Jessica Way named for SK woman

Jessica Torres
Jessica Torres' mother Joan Davis, third from right, comforts her granddaughter, Rachel, and son-in-law Joe as the family gathered in front of a new street sign named for her daughter.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

Two months after Port Orchard resident Jessica Torres was killed by a suspected drunk driver as she headed home from work, her family is still reeling from the loss.

“Nothing makes sense anymore,” said her sister, Natalie Lindsey, who gathered Wednesday evening with family and friends to celebrate one small victory — a green street sign proclaiming a driveway off Beach Drive in Manchester as Jessica Way.

The steep, private road overlooking Clam Bay formerly known as East Montana Street is now named after Torres, thanks to a potent mix of determination from her mother, Joan Davis, and a little help from South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel.

The process began a few days after the 34-year-old’s death when the residents of the small section of Montana Street, completely separated from the rest of the road, were notified that the county needed to rename it to help emergency responders and delivery people locate them.

“They said the fire department and UPS couldn’t find my house,” said Kareen Stockton, who recently opened a bed-and-breakfast in the home she owns on the street, explaining that the county also asked the residents to suggest new names.

“I originally thought of Blue Heron Drive, since I see so many herons from up here,” said Stockton. “But when Joan told me what happened to her daughter and that she would like to name the road after Jessica, I thought that was perfect. I told the neighbors what I wanted to do, and they wholeheartedly agreed.”

But when the group initially submitted the name to county officials, she said it was rejected due to it being too close to that of another road in Poulsbo.

So Davis contacted Angel, who eventually succeed in getting the name change approved.

“I just helped them cut through some red tape,” Angel said, although Davis describes it differently.

“My sister said, ‘Her last name is Angel, and she’s an angel all right,’” said Davis, who feels there was definitely a reason the road needed a new name so soon after her daughter died.

“I don’t think it was a coincidence at all,” she said, adding that the location of the road is perfect for many reasons.

“Jessica grew up in Manchester — so close by,” she said, as another resident of Jessica Way, Dana Soyat, explained that he grew up with Torres and recalled her playing in his yard.

“And it is such a beautiful spot,” Davis continued. “A beautiful little oasis.”

On Wednesday as Torres’ husband Joe and her two children, Rachel, 15, and Anthony, 11, stood under the sign with Davis, the family hugged and fought back tears.

“It is really, truly a great loss,” Davis said, adding that she was glad the sign was there for her grandchildren. “They think it’s so neat that something will always be there named after their mother.”

Up the road at her bed and breakfast, Stockton said she was planning on displaying a photo of Torres and her story for guests to read.

“That way,” she said, “all my guests will know who Jessica was.”

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