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Fatal crash in Washington County

Posted by on June 9th, 2007 at 9:42 pm

[Updated 6/10 at 2:33 pm]

66 year-old Timothy O’Donnell was killed on Friday while on a group ride with the Portland Velo bike club. He was struck by a motorist from behind as he attempted to make a left-hand turn. The crash took place in Cornelius, about half-way between Hillsboro and Forest Grove. Here’s the press release from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office:

On June 9th, 2007 at 12:14pm Deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office responded to a crash on NW Cornelius-Schefflin Road near NW Long Road (map). A group of five bicyclists were riding south on Cornelius-Schefflin Road and were preparing to turn east on NW Long Road.

As the second cyclist in the line signaled for the turn a vehicle also traveling south on Cornelius-Schefflin began to pass the group of bicycles. The vehicle, a 2008 Dodge Avenger, struck the signaling bicyclist while it was still in it’s lane of traffic.

The bicyclist, 66 year-old Timothy O’Donnell of Aloha, died at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 26- year- old Jennifer Knight of Hayden Idaho, was cited for Driving While Suspended, Careless Driving, and Passing in a No Passing Zone.

Timothy was a member of local cycling club Portland Velo and was riding with four others (none were hurt) when the crash occurred.

Carlo Delumpa, president of Portland Velo, came upon the scene shortly after it happened (read his full comment):

“I, like many members of our club who knew Tim, are going through both grief and anger and it helps to see so many people in the community step forward with positive actions. …As a club, we are focusing now on supporting the O’Donnell family as well as the Velo members who were with Tim and who are going through some very hard re-hashing of yesterday’s events.”

Since the motorist was cited with Careless Driving, this is the type of case where the the BTA’s proposed “Vulnerable Roadway Users” bill (which is currently just one Senate vote from becoming law) could be used to enforce a stiffer consequence in lieu of jail time or the more serious offenses of vehicular manslaughter or homicide.

Stay tuned for more developments.


Local media coverage:

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Klixi
Guest
Klixi

She broke three laws (all at the same time) that resulted in someones death. And all she\’ll get is a slap on the wrist. In a sad way, reading this stuff here each day makes me hate Portland. It\’s not Portlands fault really, but it seems like drivers can be as wreckless as they want to be and pay a very small price for their actions – while cyclists pay with their lives.

true
Guest
true

driving while suspended, careless driving, passing in a no passing zone…and not vehicular homicide?!?!

Brian Ratliff
Guest
Brian Ratliff

Was this one of the Portland Velo riders? I wasn\’t on the ride, but I ride with them somewhat regularly and their route was through this intersection.

My lord! 🙁

hanmade
Guest
hanmade

I know this doesn\’t apply here, but I would like to see our DMV driver\’s test ask a series of questions about how to deal with cyclists in traffic. We need to raise the driver\’s awareness of their responsibilities for everyone, not just the other vehicles. Maybe this concept could be then farmed out to other states, become national.

Jeremy
Guest

Something needs to change. Vehicular homicide is appropriate at the least –in my very non-professional opinion. Just a terrible tragedy committed by a careless individual that will not pay appropriately for her actions. There is no justice for cyclists killed by careless people in automobiles. My condolences to this victim\’s family.

Martha S.
Guest
Martha S.

Jesus Christ! If this isn\’t strong evidence of why we need a law to protect vulnerable roadway users I don\’t know what is. This is truly, truly tragic. I feel like I should wear a black armband on the naked bike ride.

Gary
Guest
Gary

Tim is a member of Portland Velo.

Thomas W.
Guest
Thomas W.

RIP. May God give strength to the survivors of the victim. I work out in Hillsboro and will try to leave flowers at the scene.

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

I would like to point out that the Sheriff\’s Department may still be filing charges against her in addition to citing her at the scene. In a way the fact that she was cited at the scene is a step in the right direction. How many times has this sort of thing happened and no tickets were issued?

