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Grand Jury says no criminal charges for woman in SW Multnomah Blvd crash – UPDATED

Posted by on April 5th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

A Multnomah County Grand Jury decided today that 63-year old Candice Palmer — the woman who told police investigators she reached into her back seat to tend to her dog and then struck and seriously injured a man who was bicycling on SW Multnomah Blvd — should not face criminal charges.

Palmer’s car swerved into 20-year old Reese Wilson while he rode home from work on the 6100 block of SW Multnomah Blvd on February 4th. Palmer had her dog in the car and reportedly looked into the rear seat where the dog was just prior to the collision. After hitting Wilson, Palmer’s car ran through a fence and came to rest on the side of a house.

Wilson sustained life threatening injuries including head trauma and spent several weeks in the Intensive Care Unite at OHSU hospital.

After the decision was reached by the Grand Jury, the lead investigator on the case for the Portland Police Bureau issued Palmer a traffic citation for violating ORS 811.135: Careless Driving causing serious injury to a vulnerable road user (read more about the Vulnerable Roadway User provision here). Her court appearance is set for May 5, 2011.

UPDATE #1, 4/5 at 5:25pm:
Just off the phone with Chuck Sparks from the Multnomah County DA’s office. He says the Grand Jury heard lengthy testimony over several days before coming to their conclusion that Palmer’s actions did not rise to the level of recklessness required to find criminal wrongdoing. Sparks also noted that Palmer had never had a traffic ticket in her life and that she had never been arrested. Crash investigators believed Palmer’s speed wasn’t a factor. Crash reconstruction experts with the PPB determined that she was going an estimated 41-53 mph in a 40 mph zone. There was a sign posted for 30 mph due to a construction zone, but since the zone was inactive, it wasn’t considered to be a safety hazard (meaning 40 mph could be considered the safe speed in this case).

In a nutshell, the Grand Jury likely looked at the totality of evidence and saw a woman who wasn’t breaking any laws, was not impaired by any substance, was cooperative and remorseful, and who had a long life without any run-ins with the law — but who simply had a momentary lapse of good judgment.

UPDATE #2, 4/6 at 10:45am:
Here is a statement from Reese Wilson’s lawyer:

“Reese is doing remarkably well for a man who had his head opened two months ago. That said, there have been, and will be so many complications, so much to worry about medically, financially- generally everything in the future is a worry. That Candice Palmer is not held criminally liable, in my opinion, doesn’t make any difference to Reese’s struggle. I also read the police report and did not read the word “sorry” anywhere.”

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Comments
  • Tomas Quinones April 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    What’s the fine on this citation? Will she have her license suspended? Has she learned any lessons from this incident?

    As I spend so much time on the road as a vulnerable user, my opinion may be biased, but this doesn’t seem like justice.

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    • Joseph April 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm

      Chances are she’ll get off with a slap on the wrist and be back on the streets in no time, ready to nearly kill someone else.

      As a new cyclist, I have realized quickly that motorists don’t give two shits about cyclist, because even though law says right of way belongs to one, the bigger one might win in a fight (collision). I’ve had plenty of motorists berate me for no reason while I obey cycling/traffic laws and they continue to do whatever the hell they want to in their 2 ton death machine.

      The reality is she won’t learn from this, and her not being held fully responsible and getting away with a slap on the wrist would only further empower motorists to feel like they can do whatever they want.

      As cycling is my main transportation, I’d love to see cycling become even safer. Not holding this person responsible for her actions is not going to make cycling any safer.

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    • Bjorn April 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      The fine is 12,500 dollars but can be avoided with 200 hours of community service.

      Ray Thomas and Doug Parrow worked very hard to get this law passed and should be praised for their efforts as it represents a big increase in the penalty for drivers who hurt or kill vulnerable users. Previously there would have been no license suspension and only a 750 dollar fine for the careless driving. The law also allows for a 1 year suspension of the license, but the community service can eliminate that, although I think the suspension might be in effect until the community service is completed.

      More info: http://www.stc-law.com/vulnerable.html

      We would have liked to have seen more of a criminal penalty as a possibility, but due to the cost it was not going to be feasible to get any jail time on a bill like this.

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      • K Lyn April 5, 2011 at 5:54 pm

        Hopefully she will have to ride a bike while her license is suspended.

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  • Paul Hanrahan April 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Unfreakingbelievable

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  • 9watts April 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    What else is new?!Haven’t we hear this before?
    Good lawyer? Bias against cyclists in the population from whom jurors are selected? What an unjust outcome. Any news on how Reese is doing?

