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Man on a bike dragged 150 feet following traffic altercation (Updated)

Posted by on August 13th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

The Oregonian is reporting that 31-year old Kevin Stevenson is in serious condition after a traffic altercation resulted in him being dragged 150 feet by a vehicle near NE Couch Street and Sandy Blvd.

We have not confirmed any details of the story with the Portland Police Bureau, but according to The Oregonian the incident occured at 1:15 am Thursday morning. Here’s an excerpt from their story:

Several bicyclists were going eastbound on East Burnside near Sandy Boulevard when a vehicle seemed to be tailgating them, said Detective Mary Wheat, a police spokeswoman.

When the vehicle started to go around, one of the bicyclists started yelling at the driver. Wheat said the bicyclist leaned into the passenger window of the vehicle and tried to grab the driver, apparently upset because the car was too close to the cyclists.

… Dispatchers were told the man was dragged by a vehicle and finally dropped near Northeast Couch Street and Sandy Boulevard.

Wheat said the injured man suffered road rash, and his shoe was torn up. He was riding a bicycle without gears or brakes.

The article says that Stevenson was riding with his girlfriend, Kate Darnall, at the time of the altercation. The Oregonian spoke to Darnall’s family and they say Stevenson “yelled at the vehicle” after it passed them, causing the driver to back up. When the driver got near them, Darnall alleges that her boyfriend was “grabbed by the driver and a passenger in the back seat, then dragged until the heels of his shoes were in tatters.”

Stevenson was taken to the burn center at Legacy Emanuel Hospital and was currently listed in serious condition as of Thursday afternoon.

The case is still being investigated and has been turned over to the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division.

We realize there are a lot of unanswered questions with this story and we’ll plan on finding out more details tomorrow.


Updated on Saturday, August 15th:
The Oregonian has published an update to this story. They report that police have interviewed the victim and another witness again, and now believe that Stevenson was grabbed by the passenger and driver rather than the other way around.

According to the new story, police are still searching for the vehicle, but are not releasing any identifying details except that it had out-of-state plates.

Stevenson is still hospitalized, in serious condition with multiple injuries, the story reports.

The original story on the Oregonian, which quotes the police statement that the man on the bike tried to grab the person driving the car, and adds that he was riding without gears or brakes, has more comments than any other current news story.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

“Police did not release a description of the vehicle, saying more investigation was necessary.”

Sounds like no matter what happened it ended with one person hurt and another person leaving the scene of a injury incident. Why are the police not releasing a description? If they havn’t identified the driver then a description is needed! Hit and run in PDX is a serious problem, in the last year I was present for a serious injury hit and run and my car was hit by someone who drove off without taking responsibility. I would believe this wasn’t the drivers fault if they had stopped or contacted the cops but it sounds like neither of those things happened. People don’t run unless they know they did something wrong!

Serviceburo
Guest

So how many people are going to ignore the fact that this guy REACHED INTO THE CAR! There’s no excuse for what the driver did, but there’s also no excuse for what the cyclist did. Darwinism in full effect if you ask me.

Allison
Guest
Allison

I’m sorry Jonathan, but I hate these stories. Maybe we need to hear about this stuff, but they’re always filled with guesses and speculation and it leads to recrimination and blame throwing.

Is this really any better than the O’s depiction of Cars v. Bikes stories? Even if the story didn’t frame it that way, you know the comments will.

I hear you Allison… and I have mixed feelings about these type of stories too… but I still feel like they need to be covered here.

as for the comments… they will be what they are, but rest assured that Elly and I are watching comments much more closely these days.

thanks for your feedback. — Jonathan

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Did he reach in or as some witnesses said was he pulled into the car? Regardless the Oregonian’s continued bias shows clearly as they try to degrade him by saying that his bike “had no gears or brakes”. Sounds like he was riding this: http://www.skuut.com/

Actually he was probably riding a full size bicycle that had both 1 gear and a brake that is operated by resisting the forward motion of the pedals.

Allison
Guest
Allison

Bjorn:

Obviously we don’t know. Sounds like accounts differ, which is probably why the police report hasn’t been released.

