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Citation decisions released in Sparling, Jarolimek fatalities

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 22nd, 2008 at 12:00 pm

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has made its decision on whether or not to issue traffic citations in the October fatalities of Tracey Sparling and Brett Jarolimek.

Rinker Cement Company truck driver Timothy Wiles has been issued a citation for violation of ORS 811.050, "Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane," in the October 11th crash that took the life of Tracey Sparling.

Wiles' offense is a Class B traffic violation and comes with a $242 fine. (Incidentally, since the crash, Wiles has moved out of state and no longer drives a truck).

In the October 22nd collision that killed Brett Jarolimek, the Police Bureau has decided to not issue a citation to AGG Enterprises garbage truck driver Bryan Lowes.

In both cases, the Multnomah County District Attorney's office did not find evidence to prosecute the drivers for criminal homicide. (Learn more about the DA's findings here and here.)

Read more coverage of the decision at the Oregonian Breaking News Blog.


Here is the full text of a press release announcing the decision that was sent out by the PPB's Public Information Officer Brian Schmautz,

"Investigators from the Portland Police Bureau Major Crash Team have completed their investigations in the October 11, 2007, collision that caused the death of 19-year-old Tracey Sparling at Southwest 14th Avenue and West Burnside and the October 22, 2007, collision that caused the death of 32-year-old Brett Jarolimek at North Interstate Avenue and North Greeley Street. Both investigations were submitted to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to review for potential criminal prosecution and both were declined.

The investigations into both tragic collisions included a thorough and complete examination of all physical evidence and witness statements. Both drivers cooperated fully with the investigation and there was no evidence of drug or alcohol impairment, careless or reckless driving behavior, equipment violations or driver status violations. The last remaining question is for the investigator to determine if the driver of the vehicles involved in the collisions failed to yield the right of way to the bicyclists who died in the collisions.

From evidence obtained during the reconstruction, investigators concluded it was appropriate to issue a citation for Failure to Yield the Right of Way to the truck driver, Timothy Wiles, who was driving the vehicle involved in the collision that caused the death of Ms. Sparling.

Based on the totality of evidence obtained during the reconstruction, the investigator has made the decision that it is not appropriate to issue a citation for Failure to Yield the Right of Way to the driver involved in the collision which caused the death of Mr. Jarolimek.

The investigative reports in both fatal collisions are public records and available through the Portland Police Bureau Records Division. "

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Comments
  • Robin January 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Where can we see the full decision?

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  • Carl January 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    So...Bryan Lowes DID yield to a bicycle in a bike lane? Is that what that finding means? I can see how the criminal case didn\'t go anywhere, but this is inexcusable.

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  • Metal Cowboy January 22, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    So PPB is batting 500. A citizen\'s citation proceeding will be filed for Brett. This is not a witch hunt or anything, but as Carl points out there was a clear cut failure to yield to a cyclist in a bike lane and a $242 citation should be issued.

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  • Matt Picio January 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Well THAT\'s depressing. The driver who did almost everything right gets a ticket while the one who SHOULD have seen and taken Brett into account does not. And in the case of the cement truck, the company bears no responsibility when the lack of comprehensive mirrors could have saved Tracey Sparling\'s life.

    I really hope that Tracey\'s family decides to sue the trucking company using this citation as the basis for their suit. OTOH, I respect whatever her family decides to do, because they\'ve been through more pain and grief than anyone should have to bear.

    I know it\'s redundant to say it, but it\'s all so d#$ned frustrating.

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  • PeterR January 22, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Why is nobody blaming the incredibly poor design of Portland\'s bike lanes that put straight going bicyclists to the right of right turning vehicles in violation of all the standard lane guidelines?

    It\'s so bad that Roger Geller, PDOT bike coordinator, says they\'re trying corrective measures to try to overcome the bike lane deficiencies. Unfortunately, one corrective measure he mentioned is to put bike boxes at some of these intersections. These would seem just to make a bad situation worst. Expect even more intersection collisions.

    What is needed, of course, is to follow standard design guidelines and breakup the lane before the intersection and encourage bicyclists to move into the directional lane that matches their direction of travel.

    While the truck drivers may carry responsibility in these events, surely PDOT also carries considerable blame for encouraging bicyclists to use a design that puts them in the wrong spot at the wrong time, making them difficult to see and causing directional conflict. These lanes are guaranteed to cause right hooks.

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  • Todd B January 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Any chance at removing the parking along the Crystal Ballroom block...so as to separate the bike lane from both the through and right turning traffic early enough before the intersection? (Assuming the existing number of lanes leading to and across Burnside need to be kept?)

    I know they would like to keep it for band buses...but traffic safety trumps parking convenience - correct?

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  • a.O January 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    As noted above in #3, a citizen-initiated complaint charging violation of ORS 811.050 will be filed against Bryan Lowes.

