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Fatal bike/car crash on NE Prescott at 57th

Posted by on May 14th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Looking east on Prescott. Green
paint in foreground marks where
bike came to rest.
(Photo: Elly Blue)

This evening around 5:30 pm, a 36-year old man on a bicycle was fatally wounded when he attempted to cross NE Prescott Street at NE 57th (view map below).

According to investigators, Sandy Bass Jr. was headed north on NE 57th on his way to pick up his son at Rigler Elementary School. He was struck by a white Subaru that was headed west on Prescott.

Story continues below

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According to PPB Sergeant Voepel, the driver will not being cited.

The Police have also already determined that the person operating the motor vehicle had the right of way and that impairment was not a factor. Voepel told Blue that it appeared the man operating the bicycle “made an error”. Police spokesperson Mary Wheat told The Oregonian that, “it appeared that the driver of the vehicle had the right of way.”

This is NE 57th approaching Prescott with the same approach as the man who was hit.

Blue reported seeing many bikes riding by in the vicinity. I have also already read several comments and gotten emails from people stating they commute through this area and that crossing Prescott can be tricky.

Prescott is a 35 mph in that location and the collision happened just half a block west of an Albertsons grocery store and just a few blocks east of Rigler Elementary School (view map below).

The deceased man’s name has not been released. A photo of his bike published by KATU shows that he was riding a stock, mid-low range Specialized mountain bike.

As is the case with all fatal collisions, the Portland Police Traffic Division will carry out a full investigation.


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joePrescott residentRixtirwsbobCully Neighborhood Mother Recent comment authors
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steve
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steve

I have been buzzed on that section of Prescott many, many times. For whatever reason there are numerous drivers there that do not respect the right of cyclists to be on the roadway.

I hope this is not the start of a long Summer. My thoughts are with the cyclists friends and family. What a shame.

pedalstrikeforceagentdown
Guest

Sad.

Wilder Schmaltz
Guest
Wilder Schmaltz

This is at the end of my street. Police and news crews are still there as of 7:15 p.m. The bike is still on the scene, in the Northbound lane, as is a bundle of clothing or material, and spray painted markers are on the road. Police could only say that it was a fatal accident and that the deceased is a male in his 30s. The officer also said that there was no impairment (alcohol/drugs) known to be involved as yet. Remembering my buddy Brett Jarolimek.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

This is very sad. I usually take this route home from work, but today I decided to take the MAX. I’ve had a few close calls on this stretch of Prescott. My heart goes to everyone involved.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

My Thoughts and Prayers go to the Families involved…

schrammalama
Guest
schrammalama

We noticed the commotion as we driving down 60th at the 5 point intersection. West bound driving on Prescott you can get a lot of sun glare. I’m not surprised that it would have been hard to see someone. That said, people drive way to fast down Prescott.

Little Red Bike Cafe
Guest

Our hearts go out to all involved. Please let us know if there is any way we can help.

ScottG
Guest
ScottG

I am deeply saddened to hear this. I’m planning to participate in the Ride of Silence next Wednesday, and this will be yet another person to ride for.

I will also say that I’ve always felt a bit awkward crossing Prescott along 37th, which is a bike boulevard. There is a corner there which makes it nearly impossible to see traffic coming from both directions.

Zaphod
Guest

Oregonlive’s story has the crash listed at Cully & Prescott, a few blocks from 57th. They may be rounding to the nearest major cross.

A sad day indeed.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

i just went to oregonlive to check out the story. What a sewer that place is. A bunch of antibike rants and a bikeportland slam. They don’t even wait to hear any details about a persons death before they start the sick comments. My sympathy to the persons family and my sadness sometimes about a bunch of a-holes who live here.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

The comments on oregonlive always suck.

I particularly like the one about learning how to use lights at night… when the crash was in the early evening, a time which is perfectly light out during this time of year.

Steve @ 1–according to oregonlive it looks like the driver had the right of way. We can’t ALWAYS blame cars (tempting as it is). Either way, in bike-car run-ins the bicyclist always ends up getting the worst of it.

Barney
Guest
Barney

@ #9
I thought the comments at Oregonlive were a pretty accurate cross-section of public opinion. There was sympathy, sarcasm, unreasonable anti-bike sentiment, unreasonable anti-car sentiment, and classic anonymous internet aggression. For a site that isn’t particularly dedicated to cycling, I didn’t find it to be too over-the-top. Yes, I hope for better, but in the meantime, I choose to spend more time here than on Oregonlive.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Our Prayers and thoughts go out to both families of the parties involved in this incident.