I think the fact that the bike didn’t have brakes is relevant. Brakes are required by Oregon law if you’re going to ride on public thoroughfares.

Joe
Guest
Joe

get well! hope things turn out ok.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Serviceburo: the police officer claimed that he reached into the car. His girlfriend claims he was grabbed by the people in the car. I would be very surprised to learn that a cyclist, especially one on a fixed-gear bike, had done something so foolhardy as to reach into a moving car to try to grab someone inside. It is even more bizarre to imagine a cyclist trying to reach the driver of a moving car from the passenger side as the police report claims. I am very skeptical of the detective’s version of this story.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Well several judges in Portland and around the state have ruled that a fixed gear hub is a mechanical brake so it is questionable that the bike didn’t have a brake, assuming that the guy wasn’t riding a skuut, which I suppose in pdx might be the case…

Disastronaut
Guest
Disastronaut

So if the guy is on a fixie it’s all his fault, I get it now.

indy
Guest
indy

“Actually he was probably riding a full size bicycle that had both 1 gear and a brake that is operated by resisting the forward motion of the pedals.”

How can you NOT get the Pulitzer for clarification alone?

Ian C.
Guest

Eastbound on Burnside. Right. There is no way in Hell I would be found biking on that stretch of Burnside. Especially near Sandy. Especially on a Fixie.

The nearest Bike Boulevard is ONE BLOCK AWAY on Ankeny.

Certainly, there are no excuses for the alleged behavior on either side, but I just hate hearing about these things when a gentle partition would have avoided the whole affair.

-Ian

KJ
Guest
KJ

fixies are the new ‘no helmet”

She
Guest
She

This is very sad, I am sorry to hear of situations like this. I know I have been in a situation where I felt the need to ride up to a drive and educate him that he just cut me off and if I had not responded as quickly as I did it could have been my life gone. Unfortunately, it was not a very successful education process. He was on his cell phone when he cut me off and still when I caught up to him and he had a youth in the front seat of the car.

So having said that I understand how our adrenaline can get the best of us.

I just keep coming back to how sad this is – 1) that the driver got that close to the other bikes to upset this rider that much, 2) that the driver BACKED UP (that should not be lost on any of us) and went back to the altercation, 3) that there is a possibility that the biker leaned into the car to grab a driver and/or passenger, horrible, sad, frightening, and I have to say all at 1:15 am which is not a good time to be on a bike or in a car on the road.

I hope that Kevin makes a full recovery and can help all of us cyclists learn what happened despite what pride or protectiveness over his friends he felt that night/morning.

This guy went to the burn unit, he was dragged by his feet for some distance to destroy completely his shoes!

I hope both parties come and way and figure out how to be less agressive and confrontive in traffic situations – really NO ONE wins in this situation.

Thank you Jonathan and Elly for your diligence in monitoring you site!

Let’s not speculate but think of how we can avoid these kinds of situations.

Roma
Guest
Roma

If his girlfriends’ story is true, you’re taking your life into your own hands if you’re yelling at people in cars (or anyone really) at 1:15am. There are some crazy mofos out there.

I don’t know who to believe No matter what happened, this guy didn’t deserve what he got. I think the driver instantly loses some credibility for leaving the scene after almost killing someone.

I also agree that saying he was riding a bicycle with no gears and no brakes is totally irrelevant when describing this incident. It only serves to make the cyclist seem like some sort of daredevil scofflaw.

Elly Blue (Columnist)
Member

Folks, we are keeping an eye on comments as much as possible but we have to sleep at some point. Relying on you all to keep your cool.

Peter Noone
Guest
Peter Noone

@Allison: Please explain how the cyclist’s brakes or alleged lack thereof may have caused this incident to occur. If there is no cause-and-effect relationship, there is no relevance to the issue at hand.

rrandom rider
Guest
rrandom rider

I don’t get it. The guy’s girlfriend, who witnessed the incident, says that the people in the car grabbed Kevin. Yet, the police report says that Kevin reached inside the car.

Did the police have multiple witnesses that they deemed more reliable than the girlfriend? Is this a reporting error? These are rhetorical questions since there, obviously, is a lot of missing information.

Regardless, it seems like Kevin exercised some very poor judgment while the people in the car committed at least one felony.

