Man on a bike killed in Northeast Portland hit and run (Updated)

Posted by on August 27th, 2009 at 8:09 am

[Updated 8/28/09: The Portland Mercury is reporting that the victim was 52 year old James Earl Wagner. The Mercury also has photos of the intersection where the crash occurred, and commentary on the difficulty of walking and biking there.]

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The Portland Police report that this morning at about 2:15 am, a 52-year old man was killed after being struck by someone driving a car. The incident occurred around NE 122nd and Fremont. The motor vehicle involved in the collision left the scene.

Here’s more from the police:

The Major Crash Team responded to investigate and believe this was a hit and run incident. It appears that the bicyclist was riding Northbound on 122nd when he was struck and killed. No vehicle description is being released at this time. The name of the deceased is being withheld until family members can be notified.

There is an investigation underway and anyone who witnessed the crash or has more information about the incident should call the Portland Police at (503) 823-3333.

This is the third fatal bike crash in Portland in 2009. In April, Cary Bernick was killed while attempting to cross NE Weidler at 106th. In May, the operator of a car struck and killed Sandy Bass Jr. as he attempted to cross NE Prescott at 57th.

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39 Comments
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    Allison August 27, 2009 at 8:23 am

    We’ve had three accidents this year and all three were in outer NE?

    This is terrifying. The city needs to recognize that as ridership beyond the area circumscribed by I-84 and I-205 increases (as PBOT itself has expressed desire for), the facilities need to keep up to keep people from getting hurt.

    Personally, I will not ride that late at night. I hate driving that late at night and without a cage of steel around me, I just don’t feel safe enough.

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    Disastronaut August 27, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Some of the comments on the KATU website are rather callous:

    “However, I’d bet my money that this was just another obnoxious cyclist being a dangerous nuscience to traffic and pedestrians. He likely did something to get himself hit. (I base this on the actions of 99% of the cyclists in Portland).”

    “Seems pretty speculative. How do they know it was a hit and run? Perhaps he just fell off of his bike. At his age, it doesn’t take much to create fatal injuries.”

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    Ptld August 27, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I live south of this location and although there is a bike lane, cars do not look for cyclists. It is a steep downhill and a narrow bike path. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased.

    I agree with the above post. I would love to see more bike blvd’s put into place out here.

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    rrandom rider August 27, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I assume that Oregonlive will have a plethora of posts stating with certainty that the bicyclist was at fault. I hope that this turns out not to be the case and that the driver is found and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

    Best wishes for the deceased’s friends and family.

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    Zaphod August 27, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Disastronaut #2, the comments on KATU, Oregonlive and other mainstream media are often full of pretty scary stuff. The internets [sic] brings out the creepy people who enjoy the anonymity and, I believe, are simply entertaining themselves.

    I don’t like the commentary on mainstream media but it’s typically so far off base that a reasoned response seems like a senseless waste of time. That’s the point where people with lives get up from their computers and do something else, like get on their bikes and ride.

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  • […] 52-year-old Bicyclist Killed by a Hit-and-Run Driver in Northeast Portland (Bike Portland) […]

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    Random August 27, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I assume that Oregonlive will have a plethora of posts stating with certainty that the bicyclist was at fault

    The Oregonian has taken the precaution of closing comments on the article.

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    John Lascurettes August 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I hope the police find some good witnesses, or that the driver comes forth.

    The Oregonian has taken the precaution of closing comments on the article.

    Bravo to the Oregonian (for once) and boo to KATU (the comments denigrated into pure venom immediately there).

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    Dan August 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I was in an accident at that same spot just over a year ago during my normal commute and am lucky to be alive. It was hard riding the route this AM. My heart goes out to this person’s family & friends. And, if this was a hit and run, hope who ever did this either comes forward or gets caught.

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    Kt August 27, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I was just out there on Sunday for a ride.

    My thoughts are also with the victim’s family.

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    Kt August 27, 2009 at 10:34 am

    As an aside, did anyone see KGW’s report? They say a bicyclist was hit and killed in Portlnad. Seriously.

    Anyway. I only read the comments on the news sites and Oregonlive when I want to get mad. Reasoned responses, compassionate responses, intelligent responses are all met with derision, vituperation, name-calling and veiled threats. It’s a waste of time and energy.

    It’s as if the commenters aren’t even human, or have had the last vestiges of their humanity stripped away by the safety of internet anonymity. It’s sad commentary on the state of people in this age.

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    Matt Picio August 27, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Allison (#1) – The city does recognize that there is ridership in outer NE / outer SE. The problem is that the development pattern past I-205 doesn’t support cycling well – neighborhoods don’t connect, arterials are the main way to get around, and crossing them involves expensive engineering or right-of-way acquisition that there is no budget or funding for.

