Last Wednesday, 25 year-old Dustin Kent got on his bike after work and made his way home to Vancouver via the I-205 bridge bike path.
Photo: Carl Larson
He says he had just passed Government Island riding north on the bike path (which is in the middle of the freeway, see photo) when he noticed bright lights shining from behind him.
When he turned around, he was shocked to realize the lights belonged to a full-sized Nissan pickup truck.
According to Dustin, once the truck was about 100 feet away, the lights went out and it started “creeping up” on him. Once it got closer, Dustin claims the driver said, “Wanna’ ride?” and then continued to pull forward, forcing Dustin to hop over the railing (that separates the bike path from the freeway) to avoid being run over.
Watching in confusion from the freeway shoulder, Dustin says the truck drove over his bike and continued north on the bike path.
After gaining his composure, Dustin called 911. The Portland Police responded and filed a report.
Dustin says that because it was dark, he was not able to identify the driver, but he did get the license plate. He says the responding officer (Officer Morales) gave him the name and address of the person registered to the plate and he and a friend have spotted the truck parked in front of a house in Milwaukie.
The story made the KOIN 11 o’ clock news the night it happened. After it aired a viewer came forward and said he witnessed the truck on the path that night.
Dustin had just started bike commuting and was pretty shaken up by what happened. He told me he wants to pursue the case further, but so far the Police have said that they cannot move forward without a positive ID of the driver,
“It’s frustrating. I want to push this further, but I’m not sure how to do it. I want people to know that this happened… and I also want a new bike.”
Dustin also said that he has left several messages with Officer Morales and the Police Bureau over the past few days, but so far no one has returned his calls.
When I heard the story, I was surprised to learn that a full-sized pickup could so easily gain access to this bike path. I’m not sure who has jurisdiction over that bridge, but something needs to change to prevent unauthorized vehicles from doing this ever again.
If anyone has information about this incident, please contact Dustin Kent at dustinkent(at)yahoo(dot)com.
–A commenter points out that back in March ’06, the BTA wrote about their interest in changing the law so that vehicle owners would assume some responsibility for the actions of their vehicle, even if they could not be directly identified as being the operator.
–In the true spirit of Bike to Work Day, reader Tyler Robertson wants to help Dustin get a new bike. He plans to set up a fund at the bank by the end of the day. For now, go to Tyler’s blog and leave a comment with your contact info if you’d like to help out.
–I just got off the phone with PPB Public Information Officer Brian Schmautz. He says the case is in the system and that all hit-and-runs are dealt with based on priority. Since there are more cases than investigators, they look at a number of factors (including injury/damages and amount of evidence) to determine priority. He said when they have a license plate they will typically follow-up. I should have more information soon from Traffic Division.
–A friend of Dustin’s who was there minutes after the incident just left a comment and says this about access to the bridge:
“As far as the “poles” preventing vehicle access to the bridge are non-existent; I rode this route last night and looked. There are two poles up on the Vancouver side but there is still enough room for a truck to go around them. The path access from NE Holman St in Portland is completely wide open.”
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The police don’t seem to be very helpful in non injury accidents sometimes. One would hope that the officer would at least go talk to the owner. Ask them some questions like were you in possession of the truck at this time, did you loan it to someone, etc… Hopefully this a case of the officer not being on the last couple of days. I ride the 205 as part of my commute, and I am trying to think where on the south side a truck could get on the path. I would guess that they probably had to off road it a little because there are some poles in the path along with no motor vehicles allowed signs.
Unbelieveable! Can’t the PPD go back to gain info. on who was driving the truck at or around a certain time? Receipts from gas stations, store surveillance and receipts,credit/debit card transactions. Would the cops give in that easy if it were a pedestrian who was on the bridge at the time? Scary stuff there.
The laws are wrong about this sort of thing.
As an owner of a vehicle, you should be required to know who is operating it.
