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Cyclist killed in SE Portland

Posted by on February 3rd, 2007 at 2:58 pm

[Location of crash. Map via Google]

Just heard that 24 year-old Nick Bucher was killed around midnight last night at SE 26th and Stark.

KATU has details of how it happened,

“Police say prior to the collision, Bucher had been riding the bicycle westbound on Southeast Stark Street. Investigators concluded that the collision occurred when Bucher tried to turn on Southeast 26th Avenue and rode into the path of Stanger’s car.”

[Note: KATU bundled the story on their site with a link to their recent coverage of the Safe Passing Bill.]

And according to a story on KGW.com, they’re still awaiting toxicology results, but it sounds like they (KGW) assume the cyclist was at fault:

“A Portland bicyclist died Friday Night after, police said, he crashed into a car in SE Portland…according to investigators, Bucher rode out into the path of a car being driven by 32-year-old Cyrus Stanger.”

But then they report that,

“Investigators believe speed was a factor in the fatal crash…Stanger submitted to a toxicology test, and was cooperating with investigators…Stanger was cited for one count of Assault in the fourth degree.”

If the bike “crashed into the car” as the Police spokesman says, why would the motorist be cited for assault? Because he was speeding? Was he drunk? Was the cyclist drunk? The details are odd and scant so far but I expect more will come out in the next day or so.

Please remember that as sad as this is, we should not jump to any conclusions.

And finally, I’ve received this very sad note from a mutual friend:

“Unfortunately today I’m not going to talk about fun on bikes.

Last night we lost another one of us. Nick, who was going home from work (cooking at the Noble Rot restaurant) on his bike got killed by a car…His co-workers and friends are devastated. Nick is young, full of plans and smiles. Now, how can we teach drivers to not drink, drive and kill us?”

Stay tuned for more details.

May Nick rest in peace. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

UPDATES:
My sources in the local media say the cops think both the motorist and the cyclist may share fault. The motorist’s breath sample was not high enough to register and has been sent off for a test that will take 30 days. The driver has a long list of infractions and was charged at the scene (but I’m not sure with what yet). I’m awaiting the official Police Bureau press release which should have more details.

KATU is reporting that the driver was speeding, but that the cyclist “turned in front of the car”.

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Chandra WhiteNo more ghost bikes « apocalipse motorizadoAdemonizingMost of you sound like 20 something know-it-alls Recent comment authors
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Rixtir
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Rixtir

Fourth degree Assault: If the person knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to another, or with criminal negligence, causes physical injury to another by means of a deadly weapon.

Criminal negligence means that his behavior was illegal, and was so reckless that he knew or should have known that the injury would be a likely result of his behavior.

The factor of the driver’s speed is probably what led to this citation ( a Class A misdemeanor).

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

R.I.P. Nick.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

My mistake, criminal negligence merely means that his behavior was so reckless that he knew or should have known that injury would be likely.

lyle
Guest
lyle

if you kill someone, i don’t believe it should make any difference whether you’re legally drunk or high. the fact is, even being halfway to .08 or having a slight buzz is going to cause you to react slower, and it’s going to impair your ability to make wise decisions.

i don’t know what time this happened, but it seems like it was pretty late if he was getting off work as a cook at a restaurant on a saturday night.

my point being, i really hope they have other witnesses, but i doubt that.

most likely, if this guy was at fault via speeding or losing control temporarily or anything else,(and somehow he gets off on the DUI also), he can just lie his ass off about who was at fault and there’s nothing anybody can do to prove him wrong.

Sara
Guest
Sara

Wow, this is really chilling and sad. I send my condolences to Nick’s family and friends.

It makes you realize how vulnerable we are. I was biking around the same area at around the same time last night. . .

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

So sad…my condolences to Nick’s family and friends.