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  • John January 22, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I can understand the conclusion that criminal charges were not applicable, but no traffic citation? Unbelievable!

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  • Schrauf January 22, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Carl - what the decision implies is the PPB believes Brett was not physically visible to the driver (due to the uphill curve) as the driver began his turn, and Brett was going so fast the collision nevertheless occurred before the truck cleared the intersection. If this were the case, then it would not be failure to yield, because what else can a driver do?

    However, some \"facts\" from the DA report seem dicey, and Brett may have been visible to an aware driver using his mirrors. That is what needs to be further investigated at this point.

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  • Bjorn January 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    The truck passed the cyclist shortly before the intersection as depicted by the video the police found. The driver admits he didn\'t notice him as he went by. Not seeing the cyclist resulted in a failure to yield. The law doesn\'t say yield unless you can get 1/3 of your car across the bike lane before the cyclist hits you, it says yield. The intersection is poorly designed, but an aware driver who saw the cyclist as he passed him would have been more cautious before pulling through the bike lane.

    bjorn

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  • Dabby January 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    It makes no sense that it is not reckless driving to speed up down a hill, pass a bike, then take a fast right hand turn.

    That is pretty reckless driving if you ask me.

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  • Matt Picio January 22, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    PeterR (#5) - Because we already beat that to death in another thread:

    http://bikeportland.org/2008/01/10/da-will-not-file-criminal-charges-in-sparling-case/

    A number of us *are* arguing that the bike lane needs to be either properly designed, or removed. (Paul Tay has spoken numerous times about removing bike lanes in a number of threads on bikeportland)

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  • Dabby January 22, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    \"Any chance at removing the parking along the Crystal Ballroom block...so as to separate the bike lane from both the through and right turning traffic early enough before the intersection? (Assuming the existing number of lanes leading to and across Burnside need to be kept?)

    I know they would like to keep it for band buses...but traffic safety trumps parking convenience - correct?\"

    In response to this:

    I think that many do not realize the power and importance the almighty dollar holds over the life of a cyclist.

    Why do you think the hotel zone, taxi, and shuttle bus problems in the bike lane along S.W. Broadway have not been handled properly?

    Instead of forcing the valets et. all to properly conduct themselves within the confines of the bike lanes, we have warning for cyclists to go slower, and yield the way to tourists.

    This is due to the influence big, old money has on those in control .

    This is a sad fact, verified to me in the past.

    I hope not, but imagine that, the McMaximum\'s would treat the matter no differently when it comes to losing precious parking outside their club.

    Not to mention that their is a senior care facility right on that corner also, which would certainly have access rights over cyclists.

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  • steve January 22, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    These people have no shame and their words betray it.

    From the report-

    \"Both drivers cooperated fully with the investigation and there was no evidence of drug or alcohol impairment, careless or reckless driving behavior, equipment violations or driver status violations.\"

    How can you be cited for \'Failure to yield to a bicycle in a bike lane\' and not be found careless?

    Did they carefully, with full thought and awareness fail to yield? Well that makes it intentional, and therefore CRIMINAL! Which is it PPD? My guess is careless, but it is definately one or the other.

    Secondly, NO EQUIPMENT VIOLATIONS? What the hell is a bungee corded mirror that is not aimed correctly?

    Oh yeah, where is Sam For Mayor Adams?

    Anyone?

    I am disgusted.

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  • gerry January 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Dabby - are you suggesting that the 99% of hotel patrons who arrive by car should bow to the bicycle crowd?? Why??????????????

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  • Mike January 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    $242 bucks.... is that how much we are worth? What a slap in the face.

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  • neighbor January 22, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    gerry (15) - I hope those 99% followed the rules of the road and operated their vehicles legally on their way to the hotel... why should they stop obeying the law when they get there? It\'s not about the \"bicycle crowd\"- it\'s about proper, safe, and legal road use- Share the road!
    That\'s way, way, waaaay off topic.

    The point is- The roads aren\'t going to change much. The way road users are held accountable doesn\'t seem to be changing either. So we need to practice self preservation regardless of the [failed] laws and infrastructure. Now I can forever cite these two cases as reason enough not to use a bike lane- bike lanes are deadly and large trucks are free to kill me when I\'m in one. I\'ll ride where I please and claim self defense. Anyone who tries to cite me for improper lane usage is involved in conspiracy to commit murder.

    Thanks, PPB, for the statement above that may as well translate to \"F You lesser road users- you\'ll never be safe on our streets!\" Well F you too.

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  • Carl January 23, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Schrauf,
    I\'m sure you\'re right. The driver couldn\'t see him, so that\'s why he didn\'t get a ticket.

    That\'s true of both incidents, though.