JeremyE
Guest
JeremyE

I took the opportunity to write my legislators immediately when I saw the news. What an awful crime. My thoughts to the family and friends of Mr. O\’Donnell and especially to the riders with him who watched him die.

pencap
Guest
pencap

what a shame, 66 years old and out of nowhere a careless irresponsible 26 year old takes his amazing life away. I for one will not be satisfied unless the reckless driver sees major jail time. If she gets a friken fine it\’ll just send a message out that a cyclists life is only worth $750
RIP Tim

pdxcommuter
Guest
pdxcommuter

Here\’s an edited email which I sent to Sheriff Rob Gordon of Washington County, in which I criticize his deputies for not arresting Knight on the spot for vehicular homicide. I also suggest that maybe the Washington County Commissioners should take greater control of his department. I cc\’d my commissioner, Desari Strader; the County Commission Chair, Tom Brian; and Dick Schouten, another Comissioner who is also a bicyclist.

Dear Sheriff Gordon:

(The link on your main web page at http://www.co.washington.or.us/cgi/sheriff/lec.pl has a bad email address for you. I am re-sending this email using the address I see at http://www.co.washington.or.us/sheriff/admin/complain.htm I suggest you have someone fix the main web page.)

I read in the bikeportland.org blog, at http://bikeportland.org/2007/06/09/fatal-crash-in-washington-county/ and in the Oregonian at http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/06/aloha_bicyclist_dies_after_bei.html that Jennifer Knight was merely cited after she murdered bicyclist Timothy M. O\’Donnell, who was signaling for a left turn.

Why was Knight not arrested for vehicular homicide and immediately thrown in jail? Is it just because she killed a bicyclist, and not a \”real\” road user? Need I remind you that O\’Donnell had every right to use the road that day? And with a suspended license, Knight did not?

To say the least, I am extermely disappointed in the inactions of your department. Perhaps it is time that the Washington County Board of Commissioners took greater control of your department.

….

—-end of email—-

–pdxcommuter

pdxcommuter
Guest
pdxcommuter

Here are the email address for Sheriff Gordon:

rob_gordon@co.washington.or.us

And here are email address for the Washington County Commissioners:

tom_brian@co.washington.or.us

dick_schouten@co.washington.or.us

Desari Strader, Andy Duyck, and Roy Rogers all list cao@co.washington.or.us as their email address.

If you are in Washington County, you can figure out which Commissioner represents you by looking at the map at

http://www.co.washington.or.us/deptmts/cao/bd_comm/map/s_commap.htm

Jorge
Guest
Jorge

Dammit…not again.
My condolences to the family of the rider.
I fear this fate every time I ride.
Godspeed Timothy

Mark C
Guest
Mark C

I was out riding with Portland Velo yesterday in a different group. I was not aware anything like this happened until I read the paper this morning. What a tragedy.

Mark R
Guest
Mark R

This is terrible news and my condolences go out to friends and family. More likely than the Sheriff\’s Office making a decision as to whether more serious charges are appropriate, the Sheriff\’s Office will forward the matter to the District Attorney\’s Office for consideration of what criminal charges are appropriate. It is not uncommon for the Sheriff\’s Office to do so. The DA\’s Office ultimately decides which charges are formally filed in court and brought to a grand jury for their consideration of whether there exists sufficient evidence to support felony charges. That may take a few days or longer. For me, now is a time to express to his family and friends (and the biking community) our sadness. While we also need to monitor closely how the matter is handled, we need to be careful to respond appropriately to ensure justice.

JE
Guest
JE

Poor Jennifer…

Every motorist should always have their list o\’ excuses handy in the vehicle.

Dog distracted me
Kid distracted me
Cell Phone
Sun in eyes
Bee flew threw window
I never saw him

That Jennifer was cited at the scene by a law enforcement officer is simply shocking.

Chris
Guest
Chris

This is what I sent to the sheriff Gordon and cc\’d the WA County Comm\’s

Dear Sheriff Gordon,

I am incredibly saddened by the senseless death of the cyclist, Timothy O\’Donnell. I am incredibly angry that Jennifer Knight was not arrested under manslaughter charges at the scene and taken to jail. I find the decision of your officers very frustrating. Why wasn\’t she arrested for manslaughter? She killed a cyclist while driving with a suspended license and passing in a no passing zone. She had no right to be on the road and yet she receives a slap on the wrist after killing another human being. I can\’t comprehend the decision of your officers.

