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DA will not file criminal charges in Sparling case

Posted by on January 10th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I just spoke with Multnomah County District Attorney Chuck Sparks. Sparks has completed his investigation into the collision that took the life of Tracey Sparling at W. Burnside and 14th in downtown Portland on October 11.

Sparks said he will not file any criminal charges in the case.

Here is the conclusion from the full report and memo made public by the DA’s office today:

“Wiles [the driver of the cement truck that hit Sparling] arrived at the intersection before Ms. Sparling and came to a stop, waiting to turn right. Wiles did not see Ms. Sparling as she approached his stopped truck, nor did he see her as he went into his turn. Ms. Sparling stopped in the bike lane near Wiles’ right front wheel, and was, due to her location and diminutive stature, not visible to Wiles; she was, through no fault of her own, in the driver’s blind spot.

Once the light changed, both Mr. Wiles and Ms. Sparling moved forward. Ms. Sparling’s position and movement near the front of the truck put her in front of the truck’s right front wheel as it entered its turn.

Mr. Wiles reports using his mirrors to check the side of the truck while waiting to turn and before starting his turn. It is unclear whether he had his turn signal on before his turn. Mr. Wiles claims he did. It is possible he did not. It is also possible that he did, but activated his hazards when he stopped in response to Biehl’s [a witness] shout, and switched back to the turn signal when he realized what he had done.

The relevant standard is criminal negligence. Criminal negligence is the failure to be aware of “a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or the circumstance exists,” with the risk being “of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that areasonable person would observe in the situation.”

The evidence must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Wiles acted with criminal negligence for the state to prosecute. After reviewing all witness statements, the scene evidence, and the toxicology reports I conclude that Wiles’ failure to perceive Ms. Sparling prior to his turn was not sufficient to charge him with criminally negligent homicide.”

Now that the criminal investigation is complete, the Portland Police Bureau can decide whether or not to issue a traffic citation to the truck driver for “failure to yield to a bicycle in a bike lane”.

The man who will make that decision is the bureau’s lead fatal investigator, Peter Kurronen.

Sparks told me today that, “They [the PPB] did everything I asked of them, which was to not give any citations until this investigation was complete. Now that decision is entirely in their hands.”

For the entire report and memo from Sparks, download this PDF (520KB).

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tonyt
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tonyt

Given that the cops have maintained, despite almost all legal opinion to the contrary, that citing the driver might jeopardize the process of pursuing criminal charges, I\’m quite sure that we\’ll soon hear that the driver was given a citation for failure to yield right?

Oh yeah. Right.

So can someone in a position of power please tell the public why it is that they should obey the law and drive with respect for the lives of others?

a.O
Guest
a.O

You heard it here first: If the PPB does not cite Timothy Wiles for violation of ORS 811.050, we will ask the Court to do so.

Matt Picio
Guest

From the facts stated in the report, it appears the DA made the right call. This incident was a tragedy, but punishing the driver isn\’t warranted. (he did fail to yield, however – an infraction that does not require knowledge regardless of what Lt. Kruger (excuse me, Capt. Kruger) thinks. It would be appropriate for the police to issue the citation in this case, and I hope they do so.

More importantly, this report underscores the need for additional safety equipment on commercial trucks, and an evaluation of the safety of that particular bike lane. The lane should be relocated or removed (Yes, Paul, I did say that) based on the recommendations of the study, and I sincerely hope that the city calls for and performs such a study.

Commercial drivers perform a demanding job under difficult circumstances, with substandard equipment. The drivers are trying to earn a paycheck – they\’re not going to push for it. The companies don\’t want to spend the money, and the proper response is for the public to demand local state and federal governments to address the issue through regulatory legislation and enforcement. As Susie Kubota said, this should never have to happen to anyone, and if we make our voices heard loudly enough, maybe it won\’t have to.

BURR
Guest
BURR

There are still involuntary manslaughter options between the choices of criminal homicide and a simple traffic fine. I would hope that the DA explores them.

It seems the city is open to some liability for poor roadway design as well.