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    • Alan 1.0 April 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Yes, updates on Reese Wilson as well as Joseph Anderson would be welcome.

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  • Matt Haughey April 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    She’s still responsible (or her insurance company is) for all the medical bills and recovery therapy on the rider, the property damage to the fence and house, right? If that’s the case, it sounds like the minor infraction is about all you could hope for in a terrible (dumb IMO) accident like this.

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    • Tacoma April 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      I’m sure you meant terrible “collision”, right? I believe you agree this was no “accident” at all.

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    • q`Tzal April 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      This collision was not an “accident”.
      It also was not intentional; there is a range between the two. It is not all one or the other.

      She made the choice not to perform her legal duties as a driver. That was a choice made with intent.
      The consequence of her choice was that she did not see the cyclist and hit him.

      Her actions prior to the collision led directly to the collision: not an accident.

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  • Chris I April 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I hope that he sues the crap out of her.

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  • daisy April 5, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Sue the crap out of her? She will have the option to file for bankruptcy which means virtually nothing for the victim.

    Sleep well distracted driver, sleep well.

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  • matt picio April 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Grand juries are selected from “average” citizens. The majority of citizens drive, and the majority of them have done something similar and thought nothing of it.

    Until people are willing to accept that being careless with a car is the same as being careless with a gun, these incidents will not be charged as crimes. That’s a conceptual leap that the average citizen isn’t ready to make.

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    • Matt April 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      I had the same thought. It’s kind of like pointing a gun in any old direction and pulling the trigger because your dog distracted you. If you’re not paying attention your car becomes in effect an un-guided missile.

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      • Rol April 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        Yeah, and the vehicle actually has something like a thousand times more kinetic energy and destructive potential than the bullet!

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        • JAT in Seattle April 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

          I was skeptical of your physics, thinking the bullet had more energy than you realize… but by my calculations a 2000kg car travelling at 64 kph (are you still reading?) has 32 million times the energy of a 30.06 bullet. I hope my math isn’t off…

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  • ilikeyournewhaircut April 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I’m not responsible enough to handle an Idaho stop, but it’s okay for this bozo to handle a car without looking at the road? What a load of horsehockey.

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    • Paul in the 'couve April 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      There is a tremendous disparity in physics between bicycles and cars. How many bicycles have ‘driven’ in to the front of stores and injured employees or caused thousands of dollars of damage? If I lose control of my bicycle and am unable to slow down on the steepest possible hill and crash into your house, how much damage will I cause?

      Operating a 3,000 pound or heavier vehicle that is capable of causing serious damage to anything it hits even at relatively low speeds inherently requires a greater degree of responsibility.

      All this is evidenced amply by the fact that my 4 year old rides a bicycle and we require drivers to be 16 and licensed before operating a automobile on the public roads.

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  • Zach April 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    As the saying goes, any prosecutor worth her salt can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

    Criminal law is a funny thing – in general, it’s much more focused on a person’s actions than whatever results. Failing to pay attention for a moment when driving, or riding, or whatever, even for a dumb reason, is something we all do every day, and is not a crime.

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    • JAT in Seattle April 6, 2011 at 7:29 am

      focused on actions and intent (mens rea). No intent in this case.

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      • are April 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

        if the issue is recklessness, your mens rea has to do with whether you are exercising appropriate care in light of the risk to others.

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    • matt picio April 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      Fail to pay attention when discharging a firearm, and see if that premise holds up in court. I’d wager it won’t. We (the public) see different items through different lenses. The public sees a car as a tool, like a wrench – not as a weapon. If a wrench/hammer/knife/car is used to deliberately murder someone, we’ll see it as a weapon, but if a hammer, wrench or car “accidentally” kills someone through inattention, it’s an “accident”, and intent matters. Once upon a time, that was true for guns – we as a society eventually decided that guns were dangerous enough that a certain level of care was mandated by their very nature. one could make the same argument about motor vehicles, but that argument has not been successfully presented to the public in a way that changes the dominant paradigm.

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      • Opus the Poet April 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        And yet a gun will only kill (on average) 0.45% of the times you pull the trigger, or 9% of the times you actually hit a targetperson, where a motor vehicle will kill from 5% to 99.999% of the time you hit a person, depending on speed of the motor vehicle at impact. In other words motor vehicles are anywhere from slightly more than half to 11 times as deadly as guns when you hit your target and much more likely to hit a human-sized target because of the larger projectile.