Jonathan L
Guest
Jonathan L

‘She’ posted “and I have to say all at 1:15 am which is not a good time to be on a bike or in a car on the road”

How bad is that comment?

-Jonathan L

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“It is even more bizarre to imagine a cyclist trying to reach the driver of a moving car from the passenger side as the police report claims.” Tim #7

If he had very long arms… . Maybe he did and Detective Wheat neglected to mention that?

Joe D
Guest

I agree with rrandom rider. The police didn’t witness the incident. I can tell you firsthand that what appears in a police report doesn’t necessarily bear much relation to fact and can be loaded with bias, error, sarcasm, and wacked physics.

I’m trying to understand how a lack of brakes, legal or not, on this apparent Skuut/Like-a-Bike/Strider is relevant to what happened. Was the precipitating argument somehow about the cyclist’s braking? Would it also be relevant if, say, one of the car’s taillights was burned out, since it’s illegal to drive with a burned-out taillight? And how does yelling at a driver “cause” a driver to back up?

bicycletothesun
Guest
bicycletothesun

Two days ago I was riding just 2 blocks along NE 33rd and this mercedes purposely tail gated me and kept honking his horn. At which point he suddenly swerved around me and swung his car as if trying to knock me over. He came very close and then zoomed on very quickly. I immediately got into the middle of the street and hung the bird for him at which point he backed up his car (drove backwards very fast 300+ feet) and did a U turn to face me. He got out of the car and approached me — I got back on my bike and drew out my Ulock. He saw this and got back into the car. … crazy people out there!!! Be safe!

peejay
Guest
peejay

Bikes are allowed on all road with the exception of interstates within city limits. Bike boulevards are great and all, but sometimes you have to get to a destination on a busy street.

That detail about no brakes or gears is exactly the same as “the rider was not wearing a helmet” — in other words, totally predictable, totally irrelevant. Jonathan, you should not have included it in your story, whether or not it was part of the police report.

bicycletothesun
Guest
bicycletothesun

“Jonathan, you should not have included it in your story, whether or not it was part of the police report.”

Why? It is good he did. It allows us to better understand how we need to change the “danger” perception in the public eye about brakes, fixed gear, helmets, etc. We need to challenge the notion that even if Joe Blow is riding a brakeless fixed gear bike, in all black, no lights, no helmet — he does not deserve to be run over by 2 tons of hot metal.

what kind of brakes?
Guest
what kind of brakes?

#20 agreed

did the story talk about the car having disc or drum brakes?

buzz
Guest
buzz

Does anyone know if they still had Ankeny closed around 9th? I agree with Ian C that Ankeny is a much better route, but wondering if it was blocked off (construction) and that is why the cyclists were on Burnside. Still, Ash would be better than Burnside. I hate driving a car on that stretch of Burnside and would not imagine riding a bike there espcially late at night.

I do hope the guy is going to be all right and I don’t understand the fixie argument. And remember people that are driving that late increases the chance he/she was drinking. Be safe!

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

#21 this isn’t an issue of a driver who didn’t see a cyclist or a cyclist who couldn’t stop. That is exactly why it is irrelevant. Here we have a driver who got yelled at because even with lanes available he came way too close, he stopped backed up to confront the cyclist and then somehow the person on the bike ended up half in half out of the car before being hurt badly as he was drug for some distance. Then the driver drove off without stopping…

hmmm you’re right the main thing I need to know in order to understand this story is what kind of braking device the cyclist was using.

are
Guest
are

Ankney is a good route if you are going somewhere on Ankney or points south, and if Ankney suits your tastes. Burnside is better if you are going somewhere on, y’know, Burnside or points north or if you kinda prefer Burnside.

A fixie is a bike. 1:15 a.m. is a time when it is legal for people to be out and around. No one questions why the motorist was out driving at that hour, or the make and model of the car.

and Jonathan: although it has also been my experience that when I shout at a motorist he sometimes stops or backs up, I don’t think my shouting actually “causes” this to happen.