Matt Picio
Guest

Burr, how would involutary manslaughter charges help? They can\’t reunite Tracey with her family, they won\’t make Wiles a better driver (he has no citations, anyway – this is his first infraction), and they wouldn\’t affect the behavior of other drivers (the \”it can\’t happen to me\” syndrome) – all it would do is serve as a form of revenge.

I\’d rather see all parties involved push for better road design and mandatory safety equipment for trucks – I suspect on this last part you would agree.

Atbman
Guest
Atbman

This was a terrible tragedy and it seems to me that there were a number of factors involved.

The first was Ms. Sparling\’s action in pulling up alongside the truck, something which was \”encouraged\” by th existence of the bike lane. Note, I\’m not blaming her for doing this, the design of the lane markings made it more likely that she would act as she did. However, standard safe cycling practice advises that riders should not undertake large vehicles (trucks, buses, etc.) because of the attnedant visibility problems

Bike lanes are for this very reason, not the cyclist safety panacea that many believe. Even if the \”merge right into the bike lane\” rule applies in Portland it would not, necessarily, prevent such tragedies occurring, since large vehicles may not be able to do so because of their turning arc.

The second was the limitations of the position and design of the Truck\’s mirrors. This is something which is being addressed by European standards because of a large number of similar deaths across the continent.

The third was the absence of sidebars on the truck. These are pretty much standard issue on this side of the Atlantic. Such bars make it less likely that a cyclist can be dragged under a truck\’s rear wheels.

Properly designed Bike Boxes go a long way to reducing, if not preventing, such collisions. They do, though, have to be of sufficent depth to place riders far enough forward to enable the drivers of high cab vehicles to see them, especially if they are petite, like Ms Sparling.

Please note that I\’m not apportioning blame to either Ms Parling or the driver, but only trying to analyse what factors may have led to this terrble event. Bike Portland members should be pressing the City/State Highways departments to make use of such analyses (more expert and knowledgeable than this long distance one) and take them into account when designing roads.

My profound sysmapthies to Ms Sparling\’s family and friends

solid gold
Guest
solid gold

wow, so now i only have to stop at red lights if i see them?! so, by the logic of the DA, if you can\’t see it, it\’s not your fault. and i really love the \”may or may not have had turn signals on\”.

WTF?! car breaking traffic laws and killing someone=ok, as long as they \”don\’t see it\”

bike breaking traffic laws and harming no one= $242 fine.

yeah, our legal system really is unbiased! so remember, when cops pull you over, use the \”i didn\’t see it\” line, it should work from now on.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Matt,

Let me retool your statement.

How would murder charges help? They can\’t reunite the victim with her family, they won\’t make the murderer a better person, and they wouldn\’t affect the behavior of other citizens (the \”it can\’t happen to me\” syndrome) – all it would do is serve as a form of revenge.

Now that makes no sense does it?

Someone is dead, someone did it. I don\’t think the driver is a bad person, but I do think that the cold hand of justice can send a loud and clear message. \”It doesn\’t matter if you\’re a good person. Kill someone and there will be consequences.\”

elizabeth
Guest
elizabeth

My daughter was killed as she crossed in a crosswalk in Milwaukee. She was in the crosswalk, every car saw her but the dump truck which was the last vehicle before the safety island. Everyone was honking and helping her get through the crosswalk as the light changed somewhere after she got in the crosswalk. She got in front of his headlight, the light turned green for him, and she is dead, No one would take the case and they said it was too close to call. How is it too close to call, he said he never saw her, she crossed 4 cars to the right of him in the crosswalk. He never looked at the crosswalk, if he did he would have seen her somewhere in that crosswalk as she crossed the other 4 cars. I understand why the DA did not press criminal charges. His intent was not to kill her, it was to get home as soon as he could that night, and not look at the crosswalk ever before he stepped on the gas with her in front of his truck as the light changed. I was not out to get rich, I am her mom, I am raising her children. They will never be able to have hope of seeing their mom again! If I had money, we could have gotten enough to pay for her funeral and the visits to the psychiatric therapists, and the hospital bills for her children and me from being so sad that we all got sick. No one would help! They said it was a matter of trying to prove 51 to 50% . Someone, please help us understand why. If I had money, I would put a pedestrian walkway over that corner it is insane to expect anyone to cross that many lanes in the few seconds they get to cross!
Thank You
Elizabeth

Matt Picio
Guest

That is definitely a retooling. To prove homicide, you need means, motive and opportunity – there\’s no motive or intent here. To prove negligent homicide, you need to prove negligence. There wasn\’t any on the part of the driver – he did exactly what he was supposed to do according to law.