As a bicycle commuter, recreational cyclist, father, husband and voting member in this community, I am deeply concerned by the lack of serious charges for Jennifer Knight. My heart goes out to the friends and family of Timothy O\’Donnell. I can\’t imagine how they must feel right now. But I can imagine that they feel much worse knowing that your police department takes their father\’s, friend\’s, husband\’s, neighbor\’s and/or coworker\’s death so lightly.

L.T.D.
Guest
L.T.D.

I\’m just curious….what about man slaughter…. didn\’t see that listed anywhere?

The biggest \”global\” problem with this type of EXTREMELY UNFORTUNATE event – Realistically, what would have made a difference……….other than somehow instilling in people a minimal inherent level of mindfulness

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The \”Vulnerable Users Bill\” HB3314-A is in the state Senate. There\’s a link on this page to the BTA Blog with updated info:
http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2007/06/06/latest-on-vulnerable-users-bill-hb3314-a/

According to the blog, a final vote was imminent. According to the legislative web site, a work session is scheduled for tomorrow: Monday, June 11.

The bill adds penalties and education for drivers who harm bicyclists, pedestrians or other vulnerable users of our roads.

The BTA has asked people to contact their state Senators urging passage. Our Senator, Ryan Deckert, told me he supports the bill.

Jim O'Horo
Guest
Jim O'Horo

My heartfelt condolences to Timothy O\’Donnell\’s family & friends.

In addition to all else that is troubling about this story is what\’s missing. License suspensions are frequently a result of substance abuse. I see no mention of Jennifer having been tested for DUI. Such testing would seem logical to me in light of the damage done.

Also troubling is the fact that she\’s an out-of-state driver and was sent on her way with nothing more than a few pieces of paper. If the District Attorney does decide to file criminal charges, the state is now faced with an extradition proceeding. With a suspended licence I suspect there\’s also no insurance. What\’s to prevent her from simply disappearing? I hope the police at least had the presence of mind to impound the car.

Mary Z
Guest
Mary Z

I am extremely saddened by the death of a fellow cyclist in our community. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Timothy.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Cyclists traveling down the side of a 45-50 mile an hour country road. They decide to make a left hand turn causing them to potentially cross into traffic coming from behind them. Obviously this person didn\’t look behind before turning or he would have seen the truck coming and decided against endangering his life.

I agree that if the driver was driving with a suspended licence then she should face what\’s coming to her, but please don\’t just focus on what she did wrong. If you care about living then be aware! Look behind you when making a left turn!

dan
Guest
dan

Here\’s a letter I just sent Rob Gordon:
Dear Sheriff Gordon,
It upset me to hear about the death of Timothy O\’Donnell yesterday, but I was appalled to find out that Jennifer Knight was allowed to leave the scene without being arrested on criminal charges. If it wasn\’t bad enough that she attempted to pass a cyclist (soon to be deemed a \”vulnerable roadway user\” by the State Senate) in a no-passing zone causing his death, she was also driving illegally with a suspended license. Come on Rob, even Paris Hilton is in jail for that now, and she didn\’t kill anyone. Because Jennifer was allowed to leave the scene and go on her merry little way, she could be out driving right now for all we know. I\’m sure I don\’t need to remind you that the kind of person who would drive on a suspended license once would do it again in a heartbeat, but I just did. Also, in case you don\’t have the definitions handy, OR 163.005 states (and the bold is mine): (1) A person commits criminal homicide if, without justification or excuse, the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence causes the death of another human being. I don\’t think you can argue that she did not recklessly cause the death of another human being, so then what? Well, OR 163.118 states that: (1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the first degree when: (a) It is committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Seems pretty clear-cut to me Rob. And, as violation of OR 163.118 (Manslaughter in the first degree) is a Class A felony, I can\’t comprehend how she was allowed to leave the scene. Even if you don\’t agree with the \”extreme indifference to the value of human life\” (which I do, because obviously her need to get where she was going, illegally, and fast, took precedent over Timothy\’s life), you can drop it to manslaughter in the second degree and it\’s still a Class B felony. But whatever, you cant change the past, and she wasn\’t arrested. In light of that though, I not only think it would be fair of you to push the DA to file manslaughter charges, but I also think you personally owe it to Timothy\’s family and friends. A careless woman just destroyed this man\’s life, and you are one of the few people with enough clout in the situation to see that justice is done.