Lisa G
Guest
Lisa G

It’s a horrible intersection, however, bikes have as much right to be there as cars, regardless of the time of night, whether or not it was a fixie, etc., etc. You shouldn’t have to expect to be taking your life in your hands just to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. I wonder if there were any other witnesses.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

…and the driver of the car and passengers where not wearing helmets…

Jonathan L
Guest
Jonathan L

Are- thanks for picking those points up as well.

All types of businesses in Portland are open after the sun goes down and these places employ people that need to get around one way or another. Would you expect everyone to go home at 5pm in the winter beacause it is dark outside?

-Jonathan L

peejay
Guest
peejay

I knew a libertarian who used to say we should legalize drunk driving during certain times at night, so the drunks can get places. If anyone else in on the road at that time, too bad. I guess he never had to hold down two jobs, or had to take a family member to the hospital or airport, and I guess that mentality is fairly widespread.

I agree with what are said.

nopoartist
Guest
nopoartist

Since the “facts” have not come out yet, ( both sides of this story can be bias) I tend to go with what usually works, which is the truth is somewhere in between.
If Kevin was dumb enough to attack the driver of the car ( think how dangerous that could be to the passengers of the car that the driver was fighting with Kevin) then I can completely understand the anger of the driver and the passengers.
I equally understand being pissed being tail gated by a car while biking, happens all the time up here in NOPO.
Does this justify dragging Kevin “kicking and screaming”?
Hell no, he could have been easily killed.
If Kevin did this however, he physically assaulted the driver. He then put himself in a very hard position to later legally go after the driver who can now claim he and the passengers were “defending” themselves from this unwarranted attack.
Would this be complete B.S., hell yes again, but look where Kevin put himself.
It is hard to say what happen because there are so little facts currently and none of us were there, but we have all seen way to many instances where attitudes and aggression cause a stupid situation to become violent. I have seen bike riders in NOPO purposefully hit there back brakes and rear slide their tires to make a pedestrian jump who was in the bike lane. I have also had several groups of people yell, throw things and get in my way purposefully in the bike path.
Honestly, you can take the person out of the car or off the bike but you can’t take the machismo out of the fool hardy.

Stig
Guest
Stig

Detective Wheat must have heard about the mad balance skills that fixed gear hipsters have- being able to balance on a bicycle and reach through a moving vehicle’s passenger side window all the way to grab the driver.

How long were the cyclist’s arms?

Did the victim motorist stop and report the incident? Was he on his way home from the bar? How long is his record?

I wish this was caught on camera so the real facts could be known.

Roma
Guest
Roma

“and Jonathan: although it has also been my experience that when I shout at a motorist he sometimes stops or backs up, I don’t think my shouting actually “causes” this to happen.”

Really? If you yell at someone, you’re intentionally escalating the situation. You can’t expect to provoke people into a confrontation and deny all accountability for what happens next.

Vance Longwell
Guest

There are three separate conclusions printed in the article. Who knows what happened at this point? I thought hit and run too when I commented on oregonlive last night. If you look again though, it appears the car was apprehended, the police just haven’t figured out if they’re a victim, or perpetrator. I think the biker gets exclusive mention based upon the fact they were injured, only.

I support BikePortland covering this. I agree with Allison, and Jonathan that this is an extremely tough call, but the mainstream news sources must be countered, at least in spirit. Plus, BikePortland is a far more trustworthy source, even for those of us not with the program; and this creates a responsibility, IMO. One which Jonathan, and Elly for that matter, shoulder for us everyday, without complaint. C’mon, you’ve gotta know by now Jonathan probably hates this worse than any of us. About the time I’m defending J and Es choices, you can be certain they’re onto something.

I’m glad to see those noticing a correlation between helmet, light, and clothing propaganda (Why didn’t we hear about every stitch of dark-colored clothing the cyclists were wearing?), and now the no-brakes, fixed gear propaganda. Hopefully there are some fixed gear riding helmet-advocates tasting meds.

Since I agree speculation about this accident is futile, I’m way off topic responding to comments again. Hope that’s okay, ’cause there’s little else to comment on.

With that, I wanted to say something about the brake argument. I really think it is disingenuous, and subsequently damning, to stretch the truth so far as to state fixed gear bikes have brakes.

