BikePortland

TriMet bus driver cleared of wrongdoing in fatal bike collision


bikes and buses

The Oregonian reported this morning that the driver of a TriMet bus that collided with 15 year-old Beaverton high school student Austin Miller back in February has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to the Oregonian, the Beaverton Police Department deemed the collision was “unavoidable”.

The crash happened on February 11th. Miller, an experienced rider who was coming home from school, was traveling south on the sidewalk adjacent to SW Murray Road. Miller and the bus collided as he re-entered the roadway and attempted to go west (right) onto SW Farmington. The bus was traveling west on SW Farmington and was pulling into a stop at the corner where the collision occurred.

The investigation concluded that Miller entered the roadway against a pedestrian traffic signal.

The Oregonian also reports that no citations were issued and that the Washington County D.A. has declined any criminal prosecution.

Back in February, I reported that Washington County might have some responsibility for this tragedy because they encourage bike traffic to use the sidewalk on SW Murray — a practice that has been proven to increase the likelihood of collisions and is discouraged by several agencies (including ODOT and the FHWA).

According to a source close to the investigation, a lack of on-board cameras, difficulty in determining the point of impact, and conflicting witness statements made analysis of the crash very challenging — even after TriMet staged a detailed reenactment of what might have happened.

Newer TriMet buses have four cameras, but unfortunately this one was older and did not have any cameras on-board. Had their been cameras, it would have been much easier to figure out precisely how the crash happened.

According to the Police report (which has been posted as a PDF at KGW.com — warning, graphic) investigators say “this crash occurred because Austin Miller failed to stop his bike prior to entering the bike path on westbound Farmington Road.” The report also states that Miller “further decreased his awareness to his surroundings by most likely wearing earbuds and listening to music on an MP3 style player.”

KGW reports that Austin Miller’s mom “disagrees” with the report and is “very disappointed” about the outcome of the investigation.

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–For more coverage of the Austin Miller tragedy, visit the BikePortland.org archives.

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