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Popular high school teacher killed while riding in Vancouver, WA (Updated)

Posted by on September 16th, 2009 at 10:22 am

Update: A candlelight vigil for Gordon Patterson will be held at 8pm on Thursday, September 17th at Hudson’s Bay High School (map).


NE 41st and St Johns in Vancouver
(See street view at end of story)

A teacher at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, Washington was killed in a hit and run yesterday around 4pm while riding his bicycle through the intersection of Saint Johns and NE 41st St in Vancouver.

The Columbian is reporting that the victim was Gordon Patterson, 60, a well-liked technology teacher at the high school.

Eighteen year old Antonio Eugene Cellestine has been arrested and booked on felony hit and run charges at the Clark County jail.

The Oregonian reports that Patterson was thrown onto the hood of the sedan that hit him and “carried some distance before falling onto the sidewalk.” The suspect then allegedly fled the wrong way down a one-way street, pursued by witnesses. Police found the car abandoned a few blocks away, and later yesterday arrested Cellestine at his apartment.

The Columbian spoke with witnesses who said they heard no screeching brakes and did not see the car slow down during the crash. Vancouver police suspect that distracted driving was a factor in the crash. The paper also reports that neighbors consider this stretch of road to be a particularly dangerous one.

Candles and flowers have already begun appearing near the site of Patterson’s death, many left by his students. We’ve learned that a group of students and local bike activists are planning to put a ghost bike at the intersection.

Here is a street view of the section of road where the crash occurred:


View Larger Map

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BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Man driving in Vancouver hit and run was texting; gets five yearsBikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Public hearing set in Vancouver hit and run fatality – UpdatedSmileymiddle of the road guyKlaus Recent comment authors
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amos
Guest

Rest in Peace, Gordon. Our thoughts are with your friends and family.

Allan
Guest
Allan

ugh. not happy news. this seems worse than average for some reason. i wonder if we’ll find out there was some texting going on. Rest In Peace.

Joe
Guest
Joe

RIP bike friend!

TimF
Guest
TimF

I generally ride SB on St. John’s in the evening (which has less traffic than NB that time of day) but I wouldn’t describe that section of road as ‘particularly dangerous’ compared to other roads in Vancouver/Clark County. St. Johns on the south side of SR500 is worse. Inexperienced teen drivers (with cell phones/Ipods/etc?) are a danger to bicyclists anywhere. Condolences to the family.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

I’m not calling for socialism, but society needs to provide for his surviving family members, partner and even extra funding for his school, who would have had a lot of help from Gordon over the next 40 years of his life.

The perpetrator and family need to pay back in money what the family can never regain.

This could be me or any of my friends who also teach and commute. I’m sad and would like to hope there is justice.

I very much appreciate the authorities who tracked down the driver. He could have gotten away with this and killed again, as often happens when there are no consequences for people who have bad driving habits.

We need higher taxes for schools and police. It’s all connected.

Amy
Guest
Amy

RIP Mr. P.
You were amazing. I ride my bike on the road and it scares me. Cars fly at 40+ mph.

this really hurts.

Steve B.
Guest

RIP, a sad day.

It is a relief that they actually caught the driver. How can Portlanders support Vancouver cycling, infrastructure improvement, and enforcement?

Ena
Guest
Ena

I live just a few blocks away from where this accident occurred and ride this stretch of road many times per week.

I went down to the scene last evening and spoke to an officer about how we can get people to slow down on St.James/John roads.
He brushed me off and said they were doing all they could.
Somehow I don’t believe that.

My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Mr. Patterson.

I never thought I’d ever say this, but cell phones and driving is a very bad combination. I for one, will be leaving my phone out of reach when I get in the car.

Ena
Guest
Ena

One more thing!

To #5…Amy, I live on St. James Rd. where I see folks going 60+ on a daily basis.

Joe
Guest
Joe

simple they post 40mph, people push 10 over
everytime! again very sad day.

This happens in my town! cell drivers, speeders and cops always say they cant do anything! I say yield to life. car people are just so outta control these days.

be safe all. god speed Gordon

Amy
Guest
Amy

Ena,
the only thing i can think of is talk to the city of Vancouver about this.
I would love to set up a memorial bike ride.
Vancouver is a really scary place to ride your bike in even though it is across the river from Portland. Whole new world.