Ryan Hirscht
Guest
Ryan Hirscht

I was riding my bike home from work, eastbound on Stark along Lone Fir Cemetery when the accident happened. I heard the tires screeching about a block ahead, but I wasn’t close enough to see what had happened. The passenger side of the car’s windshield was smashed, the bike was in pieces, and Nick, and I just discovered his name, was crumpled by the sidewalk with some bystanders over him, checking his vitals. I was only a minute behind on Stark, but there were probably 10 people on the scene when I rode up. At least two people were calling 911, and the police were there in probably 2 minutes, the fire EMT’s shortly thereafter. When they rolled him over you could tell that his right leg was shattered, and from the sound of his breathing he had some internal injuries. I felt like leaving when they began cutting his clothing off, and I just discovered what happened later from the article on this site. It was a terrible scene, and it made me do a lot of thinking when I got home. My heart goes out to Nick’s friends and family.

Lynch
Guest
Lynch

Rode by there coming back from ‘Old Wives Tales last’ night. I’m so sorry for the friends and family. Such a shame.

I have to say, my partner and I have had some real troubles in the South East lately, more speed, more cars, less awareness (more carelessness). Even in the quieter neighborhood streets folks are cutting (fast!) South or North to the main roads like Hawthorne, Belmont and Burnside. I had to lay the bike down yesterday.

Qwendolyn
Guest
Qwendolyn

damn-it i’m tired of hearing about stuff like this

Marc
Guest
Marc

Wow… I was biking that area multiple times last night, the last of which remember seeing flashing red an blue lights. That could have been me… any of us…

TomasCoSauce
Guest

I go through that intersection very often. Because it does a bit of a chicane going north and south, I’ve seen some weird traffic patterns blow through yellow lights. This has me a bit freaked out. One more ghost bike to paint?

editrixpdx
Guest
editrixpdx

So so sorry to hear this on the news (and came in here to get the full story, of course)–didn’t know him, but so tragic that another cyclist was killed. Just that “another” hurts my heart. The mind reels.

Also, annoyed that the news clip HAD to include the cop’s dismissive “he wasn’t wearing a helmet”–I’m a fervent helmet advocate, but christ, not wearing one doesn’t mean you deserve to die.

Mark Knapp
Guest

Qwendolyn wrote:

damn-it i’m tired of hearing about stuff like this

So am I.

Mark Knapp
Guest

I have long reguarded Stark Street as a death trap, because it is a major street with no traffic calming. When will Portland finally acknowledge the obvious? SPEED KILLS!

As long as motor vehicle drivers routinely violate the speed limit, Portland’s “safety officers” (the one’s with badges and guns) are failing in their mission of public safety.

High speed in public space is a form of tyranny, as I pointed out last year:
http://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/shift/2006-02/msg00253.html
http://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/shift/2006-02/msg00295.html

A primary historical role of the state is to protect minority interests. In this case, it’s the protection of those of us who refuse to travel at high speed.

Some recommendations:

Increase the number of traffic cops.
Double or triple the fines for speeding.
Mandatory jail time for anyone caught going more than 20 mph over the speed limit.

My instinct is to oppose authoritarian measures. However, in the absence of strong community, I see no other alternative.

Mark

Mark Knapp
Guest

Did Nick turn in front of the car because the light had changed to yellow?  Did he not expect Cyrus Stanger to run a red light?

My condolences to Nick’s family….

Carl
Guest
Carl

Just to clarify: there’s no light on Stark at 26th. The light is at 28th.

The wheels are in motion to get a ghost bike out there soon.

janis
Guest
janis

This is very sad and yes, it could happen to any of us any time…to Nick’s family – my thoughts are with you and I am sorry this tragedy happened.

Perhaps we can start by educating our friends and family about driving safer on our streets. It always amazes me that some of my friends don’t know the laws of the road…

lyle
Guest
lyle

just watched a news report on channel 2. witnesses said the car that hit nick did not have his headlights on and was speeding to the point where you could hear him accelerating multiple blocks away. this doesn’t even include whether or not he was drunk, which it sounds like he was.

i should add that the report also said the driver of the car has had a frequent history of reckless driving.

what a shame. i don’t know how many times i’ve either been driving a car or bike and thought i had a clear path to turn somewhere, or go through an intersection, only to barely escape getting hit by a car because they’re going so far past the speed limit that there’s no way you could judge the closing speed.

and then people have the gall to say that speeding is a victimless crime.

i guess they’re right if the driver’s only charge is 4th degree assault. which is basically what? the equivalent of defending yourself a little to excessively?

what a joke.

