DEA agent charged in death of cyclist; Videos reveal new details of crash

On March 28, Salem police say 53-year-old Marganne Allen was hit and killed while riding her bicycle through the intersection of High and Leslie Street.
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 9:23 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:29 PM CDT
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SALEM, Ore. (KPTV/Gray News) - Salem police say 53-year-old Marganne Allen was hit and killed while riding her bicycle through the intersection of High and Leslie streets on March 28.

The Salem Police Department confirmed a few days later that the driver who hit and killed Allen was 37-year-old Samuel Landis, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who was on duty at the time of the crash.

Home surveillance video from witnesses appears to show the moments leading up to the crash.

Currently on High and Leslie, a somber memorial is set up at the intersection for Marganne Allen.

Friends said Allen was a wife, mother of two and longtime employee for the Oregon Department of Forestry as well as the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

“She was an avid bicyclist, I always used to see her riding a bicycle to and from work, rain or shine,” said longtime family friend, Michael Baird. “She was well-liked, well thought of. She was a scientist and very avid about her work and being a good steward for the state of Oregon and the resources.”

Baird said he has known Allen and her family for years, having been a martial arts instructor to her children as they grew up. When Baird heard what happened on March 28, he said he was speechless.

“She’d been hit by a car and I just couldn’t believe it,” Baird said. “It was like being drop-kicked in the chest.”

In the months since the crash, Baird and others who know Allen have shared concerns and home surveillance video with investigators.

The footage appears to show a pickup truck speeding up in the neighborhood, and seconds later, a different camera shows the same truck appearing to run a stop sign at the intersection Allen was cycling through.

Salem police said Allen died from her injuries after she was rushed to Salem Health.

The Salem Police Department initially investigated the crash and revealed days later that DEA special agent Samuel Landis was driving the vehicle that hit Allen and was on duty at the time.

Since the Salem Police Department works closely with the DEA on drug crimes, they handed the case over to Keizer police in late March. Then months went by.

Baird, a retired Oregon state trooper who specialized in accident reconstruction, said he is puzzled why the investigation took so long.

“Marganne’s husband told me the night that Salem police came out and notified him that Marganne had been hit by a car, or ran into a car, and died subsequently at Salem hospital, they told him that they had clear evidence that the driver of the vehicle had run a stop sign,” Baird said. “They told him that right from the get-go, and I thought to myself, ‘Why wasn’t he cited if they had evidence of that?’”

For weeks now, KPTV been asking Salem police, Keizer police and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office what has been holding up the case. Only Keizer police gave a real response, and said they turned the initial investigation over to prosecutors first in May, and then did two more follow-up investigations since then.

A grand jury was looking into the case starting last week, and on Wednesday, they indicted Landis on criminally negligent homicide charges, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Baird said Allen’s family has been taking life day by day and that justice will hopefully give them answers to some of the questions they’ve been asking for months.

“The family needs justice, and they also need closure before they can begin to move on. They need to know that this chapter is closed,” Baird said. “You have a young girl, a young boy and a husband who lost their mother, their wife and their best friend.”

The Marion County District Attorney’s Office has not released details of this investigation other than the indictment against Landis.

A spokesperson for the DEA called the situation “tragic” and said the DEA is cooperating fully with the investigation. The spokesperson would not comment on whether Landis is still employed by the agency.

According to the indictment unsealed Wednesday, Landis has a warrant for his arrest and will have his bail set at $20,000.