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Rage victim says he’s taking it “day by day”

Posted by on August 18th, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Ben Ramsdell’s commute to work was cut short yesterday after an altercation with a motorist on SE Clinton Blvd (between SE 11th and 12th) resulted in broken bones and a stay in the hospital.

Ramsdell says he doesn’t remember all the details of the incident but that he does not feel his actions warranted the assault.

I spoke to Ramsdell from his hospital bed in OHSU a few minutes ago. Here’s what he remembers:

“I was on my way to work and had just crossed over the (railroad) tracks when he blew by me a half-inch from my handlebars. I was forced to skid into the cars that were parked on my right.

When he came to a stop at the next light (or maybe a stop sign, I don’t remember) I approached his car. I tapped on the glass and told him he almost hit me and that he needs to be more aware. He just scowled and me and flipped me the bird. I think he was upset that I was upset.

He looked like he might get out of his car so I just kept riding. The next thing I knew I was in the ambulance.”

Ramsdell said he didn’t even know a second cyclist was involved until he got to the hospital.

The impact of the crash left Ramsdell with a broken finger, a broken nose, and 30 stitches in his face. He says he’s “missing a lot of skin” and that his neck is “in extreme pain” (luckily nothing is broken.)

At this point, Ramsdell said doctors expect him to return home tomorrow but that he’s “taking it day by day”.

Ramsdell seems surprised that his actions could have provoked someone to do something so violent, “I may have sworn because I was freaked out…but I did nothing that I think would make someone do this.”

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Comments
  • Haim Dimer August 18, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    That is why the best answer to road rage is silence.

    Don\’t give in.
    Don\’t escalate.
    Hear the words of you mother in your head.

    At least you\’ll have your fingers at the end.

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  • SKiDmark August 18, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    The best answer to road rage is silence, but only coupled with writing down their license number and filing an incident report with the Police.

    I still think nothing teaches a lesson like scaring the bejeesus out of a motorist who has cut you off or otherwise endangered you.

    Probably better to do as I say and not as I do.

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  • rixtir August 18, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    BAsed on the description of injuries suffered, it appears that he didn\’t suffer the level of physical injuries required to make an assault with a deadly weapon charge stick. Thus, the driver was charged with attempted assault with a deadly weapon. My guess is the driver was charged with the most serious offense the D.A. could prove in court.

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  • David Dean August 18, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Hopefully the perpetrator will never be behind the wheel again. I never thought someone was actually capable of doing something like that.

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  • Martha S. August 18, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    I\’ve always had trouble how understanding how anyone could be so angry with someone that they wanted to seriously hurt them just over something that happened on the road. We\’ve all dealt with assholes on the road, and while they may leave me ticked or shaken, I\’ve never had a desire to hit one of them with a large blunt object (like, say, a car).

    I don\’t care what the cyclist was doing, nothing would warrant that kind of response.

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  • Steve August 18, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Haim, Skidmark,

    Ditto.

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  • destin August 18, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    so what kind of jail sentence does 2 counts of attempted first degree assault carry?

    its a felony yes?

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  • D.P August 18, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Another cyclist without a helmet.

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  • wsbob August 18, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    I saw the injured cyclist on KPTV 12 news tonight. His injuries looked bad to me: head banged up and bleeding. Legs all wrapped up in bandages or whatever; casts? It was an eye opener.

    The way the KPTV news person read it, the person shown on the segment I saw may not have been the cyclist that initially had a had the exchange with the driver. I\’m a little uncertain what the situation is.

    I may have mentioned this at some earlier point in time, but when I was younger, I did some really stupid stuff, like flipping off an obnoxious motorist at least one time I can remember, while I was driving. That\’s how I found out how nuts people can be. The dude had passed me, but realizing he\’d been chastised, he moved over to the left lane, fell back in pace with me, flipped me off in return, swerved his car over to me, pulled in front of me, slammed on his brakes trying to create a collision. Typical idiot stuff. So, that\’s the deal; If you respond to obnoxiousness in kind, there\’s that scary possibility that the person the gesture is conveyed to is one of the particularly unstable types that is going to one-up you in a very serious way.

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  • Jon Rogers August 18, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    I believe the police report said that Ben did more than “tap on the window”… more like “kick in the side of the car” is what was in the report. Vehicle owners tend to get a little upset when that is done to their cars! But it didn’t justify getting run down either… As always there are two sides to the story. Some of just don’t want to hear all the facts.