Re: Bjorn’s response above: I’m really bothered by the overuse of the word “accidents” to describe what happens when people negligently — or with clear malicious intent as in this case — injure other people with their cars. Just a few days ago I was reading the Oregonian and came across a follow up article about an “accident” in Clackamas in which a car going 60 mph in a 40 mph zone killed a jogger ON THE SIDEWALK when the car swerved to avoid a head-on collision with another careless driver. Don’t worry, folks — both drivers were “cited”, which is fair punishment for criminally negligent homi … er, I mean an “accident” … right? See link below for more on that one.
Anyway, accident schmaccident. Anything like this should be classified as assault at the very least.
!!ON THE BIKE PATH!!
This is not at all what I was expecting to read! This sounds like something from some crazy Filmed by Bike Horror Movie! That is enough to give any commuter nightmares!
All you attorney types out there… Isn’t ther something he can do about this?
I agree, Brian. If it was your vehicle, you are responsible for whosoever drives it. If not, then impound the vehicle in evidence of an attempted homicide. I don’t see how this could construed as anything else…
This is completely unacceptable!
Both from the knuckle dragging clown driving the truck and the PPB!
I fail to understand the total and complete apathy the PPB has toward motorist on cyclist interactions ,(Ok assault with a deadly weapon- A FREEKIN’ TRUCK)
I had to read the story twice t make sure I was misreading it.
I don’t even want to say on a public forum what I think should happen to this low-life piece of garbage.
tar and feather anyone?
How about a mass ride to this guys house since the victim has the address.
If it were me I’d try police in a different jurisdiction. Call both the Oregon and Washington State Police since this happened on an interstate highway.
I would also file a civil claim for, at a minimum, economic losses. Getting mental anguish out of it may require a lawyer, but the mere threat of such should get the owner’s (ahem, if not the driver’s) insurance co to open their wallet. Having a witness from the TV broadcast step forward gives one a decent chance to make a case without it being summarily dismissed as entirely made-up.
Agree with Brian,
The owner of the vehicle should be the default responsible party in such a case.
Can we say civil suit?
As far as I know, state law is to blame for the requirement that there be a positive driver identification. Calling the police jerks is not productive if the law ties their hands.
The BTA wrote about the idea of changing the law to hold car owners liable for what happens in their cars, but I don’t believe any action has been taken to move the idea forward.
There are cameras on that bridge, PPB could have pulled the tapes and been able to at least verify the story, but now they have probably been overwritten so it is too late. Personally, that seems like common sense, if someone files a report, and there is video evidence, the police should pull the tapes and save them.
Dustin says he was told the tapes are only for live action, and do not actually record anything.
Is there an ongoing, *active* investigation?
I say, post the fool’s address, right here.
as of yesterday the police report was not in the system (someone at Traffic Division said they had no record of a “Dustin Kent” in the database)
I have left messages about the case and am awaiting a response from the PPB.
I got to agree with Jessica,
Calling the cops jerks is inaccurate. I would choose the term lazy. Funny how a homeowner can get 8 cops in Ladds Circle plus a weekly lone publicly paid watchman where NO ONE was hurt. Yet nothing will come of this. Too bad we do not have a transportation activisms organization that can effectively deal with these issues. By this, I mean to change the PPB’s policy of going after low hanging fruit and more after enforcing traffic conditions and behaviors that really hurt people.
Let’s take up a collection to get Dustin back on the road. I’ve got $20 to contribute. If you interested you can follow this [url=http://ride-me.blogspot.com/2007/05/get-dustin-new-bike.html]link[url] and leave name, email/phone contact,and the amount you can contribute.
Together we will get him back on 2 wheels!
that is why i do not commute on my bike. this is even on a bike only lane.
Jessica brings up a good point about state law tieing the hands of the PPB. It seems like the cops would make a natural ally to amend this law. It would give the cops more leverage if they could go after the owners of vehicles that are subject to these kind of reports.