He is guilty of failure to yield, because that does not require any knowledge of someone being there.

Matt Picio
Guest

solid gold (#7) – \”may or may not have had turn signals on\”

Yep, that\’s exactly correct. Some witnesses say yes, some say no. No cop witnessed it, so it can\’t be proven one way or another in a court of law. The proper way to say that legally is \”may or may not\”. The report states only the facts, not speculation.

SH
Guest
SH

(From the point of view of a fellow cyclist) Despite the tragedy, the DA\’s thorough report seems to show that Wiles could not have foreseen nor prevented the incident short of demanding that his cement truck hood be made shorter, among other safety equipment. It sounds like involving him any further won\’t do any good.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Matt, re the turn signal: No witness said that the turn signal was on according to Mr Sparks\’ memo.

re criminal charges: They help because they have a deterrent effect. However, I believe Mr Sparks reached the correct conclusion here, assuming the material facts are as he reported.

BURR
Guest
BURR

By the DA\’s logic, if he didn\’t see her, he wouldn\’t be guilty of failure to yield either, because he wasn\’t aware there was anyone he needed to yield to.

There is deterent value to a manslaughter charge, to make other motorists more aware of their surroundings in the future.

Matt Picio
Guest

tonyt (#8) – using your logic, if I\’m riding the sidewalk on the bridge at 12th Avenue and I-84, and I swerve to avoid a pedestrian and end up falling over the guard rail, land on a car, and I survive the fall but the driver dies from the impact, then I should go to jail because I killed him – even though I did nothing that violates the law?

The driver did nothing criminal. Yes, this is a tragedy. The trucking company is irresponsible for not having safety equipment, but they aren\’t criminal either. That\’s why we need to madate safety equipment – then violations *DO* become potentially criminal.

You can\’t just prosecute people because something bad happened to someone else and that person was involved – they have to have been directly responsible, and a law has to have been broken. This case doesn\’t meet the criteria set by the law.

Matt Picio
Guest

a.O (#11) – respectfully, you are incorrect. Mr. Wiles is a witness. The fact that he is also the suspect does not change that.

The memo states one witness not knowing, one witness seeing the hazard lights, and one witness saying the turn signals were one. Inconclusive.

Matt Picio
Guest

BURR (#13) – it\’s debateable whether perception is a requirement to yield. I don\’t believe it is. Ultimately a judge would have to make that decision. Personally, I say issue the ticket and let the judge decide.

Jason
Guest
Jason

First of all, let me emphasize that Ms. Sparling\’s death is a terrible tragedy.

That being said, pulling into the right-cross zone of a large truck was a contributory factor in the collision.

Shortly after this happened, I had an incident where I realized that I habitually stay out of the right-cross zone. I think the fact that she was a young and inexperienced rider was a significant part of the tragedy.

Although I would like government to regard private passenger vehicles with something between hostility and animosity, I don\’t think that this particular incident is a good example for us to rally around.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Matt, re the signal: Mr Wiles is properly characterized as a witness, but I think you know I was referring to everyone who witnessed the incident and who doesn\’t have a motivation to lie about the turn signal, i.e., others. The semantics of the matter doesn\’t change the fact that, according to Sparks, no one else recalled the turn signal being on.

re yielding: You are simply incorrect in your assertion that perception is a requirement to yield. Think about it: Can you avoid a ticket for running a stop sign if you say you didn\’t see it and the judge belives you? No. A judge may so exercise his or her discretion, but it is not legally material.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Matt, I don\’t think I made my point completely above, re the signal:

From the memo: \”None of the eyewitnesses to the collision could say certainly whether the truck\’s right turn signal was activated during the turn.\”

Sparks uses the term the same way I did above because he (nor would any good investigator) equally wate the statement of Wiles and the statements of the eyewitnesses.