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  • michael bogoger April 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I was the victim of a similar incident just before my 40th birthday. I am now nearly 58. My life has gone into a tailspin. I can’t hold a job, have no medical insurance. I still advocate for bicycles and would like to see metro areas cleared of cars, but my advice to every rider is; you can’t be too careful. Assume you are a vulnerable, slow moving target. Avoid heavily travel roads, use safety equipment and never let down your guard.
    This case is not over, there is still civil court, but for Reese, life will never be the same.

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    • dwainedibbly April 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      Tragic, for sure. Hopefully the victim in this case will hire a savvy lawyer who will ask you to testify in his civil case so that the human effects of something like this can be understood.

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    • q`Tzal April 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Saddly, your experience and the experience of others who have succesfully sued drivers and their insurance companies for needed compensatory damages, rehab and lost future wages is a very practical and needed topic here at BikePortland.org.

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  • Chris I April 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Just out of curiosity, what could they have charged her with. Reckless driving? Attempted murder? Also, what is the general punishment for careless driving?

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  • beth h April 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    This decision is total garbage.
    Only problem is, what can be done? As long as grand juries — and msot of society in this country — are comprised of car owners and drivers, the conceptual leap Matt speaks cannot be made by enough people.

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  • Shoemaker April 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    It’s a big deal that PPB issued a citation for careless driving. I am very happy to see that.

    This may lead to the first conviction for careless driving.

    Police have been reluctant to issue citations for careless driving, DAs reluctant to prosecute and judges reluctant to convict.

    This is one of a long string of grievous offenses by drivers against bikes and pedestrians. A conviction for careless driving has the potential to set a whole new tone on the rights and responsibilities of drivers.

    Check out the terms of 811.135 here:
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/811.html

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  • 9watts April 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Let’s imagine for a moment that Ms. Palmer had hit and seriously injured – the Mayor–I know, kind of a stretch, but this is a thought experiment–could this have any effect on the Grand Jury’s decision?

    I am outraged that people (in this case Reese Wilson) are treated so badly by our legal system, and I am trying to understand what it is about people on bikes that makes them (apparently) easily dismissed in these legal contexts.

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    • rider April 5, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      I don’t think people on bikes are specifically dismissed. How many people who kill or seriously injure someone in another car while driving distracted receive criminal charges?

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      • NW Biker April 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

        A friend of mine, while driving her car, was killed by an unlicensed teenager driving his mother’s SUV. He plowed it over the top of her car and crushed it so that the emergency responders couldn’t get her out. He got a ticket for driving without a license and for careless driving. And I just know that his parents paid the tickets. No criminal charges at all for driving so badly that someone died. It’s just not right.

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        • tacoma April 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm

          No, it’s not right. Very sorry for your loss.

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  • captainkarma April 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    …and they wonder why bicyclists can be militant…

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    • spare_wheel April 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

      despite the protestations of “consensus” oriented types, it *IS* a war out there.

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      • matt picio April 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        Agreed – it *is* a war, but it’s not politic to point that out, or to frame the discussion in those terms. Any attempt to do so brings an outcry from all sides.

        There will be no change in the situation until general public opinion changes, and that won’t happen until they understand cyclists. (and THAT won’t happen until the average joe knows more than one cyclist)

        One cyclist can easily be dismissed as “that guy who bikes everywhere.” It’s more difficult to dismiss cycling when it’s done by six of your co-workers, your brother-in-law, cousin, and dear Aunt Trudy.

        We’re not going to get there without continued effort.

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  • Carter April 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Just because there is no criminal charge does not mean there cannot be severely painful civil penalties. Remember OJ. :P

    This is an unfortunate example of why the Idaho Stop Law and designed only for bikes roads are such a good idea. Help keep cyclists off busy streets (like multnomah) and provide efficient (for them) alternatives. I have been a “not attentive enough” driver in my day changing my radio, contact shifting painfully out of place, spilling coffee in my lap, etc. Unfortunately you are unlikely to remove the inattentive driver from the road so look for solutions elsewhere.

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  • 9watts April 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Unfortunately you are unlikely to remove the inattentive driver from the road so look for solutions elsewhere.

    Peak Oil and Climate Change will be accompanied by so many salutary and overlooked side benefits.

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  • Carter April 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    9watts

    Peak Oil and Climate Change will be accompanied by so many salutary and overlooked side benefits.

    I doubt that will be in my lifetime and I am not yet 30. I base this mainly off chats with petroleum engineer friends who would be wise enough to start switching careers if they saw it coming, its not coming.

    Peak oil will have lots of good, but also lots of bad (unless you live so local that you own nothing that requires matter from outside 20 miles from you.)