Sometimes I don’t understand why drivers can spot a pedestrian but not a cyclist.
i wish they would design bike paths/routes in vancouver instead of having us ride next to cars that have a need for speed.

Ira
Guest
Ira

I commute the same route 4 days a week at or near the same time of day.

Such a tragedy, we need to do everything we can, to ensure we make it a safer place to ride.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Amy
Guest
Amy

sometimes it’s scary when drivers slow down too because when they do, they immediately speed up when they swerve around.

JL
Guest
JL

Wow, that’s pretty scary. I always find going up the hill there much worse from a safety perspective, probably because the speed differential going north is so much greater than heading south. At least going down the hill I can maintain a speed closer to that of the cars. The hill’s too steep for me to maintain a pace other than crawling going uphill.

Ira
Guest
Ira

FYI Amy,

I think youir memorial ride idea is great, I sent a letter to the President of the Vancouver Bicycle Club to hopefully try and set something up.

It woudl be monumental and touching if we could actually do this and have a huge turnout.

Amy
Guest
Amy

there is a candle light vigil at Hudson’s Bay High School courtyard at 8PM. anyone can come.

is anyone planning to set a up a Ghost Bike as well?

Ira, that is awesome. Thank you for that.

Disastronaut
Guest
Disastronaut

Pictures of mangled bikes always make me cringe.

And another thing – it ceases to be an “accident” once you flee the scene.

Dave H
Guest

I’ve never biked that area, but I used to have to drive it a bit for work. The Vancouver Police did seem to set up speed traps quite a bit (usually just over the top of a hill farther along the road) yet people regularly would be passing me (while I was going 40), past the police officer, and not get ticketed.

I’m not sure much could be done without rebuilding the street to make it safer, other than stricter enforcement of speed limits on that stretch. Maybe sequenced traffic lights that make drivers stop if they’re going faster than the sequence.

Either way, I hate reading about incidents like this. I can’t imagine how someone can drive away from someone they just hit.

Ira
Guest
Ira

A friend of the familiy is asking if they have any objections to a ride in Gordon’s honor as soon as I hear back I will post it, in additon to any response from VBC.

He seemd to feel this was a great idea as well Amy.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Oh, the candlelight vigil is at 8PM tomorrow, not tonight.
bring candles, spread the word if you can.

Stig
Guest
Stig

Would be interesting if someone were to rent a radar detector and record some average speeds. Maybe shoot some video for youtube and shame the city into doing something about this.

The suspect is wearing makeup in his mugshot. I wonder if he was applying it at the time!

Why don’t bike lanes have bumps on the divider to give an audible warning to cars that they are crossing lanes? We have them on highways to would help prevent inattentive drivers from drifting over.

RIP Mr. Patterson

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I ride this road all the time, and while traffic moves faster than the speed limit, the bike lane is very wide, and it is a very safe place to ride.

With that being said, this is quite a tragedy, obviously.

I live right by Hudson’s Bay school, where the majority of driving offenders are the students themselves, often driving the wrong way on the roads for short distances to enter or exit the school.

I should hope that the school would use this tragedy to further educate young Vancouver drivers on how to deal with cyclists on the road.

Not to mention the bad habits of Vancouverite’s of parking in the bike lanes to watch sporting events. This means the cyclists are forced into lanes of traffic, especially along Mill Plain at the freeway on and off ramps.

I am sure that the standard “I didn’t see him” excuse will result in a very easy sentence, or even simple fine, for this 18 year old driver, especially here in Vancouver.

I must close by adding that the complacency of the city council, and the VBC, has added to the dangers of riding in Vancouver.

Our city and the VBC has decided that a helmet law based on fear of liability is all the protection and changes that cyclists here need.

What we need is actual enforcement, and actual penalties for improper conduct.