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  • SKiDmark August 19, 2007 at 12:43 am

    The thing is, that every time a motorist gets away with this sort of behavior, it just reinforces the fact that they are likely to get away with it.

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  • jami August 19, 2007 at 9:37 am

    jon, there are no facts that justify trying to kill two cyclists, one of whom likely did nothing at all.

    that driver should spend the rest of his life in prison or an insane asylum. trying to kill innocent people is unforgivable.

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  • JE August 19, 2007 at 10:39 am

    There will be no jail time.
    There will probably be a fine or two.
    He WILL be on the road again. Even if his license is suspended, he will ingore that and drive anyway. Just check with PPB on how many Driving While Suspended and No Operators License citations they write.
    Sometime in the future, he WILL do this, or something similar again. Then the topic will be \”Why is he still on the road?\” Why? because they let him. Because even when the PPB make an arrest, the county and state will let a criminal go to do it again.
    Be careful out there. You are your only defense.

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  • Donna August 19, 2007 at 11:35 am

    I thought the police report said the *driver* reported \”a cyclist kicked his car.\” If you were trying to justify your behavior to a police officer, would you say a cyclist tapped on your window glass or that he kicked your car? Hopefully, there was a witness.

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  • sam August 19, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    From the KGW report:

    \”Mastne\’s bike was totaled, and he says he doesn\’t have the money to replace it\”

    What would be the best way to start a fund to get these two guys new bikes?

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  • josh m August 19, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    If the guy is convicted, his insurance should pay for the bikes.

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  • Non-cyclist August 20, 2007 at 9:50 am

    People are crazy. That\’s a fact. I guess what drives me the most crazy is this perception that the world is out to get cyclists.

    The term road rage did not originate with cyclists vs. car. We know that people and run other cars off the road, purposefully cause accidents, shoot and kill people over some perceived slight. I have been followed for BLOCKS by angry men in cars. And I do not drive aggressively, rather the opposite, actually.

    So even though I have a smart mouth and a temper myself, I keep it in check because there is no traffic-related disagreement or discourtesy WORTH MY LIFE. period. I use my horn maybe once a month, if that. But I\’m from CA, and reading about a woman shooting and killing someone over a parking space, child in tow made me realize that it\’s better to step back sometimes.

    Oh, and every media car accident report generally references whether the occupants were wearing seatbelts. A family we know was recently killed in a car accident and EVERY story referenced that everyone was belted.

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  • eh August 20, 2007 at 11:05 am

    i\’ve done this both ways- either just kindly- (and i mean without malice) mentioning that the driver almost hit me, or just ignoring it and staying alert.

    more often than not- even saying something politely ignites the whole situation out of proportion.

    i try to keep my yap closed- the consequences are never worth it.

    get healthy fellow commuters-

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  • brian August 20, 2007 at 11:29 am

    pascifism is ineffective. Next time, don\’t tap on the glass. Bust your hand through it and grind the driver\’s face on the glass shards, maybe he\’ll think twice next time.

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  • jeremy August 20, 2007 at 11:47 am

    it sounds like Ben escalated the situation a bit…close collisions are a fact of life with car and bikes…following up on the situation is something else. I\’m not blaming anyone so don\’t even turn on that flame machine..

    he could have as easily gone under the car as over it…no amount of angst is going to change the fact that the car ALWAYS wins…respecting that fact will ensure your loved ones you\’ll return home at night in general.

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  • Neighbor August 20, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    RE: #17
    There are some who believe the streets are car vs. bike and that the world is out to get the cyclist. I\’m not one of them. And you\’re right- irrational people are indiscriminate.

    The difference, though, is that a cyclist is an easy target. They\’re not protected by a steel box or separated by a pane of glass. They\’re out in the open on a light vehicle where they are subject to harassing sounds (horns, revving engines, yells, taunts) and threatening advances (swerves, close passes, quick stops) with no protection. When a car cuts in front of me and slams on the brakes and I have a collapsing bumper, four feet of crumple panels, and an engine block to cushion our impact, it\’s a much lower level of excitement than the rush of terror that overcomes me when there\’s only an aluminum wheel and my handlebars and a high probability of end-over. Hearing the car behind your honk through a bubble of glass, air, and stereo in the safety of your car is much different than the same horn a few feet from your own flesh. Everyone knows this. Drivers know cyclists are vulnerable and that the likelihood of retaliation is minimal so they\’ll get away with it. When they punch the gas, they will outrun the bike and the cyclist doesn\’t have a gun stashed in the glove compartment.