Gary
Guest
Gary

I believe that citing her on the spot was a poor decision. It is my understanding that if she quickly pleads guilty to the \”infractions\” before criminal charges are filed, she would avoid any criminal culpability. The DA needs to dismiss the cites pending a grand jury review of the case.

Elly
Guest
Elly

I\’ve just written to my state Senator, Kate Brown, to ask her to support the Vulnerable Roadway Users Bill.

If you live in NE, SE, or Milwaukie, she\’s your senator as well. Her email address is

sen.katebrown at state.or.us

If you\’re in another district, you can go to votesmart.org to find out who your state senator is and how to contact them.

Carlo Delumpa
Guest

Hi all-

Thank you so much for your support of Tim and his family, and of our community of cyclists as well. This occured during one of our group rides, on a very frequented route and road, and to a very experienced cyclist. I, like many members of our club who knew Tim, are going through both grief and anger and it helps to see so many people in the community step forward with positive actions.

I was at the scene shortly after the accident happened with a couple of Portland Velo leadership team members. It was not a sight I want to ever see again, but it was especially bad for the four riders with Tim, and who saw the entire incident happen. As a club, we are focusing now on supporting the O\’Donnell family as well as the Velo members who were with Tim and who are going through some very hard re-hashing of yesterday\’s events.

I do hope that once the official police reports are available, that we as a cycling community will have addtional good fodder to get the law regarding vehicular homocide enacted. We are one of 4 states who do not have one currently and we are by far the most active cycling community in the US (at least that\’s what I like to believe).

We will share more details regarding services for Tim, a place people can send cards and thoughts to the family and things Portland Velo will be doing to celebrate one of our friends. Those details will be available at our website – http://www.portlandvelo.net.

Thank you again for all your support and wishes for the O\’Donnell family. Please feel contact me at carlo@portlandvelo.net if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

Cheers-
Carlo Delumpa
Portland Velo

Edward
Guest
Edward

I\’ve only ridden on Cornelius-Schefflin Road a handful of times, always to get from Roy Rd. to Wren Rd (about 200-300 meters), but from that experience alone I know that it is a terrible road to ride on. There\’s little to no shoulder and the traffic — which is abundant — absolutely flies. I\’ve been pretty damned frightful each time I\’ve done it. I think it\’s time to find an alternate route for my Forest Grove loop.

Lynne
Guest
Lynne

\”Cyclists traveling down the side of a 45-50 mile an hour country road. They decide to make a left hand turn causing them to potentially cross into traffic coming from behind them. Obviously this person didn\’t look behind before turning or he would have seen the truck coming and decided against endangering his life.\”

She was straddling the yellow line trying to get past them, while they were signaling left. She saw them. Just couldn\’t wait the 5 seconds for everyone to be safe. Roadway users in the front have the right of way.

Ken
Guest
Ken

Josh (#23)

All I can say is \”wow\”

You read the same article I did, the one that said that the driver was cited for:

\”Passing in a NO PASSING LANE\”
\”CARELESS DRIVING\”
\”Driving while suspended\”

and you came to the conclusion that the victim who \”was hit in his lane\” must have turned in front of the vehicle without looking? Are you serious? And you post this in a forum that will be looked upon by his friends and loved ones? Did we read the same article? Either I need to get my eyes checked or you have an agenda. Since I have 20/20 I wonder which is the case….

trackback

[…] bikeportland.org story of Tim O’Donnell’s death, with lots of reaction in the following comments […]

Josh
Guest
Josh

The agenda is to try to get people to become more aware and safe. You should always look behind you when potentially crossing into a motor vehicle\’s way. If he would have looked then he probably would have seen the truck coming on too fast and trying to pass, and he would probably be alive to tell the story.