Andre
Guest
Andre

My condolences for Nick’s friends and family.

When will state and local governments finally realize that repeat offenders such as this need to be punished much more harshly. If there are multiple infractions such as the kind that Stanger had, why do they not install black boxes in the cars that can record their driving to keep them in check. While it may sound awfully big brother, it’s not as harsh as throwing them in prison.

Scott
Guest

RIP Nick. 🙁

It’s too easy to speculate. It sounds like the car was “invisible” and NIck turned in front of it. Damn it.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

Whether the driver is only charged with 4th degree assault will turn on the outcome of the criminal investigation. If the prosecutor finds that s/he has enough evidence of a higher crime, e.g., DUI, the charge will be replaced or added to.

My condolences to all those who knew Nick. Perhaps we should organize a ride for him.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

The only bike/car injury accident I have ever had happened at 29th and SE Stark last year.
Once again, due to a driver not paying enough attention.

lyle
Guest
lyle

what are the chances this guy kills another person on a bike or in another car from now until he stops driving? how many times more likely is that to happen than if you take the average motorist? and yet, this guy is probably in a car in weeks breaking the law again, being reckless, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

driving a car is just like parenting. anybody can do it and everybody seems to think they’re capable of it, yet there’s always tons of people who have no business whatsoever doing either one.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I’ve ridden by there hundreds of times and this truly breaks my heart. RIP Nick.

PFin
Guest

I had a too close encounter with a car with no lights just the other day. It was not quite completely dark out, but most cars had their lights on. While navigating 39th at Harrison, the one car without lights on might just as well have been totally invisible; almost smacked me good. If you can’t remember to turn on your lights, are you really in a state to be operating a thousand-pound killing machine? Goddamn sunsa bishes… rrr…[barking loudly and aggressively].

Burr
Guest
Burr

I usually regard Stark as a relatively decent arterial to ride because it doesn’t end at a bridge across the river, so it tends to carry lower traffic volumes than other east side arterials.

organic brian
Guest
organic brian

There are some impressive ideas here for safety, I liked the one about monitoring of chronic bad drivers. To join in a discussion of what to do about bad drivers, there is a local list:
http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/trafficsafety

Let me be very clear that this list is a working group for improving traffic safety, from the standpoint of careless / dangerous MOTORISTS. It is not a place to carry out debates about helmets, biking on sidewalks, etc., the list was created to discuss what to do about dangerous motorists and actually put those plans into action. I encourage action-oriented people to get involved, we can make a difference!

The KATU news segment was interesting for the repeated emphasis on the inability to determine fault. It seems to me, if the motorist was driving way over the speed limit and w/out headlights as some witnesses have said, that it is 100% that person’s fault regardless of the cyclist turning across his path.

The bike was broken in two, this would not happen from a collision if the car were going the posted speed limit, or anything close.

Driving way over the speed limit seems to be very common on SE Stark. There is a long distance between signals, and no traffic calming such as speed bumps in that area. I’ve always avoided Stark and ride on it as little as possible, preferring Washington or another parallel street. As far as I was concerned, a death here was only a matter of time.

Final note on helmets: reporters will always report whether the rider was wearing a helmet, because when they don’t they get about fifty people calling their office asking “was the rider wearing a helmet?” The info is included because they know it would be of interest to readers / viewers. A better point to be picking on would be the emphasis on the “nobody at fault” message.

Adam S
Guest
Adam S

My condolences to Nick and his family.