In my opinion it would be much better to take the position that, “Yeah, my bike doesn’t have any brakes, what of it?”, rather than trying to convince an ignorant main-stream that stopping pedaling is a brake.

Skateboards don’t have breaks. Roller blades, push scooters, what else? Public safety is the issue, and by that reckoning, fixies ain’t hurting poop.

I’ve said it a million times. Freedom also means the freedom to be irresponsible as much as anything. To a point, granted, but fixies haven’t reached that point, and are frickin’ fine out there as evidenced by the lack of disproportionate numbers.

I really think it’s best to forget trying to maintain fixed-gears have brakes, and go with, “I can stop the thing on demand, what?”.

She
Guest
She

To all who did not like my comment about the accident happening at 1:15 am – It was a comment on the overall safety of the roads at that time, I was not saying that anyone car or bike did not have a “right” to be on the road. The time of the night is relevant because it is a time when more drivers/cyclists are more likely to be impaired by alcohol and/or tired causing over all judgement to be impaired.

I agree with Allison – I hate these kind of stories and it is bike related and we would not want Jonathan to not share the story.

Sad, sad, sad that humans can end up in this kind of altercation (I imagine in a short interaction).

kr
Guest
kr

seriously guys?! the type of bike or wether it had gears and breaks is not relevant to the fact that he was grabbed and drug. that action had only one intention, to harm him. It shouldn’t matter that he yelled at them, drunk drivers drive like ass holes and you try controlling yourself when those you love are put in danger. A yell is nothing. So stop playing holier than thou and give kevin your best.

esther
Guest
esther

Ugh. The oregonian comments are chilling-people saying he got what he deserved because ‘bicyclists block the road for drivers on purpose.’ I wonder if they feel assault on drivers in cars who are blocking the road on purpose in rush hour traffic would be justified.

My boyfriend lives in Roseway and he and I take Sandy and Burnside quite frequently to and from his house. The infrastructure is not at all biker-friendly (narrow lanes, quite frequently with no shoulders) but its fastest and easiest for getting to the triangle between 82nd, i-84, and sandy, rather than zigzagging along ankeny, through laurelhurst, and trying to get over i-84 with poor choices (53rd ave is the only good one, and the light at glisan doesn’t trigger for bikes…)
This section of burnside is 3-4 lanes, coming up a hill where you can’t see past the big intersection, and left 2 lanes split off to bear onto sandy while right (2?) Lanes continue on burnside. Having driven it, I always take it pretty slow since its hard to see oncoming traffic, the unlit concrete island on sandy, etc. So the cyclists MAY have been blocking both lanes of traffic back by union jacks, but the drivers still had quite a bit of space to pass before this intersection-plus this is a bit 5 way intersection with lights changing somewhat freuquently. So besides the obvious assault/battery, by backing up they were probably.endangering all other traffic-invisible to other traffic coming up burnside, confusing to people coming through on 12th and coming west down burnside through the intersection…

As for the other stuff, the only excuse I can see for the driver to continue driving once he saw the cyclists hand or arm in the car would be surprise fear that they were about to be assaulted. But then why would they be taken by surprise if they backed up to him?

Jeremy Robillard
Guest
Jeremy Robillard

All of this very unfortunate, and my thought go out to Stevenson.

However,

Cyclist: Take the high road! Do not engage, and just pull off on a side street.

Drivers (most cyclists also drive): You are behind the wheel of deadly weapon. Stop provoking and keep your distance.

Everyone: Stop provoking and grow up.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

‘She’, don’t feel bad warning about the dangers of being out in the wee hours of the morning. Of course, no person using the road then has a right to make the road any more dangerous to use than it is any other hours of the day.

The simple fact is, that’s the time when some people apparently believe there is an unwritten rule that allows them to be Mr. Hyde…(jeckyl and hyde)…with a right to destroy everything the choose that’s in their way, and terrorize any living thing.

It’s timely to remember some of the people introduced to bikeportland readers, because they were hit by such a person in the early, ‘comin up closin time’ hours of the morning…such as Eric Davidson riding home from a relaxing evening at the pub, then clobbered by drunk driving Jeremy Jordan while leaving the Safeway parking lot.

