off onto the Yakima Valley Highway, just north of Granger. Mendoza was a passenger in the car, and two fellow students were injured in the crash. There were no warning or yield signs in the area.

Part of the settlement involves making the intersection safer, said Yakima attorney Bryan Smith, who represented the Mendoza family in the case.

Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita said last week a public hearing was held regarding amending the county’s six-year transportation-improvement plan to include the project. Commissioners are expected to give the project final approval next week.

Leita said the county is sorry for the family’s loss and considers the project a priority, which required modifying the six-year plan to include it.

Once the project is approved, the county will seek funding and engineers will determine work needed to make the intersection safer, Leita said.

“I think it needs to be said that as time goes by, we find our roads that were built sometime back continue to face increasing traffic demands and their safety is thereby eroded,” Leita said. “Those roads were built under different times and different standards.”