I live 3 blocks from the scene of the accident, so this one is a little hard for me to take. One piece of advice for people going east-west around this area, people speed up and down Belmont, Stark and Burnside as if they were freeways late at night- I think you’re much better off on Ankeny, Pine or Taylor/Salmon routes.

Stark street usually feels pretty safe to me, as there are some speed bumps near Buckman Elementary and up near Portland Nursery, but I may think twice about using it for a while.

Let’s learn from this tragedy and protect ourselves. Wear those helmets, stay lit and keep to the side roads as much as you can.

dan
Guest
dan
Jason
Guest
Jason

Sorry, but just because you are hit by a car going the speed limit, doesn’t mean you WON’T be killed. Other than completely isolating bikes and cars from each other, I don’t know how you’ll stop these kinds of tragic accidents.

Donald
Guest
Donald

Well, nuts. Another white bike.

Doesn’t sound like the victim was rolling in dough: If anybody hears about a fund to cover service expenses, can you post the info here?

_DA

Slick
Guest
Slick

Jason: The point is that the accident probably wouldn’t have happened if the driver was going the speed limit.

jeremy
Guest
jeremy

I go to Central Catholic HS where the accident happened. I think it would be really eye opening to get the bike that he was killed on and turn that into a ghost bike as a lasting reminder of what happened. I wonder if the school will mention anything about this since it really happend just about on campus…

jeremy
Guest
jeremy

p.s. there is a security camera on SE stark pointing towards 26th right at that corner, so that could provide evidence for who is at fault.

organic brian
Guest
organic brian

Great! I mean, it might be useful if the camera records images at a high enough rate of speed to get more than one frame with the car in it. It would be interesting to know for certain whether the car’s headlights were not on, as one witness said.

Lee
Guest
Lee

I have to say it sounds like a tragic turn of events for everyone involved and I feel terrible for both Nick, who lost his life simply trying to bike home from work, and for Cyrus who made some stupid mistakes and now must live with their results for the rest of his life. I also feel that the facts aren’t all apparent and blame shouldn’t be the object of this discussion, compassion and future prevention as well as
viewing the incident as a warning to be VERY aware as a driver or bicyclist, I tend to slow at any intersection and use my ears as well as my eyes because it is a city and I do see alot of unaware drivers. I also do this in my automobile as I have a vintage vehicle and don’t want my hard work to be for nothing. I am also glad that it is a city where we are able to bicycle at all, unlike Houston where I felt like I would be run down crossing the street on foot.

Ryan Hirscht
Guest
Ryan Hirscht

When I came up to the scene of the accident, the car was parked almost in the middle of the street, the engine was running, and the headlights were on. Whether they were on when Nick was hit, I don’t know as I was a block back (on Stark, across the street from Central Catholic’s main entrance) and only heard the sound of the tires screeching. Nick’s bike did have a red blinking light, but I didn’t see a white or green front light. I heard the driver say that he “came out of nowhere” and until I read this article I didn’t know it was a head-on collision.
I would be interested in any information about services for Nick, or ways to make donations to his family. This event is going to stick with me for a long time, and I want to do what I can to help those whom Nick left behind. Thank you.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

I don’t think it is inappropriate for the cop to mention that the rider was not wearing a helmet, anymore than it would be inappropriate to mention that a car passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, which they often do. It’s unfair to suggest that mentioning = suggesting that the rider “deserved to die.”

It’s just such a damn shame.

Just last week, I was driving on Stark and doing about 25 mph (limit is 30) and the car behind me gunned it and passed me (on the right!) and took off at about 45.

I agree with one of the comments above that the fines for speeding should be increased dramatically. I myself would also like to see the fines indexed according to vehicular weight.

editrixpdx
Guest
editrixpdx

Re the cop helmet comment: it wasn’t so much the fact that he mentioned it; it was the palms-up shrugging tone. A neutral, factual tone = OK. This was not (& even more disconcertingly, it was in the midst of a “not laying any blame” section of the reportage). And that annoyed me.

But I’ll wait for the facts to come in before I mouth off any more (sorry!). Except to say this is too sad and too tragic and far too common.