    I personally would like to see changes like I mentioned in the near term because Peak oil is not going to help the Reese of tomorrow or even the Reese of 3 years from now.

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    • q`Tzal April 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      Peak Oil’s effects will preceed catstrophic supply elimination because of commodity speculation.

      Simple supply and demand will choke off the practicality of common petro-base motoring amongst low to middle income users. Commodity speculation will then drive all bulk barrel petrol beyond rationing into the realm of “national security resource”.

      Now imagine what happens to cheap goods from China when the cargo barge can no longer afford diesel?

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    • matt picio April 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Peak oil is already here. Your petroleum engineer friends aren’t switching careers because they will have jobs for a long time – the field has too few qualified personnel due to massive retirements and too few entries into the field over the last decade.

      That said, Peak Oil isn’t going to have a lot of immediate effects. It’s very likely that the average person will cut back on nearly every other expense to keep owning and using that car. And even as people start to drive less, those in the top economic quintile will just drive more since they can still afford to.

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  • Jpdx April 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    If the rider was not wearing a helmet then it’s negligence on his part as well. I know it’s not the law, but I am pretty sure the dumbazz was not wearing a helmet. Which tells me he doesn’t care about his own safety all that much.

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    • tony April 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      So if someone was in the yard of the house she crashed into and was hit, but not wearing a helmet… what then?

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    • Steve B April 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      Your comment is patently offensive. Let’s stop blaming and judging the victim, shall we?

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    • dwainedibbly April 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

      Maybe I shouldn’t feed the trolls, but here goes…

      In this type of accident, the victim has to deal with horrifying orthopedic injuries and damage to internal organs. A helmet isn’t going to protect against those things.

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    • Paul in the 'couve April 5, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      I wear a helmet. But …. Don’t believe for one minute that my helmet is actually going to protect me if I get hit by a car. It’s like wearing a band-aid to a Grizzly wrestling contest. I don’t think people who choose not to wear a helmet are at fault. Riding a bike is a fundamentally safe activity. It is 3,000 pound vehicles operated by impatient, distracted and uncaring people that are dangerous.

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    • David Parsons April 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Nonsense. The rider /was rammed by a car/, which is not the sort of collision that a helmet can help with unless you’re really really lucky.

      Sheesh.

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  • Jpdx April 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    In all these comments, I am the only one mentioning the word Helmet… wow, this is sad. Wake up morons!

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    • Velowocky April 5, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      Do you really have to resort to name calling (dumb ass, moron) to make a point about bike safety? It sounds like your position is that you care so much about the safety of others you are prepared to berate them? I always wear a lid and think others should make it a habit too but come on. We all know the risks inherent to the activity. Respect for all road users is what I see as the primary problem in most of these cases.

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      • Bjorn April 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm

        He is totally right, I mean anyone biking with less than this full suit on is at fault for any injury they get regardless of how many dogs a driver is playing with:

        http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/alternateforce_2150_192976874

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        • Carter April 5, 2011 at 5:10 pm

          I have a brilliant idea what if we took a bike and then built a frame around it. The frame will be big lets make it 4 wheels instead. Since its big and we have 4 wheels now lets add an engine to assist in the pedaling. lets also add a better braking system, hell since we are framed in AC would be nice and a radio … dammit I think we lost the goal somewhere. :)

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        • rider April 6, 2011 at 9:07 am

          Ha! Love it.

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    • Barney April 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      “Helmet” is just one of many words that have not been mentioned in this thread because they have no relevance as to what degree of penalty the driver should receive for endangering the community with her negligence. But since we’re trying to fill the thread with irrelevant words, I noticed that no one has mentioned the word “banana” yet. C’mon, people!

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      • Toby April 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm

        I took two bananas to school the other day. The first one was left over from the previous day and I thought it might get smashed. It did, and I could only eat half, which made me sad :( But was happy I brought the second :) I like bananas!

        (Wait, you mean you didn’t want to talk bananas? My bad!)

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        • Barney April 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm

          Was your banana wearing a helmet?

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          • Toby April 7, 2011 at 8:21 am

            I neglected to provide my banana with any sort of safety accouterments necessary for travel but as luck would have it, its ‘head’ was spared and its ‘legs’ were mashed.

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    • are April 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

      you are also the only one who has mentioned the word “moron,” which is sort of ironic

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    • ron April 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      What part of “the cyclist was plowed into by a distracted driver” don’t you understand?