    In Brett\'s case, the driver actually passed him and had a mirror that may\'ve been adjusted improperly. Neither is true in Tracey\'s case, but Wiles gets a ticket.

    The \"not visible\" explanation doesn\'t explain this disparity.

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  • Klixi January 23, 2008 at 7:35 am

    #15 gerry: You call it bowing to the bicycle crowd, I call it obeying the law. A bike lane exists for, yep, you guessed it, bikes.

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  • Patti January 23, 2008 at 7:52 am

    \"a.O
    January 22nd, 2008 13:53 7
    As noted above in #3, a citizen-initiated complaint charging violation of ORS 811.050 will be filed against Bryan Lowes.\"

    How can I learn more about this? Who is behind it and will it be reported to the media? I am a supporter, can I include my name?

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  • grant January 23, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Bjorn,

    The truck passed the bike 1/4 mile before the intersection where the collision occurred.

    Whether he saw the cyclist or not at the time he passed him has no bearing on the collision.

    The Cyclist was passed in the N Fremont area. From that point the cyclist could have stopped and crossed Interstate along N Fremont, pulled into business along Interstate or continued straight on interstate.

    Based on the report, which states there is a point when neither the bike nor the truck were visible to each other at the Greeley intersection, and the possibility that the bike was not traveling the same route as the truck, it would be far fetched to expect anyone to yield to a vehicle they passed 1/4 up the road.

    Based on your assumption how long do you wait at an intersection looking at an empty bike lane before you can turn?

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  • steve January 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I prefer to wait long enough to not kill passing cyclists.

    How long do you wait?

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  • brady January 23, 2008 at 11:31 am

    I can\'t recall which driver was the one with all the citations... I wonder if the driver that hit Tracey got a ticket becuase of his history of multiple citations--and the outrage that would ensue if he were left uncited in this instance--while in Brett\'s case, the driver was not, due to a previously clean record? While it is unfair if this is the case, it wouldn\'t really surprise me. Choosing to cite only those who don\'t stand a chance on appeal is a time-honored tradition, sadly.

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  • Dabby January 23, 2008 at 11:32 am

    \"Dabby - are you suggesting that the 99% of hotel patrons who arrive by car should bow to the bicycle crowd?? Why??????????????\"

    Gerry,

    I am suggesting, or more actually pointing out as fact, that the city would rather give up safe passage for it\'s cycling residents in order for some of it\'s oldest business owners to make the almighty dollar, off those who mostly do not even live here.

    This is proven by continuing to allow, and encourage, the gross abuse of bike lane right of way by hotel owners and employees, taxi services, shuttle drivers, and big box delivery services.

    I will not cite my source, but it is a fact that this is the reason that the bike lanes on Broadway are now painted to get cyclists to slow down, instead of holding the valets, and double parkers with wide open doors, responsible for their careless actions.

    When even one single person is put in harms way, for even one single dollar, it is a huge problem.

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  • Ena January 23, 2008 at 11:44 am

    I totally agree with Peter! What is the city thinking when they were designing these intersections?
    This city was not designed for the high population that inhabits it now. Cars are parked on EVERY street, which blocks driver\'s views while turning, as well as putting cyclist and pedestrians at risk.
    The pearl district is a DISASTER! I feel like I am risking my life there. When I drive, I am VERY careful and conscious of bikes and peds and I still nearly hit them because of either the design of the city or people who have no lights and dark clothes.
    I\'ve given up \'right on red\' and refuse to do it even if cars behind me are honking, because I think it\'s a terrible law.

    Tracey and Brett are victims of our stupidity! I\'m moving back down to Pdx from Vancouver soon and my husband will start biking to work again. He will go down greeley to interstate and I\'m scared to death. I\'ll be biking there alone, too and all I know is that if I ever get hit, they better kill me because I will speak up where the law fails.

    I\'m close friends with Sioban and she is hurting so bad physically. She is so lucky to be alive, but what about all the things she can\'t do for a long time?

    The city streets need to be re-designed and we need to build parking lots because all these cars parked on the streets, blocking visibility is going to get more people hurt!

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  • grant January 23, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Steve,

    I signal, I check for pedestrians crossing, I check for bikes and I check for other vehicles.

    If none are present and it\'s legal to do so I make the turn. At that point I have the right of way over pedestrians, bikes and cars that come upon me in the middle of my turn.

    I\'m not going to sit there waiting for the cyclist that may or may not exist who is going to turn onto the street a block away.

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  • steve January 23, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Well congratulations Grant!

    I hope that your self-importance and impatience never result in the death of someone you deem to be in your way.

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  • neighbor January 23, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    brady (#23) got it (unfortunately) backwards. It was Brett\'s killer who had at least 25 previous traffic violations and whose license had been re-instated shortly before running over Brett. He has not (yet) been sentenced any corrective action to add to his laundry list of traffic violations accumulated in his short career.