In #15, you seem to imply that there were three different opinions and that that alone would lead to the inability to draw a conclusion. I don\’t think that\’s correct.

I also don\’t think it\’s correct to say that one witness said the hazards were on. You seemed to imply in #15 that this was during the incident. In fact Pool \”did not see the collision\” but stated that the hazards were on after Wiles stopped.

Does anyone else wonder whether the situation was accurately reconstructed?

The memo states that Officer Kurronen \”had another person use a tape measure to hold his hand 5 feet 3 inches off the ground (Ms. Sparling\’s height) and move it along the truck.\” The investigators were doing so to determine whether she was visible to Wiles.

But isn\’t the accurate measurement the actual height of a person who is 5\’3\” and astride a bicycle?

Is it plausible or likely that Sparling having her foot down at the intersection or actually riding would be taller than 5\’3\”?

a.O
Guest
a.O

\”equally wate\” = \”did not equally weight\”

Matt Picio
Guest

a.O (#18) – you have it backwards – I am saying unequivocably that perception is NOT a requirement, regardless of Kruger\’s opinion (check all my posts in this thread). Wiles should be ticketed – he obviously broke that law. (my post in #16 was acknowledging BURR\’s point, not advocating the opposite position)

(#19) Wiles has motivation to lie, but that doesn\’t discount his testimony. I acknowledge that your interpretation of witness and the DAs differs from the way I used the term. My point is that there isn\’t a clear preponderance of evidence that his turn signal wasn\’t on. If it was not on, he is clearly guilty of failure to signal, but that still does not rise (IMO, and granted IANAL) to the level of criminal culpability.

Regarding your other points in post 19 – valid, noted, and I stand corrected.

JDL
Guest
JDL

As SH (#11) notes, The DA\’s report suggests that it was impossible for Wiles to have seen Ms. Sparling because she was in the truck\’s blind spot. The truck\’s owner should have equipped the truck with the mirrors necessary to eliminate the blind spot. By sending Wiles onto the streets of Portland in truck that they knew, or should have known, had a dangerous blind spot, they were setting Wiles up to kill any \”person of shorter stature\” who was unlucky enough to be in the blind spot when the truck turned right.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Matt,

I\’m not suggesting that we charge someone for something that isn\’t at all appropriate for what happened. I\’m not shooting for murder here.

I actually do agree with the DA on this one. There doesn\’t seem to be anything there that warrants \”criminally negligent homicide.\” But I\’m not convinced that there isn\’t a charge that would be appropriate.

Until we cease this willful absolution regarding traffic deaths, we will not get people to drive with more care. We want people to drive more carefully, but when they don\’t, often with tragic results, we do no more than utter a collective \”Whoops! Hope you do better next time!

I venture to guess that if we put a couple of soccer moms in jail, for even just a few months, even when they were stone sober, it might go a long way toward mitigating this \”it was an accident\” mentality that we seem to be mired in.

You said, \”and a law has to have been broken.\” Well news flash, a law WAS broken. A traffic law. And while people might scoff at the notion of traffic laws being important (Hi Captain Kruger!), might I remind people that 43,000 people die each year, most I might venture to guess, because those silly traffic laws were broken.

My point in retooling your quote was to point out, that while there may be ways to make your argument, \”They can\’t reunite Tracey with her family\” et al, fails miserably. If that is a reason to NOT charge someone, it follows to reason that we would never charge anyone with anything because charging people brings no one back, ever.

Your position on an issue might be valid, but bad arguments are bad arguments.

leftcoaster
Guest
leftcoaster

tonty #1

I personally drive carefully (when I drive, which is rare) so as to avoid accidents, hurting another person or animal, or damaging property. Those are the reasons everyone should drive carefully and obey the traffic laws- not to avoid a ticket.

If that\’s not how you drive, well then… you\’re doing it wrong.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Matt, sorry, I guess I misunderstood. We are in agreement on everything you note in #21, with one exception:

I think the fact that Wiles was driving should discount the weight of his testimony. I also think that any reasonable judge, juror, or investigator would do so, either implicitly or explicitly. I nevertheless agree re weight of the evidence necessary to cite for failure to signal and re criminal culpability. However, I make this point because I think the overall evidence re the signal has some value for demonstrating negligence, which is the most important thing now.