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  • 9watts April 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Peak Oil already happened, according to the International Energy Agency. Now we get to discover how we’ll get by with less petroleum at rising prices. 40 out of 54 countries that drill for and sell petroleum already peaked. Plenty of petroleum engineers are on board with this. Climate Change is also already well underway.
    Will these two unfortunate changes trickle down to wholesale abandonment of automobility in Oregon in the next five years? Not likely. But in the next 15? I think yes.

    And by all means let’s do whatever we can in the meantime to keep future Reeses from getting mowed down by motorists.

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  • efairlay April 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    It’s frustrating but I think the fine is significant. I only have a bicycle and take my two kids to school most mornings and afternoons in the bike trailer. I don’t believe any more punishment is necessary for her. I’ll bet she’s learned her lesson. I wish all drivers took their responsibilities as seriously as, say, an airline pilot, but until then let’s remain as positive as possible.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    FYI, I just posted this update:
    Just off the phone with Chuck Sparks from the Multnomah County DA’s office. He says the Grand Jury heard lengthy testimony over several days before coming to their conclusion that Palmer’s actions did not rise to the level of recklessness required to find criminal wrongdoing. Sparks also noted that Palmer had never had a traffic ticket in her life and that she had never been arrested. Crash investigators believed Palmer’s speed wasn’t a factor. Crash reconstruction experts with the PPB determined that she was going an estimated 41-53 mph in a 40 mph zone. There was a sign posted for 30 mph due to a construction zone, but since the zone was inactive, it wasn’t considered to be a safety hazard (meaning 40 mph could be considered the safe speed in this case).

    In a nutshell, the Grand Jury likely looked at the totality of evidence and saw a woman who wasn’t breaking any laws, was not impaired by any substance, was cooperative and remorseful, and who had a long life without any run-ins with the law — but who simply had a momentary lapse of good judgment.

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    • Bjorn April 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      I agree with what you are saying Jonathan, but have to note that the reason why it is accurate is the incredibly high bar that the current statute requires to find someone culpable when they cause injury with a car. Basically you either have to be drunk, or they have to be able to prove you meant to, there is not an appropriate middle level charge for people who cause severe injuries to people because of extreme carelessness, but without intent. It is a giant hole, and one that the legislature refuses to deal with. The grand jury was probably right to let her off with the laws as written, which is precisely why we need laws which hold people who are driving 40+mph while playing with a dog in their back seat accountable.

      I think that MADD has gotten to the point where they are actually creating a more dangerous situation because they are pushing this idea that the only way someone is criminally at fault for death or injury in a vehicular collision is if they are drunk.

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    • John Lascurettes April 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      In a nutshell, the Grand Jury likely looked at the totality of evidence and saw a woman who wasn’t breaking any laws, was not impaired by any substance
      How about these two laws she broke:
      * Speeding (estimates were 1-16 mile over the maximum)
      * Driving while distracted

      And not impaired? How about the fact that most reports on one form of distracted driving (texting), puts the operators ability to safely operate the vehicle at or below the level of an intoxicated driver?

      I’m just sickened. I don’t care that she never had a ticket in her life. When it counts, she should get one. If she was stark, raving drunk should they have also let her go because she had never had a ticket or been arrested? This is no different.

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      • matt picio April 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

        To an extent, I agree. I’ve never been charged with any crime in my life. I used to go hunting – if I was momentarily careless with a shotgun and accidentally shot a homeowner, (and I’m not the Vice President of the US) shouldn’t I still be charged by a grand jury and go to trial? I would think so.

        People don’t take these situations seriously, and have a cavalier attitude towards machinery/tools which can kill a person with a few pounds of pressure on the controls or a moment’s inattention. I don’t find that to be acceptable, personally – but apparently society still does.

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      • Kristen April 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

        I was also going to point out that going 41-53 mph in a 40mph zone is considered speeding. And last time I checked, that’s against the law.

        So she did break a law. A couple of them. Either the Grand Jury screwed up, in a huge way, or the reporting/paraphrasing is.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm

          Kristen,

          First, this is the legal system, which is anything but black/white, right/wrong.

          A PPB investigator thinks she was going b/w 41-53, but that’s not a fact admissable in court. Also, if the Jury believes that it’s reasonable to be going slightly over the speed limit, than that’s what they believe.

          Also, the citation for careless driving likely includes the thinking/evidence that she was going over the speed limit.

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  • David April 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Paying attention while driving should not be optional–it should be a requirement, and the laws should reflect this.

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    • John Lascurettes April 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      The laws do say this. They’re just never enforces as such. Case in point.

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  • JE April 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    This is why I drive.

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    • are April 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      because no distracted driver could ever hurt you

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  • Drew April 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Jpdx writes:
    “In all these comments, I am the only one mentioning the word Helmet… wow, this is sad. Wake up morons!”