    Disastronaut – they know it was hit and run due to the nature and pattern of the injuries, and the lack of a motor vehicle on the scene. The press release from the bureau said the Major Crash Team was sent out – that’s a specialized crash reconstruction unit, they would have determined the type of vehicle, direction of travel, impact site and so on from skid marks, paint scrapes, blood spatter and other cues. A fall would be completely different.

    Random (#7) – Kudos to the Oregonian, that’s a responsible action.

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    thefuture August 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

    ditto praise to the oregonian to withold comments since all the facts are not in. sad day for this man’s friends and family no matter what happened. may we learn from and apply our knowledge to make our roads safer.

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  • […] we expect the first annual Kobe Bryant Bike Classic? Even bike-friendly Portland suffers from the fatal hit-and-run plague. Cyclists roll by in a Chinatown bike lane as a NY politician holds a press conference to claim no […]

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    Will Radik August 27, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Awful. Condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

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    E August 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

    yikes, what is up with outer NE? Is there a lot more bike traffic these days? or just a lot more unlucky people?

    Kudos to the Oregonian. No one commenting on news stories seems to use their brain, or even have one. I am so not surprised about KATU.

    Condolences to the family and best of luck to law enforcement! I met a few CSI’s at OMSI last night and have to say I’m impressed with their skillz. Hopefully they find enough to nail somebody.

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    Elle August 27, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Was he wearing a helmet?

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    Elly Blue August 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Elle, we have no way of knowing whether or not the man was wearing a helmet — or whether or not that is even relevant information. This isn’t the place or time to speculate and beat drums. Thanks.

    We’ve been asking the police to be careful with what information and speculation they release after a crash to avoid inviting the public to jump to conclusions when all the facts aren’t in. So far their handling of this crash is exemplary in that respect.

    I’d like to thank everyone for the sober, respectful comments on this post. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

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    Disastronaut August 27, 2009 at 11:54 am

    (#12) I was quoting from the wonderfully compassionate KATU reader responses, I am by no means trying to deny the obvious.

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    outer ne August 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    this is sad. condolences to the family. I really hate that intersection but I find myself taking it more often than not because it is by far the quickest way over the freeway for me.

    it is an improvement, though, that the ppb did not immediately blame the cyclist for this fatality as has previously been their
    M.O.

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  • […] withheld until family members can be notified. BikePortland reports this is the city’s third fatal bike crash this year, all in Northeast […]

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    kitty August 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    WOW– That is spooky. i was JUST there today about 7PM when a truck nearly killed me. I even added it to the Near Misses Map mere hours before that man was killed. I had the foresight to realize (despite bike lanes) that drivers just do not see anything other than cars and WalMart/KFC/ARCO signage.

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    Maculsay August 27, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    It’s an “interesting” area for bikes. My bike count for the city this year had 35 over two hours, but mostly kids and some commuter traffic. Plenty of skidding, tailgating, and motorized vehicle operators letting each other know they’re “number one”. I use the west sidewalk, which is invaded by discarded pants/underwear, condoms, needles, and worst of all, blackberry vines at eye level.

    I’ve also had the opportunity to travel the area in the wee hours (by car, rescuing teenagers with broken cars), and a lot of the bike traffic around 102nd and 122nd are folks redeeming bottles and cans at Winco. Just an observation, of course.

    It is a bit crazy riding out here. I don’t really relax until I cross NE 82nd and Tillamook on my way to city center.

    I agree with #5 – I think a lot of those incredibly vicious comments are folks/trolls displaying their worst, anonymous behavior. I hope so, anyway.

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    rrandom rider August 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I’m surprised KATU didn’t mention if he was riding a fixie.

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    BURR August 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I drive in that area for work a couple of times a month. Although there is a bike lane on NE122, it doesn’t get used much and I don’t think motorists are really looking for cyclists out in this part of the city.

    OTOH, in the past few years I have definitely seen growth in the number of cyclists present on the roads in this area; whereas I never used to see any cyclists at all a few years ago, there are now a small but growing number of cyclists on the roads.

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    Paul W August 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Elly – respectfully disagree. The question is relevent.

    It is well documented that helmets prevent and lessen the severity of brain injuries. I would hope that this blog acknowledges that indisputable fact and would refrain from editorializing in a way that places bike riders in danger by seeming to support a dangerous habit, either implicitly or explicitly. I ride every day & wear a helmet everyday because it ain’t cool to die.

    This man is dead and we’d like to know if a helmet might have saved his life.

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    Argay August 27, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I ride through this intersection all the time. 122nd as a whole is pretty unsafe; 3 or 4 of the most dangerous intersections in the metro area are on it. This part is really bad. Going north first you have to cross an intersection where motorists take right turns (frequently without stopping or looking for bikes), then you cross under I-84 where the bike lane narrows and becomes very uneven. It’s also pretty common for cars to speed a little bit as they go down this hill.