Very sad for all…

Val A Lindsay II
Guest
Val A Lindsay II

Damn, damn, damn. My sympathy and empathy for all involved…

Kyrstin
Guest
Kyrstin

So sad. I came home from a ride that took me right through that intersection to the news of this tragic accident. Our families thoughts are with those of touched by this incident.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

this is exactly where the mayor had previously proposed a cycletrack. I have to say where is it Sam??? You have been in office for awhile but I havn’t seen any actual movement on improving bike facilities at this intersection. Additionally can we get a traffic circle installed here, the 5 way stop is bizarre and dangerous leading to many near misses. Safety would be much improved with a slowing feature rather than a stop and punch it feature.

bjorn

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

this is exactly where the mayor had previously proposed a cycletrack. I have to say where is it Sam??? You have been in office for awhile but I havn’t seen any actual movement on improving bike facilities at this intersection. Additionally can we get a traffic circle installed here, the 5 way stop is bizarre and dangerous leading to many near misses. Safety would be much improved with a slowing feature rather than a stop and punch it feature.

bjorn

Patrick Valdez
Guest

My condolences goes out to the family of the cyclist. But let’s not join sides on this one. From the details I have read, the vehicle had the right of way and no drugs or alcohol were involved. I’m not laying blame on the cyclist either. It may have just been a tragic accident but whatever the outcome I only hope this doesn’t turn into another cars vs. bikes war.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

In the second picture from the top, the terrain seems fairly level rather than an upward grade closer to the setting sun. At 5:30pm, is sun glare a problem for west-bound road users at this intersection? I’m not personally familiar with the intersection, but wondering if it might be a little early for the sun to be in people’s eyes… 6:30?

are
Guest
are

absent a posting, the default speed limit is 25 mph. the report should include an analysis of how fast the motorist was going, and if glare was a factor, then even 25 might be too fast for conditions.

incidentally, this is several blocks west of the five-way. the proposed cycle track was on Culley, as I understood it.

graham
Guest
graham

I commute down through this same intersection on my way home from work every day on my bike, tragic indeed. I’m seeing a lot of comments about the 35 mph posted speed limit in Prescott, which I’ve never agreed with for precisely this reason (and the fact that this happened just one block from Rigler elementary). My thoughts and prayers go out to the man’s family. I was on my way home from work on my bike today to find the street cordoned off. All the officer would tell me at the time was that it was a “traffic accident.”

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Rest in Peace. My heart goes out to the family.

I lived just off 66th and Prescott and did that direct East-West commute 5 days a week for a year.

If Jonanthan and the media can speculate the bike made an error, why can’t he speculate the car made the more frequent error?

In technical terms, a car going 35mph had the right of way. In terms of reality, I doubt the car was doing under 35. Who knows.

Did the cops send away any witnesses? I’ve seen that happen for the one Portland car accident I saw first hand.

I used the parallel side streets of Skidmore and Going 90% of the time. But when I was under time constraints I would take the lane at 22-26mph on Prescott between 33rd and MLK. Cars would freak out and speed past me, and I’d catch up with them at the next light. I’d say nothing to them and never see them again because they would be stuck in a line of 10 cars that would not make the next green.

Cars would often drive 40-50 on Prescott in the section between Albertsons and 33rd. There are no obstructions other than 47th and a curve.

There were no clouds today. I was outside baby sitting at 5:30. And at 5:30 the sun would have caused conditions that require drivers to slow. If the driver was squinting into the sun, the driver should have slowed as the law states under driving too fast for conditions.

If I were the family, I’d have a lawyer calling any and all witnesses. I’d have the speeding and driving record of the driver pulled ASAP. I’d pull the cell phone records of the driver. I’d determine if the driver was wearing music devices. I’d have my lawyer measure all skidmarks and have the car inspected for poor brake conditions.

If there was a lot of trauma did the driver not even attempt to stop? If the driver did not attempt to stop then perhaps the driver was not concentrated on the road ahead. The blame can be shared. It’s possible the bike took a risk trying to get to the other side, but it’s also possible the driver was knowingly taking risks.

Was the car in a hurry to get somewhere?