Which we have none of here in Vancouver…

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Bumps in bike lanes stripes, or rumble strips as the are called, would cause many inexperienced cyclists to crash, which would throw them possibly into the lane of traffic…

I suspect this is exactly why they are not used, or should not be.

sean
Guest
sean

thank you dabby my thoughts exactly especially on the helmet issue

Jesse Miller
Guest
Jesse Miller

I see people all of the time talking, texting, reading news papers, putting on makeup, and eating big-macs while driving. I saw this guy the other day holding onto the steering wheel with one hand and texting on his Blackberry with the other. This guy was so busy texting that he did not look at the road for 2 minutes. The point that I am trying to make is that being on a bicycle is more dangerous than it has ever been. People have forgotten how to drive. People would rather do other things while in the car than drive. The more portable technology advances, the more dangerous it is going to be for people who ride bicycles. The IPHONE is a perfect example of portable technology. You can watch movies, listen to music and surf the internet all on a device that fits into your pocket. Cars and the Iphone do not match. I feel sorry for this person. I bet he had a wife and kids. Now they are going to have to live without their father around.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

this was a man that touched the lives of people, on a daily basis. He was respected by his students, co-workers, and loved by his family. Now, he’s gone, in a moment of carelessness.

This could have been, any of us. Remember that.

the sorrow aside, changes need to be made, to this neighborhood. Just three blocks south, of where this incident took place, is another memorial, to two teenagers that spun out, and crashed into the siding, killing both of them.

As for myself, I live on Saint James road (the southbound section). I’ve had a car land in my yard, I have seen an SUV flip three times and slide right up in front of my house. My neighbor had his car door hit, while entering his vehicle. Countless people have lost pets on these roads.

the root of the issue, is drivers speed, and lack of attention. People are passing through the neighborhood from places beyond, and using it as a thoroughfare. Traffic needs to be slowed enough, to deter drivers passing through the neighborhood.

FB
Guest
FB

As i walked the halls in hudsons bay today looking around and seeing a sea of white, i realized how empty it was. The staff there did an amazing job at helping students get out and have time to themselves or have time to go talk to someone else. Its amazing what a family like bay can do when we all pull together for one particular cause. Mr.patterson never knew my first name, infact just this week he learned i was a sibling of one of his past students. He automatically loved me! He will be greatly missed, especially once the silence sets in. As for the antonio, the hardest thing in life is to forgive someone. Many of us current eagles and previous eagles knew antonio and though you may not think he deserves to live because of this tragedy, put yourselves in his position. 18 even though said to be a legal adult is still a child. I feel for both mr.p’s family and antonio for they will both carry this around with them for the rest of their lives.
Rest in peace P. I love you in a positive sorta way<3

ilya
Guest
ilya

May the force be with you Ben

Kt
Guest
Kt

+1 Disastronaut, #16.

Re: Memorial Ride: Besides organizing a formal memorial ride, also as many of you who can, ride to the memorial tomorrow night.

The ‘Couv is a fir piece for me, being in the Southern Suburbs, but I’ll be sending my thoughts that way.

Daniel Ronan
Guest

This story really hits me hard. Everyone has lost in this “accident.” The teacher, the driver, everyone.

Although I say I would have stayed after hitting someone, I could definitely imagine being so scared as to run away from my mistake.

What saddens me the most is that we build communities like this, these communities of high stakes. This 18 year old now has this to deal with for the rest of his life.

When are we going to prevent these “accidents” from happening by discouraging car use? Especially in younger age groups.

Although this is a sad day for all, I think this tragic even, if nothing better has once again prompted us to focus on communities that we strive for: communities that are safe and equitable for all, no matter one’s transportation mode.

WC
Guest
WC

The student that hit Mr. P knew him. He was a former student. Although this is a horrible tragedy, anyone that knew Mr. P also knows that he would forgive Antonio. He was a man of great faith. I hope everyone will take this opportunity to learn from this terrible loss. Please , please, PLEASE pay attention when you drive.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Sounds like this is no “accident”. I’m a teacher and there are some very wonderful students with mental instabilities. This is the cost when we don’t fund schools. My friend is a school psychologist spread between 3 different schools, with a total population of well over 1500. That is neglect from our politicians and it has caused this in one way or another.

Ethan
Guest

I’d not put money on Vancouverstan leaving a ghost bike alone.

Rex
Guest
Rex

Sad….
Why didn’t the driver stop?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I think the religiously(lol) based and antiquated idea of “forgiving” someone who does something like this is just ridiculous.

I suppose you would like the courts to give him a light sentence, as he has already paid enough mentally through anguish?

Maybe we will all get a nice seat in “heaven”, for forgiving him?

Or, he could be held as an example to other drivers, and prosecuted to the largest extent of the law.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Sounds like this is no “accident”.” Joe Roe

Given the information available about this tragic incident to date, why would you say that? Because of Dave’s comment #32 immediately before yours?