I don\’t know what really happened. But what I do know is that he would have probably still been alive if he would have been more aware of the environment around him and not just assumed that he was safe.

I\’m very sorry for his family but how can I make people start respecting potential killers.

Michael R
Guest

Have all of you who are Oregon residents contacted your legislator about HB3314A yet?

If not, why not?

Brad
Guest
Brad

Josh – you made my point. You were NOT there and you don\’t know what happened other than what you read in brief articles. You are making suppositions about the safety procedures of the riders involved.

How about refraining from your \”agenda\” until you actually have a friggin\’ clue?

Carlo Delumpa
Guest

Josh-

You are making assumptions that, while possible and plausible, are not by any means the whole story. The cyclists involved in the incident have ridden that road dozens of times, are extremely aware and cautious at that particular intersection, and had signalled – and looked back a number of times. I do not know what was going through Tim\’s mind at the time the accident happened, but I knew him to be a safe and mindful cyclist.

The fact is that there are a myriad of factors that contributed to the accident including the weather, the speed limit of that section of road (55 MPH), the driver\’s lapse of judgement in passing unsafely, the actual speed the driver was going. She was on them before they even heard her. We will have to wait for the complete police report and analysis before we know all the facts.

Your comment of \”he would have been alive if…\” is extremely insensitive and disrespectful to his family and to those cyclists who have to deal with the images of that day. You, nor anyone else, knows what Tim assumed or thought, what he saw or didn\’t see, what he heard or didn\’t hear. I ask only that you consider the other factors that contributed to this tragedy before you pass such a public and harsh judgement on one of our friends who, by the way, is not here to defend himself to you (not that he owes anyone that).

I do agree with you that tragedies like these are a wake-up call to the cycling community to go the extra mile in safety, awarenes and predicatbility while doing anything that involves being on a roadway. I have become known for my rants on safety and if aything good can come out of this, maybe more people will ride more carefully.

This is a time to come together, not point fingers. And as easy as it is to be angry at the driver, we need to wait for all the facts before coming to conclusions about her as well. What we should be angry about is our state law that neither protects us nor ensures the appropriate level of justice in these situations. It is time for all of us to do what we can to help get HB3314 passed.

We have to believe that safety on the road is a shared responsibility involving all participants including vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. In that regard I do agree with you.

Carlo

ME
Guest
ME

Sorry Ken #30, Josh is right. To bike on that road is scary enough, and to understand the traffic patterns and speed should tell cyclists to be overly cautious. Anytime I want to cross traffic to turn, especially out in the rural areas, I double check…if not more, depending on the road layout. And signaling is another part of this unfortunate equation. I will wear my arm out, just holding it out to signal for longer periods of time. And doing so while looking back repeatedly. I\’m sorry for all those who knew Tim, but we all need to remember to be overly cautious in these areas.

Evan
Guest
Evan

Do I hear civil suit?
Please???!!!
Sue the girl and anyone who can be connected and give all the money to the BTA or something. Driving in western Oregon on a suspended Idaho license? Come on!

Andy
Guest
Andy

I just received this link from a good friend of mine who is part of the above-named riding group. I was shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic death of the cyclist. My sentiments regarding the legal action that was taken is also similar to everyone elses. I do have a questions though, after the citations were issued…did they also allow the driver to take her car and go on her way?! Driving with a suspended license is no joke, although its amazing how many people do drive with suspended licenses. There is a reason for such suspensions so why is law enforcement so cavalier in their enforcement of the offense especially if something like this results from their lack of enforcement. And whatever happened to \”protect and serve\”?! In this case, its abundantly clear that said motto is just a punchline at the end of a cruel joke. My condolences go out to the mourning family and friends. This was truly a senseless tragedy.

brian
Guest
brian

This case, like every senseless \’road\’ fatality is a tragedy. And it is a case in point of why the \’Vulnerable Users Bill\’ is a waste of time and money. It would not prevent this type of crime. It would not penalize the criminal in an appropriate way. This person needs jail time.