I agree that what happened here is wrong and the driver of the truck needs to be tracked down and criminally charged and should also be sued. You should all be mindful that the insurance on the vehicle will cover a permissive user of the vehicle. So as long as the user had permission, there will be coverage. Holding the owner legally liable for the actions of the driver is something entirely different. Oregon law does not hold an owner legally (civilly) liable for the negligent acts unless the owner had reason to know the driver was a bad driver or a habitually impaired driver. this is called negligent entrustment.
I agree an owner should know who is using the owner’s vehicle. But I do not think we want to hold owners legally liable (separate from the coverage provided by the insurer for the vehicle) for the acts of a permissive driver. Would anyone here like to be held legally responsible for civil damages if your friend borrows your car and accidentally rear ends another car? Or taken further, borrows your bike and negligently hits a pedestrian causing serious injury? Just what is it that justifies liability in this situation?
In short, the insurance coverage on teh car should be available if the driver was permitted by the owner to drive the vehicle. The owner should be forced to identify the driver, and the driver should be nailed to the wall civilly and criminally. But absent more information I can’t see any reason to holdthe owner responsible for this.
Is this the only bike path on the planet that doesn’t have a couple of poles up to keep cars and trucks from entering and using the path?
Publish the name and address of the truck driver and let nature take its course.
I litigate personal injury claims often. Civil liability is clear based on the facts I have so far.
A small claim action for economic damages is the least he should do. The filing fee is less than $100 as I recall.
Auto insurance may not cover the loss because such policies typically exclude intentional conduct. Still, it would be fun to sue the jerk.
wtf.. I’m all for prioritizing hit and runs, but I’d personally prioritize a hit and run where there is an indication that the driver *intentionally stalked* the victim prior to hitting him over one which was purely an accident.
An accident is tragic but is unlikely to recur. This driver however seems to represent an ongoing threat.
Cars are able to get on the paths anytime they want. I saw one driving on the Esplanade last week.
As I understand it, they are open for access to maintenance vehicles, utility vehicles and the police.
In Eugene the police regularly patrol the paths in their cars. It is truly disgusting seeing them there..
It would seem as if there should be a way to block people that could be removed, though I can’t imagfine we will ever get them to retrofit barricades. Hell, we can’t even get them to hunt this guy down with two witnesses, a damaged bike and a license plate.
This story is just plain sickening.
This is absolutely disgusting. This is the kind of behavior that desperately requires punishment. Especially because if it goes unpunished, it could spawn copies or repeat offenses. I’m sure this guy and his buddies are thinking that what they did was real funny. Well, they need to have their perception of this act severely re-framed, preferably with some jail bars. Since it appears unlikely that PPB will take enough action to see this through to a suitable result, it know falls to us as a community and Dustin in particular. Dustin: Please pursue any and all legal action in this matter. The future safety of your fellow cyclists is at stake. As for we as a community, I agree that we need to educate this criminal… oops, I mean, vehicle owner…
If we can come together and show the mayor of this city that a bicycle master plan needs funding, can’t we just as easily stand up to those who would intentionally threaten our lives and livelyhoods? I, for one, would be very happy to join my fellow cyclists in a civil and legal demonstation (with the media invited, of course) directly in front of this guy’s house.
This is pretty close to attempted homicide, don’t you think?
If somebody does a drive-by shooting resulting in property damage but no injuries or deaths to the occupants of the house, you can bet that the police will make the registered owner of the vehicle the prime suspect in their investigation, and not sit on their hands. This is the exact same situation.
The cop gave out the registered address of the vehicle involved–maybe he is suggesting the cyclist and/or his friends to take matters into their own hands?—probably a bad idea–but it would be satisfying—just don’t hurt anyone or get caught.
The vigilante people should calm down and remember we only have one side of the story, which sounds bogus cause I can’t see how a truck could get on and then off at the other end
I was buzzed by a police car on the springwater corridor once (guesstimate 30mph). That part of the path has poles, but they are locked to the ground so they can be removed. I am not sure what they were doing out there, but obviously passing on the left like that left basically zero room for error.
