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The Oregonian: Skibowl owner Kirk Hanna gives $500,000 to hit-and-run victim

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 21st, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Kirk Hanna.
(Photo: Multnomah County)

Yesterday, The Oregonian published a detailed update on the story we shared last month regarding a settlement being reached in the case of a serious hit-and-run that occurred in May 2010 and involved the owner of the Mt. Hood Skibowl, Kirk Hanna, and a Lake Oswego resident named Robert Skof.

Here's the lede from The Oregonian:

"Two years after Mt. Hood Skibowl owner Kirk Hanna struck a bicyclist -- then sped off, leaving the man sprawled unconscious on a Southwest Portland road -- Hanna has agreed to pay his victim $500,000.

The case is unusual not because Hanna left the scene -- dozens of Portland area motorists do that every year under similar circumstances -- but because he eventually agreed to plead guilty to DUII and hit-and-run driving."

I'm happy to hear that Skof is back on his bike. Hanna's payment should help both men sleep a bit easier at night.

It seems hit-and-runs are in the news a lot more these days. There's a growing feeling among activists — and among families of victims — that the time has come to pass new and stronger laws and begin to shift the culture around this reprehensible crime.

The Oregonian quotes Skof's attorney Sean DuBois as saying this case illustrates the problems:

The penalties are far too light for drivers -- often drunk -- who hit people and then flee, he said. By the time police catch up to them, any evidence that could have been collected in a blood-alcohol sample is gone.

On a related note, I've noticed several mountain bike events on the calendar taking place at Skibowl. There's the 6 Hours of Mt. Hood coming up on July 1st and the the NW Cup that wrapped up this past weekend. When I heard about events being held there, my first thought was about Kirk Hanna and what he did on May 23rd, 2010. I wonder if other people think about that when they go to Skibowl.

For more details about this case, read The Oregonian article and browse our "Kirk Hanna" story tag.

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Comments
  • Caroline June 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    When I think about the Skibowl I think about how much darn litter there is on the sides of the highways East of Albany, presumably "sponsored" by Skibowl. Not great advertisement!

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  • SilkySlim June 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I am really glad this information is finally public. There are several purposes to our criminal system: to punish the bad, protect the good, and deter future baddies. A secret out of court settlement doesn't really fulfill all of the above, but a major hit in the wallet reported in the news has a semblance of justice.

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  • Joshua June 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Money doesn't buy justice. I will never go to the Skibowl again.

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    • JRB June 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Simplistic and wrong. Monetary judgments in compensation for injuries suffered is what the tort area of law is all about. Money is sometimes the best justice our imperfect system can render for a victim. Personnally, I would rather see Mr. Skof recieve a large cash settlement that can help him put his life back together to the degree he is able rather than Hanna do time.

      As to you comment regarding boycotting Skibowl, amen.

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      • Chris I June 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        He basically bought his way out of jail time by lawyering up immediately and using a clever tactic to help the police find the car. My question is: how many years is he losing his license? Who is going to get creamed by this guy the next time he DUI's?

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        • wsbob June 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

          Chris I
          That's precisely the problem. The punishment for hit and run should be much higher. As it stands, you are better off running if you hit someone while drunk.
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          With hit and runs, you're talking about people that often are drunk or otherwise not thinking in a clear state of mind. It seems you may be envisioning that higher penalties would reduce the likelihood that such persons, after striking someone with their vehicle, would imagine they might be able to get away 'scot-free' if they flee the scene of the collision.

          Hanna's apparent condition leading up to the moment of the collision suggests he, no way should have been attempting to operate a motor vehicle, or any vehicle. How to keep people like him from doing what he did? The time prior to collisions is probably the area where greater improvements in hazard reduction from irresponsible people is likely to be gained.

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  • Bjorn June 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I don't think about Hanna when I go to Skibowl because I don't go there anymore. I had a season pass in 2009-2010, but haven't been back since.

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  • Pete June 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    "...the time has come to pass new and stronger laws and begin to shift the culture around this reprehensible crime."

    Do we really believe stronger punishment will encourage more accountability, or would it provide a more intimidating incentive to flee the scene?

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    • Chris I June 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      That's precisely the problem. The punishment for hit and run should be much higher. As it stands, you are better off running if you hit someone while drunk.

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      • Pete June 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        Yes, there are two crimes here: DUI and Hit & Run. Of the two of them, DUI seems to be the more socially unacceptable crime (think of MADD and all the advocacy they've done through the years), and all the news articles around this have focused more so on that more than the fact that Mr. Hanna left a human being on the road to die.

        I guess I could rephrase my question a little: has the strengthening of drunk driving laws truly resulted in fewer drunk drivers on the road? I'm curious (but lack time to research it myself ;).

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  • 9watts June 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    "The case is unusual not because Hanna left the scene -- dozens of Portland area motorists do that every year under similar circumstances."

    I didn't want folks to miss that swipe. We here know this, of course, but I wonder if this is common for the Oregonian to be so blunt about drivers' irresponsibility?

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    • Spiffy June 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      to be fair, they're being very matter-of-fact about it...