Scott
Guest

It doesn’t excuse what happened – which we still only have sketchy information about – but we’ve all forgotten to turn our head lights on at some point or another.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Speed limits should be 25 on all metro streets (Stark, NE Broadway, etc.), and 15 on residential streets. And enforced. We’d see a lot less of this bullsh*t.

trike
Guest
trike

i’ll bet even if the cameras cought the whole thing we wont get to see it. I’ll also lay you odds that the memory of this wont last till the tox screening comes back. this will be another killer getting off scott free. was the driver arrested? whats his bale? what are the full charges? this story is so full of holes i personally cant say what really happened. but this sounds like a commute thing and that means nick knew the route and was unlikly to make an error in his placement on the street.

Dave T
Guest
Dave T

I stumbled across this accident scene two blocks from my home on friday night, and it is the saddest thing I have ever seen. My heart goes out to Nick’s friends and family and to Cyrus and his loved ones as well.

What I saw reminds me of two truths: Drivers are human. Bikers are human.

There’s a lot of love here, let’s keep the hope.

Dave T
Guest
Dave T

I’ve seen many cars AND bikes this winter without Lights!
I have heard stories of near bike on bike collisions due to this.
So if your light batteries are out, and I’m yelling at you “Lights buddy, Lights” please understand it’s all out of love!

Nick's Family
Guest
Nick's Family

Nick’s family and friends very much appreciate the comments on this site about Nick. Thank you all !!!

A funeral Mass for Nick is going to be held at Holy Family Catholic Church, at S.E. 39th and Flavel St. at 1:30 p.m. this Friday (Feb. 9).

Donations can be made to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in Nick Bucher’s memory. Here is a link to the site for more information: http://www.bta4bikes.org/support/specialgifts.php

A celebration of Nick’s life will be held at 8 p.m. on Monday (Feb. 12), at the Hawthorne Stage, at S.E. 39th and Hawthorne.

Garlynn
Guest

One further note about bike lights… even when you have them, they do run out of batteries, and most often when you’re away from home and not in a position to just pull over, buy new ones, and continue with the ride (or if you use rechargeables, you’ll just finish the ride & recharge at home).

Dunno that this was necessarily the case in this particular situation, but the thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion that the risk factor just about doubles as the light coming out the front of the bike slowly fades from white… to yellow… to nothing.

Nate
Guest
Nate

Okay, I’m family. From what I understand from witnesses, police, and others…

Nick signaled before he made the turn. The car was going about 40, I don’t know if the headlights were on or off. He was not wearing a helmet, it would not have made a difference. When the car stopped, Nick hit a tree. He died at the hospital.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Having been a cyclist in this town for longer than I care to remember, this tragedy strikes deep inside of me.
I consider any cyclist, male or female, to be a kind of brother, or long lost relative you never knew you had, until they ride by you.
I had a very rough Saturday afternoon.
After reading about this, I was drawn to the messenger memorial website, where my old best friend, and a number of my good friends, names are listed.
I felt the need, and did, call friends on the telephone, to talk. I needed the support.
I hope I never have to hear about something like this again…….

Dave T
Guest
Dave T

A Suggestion for Cyrus:
(or Bike Penance)

Suspend the driver’s license for a year plus one month for each mph above the posted limit.
Buy a bike, a helmet, and lights. And Use Them.

I want to raise the awareness between bikers and drivers …

… what do you think?

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Dave,

While I’m all for penance like you mentioned for minor infractions, this case demands MUCH more serious punishment.

Driver’s License – GONE – For life.

Jail – Um, how about 10 years.

In general, I’m of the belief that when we stop treating crashes like “accidents” it will go a long way to enforce the notion that when you are behind the wheel, you darn well need to be careful and should drive like your LIFE depended on it.

Very rarely is it an “accident.” Most often it’s willful negligence, or criminal disregard for the law.

I have a feeling that most people are more careful when they handle a knife than when they drive a car.