    Irrational people are indiscriminate. They\’ll use the same tactic to attack an SUV as they will a bicycle. The difference is that they can smash your SUV to bits without ever giving you a scape. They can give a bicycle a \”love tap\” and kill the rider instantly. When aggression kicks in, there\’s no discrimination between an SUV and a bicycle.

    It\’s not worth our life to be in a traffic altercation. Most of the time its not our choice, either.

    Was Johnny Eschweiler wearing a seatbelt? The reports failed to mention…

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  • Non-cyclist August 20, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    #21
    The family was killed by a careless driver while they were riding in a minivan.

    My little-bitty car does offer more protection than a bike, but it\’s not much protection from the trucks, SUVs and others I share the road with.

    I know cyclists are vulnerable so I\’m extra careful. Pedestrians are even more vulnerable, if we\’re having a contest.

    There is inherent risk in leaving your front door. My goal is to mitigate this as much as possible.

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  • rixtir August 20, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Brian, post 19:

    pascifism is ineffective. Next time, don\’t tap on the glass. Bust your hand through it and grind the driver\’s face on the glass shards, maybe he\’ll think twice next time.

    And turn the cyclist into the felon?

    Yeah, that sounds like a great way to make the driver who buzzed the cyclist out to be the victim, and to get a criminal conviction against the cyclist.

    And of course it completely protects the cyclist from being subsequently run down by the enraged driver…

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  • wsbob August 20, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    I hope everybody involved does an effective job on the investigation and trial of Eschweiler. We\’ll have to wait and see what the trial reveals.Who knows?…maybe on an earlier occasion, some cyclist did the kind of thing that Brian (#19) suggests, and now, partially as a result of that experience, Eschweiler has taken it out on these cyclists.

    This trial should be fascinating. Will Eschweiler turn out be a truly homicidal maniac or somebody with a milder form of passive-aggressive tendency? Will he turn out to be a generally congenial, innocent victim of stress, inexperience, prior trauma or other disability (or will he and his lawyer simply try and convince the jury of that?)

    Whatever the conclusions of those associated with this trial might turn out to be, what future risks to people and society might Eschweiler represent if current law allows for letting him drive again?

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  • cdb August 21, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    My younger brother was also victim to an almost identical altercation w/ a road rage motorist in LA. The hit and run impact left him w/ a broken collarbone, medical bills (no health insurance), and nothing to wear out of the hospital to go home (since they had to cut his bike clothes off). The ride home (via bike) w/ an untreated broken clavicle (discharged from the emergency room due to lack of insurance), while wearing some borrowed shorts was anything but pleasant.

    My brother was left w/o any option but to post an inquiry to Craiglist seeking help. The Local LA News picked up on the story, aired it during the prime time news slot, and the reaction came. Fortunately there were several witnesses that could help to track down the guilty party and for my brother to file a complaint. It has taken more than a year to get any compensation to cover his medical expenses and the cost of replacing his damaged bike. Meanwhile, the credit card debt continues to mount.

    Road rage. It\’s a worthy topic to get concerned about, and not something to fuel via retaliatory or inflamatory actions. I would like to see the laws change to make intentional use of a motor vehicle as a weapon towards a cyclist to be a bigger deal, revoking driving priviledges, fines, jail time, etc.

    Let poor Johnny Eschweiler be a lesson to all motorists. Drive like a jackass, be put to work like a jackass. Manual labor and manure scented sleeping quarters!

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  • rixtir August 21, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    cdb, I think it\’s illegal for the emergency room to turn your brother away like that. Not that hospitals breaking the law is unheard of, but it still might be against the law. Which means he should consult an attorney about that, if he hasn\’t already.

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  • Bicycle vacations at Division Duplex September 3, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    […] a select few have been chosen to be bike boulevards. On these streets, bikes are a priority (usually). This makes Portland a perfect venue for an urban carless vacation or bike […]

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  • […] year, a man in a car intentionally ran down a man on a bike on SE Clinton Street. The collision nearly killed Ben Ramsdell, and the man in the car also hit a second person on a bike in the same incident. The driver of the […]

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