    I assume Jpdx wears a helmet while driving, as a pedestrian, and walking up and down stairs, all of which carry as great or greater risk of head injury than biking. When he is 80 years old, or if he gets a diagnosis of seizures, he will wear a helmet all day, every day as soon as he gets out of bed, and while sleeping unless his bed has siderails. I assume this because he considers himself to be awake, and not a moron.

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    • JPDX April 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

      That was not the point. Basically it’s a safety measure but it’s not meant to prevent everything. If you are hit by a car then surely your head will smack something during the event. I’m stating it’s a good idea to have something between the road and your face to minimize the damage.

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      • matt picio April 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm

        I was hit by a car in 2009, and my head never struck anything. Perhaps “surely” isn’t the word you’re looking for.

        Actually, in the 5 bike incidents I’ve had, only one time did my head strike something, and that was Zoobombing. As Zoobomb is not entirely “safe”, I was wearing a helmet.

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      • ron April 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        Sigh…..

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  • Mike Fish April 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Dude April 6, 2011 at 7:21 am

    This is a disgrace to the American justice system.

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  • wally April 6, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Despite the aversion of bike advocates to the word “accident,” the average citizen believes “accidents happen,” and that accidents are not the result of criminal behavior. I hope that our civil justice system will come to Reese’s aid, since one purpose of the civil courts is to compensate victims of “accidents” caused by negligence.

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  • kww April 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

    well, in instances such as this, there was non-criminal wrongdoing present and the civil courts will handle this next phase I assume.

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  • david April 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

    she should get a job as a walmart greeter and pay back his medical bills.

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  • Eric April 6, 2011 at 9:26 am

    From the update, I actually do feel sorry for her. Maybe sorry isn’t the right word, empathy(?) But times that I’ve just missed an accident by inches because something stupid I’ve done, I’m surprised there aren’t more accidents and I thank god I was lucky.

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  • Evan April 6, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Once again, this proves that drivers are not held responsible for their actions.

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  • Stumptown April 6, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for the informational update. As with all of these kind of things nobody outside the investigation really knows all the details of the situation. It’s a reminder for all riders to watch out for yourself as anything can happen.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Here’s another update. This comes from Reese Wilson’s lawyer:

    “Reese is doing remarkably well for a man who had his head opened two months ago. That said, there have been, and will be so many complications, so much to worry about medically, financially- generally everything in the future is a worry. That Candice Palmer is not held criminally liable, in my opinion, doesn’t make any difference to Reese’s struggle. I also read the police report and did not read the word “sorry” anywhere.”

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  • Chris April 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

    A helmet will help in any situation where your head makes contact with an object. I would imagine this includes getting hit by a car. What is with all this hostility towards helmets? If you don’t want to wear one, cool with me, just don’t try to tell me it’s not going to help to try and justify your poor decision.

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    • Alan 1.0 April 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      Chris
      A helmet will help in any situation where your head makes contact with an object.

      Evidence? I believe that helmets exacerbate some injuries. Here are some starting points for your consideration:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_helmet
      http://www.cyclehelmets.org/
      http://www.cycle-helmets.com/

      I would imagine this includes getting hit by a car.

      Bike helmets are designed to mitigate an impact of around 1500 Joules. This impact was around 400,000J. Use your own judgment for how effectively they’d protect in this case. (Unit conversions here; calculation errors my own. Assumed 3000lb car at 40mph vs. 150lb rider at 12mph.)

      What is with all this hostility towards helmets?

      You blame an innocent victim for injuries inflicted by careless driver. You say you don’t favor helmet laws yet your expressed opinion is in lock-step with those who do. You finish up by referring to “your poor decision,” thus using an ad hominem argument against any who disagree with you. And then you wonder why some would respond negatively? Hmm…maybe it’s not hostility towards helmets.

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      • Chris April 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm

        A helmet isn’t designed for someone to be on all fours in the middle of the road and deflect a 40mph car. It’s designed to absorb impact of the ground if you get thrown over a car, getting side swiped and thrown off your bike, head impact into a windshield, stuff like that. You are correct a helmet is not going to absorb a head on collision of 200-400kJ. There is plenty of data showing both sides of the helmet debate, but in my mind when I look at the “Bicyclist deaths by helmet use” statistics, that’s all the justification I need to look a little goofy and miss the wind in my hair.
        And for the record, I would never blame the victim. The careless driver caused the injuries and is to blame.