Matt Picio
Guest

Point taken on the argument, tonyt. The punish the driver argument was a bad one.

Yes, a traffic law WAS broken – news flash, I have said in every one of these too many posts today that the driver should be charged for failure to yield. It\’s not my fault that that violation is only a $242 fine. We can only charge him for what he\’s guilty for.

Trucks need safety equipment. Driver penalties need to be increased. There needs to be more training for both drivers and cyclists. I\’m not disputing that at all. If we want to put soccer moms in jail to stop cyclist deaths, we need to push the legislature until they increase the penalties.

What I\’m saying as that in this case, the driver may have made one mistake – failing to signal. In everything else, he was obeying the law. In all points, Tracey Sparling was obeying the law. We have no evidence that the driver was inattentive – the intersection was clear when he pulled up, and he couldn\’t see anyone in his mirrors. Well, shouldn\’t we then look AT THE MIRRORS? The equipment is substandard – is technically meets the letter of the law, but is wholly inadequate to protect others. What if Tracey Sparling hadn\’t been there? What if it had been a 4\’11\” woman standing in the crosswalk? She\’d still be invisible to the driver, because the vehicle has blind spots. Let\’s eliminate the blind spots. Let\’s eliminate the bad intersection design. Let\’s fix the problems rather than trying to destroy a second life, who doesn\’t deserve the ire or condemnation of the cycling community. If this case clearly indicated the driver was at fault, I\’d be right there with you saying that he should be in jail, we need to send a message to drivers, etc.

We DO need to send a message to drivers, but not with Mr. Wiles. We need to send it with the truck drver who took out Brett (who had a list of driving violations longer than my arm) and the impatient woman who tried to take out Siobhan. There are too many drivers willfully breaking the law who are criminally negligent. Mr. Wiles is not one of them – failure to signal is not the only contributing factor to the crash.

Would you feel this strongly if a cyclist failed to signal and failed to yield, and killed a pedestrian?

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

leftcoaster,

I drive carefully for the same reasons as you cited. And yes, I agree they are the reasons why everyone SHOULD drive carefully.

SHOULD. What a wonderful world THAT would be.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

\”Would you feel this strongly if a cyclist failed to signal and failed to yield, and killed a pedestrian?\”

Yes.

Matt Picio
Guest

a.O (#25)

Ok, I\’ll accept that point. There is evidence to indicate he did not use a turn signal. That might be enough to prove him negligent, but is it enough to prove him criminally negligent? I think it would be really hard to prove, and the DA obviously thought so. It sounds like you agree from your previous post.

I absolutely believe he should be charged for any civil infractions he committed. I merely ask what the point is in determining negligence in this particular case? Note: I\’m not saying it\’s necessarily wrong to do so, I\’m just asking why do we want to do it? What are our goals, and does additional prosecution further those goals, and at what cost?

All I\’m asking is that if you believe Wiles merits further punishment, ask yourself why, ask yourself what the cost is, and ask yourself what the downstream effects could be.

If you\’ve considered those questions and answered them to your own satisfaction, then – good. We should give the same care to filing legal actions that road users should give to their driving. In both cases, one small mistake can destroy a life and change a community.

Thanks for reading this, and for putting up with my excessive posting today.

Matt Picio
Guest

tonyt (#28) – I thought as much. That question was meant for the readership at large, and not so much you personally.

thanks.

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

tonyt has a point. As a society we have a long history of administering justice unfairly to make a point about something. For example laws about open containers, statutory rape, sucide, drug use and posession, prostitution, interacial marriage, being photographed eating feces, etc, have all been promulgated and enforced to make people think before they act. It would be entirely consistent to charge Mr. Wiles with a crime to make a point about trucks being dangerous.

That being said, I just wish they fix the damn trucks. How hi-tech is an effing mirror?

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

In the interest of opposing opinions, I do not feel that the cold hand of justice should arbitrarily mete out punishment by jailing people when someone dies, even though no direct causal action of their own.