Drivers like this one, who kill are committing premeditated murder. I don\’t care if you hit a bicyclist, a pedestrian, or another vehicle. You should go to Jail. You should not go to traffic class, and pay a moderate fine, and \’lose\’ your license for a bit.

I don\’t care what you are driving and where you are driving it. That 50 mph excuse some folks are throwing out there is a croc. If it is not possible to slow down safely to deal with another legal road user, unexpected pedestrian, or the sudden appearance of wild-life the the speed limit on that road is not appropriate for the road use.

You MUST be in control of your vehicle. The only way to deter these crimes is with significant up front enforcement and follow-up up held by the courts.

Make people AFRAID to not follow the rules, or this country will continue to suffer 50000 road fatalities a year.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Carlo you are completely right, in everything you say. I don\’t mean to be insensitive to the family or anyone personally greaving for this loss.

My only excuse is for you and everyone to look at every comment before mine and notice that this seems the flow for every time an accident happens. We blame the driver for 100% of the accident. I was brought up that every accident is preventable. Yes it\’s sad that he had to die, and this may not be the time for questions like these. Unfortunately when the time comes to discuss what we as individuals can do to ensure our own safety the blog post falls down the list, it\’s forgotten, and we don\’t get a good conversation going.

Yes the driver was probably 100% at fault. We\’ve hashed that. But that does not mean that we should sit back, crucify the driver, and leave it at that.

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

The sheriff (Rob Gordon) responded to my scathing email:

Rob Gordon
to Norine, me
More options 9:24 am (3 hours ago)
We generally respond to events and have little control over the headlines. I might suggest that if you want to do more than send a venting e-mail, you should contact your legislative contingent (assuming you are an Oregon resident) and ask them to put some teeth in the laws.

We enforce the law, we don\’t write them.

– Sheriff Rob Gordon

Gene
Guest
Gene

Josh (#40),
Thank you for stating that you are not intending to be insensitive. In your defense, you may not be aware of the numerous discussions of your same point that most contributors here have read and/or been a part of. Nearly all of them \”get\” it and have already incorporated into their personal cycling habits. I\’m sure others would be glad to discuss further with you about our personal responsibility in accident prevention. Please, just not right now. Thanks.

My condolences to family, friends, and community.

C & D
Guest
C & D

~~To the Family of Tim O\’Donnell~~

Hoping you get these wonderful support messages. My husband works at the same Company yours did and they are all grieving as you are for the tragic loss of your husband. It is always a sad thing to hear when someone you know passes away in such a tragic way.
I do not always believe in our justice system, But I do believe something good will come out of his passing.
Please accept our condolences on your loss and his buddies at Aero Air will truly miss him.

Antonio
Guest
Antonio

Messaages need to be sent to the D.A. for this consideration. For instance I am sure the D.A. does not know she was involved in an accident 2 weeks ago in Idaho. This involved hurting her daughter with the seatbelt. Last winter she wrecked 2 cars in St. Helens. Last winter she drove off the road in Scappoose and flew for over 50 feet. She is an angry person and transposes her anger to her driving. She has a serious anger problem with all persons she confronts with.
The athorities need to investigate her history more thoroughly from everywhere she has driven and lived. When someone is killed a complete investigation is done. Why not here. She killed someone and went home and had dinner that night. This is just wrong.

Teresa
Guest
Teresa

Thank you to all of you, except maybe Josh, for your kind thoughts and concerns. My uncle should not be dead. Tim was the most cautious and thoughtfull cyclist I know. I did not know about this website until yesterday when someone told me about it. I have been looking through the website and I was not sure if I wanted to look at the recent headlines section. I am really amazed by this response. I am a cyclist and like most of you I am sure, have had several close encouters on the road. The tragedy Saturday is just too much. I am so angry and do not know what to do. There are so many issues to consider. I want to write some sort of article that brings up all of the issues and incorporates views from all sides. I am a little bit out of it right now, but I am glad to have found this website and read through these comments.
Thank you.