This has nothing to do with this guys case, but someone else above mentioned seeing cop cars out there before…
i seriously doubt there’s a law preventing this investigation. if someone were to (for instance) go slash some truck tires, and someone got the slasher’s license #, i bet the cops would investigate that.
if anyone knows what law all these amateur lawyers are citing that says cops aren’t legally allowed to investigate crimes, i’d be very interested to read it.
This is a perfect example as to why Portland should not get Platinum status until the laws change in a serious way! Keep up the good work PPB.
Seems to me that Dustin Kent could sue the owner of the truck for damages. If the vehicle owners says he wasn’t the driver, then who did he loan his vehicle to that day? What, his truck was “stolen” and he doesn’t know who was driving at the time? Right.
Of course, it would probably have to be a “pro bono” lawsuit because the extent of proveable damages probably wouldn’t amount to much, not anything, relaly, compared to the costs of preparing and bringing a lawsuit.
Also, Mr. Kent could send a letter to the vehicle’s owner, stating very clearly how unnacceptable the driver’s behavior was, and what his actions cost Mr. Kent, both in emotional terms and in terms of dollars and cents in bike repair/replacement. Make sure to cc: Portland Mayor Tom Potter and Police Commissioner Rosie Sizer.
Send the dude a clear message: “We know who you are. We know what you did. We know where you live. And the police know all about you and your inexcusable actions, too.”
If nothing else, this gesture might make the jerk think twice before trying something like that again …
I don’t understand how it’s legal for a police officer to hand out the address of the car owner (or anyone else’s information). Does that happen? What if the tag number was reported one digit wrong, and it turned out to be your number, and the cop gave out your address. Something doesn’t sound right about that.
Maybe it’s because we have ‘the most curteous drivers in the nation,’ and the officer thought they could get together for a courteous chat?
…..Holy…. no, un-holy… I’m sorry, I can’t seem to find propper words to describe how bad this is. A commuter’s nightmare to be sure. How could anyone DO that? I’m sure I’ll be really angry tomorrow when the shock wears off… but right now I’m just trying to wrap my mind around this.
True: I agree about the police handing out peoples addresses…but on the other hand, I would imagine if any vigilante action were taken against the driver the police would all of a sudden be able to come up with some charges. Go figure.
About 10 years ago I was mugged by a young man on SE Woodward. I gave the police a solid description of the him, the car he left in, and the license plate number. The investigation was dropped due to my not having the driver’s description. Sucks. I wonder sometimes just what we pay these people to do anyway.
#29 is right. After reading all the comments from beginning to end we need to step back and remember that we only have one side of the story. Including with that, is the fact that supposedly the cop gave out the drivers address to the “victim”. Unheard of and unethical. If the person at the address was harrassed or injured in anyway in retalliation…the cop would have to know he/she is in for a big lawsuit…personal or otherwise. Something isn’t being said as of yet. Not to say this didn’t or couldn’t have happened, but we need to hear more.
I agree with felix, and others who feel like going to this A-Holes’ house to pay him a visit. Nothing violent or confrontational, just simply a presence to get him to confess to PPD.
at this point I just don’t feel comfortable about releasing the guy’s name and address.
I have some phone calls into the Police and I’d rather wait to hear more information from them.
i’m interested in arguments for and against revealing his identity. I should probably consult another journalist who has dealt with this type of decision before… but for now, I’m going on my gut… and it tells me that there’s potentially negative consequences for exposing this guy’s identity.
i’ve also been influenced in this decision by the comments I’ve chosen not to publish that have violent, vigilante undertones.
I personally think it would be a really bad idea to release the name and address of the vehicle owner. There’s just too much potential for things to turn ugly.
If that information were to be released, no one knows who would show up at the house (and what their intent would be)? Also, nobody knows anything about the owner of the vehicle, or if the owner was even driving the pickup when this incicdent occurred. Even if the owner of the vehicle was actually driving the vehicle at the time of said incident, they may react angrily. Perhaps they’re a gun owner.
