Coverage of the SE Clinton Road Rage incident

Below are the archives of my special coverage of the road rage incident that occured on SE Clinton Street on August 17th, 2007.

Road rager’s insurance pays $100,000 to injured rider

Posted on June 19th, 2009 at 2:10 pm.

Ben Ramsdell in April.
(Photo by Elly Blue)

The Oregonian reported earlier this week that Ben Ramsdell, the man who was seriously injured after being intentionally run down by Johnny Escwheiler on SE Clinton nearly two years ago, will receive a $100,000 from Eschweiler’s insurance company.

Escwheiler — who underwent a temporal lobotomy at age 25 — was found guilty except for insanity by a Multnomah County judge back in April.

The case has taken so long to resolve because Eschweiler has not cooperated with his own insurance company. Ramsdell’s Lawyer Mark Ginsberg told The Oregonian that:

“Johnny has refused to talk to his own insurance company the whole time… “They couldn’t do anything as long as he refused to cooperate.”


KGW gets road rage story wrong…again

Posted on April 10th, 2009 at 12:10 pm.

A story published online by KGW yesterday contains incorrect information about the SE Clinton Road Rage case that are leading some Portlanders to get the wrong idea about what happened.

These inaccuracies — one of which they are making again, even after they changed it when I brought it to their attention in 2007 — are unfortunately stoking the bike/car divide that erupts whenever a case like this gets in the news.


Clinton Street road rager found guilty except for insanity

Posted on April 9th, 2009 at 4:05 pm.

Eschweiler in the courtroom today.
(Photos © Elly Blue)

At the Multnomah County Courthouse today, Johnny Eschweiler waived his right to a trial by jury and was found guilty except for insanity on two counts of assault for using his motor vehicle as a weapon in an August, 2007 road rage incident.

Eschweiler was committed to the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for a maximum of fifteen years. He will be allowed to continue to live in the community under a strict set of conditions, including highly structured psychiatric care, a curfew, and the stipulation that he not in any circumstance operate a motor vehicle.

“A vehicle is a weapon. You are not to have control of a motor vehicle.”
–Judge Michael McShane, Multnomah County

Judge McShane outlined the conditions clearly, which also included having no contact with victims and at no time possessing any weapons, “including a vehicle. A vehicle is a weapon. You are not to have control of a motor vehicle.”


Clinton Street road rager expected to plead guilty on Friday (updated)

Posted on April 1st, 2009 at 12:35 pm.

visit to SE Clinton -3
The block of SE Clinton where
the road rage incident occurred.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Back in 2007, we covered the story of Johnny Eschweiler, the man who intentionally used his car to strike two men on bikes in a road rage incident on SE Clinton Street.

Shortly after the incident, victim Ben Ramsdell told BikePortland that he had tapped on Eschweiler’s car window after Eschweiler had nearly run him over, and verbally taken him to task. Ramsdell woke up in an ambulance.

Minutes later, Eschweiler hit another man, Timothy Mastne, who was not involved in the original altercation.

Eschweiler is expected to plead guilty this Friday to several charges, and to receive a penalty, according to Ramsdell’s lawyer Mark Ginsberg.

The hearing is on Friday, April 3, at 11:00am in Multnomah County Courthouse Room 608, with Judge McShane presiding.


Clinton Street road-rager pleads insanity to attempted murder, assault charges

Posted on August 26th, 2008 at 10:35 am.

visit to SE Clinton -3
The stretch of SE Clinton
where the incident occurred.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Johnny Eschweiler, the man who intentionally drove his car into Ben Ramsdell as he biked down SE Clinton Street nearly one year ago, has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Escweiler was initially charged with three counts of Assault in the incident, but Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden re-indicted him back in May and added two counts of Attempted Murder (after hitting Ramsdell, Eschweiler struck a second man on a bike) .

According to (the victim) Ben Ramsdell’s attorney Mark Ginsberg, Eschweiler has plead insanity to all counts. A new trial date is expected to be set for October or November.

— For more on this incident, see the SE Clinton Road Rage special coverage section.

Clinton Street road-rager now faces attempted murder charge

Posted on May 1st, 2008 at 11:17 am.

visit to SE Clinton -3
The stretch of SE Clinton where
the collision occurred.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Back in August, I reported on a disturbing road-rage case where Johnny Eschweiler intentionally ran down Ben Ramsdell while he rode his bike on Clinton Street in Southeast Portland (Eschweiler also ended up colliding with a second person on a bike, Timothy Mastne).

The collision caused very serious injuries and the Multnomah County DA’s office initially charged Eschweiler with second-degree assault and first-degree attempted assault.


KGW: Eschweiler freed on reduced bail

Posted on September 7th, 2007 at 8:06 am.

On their 11 o’clock newscast last night, KGW (who has been covering this case since the beginning) reported that the family of accused road rager Johnny Eschweiler has freed him on a reduced bail.

KGW reporter Scott Burton said that Eschweiler’s attorney, “argued the (bail) amount (originally set at $500,000) was not only excessive but unconstitutional…and the Judge agreed.”

KGW says the Judge allowed Escweiler’s family to free him on $50,000, just 10% of the original bail amount.


KGW corrects misleading part of road rage story

Posted on August 30th, 2007 at 3:10 pm.

A commenter just pointed out that, in response to concern from the community, KGW has published a correction in one of their stories about the road rage incident on SE Clinton Street on August 17th.

In two recent posts, I pointed out my concern that KGW’s story was perpetuating the incorrect notion that cyclist Ben Ramsdell kicked the driver’s car before the collision. In reality, this is merely a claim made by the driver (who faces four counts of felony assault). When I followed up with a Police spokesman about it, they told me their investigators found it not to be true.

Here is the original version of their story that I found misleading:

Police say the driver, Johnny Eschweiler, had road rage and deliberately hit a different bicyclist who kicked his car.”


Road rage victim gets new bike from KGW viewer

Posted on August 28th, 2007 at 4:36 pm.

Timothy Mastne is featured in
a KGW video.
Click here to watch.

KGW reports that Timothy Mastne — one of two victims of a road rage incident earlier this month — got a new bike today.

KGW reporter Jane Smith says Mastne picked the bike up from River City Bicycles this morning. A Seattle couple wanted to buy the bike for Mastne after seeing KGW’s interview with him that was aired on August 19th.

According to KGW, Mastne’s road rash is nearly healed, but he still walks with a limp due to swollen legs. Here’s a quote from him that aired on TV today:


No fix in sight for safety gap on SE Clinton

Posted on August 24th, 2007 at 11:42 am.

visit to SE Clinton -2
Looking west at the intersection
of SE Clinton and SE 11th.
This is where (I think) Ben
Ramsdell and Johnny
Eschweiler exchanged words.
(Photos by Jonathan Maus)

As a popular route for cyclists coming from the Clinton Street bikeway to the riverfront and downtown, the stretch of SE Clinton, just west of SE 11th is currently an unsafe gap in our bikeway network.

After last Friday’s road rage incident I decided to take a closer look at the current situation and what (if any) bike safety improvements might be in store for the future.

According to PDOT’s Jeff Smith, this portion of SE Clinton is not a designated bikeway on the City’s current Bicycle Master Plan (last updated in 1996). Even so, the road has been marked with bike boulevard/wayfinding dots.