John C. Ratliff
Guest
John C. Ratliff

I have just sent the following e-mail to my senator, and to Senator Kruse of Douglas County. I urge others to do the same. Here is my e-mail:

Dear Senator Avakian and Senator Kruse

Iit has just come to my attention that there is a very important bill coming up in the Senate, the \”Vulnerable Users Bill, HB 3314A.\” As a member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, as a bicycle commuter who cycles to work 4 days a week, and as a bicyclist who has twice on commutes been hit by vehicles, I urge you to vote \”Yes\” on this bill.

Let me explain my support for this bill. Oregon traffic has become very bad, especially in Beaverton. Both of the times I was hit by a vehicle were on Fridays, and so I don\’t even try riding on Fridays anymore. Drivers are impatient, and this impatience is encouraged by TV ads and our general driving culture. By requiring drivers who seriously injure or kill cyclists or other vulnerable users of the roadway to pay $12,500, and have their license suspended for one year, or to complete 100 to 200 hours of community service and pass a special driver education course, there would be accountability built into the system. Currently, there is no accountability, even if a cyclist or pedestrian is killed by outrageous behavior. Right now, we in Washington County just lost a bicyclist to a driver who ran into him as he was making a legal left turn from one rural road to another, and the driver attempted to pass in a no-pass zone. If you are interested, here are two stories about the crash:

http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/06/aloha_bicyclist_dies_after_bei.html#comments

http://www.portlandvelo.net/

I am a Certified Safety Professional with 28 years in the field. When we work on controls in the workplace, we ensure that all the workers are given the responsibility to act in a safe and healthful manner, the authority to act, and accountability for their actions (both positive and negative). It should work the same on the roadway for all users of the road. Under HB 3314A, both drivers and cyclists would have accountability. There was a case in Corvallis where a cyclist hit and killed a pedestrian, and that person would come under this act too if it were to pass.

For over 18 years I was a resident of Roseburg, in Douglas County. The Douglas County area has some of the finest cycling areas in the State of Oregon, and my family took advantage of them. One evening, we were at a function for Mercy Medical Center, where my wife worked. An acquaintance began talking about how he would purposely try to \”clip\” cyclists who were using the roadway with his pickup truck. He did not like cyclists, and was showing them how he felt. We pointed out that our family was part of those people who cycled in Douglas County, but it made no difference to him. I was recently at a conference in Philadelphia, and met a researcher from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), who was also a bicyclist. She related another incident in a different state where her bicycling partner was run off the road by a pickup. This is happening across this nation, and this belligerent culture toward bicyclist must stop. The Vulnerable Users Bill is one way to at least have drivers take notice that there will be some accountability for their driving behavior, and bicyclists too.

The Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 Editorial Page of the Oregonian newspaper had an ironic headline for an editorial. \”A twisted view of nature.\” \”If pigeon hobbyists are convicted of killing raptors, tough sentences would deter similar crimes.\” The irony of this is that these hobbyists may get more punishment than a driver who kills a bicyclist, or a bicylist who kills a pedestrian.

I hope that you will take a serious look at the Vulnerable Users Bill, HB 3314A, and vote in favor of it.

Thank you.

Respectfully,

John C. Ratliff
Certified Safety Professional

pdxcommuter
Guest
pdxcommuter

Teresa, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

I too got an email back from Sheriff Gordon:

We investigate the scene and issue citations or make arrests as the law allows. That decision is then reviewed by the elected District Attorney. If he feels that additional charges are supported, he will charge them. This is ultimately a legislative issue and I encourage you to contact your contingent in Salem.

– Sheriff Rob Gordon

I sent a follow-up letter to Sheriff Gordon, with cc\’s to several County Comissioners. See previous postings in this thread for those email addresses. I also cc\’d my state senator and representative. Find your senator and representative at http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

I also sent a copy to Washington County District Attorney Robert Hermann. Mr. Hermann\’s web page does not give his email address. But, email to Robert_Hermann@co.washington.or.us has worked for me, previously.