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    • matt picio April 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      It’s not hostility towards helmets, it’s hostility towards those who automatically write off all other considerations when they learn the victim was not wearing a helmet, and start blaming the victim. In this case, head injuries were sustained. Some injuries *might* be prevented when a helmet is worn, but helmets do not magically ward off cars. If a car strikes someone, the presence/absence of safety gear used by the victim is not relevant when considering charges to be levied against the motorist operating the car. Neither is the absence of reflective clothing – motorists do not have open license to strike black objects at night, or those with the temerity to walk across the street without a helmet or full body armor. The law says a vehicle operator must be able to stop their vehicle before it strikes another object in its path. The only exception is for objects that move into the vehicle’s path unexpectedly in close proximity.

      There are still too many drivers like this guy:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDnIsY8Tkj4

      Should that rockslide have been wearing a helmet? Should it be brightly painted? Is it the rockslide’s fault that the motorists car was damaged, or that an “accident” occurred?

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      • q`Tzal April 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

        Epic fail!
        Insanely funny because of the insanity it illustrates.

        This should be the beginning and end of all vulnerable road user arguments.

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    • kww April 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      Once you understand that a helmet is designed for a fall from bicycle height AT bicycle speeds; only then will you begin to understand that helmets will never be designed getting hit by a car.

      Your assertion that a helmet would of helped in this situation is baseless from a technical point of view and damaging from a community point of view. It propagates the notion that helmets are for vehicular protection.

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  • Joe April 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

    she should have to pay for his bills, am i wrong?
    this has to stop. the hurt are left to pay for it. * sad *

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  • Joe April 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

    ohh helmet cops.. come on put helmets on the drivers. be safe everyone is a wild world

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    • Chris April 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      I don’t think they should be mandatory, it’s a personal decision. But to act like it’s a “waste” is just some backwards was to justify making a decision that isn’t the best one. Just say, “I acknowledge a helmet improves safety, but I chose not to because _______” and everyone can be happy.

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    • Mike April 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Not wanting to redirect the direction of the comments, but …

      What? Since the drivers are not the vulnerable users and are protected by the automobile (seat belts and air bags) I am failing to see the comparison.

      Should motorcycle riders be required to wear helmets? I ride one and I don’t believe helmets should be required (though I always do and will wear one). That being said, I wouldn’t be shocked and have too much empathy for the riders that suffer head traumas.

      Let the flaming begin…

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  • chelsea April 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I wish events like this were more publicized or maybe made into PSA’s so people would actually think about the consequences when behind the wheel. It only takes a second of inattention to change or end a life forever.

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  • mabsf April 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I see the driver as a typical example of car-seduced person: “It’s so save to drive, the car nearly drives itself… I can check on the doggy in the back seat.” Her generation literally grow up with car advertisement – a brand of brainwashing that is only comparable to the tobacco industry.

    If driving would be as tactile as bicycling she would have snarled at the dog to shut up because she had to navigate…

    I hope that she is a good person, will do the right thing and pay Reece’s medical bills…

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  • PorterStout April 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Many comments want to turn this into a “car vs. bike” issue, but the laws don’t change because of what was hit. The grand jury would presumably have come to the same decision whether she’d hit another car, a pedestrian, or a building. The cause of this collision was distracted driving, and that’s all the grand jury determined. They’re not letting someone get away with anything because it was a cyclist, come on. I see drivers every day on their cell phones (and almost been hit by more than one) even though it’s supposed to be illegal. If we want future drivers to face criminal charges we have to make distracted driving (any distracted driving!) a real crime. But even then there won’t be any difference in the eyes of the law based on what a distracted driver collides with. But, the unfortunate victim can (and probably should) hire a good attorney and file a lawsuit against the driver. That’s where damages in a particular circumstance are “recompensed,” to the extent they ever can be.

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    • John Lascurettes April 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      @PorterStout. Actually the law in play is a special case in the context of vulnerable roadway users (bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.).

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  • deborah April 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    A sad sad day for the American Justice system!

    Hang in there Reese! As far as karma goes, you’re bound to win the lottery or better after getting run over and then being held at fault for just being there to be run over! I can only hope for your speedy and full recovery. And please do protect that precious head of yours when out on the road! In most cases it won’t do anything other than make you feel dorky and hot, but on a rare occasion it will be worth it’s weight.

    And Candice Palmer – how could you even sit in a trial and defend your actions when you clearly were at fault? Forget the justice system, what about common decency and humanity? After 63 years of life you’d think that you would have learned to own up and pay the consequences for your actions!