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    • q`Tzal June 21, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      The comments on this segement of the O's coverage are uncharacteristically uncritical of the cyclist or cyclists in general.

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  • oskarbaanks June 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Skof says Hanna was "lucky" to hit him, due to his physical strength saving him from further injury. Skof is lucky to be hit by Hanna, a rich drunk driver. Perhaps Mr. Hanna could somehow become a local voice for drunk driving awareness. That could go a long way towards repairing the public's perception of Mr. Hanna and is business.

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    • wsbob June 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm

      "...Skof is lucky to be hit by Hanna, a rich drunk driver. ..." oskarbaanks

      Not being hit at all, is 'lucky'. True enough though, that for the collision having been one between someone driving, protected from bodily harm within a car, and someone riding, comparatively far, far less protected on a bike, the circumstances could have been so much worse in so many ways.

      The Oregonian story details that Robert Skof is a cyclist and athlete of extraordinary ability and determination, that very likely has been a factor in his recovery, and possibly to the amount of compensation to Skof that the person having injured him...Kirk Hanna...was obliged to produce.

      The person having irresponsibly driven a motor vehicle drunk, into a vulnerable road user...Kirk Hanna...remains to the public, a kind of mysterious figure. There's speculation in the Oregonian story and comments about how Hanna's personality makeup may have contributed to the cause of this collision, and the resolution, such as it is, to this incident. Neither Hanna or people that know him have, seem to have spoken to the public about the incident, or the extreme pain and suffering he inflicted on another person.

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  • dwainedibbly June 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    "Think about it when they go to Ski Bowl"? Not a problem. I'm never going there. Any time I hear someone mention the place I make sure to tell them why I won't go.

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  • Mindful Cyclist June 22, 2012 at 12:01 am

    I would be completely in favor of passing a law that states if you hit and run, you are guilty of driving under the influence. But, really don't think that would hold.

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    • Chris I June 22, 2012 at 7:01 am

      You don't have to. Just make the punishments identical, or worse. The DUI laws in Oregon are pathetic as it is...

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      • oskarbaanks June 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

        My next door neighbor is in the process of fighting for his licence as we speak. He has had 5 DUII's. How does this happen ?

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  • resopmok June 22, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I think Oregon, and most states, could take a moment to review the licensing procedures that are currently far too permissive to begin with. Grading licenses for vehicle size, punishing traffic offenders with short to long-term suspensions based on the number and seriousness of violations and requiring drivers to prove their competency behind the wheel more than once in their life would all be steps forward. Insurance companies can't provide the financial incentive necessary because ultimately, the more drivers are on the road, the more money they make (and even more so with bad drivers whose rates are higher).

    I don't think a heavier punishment for hit and run will do much to prevent this crime of the moment. I would hazard to say most H+R are not premeditated, so the decision to flee the scene happens very much in the moment of the accident when probably the only question in the criminal's mind is whether they think they will be caught or not. If we can prevent more bad and irresponsible drivers from taking to the streets in the first place, through stricter licensure, then perhaps we can reduce the total amount of accidents to begin with.

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    • Chris I June 22, 2012 at 6:50 am

      I think the idea behind punishing hit and run is that hit and run is probably the most ethically corrupt thing a person can do while driving in our society. The reasons don't matter. You hit someone with your vehicle and then left them for dead. We can't allow these people to hold licenses and endanger more of our populous. If they are caught, they need extreme penalties. License removal for at least 10 years, stiff fines, and jail time depending on the victim's level of injury and the criminal's level of remorse for the crime.

      Driving is not a right, it is a privilege.

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    • wsbob June 22, 2012 at 11:19 am

      "...Multnomah County prosecutor Jim Hayden said if he had all the evidence he needed, Hanna could have been convicted of more serious charges, including felony hit-and-run. But that might not have netted a lot more time than what Hanna received: 30 days in jail and two years of probation. ..." aimee green/orgonian story http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/06/mt_hood_skibowl_owners_unsual.html

      I'm not sure I completely understand what the above story excerpt is saying about existing DUI and hit and run penalties. It would probably be wise to refresh the memory of what Oregon's current laws on DUI and hit and run are, and why Hanna received the penalties he did.

      Essentially though, considering the stated of mind they're likely to be in, I think hoping through stronger sentences, to compel more responsible behavior from a person driving, after they've become drunk and have collided with someone or something, is not likely to be very successful. Laws more effective at keeping people that are drunk, off the road, is going to bring better results.

      Whether through, law, technology or both, it should be made very simple: if you've got alcohol or certain drugs in your system...you can't drive.

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  • K'Tesh June 22, 2012 at 6:58 am

    I'd like to see a law that would make the punishment for Hit and Run equal to or more than DUI to eliminate the loop hole that allows drivers to sober up, lawyer up, and get off with a slap on the wrist.

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  • Kristi Finney-Dunn June 22, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I myself believe that people who leave another human being dead or seriously injured on the road leave because THEY KNOW they were doing something illegal and they don't want to be caught for that. So I'm all for hit-and-run penalties that carry a presumption of guilt of some other crime (this is the way I think of it in my head, not necessarily how it might be legally presented).