I’ve seen cops send away witnesses. In their judgement, one witness was enough. I’ve also seen a horrific crash in Portland. The cops said they did not need any witnesses, they had one and did not want to take my info. I asked them to take my info because I had heard the driver who ran a stop declare to the victim that he had run the stop as he jumped out of the car and apologized. The other witness was in a car behind the accident and could never had heard that. I was a pedestrian, and I know when things go to court, people deny the truth of the scene.

It’s all about the witnesses. I don’t trust Portland Cops after a significant number of instances where people were seriously hurt and they wanted to rush the report or not even file a report. I guess the cops would blame it on the taxpayers for not giving them enough manpower to do the job better.

JR
Guest
JR

I’ve rode on Prescott before and felt unsafe with the speeding cars.. I’ve heard residents there also complain about the speeding cars on that street.. Whatever the vehicle was doing, I doubt it was going slower than normal.. which is too fast.

efglez
Guest
efglez

A friend called me to check on me, thinking the worse… I was told to @%%*&&# STOP riding my bike already, that there are way too many crazy people driving out there. It is sad to think that this could happen to anyone at anytime. Thank you to all the people that cared enough to call a friend.
We have power in numbers, please don’t stop riding and if you are not doing it already, get out there soon. The more the bikes the safer we will be. My thoughts go to his family and friends.

dsaxena
Guest
dsaxena

ScottG (#8)…I agree about 37th/Prescott. I’ve been crossing that a lot on my routes lately and that intersection alone is reason for 37th to loose Bike Boulevard status. It seriously needs a bike activated light in the North-South direction.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Joe Rowe, #21:

Thanks for that post. It’s an important reminder that when a cyclist dies, he can’t tell his side of the story, so it’s up to all of us to ask these questions for the cyclist.

Of course, the PPB could ask those questions too, but they won’t.

Sad. He was a single parent. I hope his child has family.

Chris
Guest
Chris

OMG…..i was riding Prescott from 82nd to 72nd today at about 6pm! I took Prescott instead of my usual route on Sandy because traffic is lighter……i could never imagine someone getting hit on such a wide street with such light traffic, but you never know eh? My friend just called me telling me to please buy a helmet because she is one of the teachers at Rigler of the kid that the deceased was coming to pick up and this has totally effed her up. Getting my helmet tommorrow.

Cully Neighborhood Mother
Guest
Cully Neighborhood Mother

I walk with my daughter along 57th and cross to Prescott to get to Albertson’s almost every day. 57th has no sidewalks between Alberta Street and Prescott. Same with Cully and 60th. No sidewalks. No crosswalks. Certainly no bike lanes. Absolutely no parks. Cars rule this residential neighborhood. Sam Adams made many promises to the Cully neighborhood and has forgotten us. Pedestrians and bicyclists are second-class citizens in this area. What am I supposed to tell my daughter? We cross this intersection every day. I don’t think I can pass this location without remembering the tragedy. We have no car. We have to either ride our bikes or walk a 1/2 mile to the bus stop at Albertson’s because that is the nearest Trimet bus! There are no sidewalks to get there. I know this intersection like the back of my hand. It can be hard to see the cars coming from the west because of parked cars. Sometimes you have to step out to see. And the cars are going fast from both sides. They’re going fast from the west because they’re all freaked out and frustrated by the crazy 5-way intersection. Maybe someone cut in front of them there and then the driver was angry and sped up. Or maybe they were still dwelling on that intersection and not focusing on the road ahead. I know I shouldn’t speculate but I see it all the time there. I’m terrified to find out who it was. I know all my neighbors. This is a real neighborhood, not a through-way. Slow down. There are children playing in the streets because we have no sidewalks and no parks. Prescott is a major bike route. This is my street. This is so sad and terrible.

benn
Guest
benn

Joe Rowe:

Contrary to what you assume, eyewitness testimony actually has been shown to be fairly unreliable. I recognize it runs counter to what is generally expected, but there is quite a bit of information available documenting how frequently eyewitnesses make mistakes. Google unreliable eyewitness for articles about this phenomenon.

Paul Tay
Guest

Guerrilla traffic calming on Prescott, anyone?

Paul Tay
Guest
Ash....Housewares
Guest
Ash....Housewares

I live on 79th and used to take Prescott all the time. I never took it past 33rd. MLK to 33 is sooo dangerous. The funny thing is, I see a HUGE number of people riding that strech with no helmet. I don’t get it??!! Worried your going to crush your doo? Want people to notice that really cool cap you just bought? There is no room on that street for a bike! I don’t understand why anyone would ride it when there is the calm low traffic Skidmore one block south. It’s nice I ride it everyday. Yea, it sucks from Cully going east, I don’t like the “unimproved roads” either. I think I’d like being dead even less though!