Eric Davidson was seriously injured and may never fully recover.

Matt Picio
Guest

Roma (#35) – So, if a driver honks their horn, are they deliberately escalating the situation? Shouting is the cyclist’s equivalent to an automobile horn. The original poster is correct – shouting does not “cause” anything to happen. The driver chose to react to the shouting. I’m not saying that a response wasn’t warranted, I’m saying that the driver and the cyclist are independently responsible for their own actions – the action of another person doesn’t “cause” the action of another.

She (#37) – It’s also a time where there is little traffic, and plenty of empty road for those who are out there to manuever without conflict. 1:30am to 4:30am is the safest time to ride busy streets – provided one stays alert for drunks and crazies. I’ll take 1am traffic on Burnside over 5pm traffic on Clinton (or Williams) any day.

felix
Guest

One Less Fixie.

Russell
Guest
Russell

Luckily I only ride geared bikes with both disk and rim brakes. I wear a helmet (with a helmet cam) and bright clothing and only ride during daylight hours (while still running 10w lights) on bicycle boulevards only. When someone risks personal injury to me with their car I smile and wave to them and wish them good speed and health.

I come to a complete foot down stop at every stop sign and light and my steel-toed shoes and body armor and chaps protect me from the horrors of tipping over by accident.

Thanks to this, I am quite confident that the police and the Oregonian will come to my aid if something gruesome ever were to happen to me. Please, follow my lead and protect yourselves!

Joe
Guest
Joe

wow 41 hits home!

be safe all.
ride on!

Joe

trackback

[…] was so severe that the driver was forced to speed away with the cyclist still attached. See here ( BikePortland […]

Vance Longwell
Guest

Thank you Russel #44. Awesome.

dc
Guest
dc

If you yell and talk smack to anybody on the road (cyclist or motorist), regaurdless if you are in the right be prepared for the fact that some people may react in ways you didn’t expect. sounds to me like two morons got to know each other a little better. Let’s start a fund to get this dude new sneakers. maybe the BTA can help out….. who cares…

kit
Guest
kit

Road rage sucks. I’ve fallen victim to my own anger boiling up, and it does nothing good for the cyclist, ever. We’ve got so much more right to be pissed, but so much less privilege.

It’s better to share the story of “that asshole” with your riding partner later that day than end up an image of carnage and have people talking about you on bike blogs. You can’t win this way. Eric is living (thank god) proof.

Kt
Guest
Kt

I agree with nopoartist, the truth is probably somewhere in between what the girlfriend has said and what the police report said.

Until we see the police report, and until the cyclist is in a position to give his side and the driver is found to give his side, it’s all speculation.

Was it smart to yell at the driver? Probably not.

I had a driver pass me on a blind corner coming into a blind crest the other week. I shook my head and said, loudly (not shouting, merely stating with my voice slightly raised), “dumb idea”– that was enough to get the driver to slam on the brakes and back up. I rode slowly alongside of him and listened while he proceeded to tell me that he “has lived here all his life and knows these roads like the back of his hand”, and berate me for riding in the middle of the lane (on a 25mph road with speed humps, no sidewalk, no shoulder, and no bike lanes). I pointed out that I just wanted everyone to be safe, the road wasn’t wide enough for him to pass me safely and I was riding as fast as I could to get out of the way, and that I thought passing me coming into a blind crest was not safe– as if his knowledge of the roads gives him ESP about oncoming traffic he couldn’t see! I was polite, made no apologies for taking the lane, expressed my desire for safe streets, and the “confrontation” ended with me wishing him and his lady passenger a nice evening and turning off to take my usual route home.

Was it stupid of me to do that? Yes, it was. Did I make him stop his car and back up? No. That was all his decision, to escalate the situation.

Anyway. Anecdotes aside, I wish Kevin a speedy recovery and a swift resolution to the incident.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

To all of the people stating that that the fact that he had no brakes or gears being irrelevant….

Do you leap to stereotypes when certain types of vehicles are involved, such as an SUV?

It’s the “typical people ride/drive the typical bike/vehicle”.

Every fixie is ridden by a helmetless, light-less clown, and every SUV is driven by a gun-toting republican. Right?