This is exactly what tonyt is stating in #8 above, regardless of context. I\’m also not commenting on this specific case. I prefer there to be some ability of our system to use the judgement and reasonableness of a public forum to determine appropriate punishments.

myself
Guest
myself

after my own personal hardships sort of similar to this one…being next to my partner when hit/killed…it is all thoroughly done with what evidence and witness accounts…tragedy – entirely…but, now the further you can go is PPB and a civil suit against the trucking company for lack of safety mirrors…if that is the case…i don\’t know what the legalities for big trucks are, perhaps if it was under protocal, then they should revamp standards…but, either way, civil suit where justly deserved is technically the next step after citation or no citation…just offering some 2 cents to the matter…

myself
Guest
myself

one more thing…chuck sparks is an amazing DA who himself is a a cyclist as well as his family…so, no biased opinions there…he is always thorough…but yeah, no onward to the PPB

Keith
Guest
Keith

I personally feel that this is an issue that needs to be worked out by both bicyclists and motorists. I can tell you that not all bicyclists follow all the laws all the time (I sit at the bus stop and watch them blow the four way stop). I see bicyclists, riding on the wrong side of the street (such as on E Burnside St, along the light rail.) They regularly blow stop signs in low traffic areas and sometimes even blow through red lights (against the law even if no cars are around). I see bicyclists riding on streets (NE Sandy Blvd in the Hollywood District) and MLK Jr and Grand Ave. Where there are high volumes of traffic. Some even \”take the whole lane\” going half the speed limit. I have seen bicyclists riding two abreast up the on ramp to the broadway bridge, and one even flipped me off when I beeped (politely) my horn at him. Then motioned for me to go around him, putting me in a position where i had to change lanes in heavy traffic, then change lanes again if I wanted to turn right. They ride on streets and roads with no shoulder, or not adequate room for them to ride safely on the right. As for blind spots, well in a truck those never go away! STAY OUT OF BLIND SPOTS!!! A blind spot does not constitute negligence, if the driver is not aware there is someone there. Most bicycle riders I have seen are unpredictable and unwilling to stop in most cases if they do not have to because they want to keep momentum. I have had to make myself practice what I am preaching so I know there are others out there who need to change the way they think. Bicycle Friendly City is not a license to do whatever you please. I am glad to see that bicyclists are getting citations and I hope the city grows rich on them and if a police officer sees me doing something against the law then I will gladly pay the fine!!! Having said that, I have seen some pretty stupid drivers out there, and I have been one, the motor vehicle far too easily can become an extensions of ones negative emotions, and I am guilty of that. Drivers need to slow down and take the law seriously as well. Unfortunately these environmental superhero, cannot do anything wrong, I belong on this street and you can\’t do anything about it, bicyclists are here to stay. I ride a bicycle daily and sometimes even walk to work, but I will never! never! associate myself with the generation of bicyclists I see on the streets today, I despise them! Cannot stand the way they dress, and wish to God they would get a head on their shoulders, and figure out how to truly share the road in a common sense way with motor vehicles.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry

As a former truck driver I know that a blind spot is not an excuse to drive over whatever or whoever is in that space. A blind spot is assumed to be occupied and not driven into unless you have a spotter. The truck driver should not have assumed that the blind spot was empty. That is careless driving on the trucker\’s part. Since he did drive blindly, not opting to choose a different route or use a spotter or better mirrors, all very reasonable options, he should be held responsible for what he did.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I call bullshit….

The simple explanation in Spark\’s statement alone shows negligence.

In no manner should the \”I did not see them\” defense be viable.

Not looking, then running someone over is negligence, and a full criminal act.

It is our responsibility, as citizens, to look before doing anything. Especially while driving a car or truck, and especially when driving one for a living, and even more when it is of such large weight and size.

Since it is obvious that the city or state is going to do nothing at all about this tragedy, I hope, even beyond my own personal beliefs on this subject, that Tracy\’s family sues the hell out of the drivers employer.

Maybe that is the only way that the drivers of personal, and especially commercial vehicles, will learn to shape up, and not rely on insufficient mirrors and safety equipment.

This is idiotic, and , as has been stated before, goes to show that cyclists in the City of Portland are seen and treated as not only lower class citizens, but also as expendable, and not worthy of the full protection we are allowed through our judicial system.