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

Maywood Park/the 205. This “Bike Route” is in desperate need of a bike lane. Parked cars take up much of where the bikes should go if they want to stay out of traffic. That intersection with Cully is insane.
Condolences to the family of the cyclist.
I agree with some of the Hawthorne Bridge incident comments: focus on our current bike infrastructure before expanding into new areas.

proud lefty
Guest
proud lefty

Bikeers
You have to OWN that the bike-rider was going south, thus crossing Prescott and obviously made a mistake in judgment and was struck. The car had a LEGAL right of way. At the time of the accident the sun would have had ZERO factor in the crash. Prescott is wide enough to allow car parking on both sides of the streets and there is plenty of room for both cars and bikes. Please do not make this a car vs bike issue, as many of the idiots on Oregonlive have done. Makes cyclist look bad as rude car drivers.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

“this is exactly where the mayor had previously proposed a cycletrack”

this is not true. the cycletrack will go in on Cully.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Prescott between MLK and 82nd is a well known shortcut for cars going to the airport, often in a rush. There are very few stop signs or traffic lights.

What about paving narrow 6 foot paths over the unimproved streets parallel to Killingsworth, Alberta and Prescott on Going and Emerson, with some street dead ends for cars which let peds and bikes pass, like those around 14th and Alberta?

I bet residents would support dead end streets. Great for kids too.

buzz
Guest
buzz

@#28 Cully Neighborhood Mother: You make several good points, but one of them I feel is key:

“It can be hard to see the cars coming from the west because of parked cars.”

I live in the Hollywood Dist. and there are a lot of parked cars in this area due to the library and other businesses. The cars are allowed to park to the very end of the intersection and it makes it very difficult to see no matter if I am on bike or car. Now, the speed limits on those streets is 25. I cannot imagine what it would be like if it were 35. Top that off, the intersection I live on, there usually seems to be two big vans parked back to back which makes visibility worse!

Now, I am not sure if not being able to see due to parked cars was the reason for this crash, but it makes me wonder.

The city of Portland needs to stop letting cars park all the way to the end of the intersection. The town I moved from (Billings, MT where autos are certainly king) does not allow this. It is a safety matter for cars, bikes and pedestrians.

Rich R.
Guest
Rich R.

Really sucks to see this happen, but you can’t blame the motorist unless he was destroying the speed limit. Then again it really doesn’t matter who’s at fault. Our comrade is not coming back 🙁 I got turned into on Wednesday (I’m okay) and the Range Rover driver was totally clueless that I was there until I hit his from passenger panel. Reminded me, once again, that I (we) must super aware at all times. Preaching to the choir, I know.

buzz
Guest
buzz

And, my heart goes out to the family.

ScottG
Guest
ScottG

buzz: I’m 100% with you. Having moved here from out of state as well, I’ve been disappointed to see the way cars park right up to the edge of intersections on busy streets (e.g, N Mississippi). Trying to nose your way out into those intersections (especially in a car) is extremely dangerous. I never understood why no one else seemed to be bothered by it.

a.O
Guest
a.O

These design issues are certainly worthy of discussion and implementation.

This morning, I just can’t get past the fact that there is a little boy somewhere in Portland who is very scared and very alone without his dad. It breaks my heart.

It’s so much worse in this society where we don’t take care of our own. Perhaps if the phrase “bike community” means something, it means stepping up for this little guy?

Do we know whether he has anyone to take care of him?

Joe
Guest
Joe

RIP bike friend.. sad news! Cars R Coffins

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Benn, #29:

That is true, but since the police are already talking to eyewitnesses, why not get as many eyewitnesses as possible? Picking one eyewitness at random certainly doesn’t improve their odds of getting an accurate account of events.

The only other options available are asking the driver what happened, and accident reconstruction/forensics. The problems with the first option should be obvious. The problem with the second option is that the police are NOT forensic engineers, even though they sometimes fancy themselves to be.

Ideally, you’d want to have both a forensic engineer, and corroborating eyewitness testimony– neither of which you’re going to get from a police investigation.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

a.O:

This morning, I just can’t get past the fact that there is a little boy somewhere in Portland who is very scared and very alone without his dad. It breaks my heart.