    Some people get away entirely with hit-and-run. But not everyone. Some are caught right away (like Ashawntae Rosemon) and some turn themselves in later (like Art Pavlenko), but why should two almost identical situations (Dustin Finney and Miky Vu both were killed while riding in bike lanes at 1:00 a.m.) result in such different consequences for the people responsible? Pavlenko had the advantage of giving himself time to sober up so he received 18 months for Hit-and-Run only, while Rosemon received 5 years for Criminally Negligent Homicide because he didn't have time to sober up first. Is it really fair to the Vu family that the person who killed their 18 year old son was not even convicted of killing anyone? I don't think so.

    The Finney and Vu families are two who are actively working to change the laws. We welcome any other families or friends of hit-and-run victims - or anyone, for that matter - to work with us. The more of us, the louder our voice.

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    • wsbob June 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Ms Dunn...first of all...very sorry about the loss of your son.

      Higher penalties for hit and run might be worked out, but not based on crimes people haven't committed.

      I don't remember well enough, the details of the individual incidents you mentioned related to Ashawntae Rosemon and Art Pavlenko, but seem to recall the reasons they received the different sentences they did are much more complicated than, simply, one person having been caught shortly after the collision, and the other having turned themselves in hours later.

      It was what Rosemon said and did, in addition to the collision...the type of regard for the other person that he displayed, that got him the greater penalty. Correct? Seems like the Oregonian or bikeportland did a fair bit of reporting about Rosemon's nature, but not about Pavlenko's.

      At any rate, attempts are made to have penalties be relative to the degree of crime. Which gets back to Kirk Hanna and the unknown nature of his regard for other human beings, that factored into the collision he caused, injuring Robert Skof.

      Something I'd definitely be interested in having a closer look at be taken, is for all DUI and hit and run drivers to be dompelled to submit to psychological evaluations. Seems like this could be a positive step towards the public having a better idea of what type of person behind the wheel it is they're to some extent, entrusting they're lives to as road users.

      Keeping people that are drunk, from driving in the first place, is going to get better results.

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      • Kristi Finney-Dunn June 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        It is true that the Oregonian did do a fair bit of reporting on Rosemon's previous juvenile record (which included a dismissed attempted murder charge), but none of that had anything to do with the sentence he got. And in court, he appeared to be just as remorseful as Pavlenko appeared to be (just not as eloquently). From my communications with the Vu family, what I witnessed in their court process, and my own personal experience, I still believe that the situations were pretty much identical except that Rosemon was caught early enough to test for blood alcohol level and Pavlenko was not. Rosemon pleaded guilty to DUII because there was proof and Pavlenko did not plead guilty to DUII because there was no proof (even though it was known he was out drinking that night).

        So I believe that in Pavlenko's case, as in many others, it was not that he did not commit the crime of drunk driving, but simply that he was not able to be proven to be drunk while driving.

        But I do agree, we need to get bad drivers off the road so they can't kill people in the first place. DUII and other high risk driving behaviors need stiffer penalties. I don't want to just change Hit-and-Run laws, I want to change the other laws as well. And bear with me, because all of this is still new to me and I'm still learning and feeling my way around, but I do appreciate the input from others. And I'm open to changing my mind in the future if necessary.

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      • wsbob June 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

        Kristi...your response brought me to look up past stories about Pavlenko and Rosemon, and some of the laws Rosemon was convicted with. In case anyone reading would like to review them here's links:

        Here's maus's story about Rosemon and notes from his bench trial: http://bikeportland.org/2011/12/22/five-year-prison-sentence-handed-down-in-hit-and-run-that-killed-dustin-finney-64061

        And a shorter, Tribune story about the collision Pavlenko caused, and the person he ran into and killed, Michael Vu: http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=131204839746909900

        Both stories are worth re-reading. bikeportland's editor-publisher, maus...did a good job reporting on Rosemon's reaction and some of what he said, giving some sense of who is the person having done what he did to another person. The Tribunes' story on Pavlenko, though shorter, published a telling remark of his. In what they're quotes say about them, there's nothing commendable about either of the two guys.

        Back to questions about just what kind of outcome stiffer penalties for hit and run might result in. Had Pavlenko not left the scene of the colliison, and police had been able to test him for BAC, there might have been grounds for some of the charges Rosemon was convicted on. Instead, Pavlenko fled...turning up some 11 hours later, after, it's theorized, he'd sobered up, allowing him to evade a criminally negligent homicide charge.

        Which raises questions such as; if law were changed to have hit and run carry a big penalty, would that result in people being more inclined to stay at the scene of collisions they were involved in, in which their operation of a vehicle caused someone to be injured or killed? Or would it cause people that drink and drive to be more inclined than ever to attempt to evade responsibility for what they did? If he'd faced a big penalty for hit and run, Pavlenko might have decided not to turn himself in. He might have escaped scot-free.

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  • John Landolfe June 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    People are in jail for selling weed but rich guys can make a series of choices that nearly kills another human, leaves the human on the side of the road to die alone, and then buy off the consequences.

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