This is another sad, sad day in Portland folks…

Vance
Guest

811.050 811.060 If these are not going to be enforced, ever, then why are they on the books, at taxpayer expense? Why are you all here, instead of on Fancy Sam\’s site, complaining about being removed from the public right of way? When are you going to realize that you are not wanted out there? When are you going to wake up, and stop Geller, Adams, and Bricker from patting you on the head, and sending you on your way?

Since there is no more criminal investigation, it is okay to issue citations for the statutes that were inherently violated, right? Wait, that would give Sparling\’s family a leg to stand on in civil court wouldn\’t it? I wonder how large the campaign donation was from the Freight, \’Stakeholders\’, the last time we elected a D.A.? Meanwhile, this city council just gave full police authority to a bunch of private citizens. The PBA now owns us all, lock, stock, and barrel.

Matt Picio
Guest

Keith (#35) – cyclists have every right to ride on a road with no shoulder, and in many areas such roads may be the only road available. If there isn\’t adequate room for them to ride safely on the right, then it is their right to take the lane, and it is your responsibility to yield to them until you can safely pass.

You may not like it, but that is their right, and that is the law.

BURR
Guest
BURR

I see bicyclists riding on streets (NE Sandy Blvd in the Hollywood District) and MLK Jr and Grand Ave. Where there are high volumes of traffic. Some even \”take the whole lane\” going half the speed limit. I have seen bicyclists riding two abreast up the on ramp to the broadway bridge, and one even flipped me off when I beeped (politely) my horn at him. Then motioned for me to go around him, putting me in a position where i had to change lanes in heavy traffic, then change lanes again if I wanted to turn right. They ride on streets and roads with no shoulder, or not adequate room for them to ride safely on the right.

there is so much wrong with this statement that I don\’t even know where to start….

A bicyclist in front of you has the right of way and the right to the entire lane, as necessary, as determined by the cyclist. With the exception of limited access highways, all roads are open to cyclists. Any motorist overtaking a cyclist by law must slow down and waits until it is safe to pass. Do not honk your horn at cyclists and expect a favorable reaction.

I believe Keith is the poster child for motorist reeducation, the element of the three Es that the city barely gets a C- on.

Puleeze
Guest
Puleeze

While she didn\’t deserve to die for lack of foresight, she should have stopped behind the truck if it had its turn signal on, as the police report said.

I do that routinely on my 8-mile daily commute through bike hell, er Washington County, and it\’s saved my bacon dozens of times.

You can be right, dead right, or you can get to live if you assume that everyone on the road is trying to kill you.

Steven J.
Guest
Steven J.

Why in the hell commercial vehicles that size are allowed to even turn right there is a mystery to me. Existing fixtures, traffic backups, make it hard for a truck that size to even miss the curb.
Adams Wants my vote, he better do something more than blow smoke & test crosswalks with that lame ducki mayor.

Sho Dozono at least knows how to knock a few heads together to get it done.

Jeff
Guest

After reading the District Attorney\’s memo and most of the comments about the story, I\’m still left with one question.

It is the same question I had when an ambulance driver (not on an emergency run) here in Milwaukee, WI drove around a barricade and killed a bike racer and the D.A. here said almost the same thing when refusing to prosecute the driver.
If you can\’t prove criminally negligent homicide, why not charge the crime you can prove? The District Attorney would seem to have many choices.

163.195 Recklessly endangering another person. (1) A person commits the crime of recklessly endangering another person if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.

811.140 Reckless driving; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of reckless driving if the person recklessly drives a vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property.

(2) The use of the term “recklessly” in this section is as defined in ORS 161.085.

(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.

While many here have observed, charging the driver will not bring Tracey Sparling back, but that is not the reason for charging someone with a crime. This driver did not exercise the care that the law required him to, and that resulted in a death. I\’m not even saying the driver should go to prison, but he desrves more than the slap on the wrist that a traffic ticket would be.

By the way, in the incident here in Milwaukee, the driver got a ticket, that if memory serves me, cost him $50.

My condolences to Ms. Sparlings family and friends.