Nothing yet has been reported that would indicate the driver deliberately drove his car into Hudson’s Bay High School teacher Gordon Patterson as rode his bike. A criminal record and former enrollment in the high school where Mr. Patterson taught school is not enough to responsibly insinuate what the suspect did or didn’t do.

The cops are on this one. The truth about what happened and why, based on facts, will likely be known soon enough.

Amy
Guest
Amy

dabby don’t be like that.

i am really pissed at the man that hit him but we cant be pissed forever.

Cellestine’s already an example to other drivers, cyclists and non cyclists.
kinda sucks that it takes this to change something

tayler stettler
Guest
tayler stettler

i am a current student at bay and walking through the hall of Mr. Pattersens classroom was depressing.posters were posted for all students and staff to sign for Mr.P.I dont personally know Mr. Pattersen but losing a beloved teacher is a tragety and the staff at bay is doing a wonderful job making sure students are getting the help they need.Mr.Pattersen was a wonderful teacher.He stood outside his classroom everyday greeting student as they walked past.In all i think this is one horrific tragety that no one will ever forget. We all love you and will miss you Mr. Pattersen

Amy
Guest
Amy

stand at the scene and observe how the drivers drive. most of the time the drivers swerve into the bike lane.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

I had posted a comment thanking the police sometime within the first 10 comments. The Bikeportland spam filters put it on hold.

It’s hard for me to believe that someone would hit and run if they were not at fault.

These are all assumptions. There are many reasons this may not be an accident, aka sounds like, aka there is the possibility.

a) Driver was distracted by electronics, ipod, talking on cell, texting, etc

b) Driver has a record

c) Witness statements said no skid marks etc.

d) Student ( who killed teacher ) with car may have had needs that the school and society could not meet. A tragedy that is preventable is not an accident.

e) While it is an assumption, I’m a teacher and I’ve seen students who sought out multiple teachers with violence outside of school. It is usually one or multiple students targeting multiple teachers. I’ve never seen it with one student targeting just one teacher.

sam
Guest
sam

My heart goes out to all the students at Bay. I remember a couple of sudden, senseless deaths when I was in high school – you’re going along feeling sort of grown up and mixed up like you’re supposed to and then suddenly everything is fragile and the air feels different. Tell your friends you love them in whatever way works for you.

RIP, Mr. Patterson.

Afro Biker
Guest
Afro Biker

Someone dies and somebody here is already talking about raising taxes?

kww
Guest
kww

Could someone please tell me why a hit and run killer isn’t charged with vehicular murder?

Stig3
Guest
Stig3

@dabby

He was hit from behind in the bike lane and people are stating it happens routinely.

I still think rumble strips are a good idea to keep motorists from swerving across the bike lanes. I’d expect them to be the appropriate size and tested for safety before deployment.

W.C.
Guest
W.C.

After reading all of the comments here I have just a few thoughts:

Does it really matter where this tragedy happened? People speed, text, eat, and do just about anything but pay attention while driving. These are things that should be dealt with everyday, not just when someone like Mr. Patterson dies due to carelessness. We should never loose our vision for safe streets, but is this the place to go off on try to point blame? NO! Show some respect to Mr Patterson and his family and students.

buzz
Guest
buzz

RIP Gordon!

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Mr. Patterson,
I will never, ever forget you. You were like a father to me, especially after my dad left. Thank you for always taking care of me. Even when I was little you made a difference in my life. In the future I always thought that you would be at my wedding with your family. You meant so much to me, and you always will.

Thank you for taking me under your wing and making a difference whenever you got the chance. Now it’s my turn, and you can be sure that I will take care of Julia now that you’re with Jesus.

I miss you,
Sarah

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

I know some people want websites to be just about the notes for goodbye and RIP.

But the dead can’t speak out for the injustice that killed them. If I was able to speak from the dead after being killed on a bike by any means my words would be to allow everyone to speak whatever they need to speak and keep the focus on respect for what is still living in the world.

And if I was dead, and there was anything fishy, like a hit-and-run, I’d be asking people to make a big old stink about it, and try to prevent it in the future.

To a fellow teacher and cyclist I never knew, RIP

Amy
Guest
Amy

A friend/former student made a website dedicated to him

http://www.allteris.com/gpatterson.php