It has the potential to turn really ugly.
Please do not release the vehicle owner’s name, or address.
Tell you what, if you want the guy’s name released without you having to do it yourself, make some calls to the local press. Even if all you gave them was what you know from the incident, the license plant number, they should be able to investigate and find out some facts about the vehicle’s owner. The details of your story are sensational enough that the weeklies or even the O would run with it.
As far as recovering damages, a civil suit seems to be your best option. It’s nice to think you could just send the guy a letter asking him politely to pay for the damage he did to your bike, but something tells me that a person willing to drive up the bike path on 205 is not going to just decide to do the right thing.
If only this driver had met with a similar redneck travelling the other direction in the bike lane with his lights off…
For those who find it hard to believe and/or unethical that the officer gave the address. Anyone can go to DMV and for a small fee get the name and address of the owner of any license plate number in Oregon. A few years ago the database was going to be put up on the internet. They changed their mind about that and there was talk about changing the law to make the records harder to get, but I believe they are still public record.
I’m no lawyer, but this seems much worse than hit and run to me. Seems like at least assault. Seems the least that could be done is the police could talk to the owner and see if he is willing to confess or identify the driver.
If you’re frustrated with a lack of response from busy PPB traffic officers, go to the commander. Chances are, they will help you.
DMV info is public record and the police officer didn’t break any laws by releasing that information.
Jonathan, I think your gut is right in not releasing this guy’s address right now. Mr. Kent should be the one to release it if he wants.
I am Dustin’s friend and I arrived on the scene about 20 minutes after this happened. We almost rode back to Vancouver together but I left work later than he did and was going to try and catch up. I did not witness the truck on the path but I did see his pretzeled bike as pictured above. The Portland Police arrived shortly thereafter and took the report. There should have been an alert given out to Vancouver officers to be looking for this truck because that is where he ended up. To my knowledge this was not done.
As far as the “poles” preventing vehicle access to the bridge are non-existent; I rode this route last night and looked. There are two poles up on the Vancouver side but there is still enough room for a truck to go around them. The path access from NE Holman St in Portland is completly wide open.
I think this was an attempt by the driver to take Dustin’s life. Any rational person would know that running over someone with a full-sized truck could easily result in death.
I like the idea of vigilante justice as done in some societies. Regardless, the owner of this truck needs to be held accountable.
I think Jonathon should release the name/address. It sounds like Mr Kent shared that with him, correct?
I would like to see it released in a seperate post. A post calling for an organized, non-violent action at the home of said vehicle.
As for the people calling for vigilante style nonsense, I am sure they are just internet blowhards. Even if some whacko tried to cause a ruckus, that would be their choice and decision. Jonathon would in no way be responsible for someone elses stupidity.
Framing the release of the information in a civil and healthy manner would quickly diffuse the few who might rush to bad decisions. It would also allow those of us who are passionate about this to come together in solidarity. With out this needed information, we are powerless. The police appear to have shown they have no interest in helping at this point.
Imagine a hundred cyclists and a small herd of reporters convening at this individuals residence. That might spur some police action!
Hmmmm….maybe if we sent a photo (to the Nissan owner’s address) of a huge group of cyclists standing behind a banner that read “We Know What You Did”
“Even if some whacko tried to cause a ruckus, that would be their choice and decision. Jonathon would in no way be responsible for someone elses stupidity.”
You practicing law now, Steve?
No need to practice law to discern the obvious. I have seen 1600 Pennsylvania avenue published in numerous locations.
If some whacko acts on that, will the Washington Post be responsible?
Intent is key, if Jonathon is calling for vigilante justice that is one thing. Calling for freedom of assembly is quite protected.
Heard of the Constitution or common sense, jj?
I’d just as soon see Jonathan err on the side of caution. I love this blog and would hate to see it go away.
I’d hate even more to see something bad happen to this owner only to find out it was his son/cousin/friend driving the truck.