    The driver involved in the collision which took Sparling\'s life had (as I recall) a clean record over a long driving career. He now has one citation.

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  • brady January 23, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    @neighbor,

    Staggering; one would think that at some point in compiling his long record of infractions, the driver involved in the collision with Brett would have used up his full allotment of \"benefit of the doubt\". Apparently not.

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  • grant January 24, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Steve,

    Where is the impatience? I turn when I have determined it is safe to do so.

    Answer the question. How long do you wait when there is no one visible to yield to?

    Based on your view no one can turn right when a bike lane is present because a bike can appear at any moment. If the lane is clear you make the turn.

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  • steve January 24, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I like all sensible and aware people, wait until I will not smack into anyone I have passed in the last few blocks.

    This driver did not and a cyclist died.

    Claiming some technical high ground and espousing that you have the right of way is absurd if your actions have killed someone. These were both preventable accidents. Preventable by the drivers, who sadly are not being held to account.

    The reason this is sad, is that it encourages narcisitic folks like Grant to think it is perfectly fine to plow over cyclists.

    Paying attention is hard for some people. Perhaps they should not be allowed to drive.

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  • grant January 25, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Steve,

    If I come around a corner at excessive speed and run into the side of your car, while you are making a turn do you expect to be considered at fault?

    This is what happened in this case. Just because you pass someone 1/4 mile back and they are no longer visible to you doesn\'t mean you have to yield for them. I pointed out there are any number of routes the passed cyclist could have taken other than down to Greeley, so to assume they are following the same route is absurd.

    The cyclist violated the Basic Rule and was not riding for traffic conditions. He came around a corner, after losing sight of the upcoming intersection, at a speed that did not allow for him to interact safely with any traffic in front of him.

    The driver does not have to yield for what cannot be seen. The cyclist coming around the corner should not expect to get the right of way if they have at any time lost sight of the intersection ahead.

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  • Driver01 January 28, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Grant,

    I want to thank you. I work with the driver who struck Brett. He is probably one of my best friends. It has taken alot for me to hold myself back when reading all these post\'s on this accident. It\'s nice to see that there is atleast someone out there that see\'s this for what it is.. an accident. Not a murder.

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  • Duh September 12, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Now that time has gone by and the man is well remembered. Lets look at the facts. the truck passed the bike 1/4 to 1/2 mile bwefore the intersection. Closer to 1/2 mile. The bike at that time was only doing 20 mph speed limit is 30. the truck was doing 30 mph. Some of you should remember some basic physics and be albe to figure out how far ahead the truck was when he got to the intersection. How fast would a bike have to go to catch a truck at those speeds. the witnesses say the truck used blinkers, slowed as he turned. The driver said he was already around the turn, or at least facing the direction of greely when he heard the noise.
    The oregonian has gotten his record so screwed up one time it is one thing and next time it is another. his age isnt even right. Maybe we should all learn a lesson from this. WE ALL SHARE THE ROADS. what about the driver? i understand that he is having some trauma from this too. maybe the real victim in this case is the driver. sorry to say people, we all want our rights and we deserve them, but every case is different. lets be fair and honest here.

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  • Susan October 1, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    The real issue is the dangerous conditions that set us up for the "right hook". What are some safe and viable options that would prevent this risk from existing?

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  • Duh November 7, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    You are right about the real issue. My experiences in larger cities around the world, where there are just as many bicycles as cars, is that both follow the same rules. The rules and laws are set to have these accidents happen. Yes there are bad drivers, and yes there are bad cyclists. But, the laws allow and actually promote the idea of passing vehicles on the right. That is not allowed on highways in most states, here too but never enforced, because of the dangers that arise. So why do we promote a bicycle to pass on the right because a white line painted on the pavement? As the interview of a PPD after the accident said, to paraphrase : you could be right, dead right" that white paint does not protect anyone except in the law. So when it comes to passing, cars and bikes should observe the same laws. When it comes to turning, as inconvenient as it might be, a car should wait for the bike next to them, and bike should wait for the car ahead of them. Slower moving vehicles, bikes included, STAY TO THE LEFT,unless turning. Come to a stop sign or light, why does someone have the right to do that, when all your doing is "sneaking" up next to someone who may or may not passed you, or even know if you are beside them? Stay in line, CARS AND BIKES!!! Watch what is ahead of you and next to you, and guess what there are mirrors too, so you should know what is behind you also!!! Simply, share the road means BOTH SHARE!!! It is not give and take, one person gives while the other takes, SHARE means we all have same rules and safety mentality. Yes a bike may take longer to get there if you have to stop at lights, signs or corners, and a car may be delayed for a few moments, but we will all be there safe and ALIVE!!!!

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