Moo
Guest
Moo

In a way, I\’m surprised there aren\’t more bike-truck collisions that result in fatalities. Big freakin\’ semis, dump trucks and garbage rigs dot our residential landscapes way too much.

Kevin
Guest

Here\’s some food for thought:
A woman is sentenced to prison for 30 months because she runs a red light while distracted and kills another driver in a collision. Guilty of vehicular homicide(http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2008/01/vancouver_woman_sentenced_to_p.html)

But it appears that if you are driving a truck and collide with a bike killing the cyclist those rules don\’t apply.

Shame on the system.

Vance
Guest

Again, I think the wrong questions are being posed here. Homicide, man-slaughter, these are tough, expensive cases to win. There were two violations inherently committed as evidenced by Ms. Sparling\’s death. Violation of ORS 811.050 is a traffic infraction with a small fine. Violation of ORS 811.060 is a traffic crime and provides latitude in sentencing that is significant.

You all are talking about punishing this driver. That is not why we have laws. This is why you won\’t look at the situation right in front of you. It is perfectly conceivable that there aren\’t grounds to prosecute a negligence case. Who cares? The real issue is why are there no citations being issued for violating the statutes I spoke of earlier? It\’s one thing to let Wiles out of prison time, it is entirely another thing to not write him so much as a ticket. Ask yourself why, for Pete\’s sake.

Look, Ms. Sparling\’s family undoubtedly are going to seek compensation through the civil courts. Their argument: \”You killed our daughter.\” The defense: \”This wasn\’t our driver\’s fault.\” Negligent homicide, or a traffic ticket, it doesn\’t matter. If Wiles is issued so much as a ticket, the civil suit is an open and shut case. I think they call it a slam-dunk. Don\’t you see? The city is going to try to draw as much attention to their decision not to prosecute a big case; while hoping you all don\’t notice that there isn\’t going to be any criminal charge made at all.

Therefore it is the D.A.\’s position that enforcing Oregon law isn\’t as important as preventing a certain concrete company from being sued out of existence. Homicide? Too ambitious. What about simply writing a couple of traffic tickets?

Mick
Guest

Keith #35: This is a tired old argument that has no bearing on the case at hand. Sparling was not doing any of the things that you describe.

Another Doug
Guest
Another Doug

Jeff #41:

You have identified the crux of the problem with charging drivers with anything more than a traffic violation. It is in the definition of recklessly that the DAs and everybody else have to live with.

\”(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.\”

As a society, we have come to accept an enormous amount of mayhem on our roads. Just look at the number of deaths that occur daily. It makes Iraq look like a picnic.

The people on juries regard themselves as reasonable people. When determining whether the conduct of a defendant represents a gross deviation they will think about how they drive.

The definition of \”recklessly\” needs to be changed if we are going to start holding people accountable for the deaths and injuries they cause when driving.

Nelson Muntz
Guest
Nelson Muntz

This is a horrible tragedy and an a horrible ACCIDENT. I doubt Mr. Wiles woke up that fateful morning looking to kill someone with his cement truck. I\’d venture the guy probably has nightmares and will be dealing with this for the rest of his life. Killing another human being is a horrible burden to bear especially under these circumstances. Mr. Wiles and his employer will very likely be punished monetarily in the civil courts but I realize this won\’t be enough for some of you.

I doubt that a $242 citation is going to do much good and it may likely polarize opinions in the tired bike vs. cars debate. Perhaps we should all strive to be more like Ms. Sparling\’s aunt, Susan Kubota. She is putting a human and very effective face on this tragedy. She is creating more energy and opportunities for the bike community to gain much needed change than those of you brandishing a mentality of punishment for the sake of punishment.

mcark
Guest
mcark

I\’m 24 hours away from Portland ( I know, what the hell am I doing here). I\’ve watched several youtube videos about the bike lanes and I would be exceedingly nervous to drive in Portland traffic with the bikes. I\’m waiting for a new discussion on separate bike lanes without \” Bikes are traffic, too\” being mentioned.

Jonathan: I know this site is meant for Portland bikers but this blog is such an inspiration for the rest of the country (like my state of Missouri) We, bikers, feel like we were born on a distant planet and adopted by our earth parents.