This is absolutely the worst part of this tragic collision. I really hope he has loving family with him at this moment.

Erica
Guest
Erica

All the best to the deceased cyclist’s family. As much as I’d like to rail about the need for greater education on roadway safety right now, a moment of silence seems far more respectful. I hope his family finds solace in the thoughts and prayers of hundreds of fellow cyclists.

fredlf
Guest
fredlf

I live near, and very frequently ride through, this area. Just want to add my voice to those who point out Prescott is over-loaded and too fast, and the 5-way intersection is simply madness.

Maybe this will help push forward the Going bike blvd.? Meanwhile, Skidmore is a far safer choice, esp. between 33rd and MLK.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of the deceased. If something is organized to help, I surely will contribute.

John M
Guest
John M

I lost my brother in a bike/car accident when he was 36 yrs old. His death devastated my family, especially my mother. The elderly driver and his wife attended his funeral and we ended up consoling them because they were so completely distraught. My brother was a great biker – he just hit an unseen hole in the road and was thrown under the car. A terrible accident.
I hope bikers and drivers all consider how a tragedy would affect their loved ones and please drive/bike safely.

Ed
Guest
Ed

Prescott is also very tricky to cross at 37th (especially southbound) which is the most viable north south bike route for that area of the city. It is a back way, all the way from Alemeda to pretty much the 33rd overpass to the north. Prescott doglegs here, and with houses close up it is impossible to see east bound cars approaching without committing to being in the middle of the street basically. If vehicles are approaching one must break fast and essentially stand in the middle of the road in the middle of a fast dogleg where there is considerable lane drift by vehicles. This is tricky for even experienced cyclists and a time bomb for beginners.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Proud Lefty, #34:

Bikeers
You have to OWN that the bike-rider was going south, thus crossing Prescott and obviously made a mistake in judgment and was struck. The car had a LEGAL right of way. At the time of the accident the sun would have had ZERO factor in the crash. Prescott is wide enough to allow car parking on both sides of the streets and there is plenty of room for both cars and bikes. Please do not make this a car vs bike issue, as many of the idiots on Oregonlive have done. Makes cyclist look bad as rude car drivers.

Proud Lefty, I hear the assumption you’re making, and inviting all of us to make: that the cyclist blew a stop sign and paid the ultimate price for that.

I stop at every stop sign, and every stop light, every time. I also frequently write about why cyclists should follow the traffic laws. In other words, I’m not given to making excuses about disregarding the law. That said, I’m declining the invitation to assume anything about this collision. The reason is because we only know one thing: that a driver collided with a cyclist.

You say the cyclist was southbound on 57th; the collision occurred on Prescott, so it’s easy to assume that the cyclist blew the light and was trying to cross Prescott when he was hit.

But I don’t think that’s what happened. I think what happened is he was heading south on 57th and turned right on Prescott– the news reports say he was on his way to the elementary school to pick up his son, and to do that, he would have turned right.

Did he blow the stop? Or did he stop and then turn? I don’t know, and neither does anybody else. But from the photo above, it seems clear that he was already on Prescott, headed west, when he was hit. That being the case, why would anybody conclude that the car had the right of way? It’s certainly possible that the car had the right of way, but is it a certainty? If the cyclist was already on Prescott, heading west, the driver had a duty to pass him at a safe distance; the driver had a duty to keep a proper lookout (and so did the cyclist); the driver had a duty to exercise due care to avoid hitting the cyclist, EVEN IF THE DRIVER HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY; the cyclist himself MAY have been the vehicle operator with the right of way; and the driver had the duty to obey the speed limit.

It seems to me that there are at least two possibilities here: (1) the cyclist carelessly entered onto Prescott into the path of an oncoming car, and the only question is whether the driver observed his duties toward the careless cyclist, or (2) the cyclist lawfully entered onto Prescott, and the driver failed to observe any of his duties to the cyclist. With the information we have about this collision, either of those scenarios is possible; therefore, any declarations that the driver had the legal right of way, and that this collision is therefore the cyclist’s fault, are without evidence, and premature.

Rather than leaping to conclusions about “owning” what happened, it would be better if we first get some answers to questions that need to be asked– because, again, there were two vehicle operators here, and only one of them lived to tell his side of things– and unfortunately, we’re not going to get those answers from the Portland Police Bureau, because it’s extremely unlikely that they’re even asking the right questions.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Thank you, Rixter (49).