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  • Joe April 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    deborah
    A sad sad day for the American Justice system!
    Hang in there Reese! As far as karma goes, you’re bound to win the lottery or better after getting run over and then being held at fault for just being there to be run over! I can only hope for your speedy and full recovery. And please do protect that precious head of yours when out on the road! In most cases it won’t do anything other than make you feel dorky and hot, but on a rare occasion it will be worth it’s weight.
    And Candice Palmer – how could you even sit in a trial and defend your actions when you clearly were at fault? Forget the justice system, what about common decency and humanity? After 63 years of life you’d think that you would have learned to own up and pay the consequences for your actions!

    so true my friend…

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  • esther c April 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I would like to know if she was asked during the grand jury hearing if she had seen the cyclist on the roadway before she made the decision to tend to her dog in the back seat?

    I think if knowing there was a vulnerable user on the roadway she still made the risky decision to take her eye off the road I do not understand how this could not be criminal negligence.

    What good are laws saying the fine is higher if you hit a vulnerable user if its not criminal to do so? Big whoop, a higher civil penalty.

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    • Mark April 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      I wonder if I would get off if I did not have such an excuse, not being “elderly,” and ran down a cyclist in broad daylight.

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  • Paul Johnson April 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    WTF? Was it an all-Californian jury or something?

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  • Jim O'Horo April 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I don’t know if PPD policy affected this incident or not, but it’s my perception that PPD’s policy of not even writing a ticket unless someone is sent off in an ambulance leads to a more general disregard for caution on the part of motorists overall. The prevailing attitude seems to be “No worries. I won’t get a ticket unless someone’s hurt.” This leads to less vigilance which in turn leads to more crashes.

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  • jake chadwick April 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Wearing a helmet isn’t a law for someone over 16, so while I think it is smart, I don’t think it adds any negligence to someone that, from all reports, was obeying the laws.

    Ms. Palmer could still be found liable civally and is getting a significant fine. I’m not justifying her distracted driving, but the fact that she hadn’t had a single ticket in 63 years shows she wasn’t in the habit of recklessly driving around town.

    From what I’ve read I agree that she should not be criminally prosecuted (but should be punished), but I understand someone else might disagree. However, to say things like I bet she hasn’t learned anything from this, she’ll be back on the road ready to kill someone else in no time, etc. seems to ignore the fact that she is a human being that is no doubt going through an extremely difficult time dealing with this incident. I’m not justifying her actions, but to suggest that she’s just happy to get off, hasn’t learned anything, etc. is ridiculous.

    The collision, was a tragedy, not one without responsibility, but one that I would guarantee you has had a negative physical and emotional impact on both parites and families. One party is the responsible one, but when you haven’t had a ticket in 63 years, it strongly suggests she wasn’t in the habit of driving around recklessly. I hope Mr. Wilson continues his recovery as he deals with a tough battle that was not self-inflicted.

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    • justin April 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

      I totally agree that she is likely going through a tough time dealing with this. But i think the purpose of the judicial system is not to ensure that a person “learns something” from this, but to ensure that others change their actions because of what the responsible party has been through. In that regard, I would call this legal action a failure. I hate to use the term “make an example of”, but that is kind of the point. I bet Ms. Palmer will be an extremely alert driver from this point forward, but i would rather a majority of citizens learn something from this incident than just one.

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  • jake chadwick April 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Justin, while I have a slightly different slant on whether this legal action was a failure, I actually agree with most of what you said. On an individual basis it is a hard decision, but on a general basis we need to figure out something to make focused driving a priority. The posts that I took exception to seemed to be more vindictive in nature and ignored the fact that Ms. Palmer appears to have been a safe driver for 45 or so years. If anything, that fact shows the importance of never letting your guard down when you’re the behind the wheel. Something like this can happen at any time to anyone if you’re not careful.

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  • marie April 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

    It is to my understanding that she has not been remorseful in any way possibly. The condolence to the bicyclist or to his family does not exist from this woman. She lives in the neighborhood and everyone that lives around this road knows about the lengthy construction time that has been going on. To say the road is “suppose to be 40 mph normally” is not a factor. The fact is it was posted, for months-possibly a year, at 30 MPH. How is this not wreckless? Not reading speed signs? And how is speed not a factor? If she his Wilson going 30 MPH don’t you think his condition would be different? Physics class taught me so!!!

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  • marie April 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Bjorn
    Basically you either have to be drunk, or they have to be able to prove you meant to, there is not an appropriate middle level charge for people who cause severe injuries to people because of extreme carelessness, but without intent. It is a giant hole, and one that the legislature refuses to deal with.

    Best Point made.

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