    Hopefully we can get a little more bike love in the parkrose area.

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    Elly Blue August 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Paul, I don’t disagree with you — but as I said before it is too soon to know if the question is relevant. We often see discussions devolve into “what if” speculative arguments before, as in this case, ANY facts are in about the type of crash, cause of death, or relevance of helmets. At this point it’s simply inappropriate to use a tragic incident to make what at this point can only be a hypothetical generalization. There will be plenty of chances to talk about helmets at other times. Thanks for holding off on this one for now.

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    BrandonS August 27, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Yes that part of town gets bike traffic.

    I commute on that bike lane and in that area everyday. It an efficient route, since there a long stretches on Prescott without stop signs or lights. And it is one of the best ways to get from NE to Gresham (where I work), since you can connect to the 84 trail at the top of the hill on 122nd.

    Cars do not look for you, and you must ride defensively–just as you should anytime you mingle with traffic.

    Condolences to the family of the person killed.

    Hopefully, something will be done to improve that section for the safety of anyone on that road. Whether they are on a bike or in a car.

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    Rob Word August 27, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    While I agree that discussions about the merits of helmets and the dangers of fixies are important I don’t think it is productive here where it will just seem like blame heaped upon the victim. Thank goodness the Oregonian closed their comments because blaming the victim is exactly what would have happened there.

    I’m wondering what kind of SOB leaves the scene of such a tragic accident. I’m also feeling a little sick thinking it could have been my wife or father-in-law. I hope the driver finds the courage to contact police.

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    Jason August 27, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    To Rob Word #30:

    An impaired SOB leaves the scene.

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    Grimm August 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    My thoughts go out to the victims and their family.
    Hopefully the drive is found and tried fairly.

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    jollydodger August 27, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I rode AMs for Oregonian paper route 4 three years…most dangerous hours in regards to drunken drivers is 1:30-2:45-ish…%70 of motorists at that hour statistically are impaired to some degree (fatigue, night blind, drunk)…even with the brightest lights, thickest helmet or safest route, if there is a hostile individual with a ‘clear shot’ and no witnesses, what can we do? He had one too many ‘run ins’ with ‘bad cyclists’? This debate is lined with the obituaries of our dearly beloveds…Why can’t God send a pox on the house of auto and be done with it? An open, honest review of current climates and attitudes about, by and for cyclists should be foremost…then what – some damn good PR work? It leaves one with a feeling of anger and furthers my general disregard for those who ignore or endanger us. To hold my anger in check in order to survive has become the norm…knowing it would be a simple blind lane change for one of them and i’m a goner…the ever present feeling of intimidation, thats really the worst, that and not having any options for retribution for their callous acts. If and when they catch this effing a-hole, he/she will probably only do a couple of years for manslaughter/reckless endangerment…and we will never know if the intention to kill was there or not…so many concerns for suspect rights,
    ggggrrrrrr….i just want to strangle something!!

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    Racer X August 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Logical speed setting and speed enforcement is a tool that must be implemented out there along the suburban arterials…since there is often few other routes for vulnerable road users to take…bike blvds not!

    Suburban arterials with operational speeds set back by the county [at 85 percentile] and [poorly] enforced may be one of the compounding issues for this crash and one that PBoT/ City Hall will have to address as its vulnerable road traffic moves out to the east from the safer core…kinda like ‘biking until you can pay rent’.

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    Racer X August 27, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Clarification…the road’s speed limit may predate when a city had annexed the arterial from a county.

    The lack of a systematic evaluation of the district’s arterial speed limits given new land uses and multimodal traffic uses is a common problem.

    Has PBoT does this yet? Will it be done?

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    Stig August 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    That’s not the Freemont and 122nd intersection in the portlandmercury photo. It’s actually 122nd at the i84 onramp (north of i84). Freemont is on the other side. On the right side of the photo is the i84 path. I’m heading out to ride over there now.

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    Steve B. August 28, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Extremely tragic. Has anyone prepared a ghost bike memorial?

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    Barney August 29, 2009 at 3:07 am

    @ #26

    “This man is dead and we’d like to know if a helmet might have saved his life.”

    What would have saved his life is if a car hadn’t hit him. What might have saved his life is if the motorist stayed or called 911. Perhaps a helmet would have helped, but perhaps it wouldn’t have. I wear a helmet every time I get on a bike, and while that may help me out in a collision, it doesn’t change the fact that the conditions that created the collision are the real issue, not whether I wore a helmet.

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    chelsea August 31, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I wholeheartedly 2nd Barney.

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