—-edited follow-up email appears below—-

While I am not a lawyer, I can read the Oregon Statutes (ORS) at http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors. I think that the law allowed your deputy to charge Knight with manslaughter under ORS 163.118. I understand that other people may have already pointed this out to you. (See http://bikeportland.org/2007/06/09/fatal-crash-in-washington-county/#comment-414031 .)

Let me expand on what they said.

ORS 163.118 says:

163.118 Manslaughter in the first degree. (1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the first degree when: (a) It is committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;

O\’Donnell died as a result of Knight\’s trying to pass over a double yellow line, so I think that the \”extreme indifference\” test has been met.

ORS 161.085(9) defines \”recklessly\”:

(9) ?Recklessly,? when used with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

Knight was driving with a suspended license. Your press release at http://www.co.washington.or.us/sheriff/media/ftl_bik4.htm says that Knight is \”of Hayden Idaho.\” Presumeably, then, her license was suspended by the state of Idaho. That tells me that in the state of Idaho\’s opinion, Knight should not be driving.

Idaho must have suspended her license because Knight\’s driving represented a risk to the citizens of Idaho. If her driving was an unacceptable risk for Idahoans, then it was also an unacceptable risk for Oregonians. Knight consciously disregarded Idaho\’s opinion, and drove anyway. That meets the \”disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur\” test in ORS 161.085.

What about \”the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe?\” Idaho told Knight not to drive. Was it reasonable for Knight to have driven, anyway? Under what standard of care would the hypothetical reasonable person, having been told not to drive by the state that issued their driver\’s license, go ahead and drive anyway?

Perhaps if there were a life and death emergency, where there was no other option, then a reasonable person would drive with a suspended license. Was there such an emergency in this instance? You do not mention it in your press release, so I think I can assume that there was not.

So, no, Knight\’s actions do not meet the reasonable person standard.

Your deputy therefore could have charged Knight with criminally negligent homicide under ORS 163.118. While it is too late for that, it is not too late for District Attorney Hermann to do so.

….

Michael
Guest

I would like to set the record a little straight, hopefully to settle questions about bicycle safety issues and how a kind person left us.

To Tim\’s family, I would like to say that he was the type of person that gave me something to laud in the human race; I am grateful that I knew him, even if only for a short ride. He was generally cautious and concerned about other riders and his own safety.

Carlo and the other Velo leaders and riders have been so helpful through this whole experience.
—–
Tim had looked over his shoulder. He was looking when he was hit. He had looked back several times before signaling and moving left into traffic. The oncoming car was silver and did not have headlights on. The day was grey and overcast. She was moving like a bat out of hell. The first time I knew she was there was the sickening crunch of car tearing into flesh and bicycle. I remember this too well. I was looking at his face and bike as the car hit him. It was my turn next to turn left.
—–
One last thing. We had a paramedic along on the ride and the EMTs were there in about one minute. All emergency people were more than helpful and if anything could have been done it would have. Martin only had time to push on Tim\’s chest a couple of times before the EMTs arrived.

To Drew and Andy, if you ever see this, thanks. Thanks so much.

Doug Rennie
Guest
Doug Rennie

Antonio (posting of June 13): What is the source of your information about the horrendous background of the driver who killed Tim O\’Donnell? If this is all true, then we need to let both the DA and The Oregonian know how to verify it. If true, The Oregonian wants to keep pursuing this travesty. This is some serious ammo to use in our pursuit of a vehicular homicide law so, Antonio, let us know where you got this info. Thanks. Doug (rainguy@comcast.net)

Antonio Gramsci
Guest

Here is my letter to the Sheriff:

Dear Sheriff Gordon,
I\’ve read some of your thoughtful responses to people inquiring about the procedures of your officers in the case involving the young woman who caused the death of Timothy O\’Donnell. One thing that puzzles me, however, is why driving on a suspended Idaho license in Western Oregon, passing in a no passing zone, and causing the death of another on the road wouldn\’t constitute a prima facie case for manslaughter? Even in the absence of a specific \”vehicular manslaughter\” law, do your officers really lack the discretion to ever apply manslaughter charges to a motorist??

Thanks in advance for your time.