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Oregonian: Man who backed into Mike Luther gets probation

Posted by on June 9th, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Wayne Thompson
(Photo: Mult. Co. Sheriff)

Wayne Conrad Thompson, who was initially charged with First Degree Assault for backing his car into Mike Luther in a parking lot in August 2009, was sentenced with only probation yesterday.

The Oregonian has the story:

“A 35-year-old driver who struck a bicyclist while reversing his SUV was sentenced to three years of probation Tuesday after a judge found him not guilty last month of intentionally slamming into the cyclist.

Wayne Conrad Thompson of Southeast Portland would have received a mandatory minimum 7 1/2 years in prison if found guilty of the crime — first-degree assault — that police and prosecutors thought he committed. But in trial, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Henry Kantor found Thompson guilty of the lesser crime of third-degree assault — then sentenced him to probation, two days of anger counseling, a drug evaluation and treatment if necessary and a five-year suspension of his driver’s license.”

After the incident occurred, The Oregonian reported on court documents that contained witness accounts stating that Thompson, “backed into the bicyclist at an estimated 40 mph” and that he put his Kia into reverse “as fast as it possibly could go” before plowing into the bicyclist”.

There were also several reports that a heated argument had broken out between Thompson and Luther prior to Thompson putting his car in reverse.

According to the story in The Oregonian, Thompson testified he was backing up “because he’d decided to go in a different direction.” Investigators determined that he backed up for more than 250 feet at a rate of speed between 15 and 29 mph.

Luther, who was on his bike at the time, suffered a severe brain injury as a result of the collision. Back in April, we published a call for help put out by Luther’s family. He has struggled to get his life back after the incident and has still not returned to work.

Luther testified at the sentencing hearing yesterday. From The Oregonian:

“… Luther told Thompson he forgives him and urged him to find a career he’s passionate about. “We are both fortunate individuals,” Luther said. “I’m alive, and you can still have your freedom,” he said.”

Thompson also testified:

When given the chance to speak, Thompson said: “This incident changed my whole view on life,” but he didn’t apologize.

Thompson was released from custody by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office yesterday.

Read the full report on the hearing in The Oregonian.

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55 Comments
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    Anonymous June 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    This is a judge who should not be sitting on the bench.

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    Marcus Griffith June 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Skipping the debate surrounding minimal sentencing, the sentence does not appear to fit the crime in this situation.

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    monitoring June 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    They ought to be doing something to make sure he isn’t driving now. 50/50 he drove home when he was released. Suspending someones license does nothing.

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    MeghanH June 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I look forward, now that his driver’s license is suspended, to seeing Wayne Thompson out riding a bike instead. It might open his eyes further to why his actions were so heinous.

    Maybe the courts should have required him to join the “Create a Commuter” bike program at CCC in addition to the anger classes he has to take.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt June 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Once again proving that if you’re looking to assault or murder someone and minimize the potential for penalty, a car should be your weapon of choice.

    In-freaking-sane.

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    Chris June 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    “… Luther told Thompson he forgives him and urged him to find a career he’s passionate about. “We are both fortunate individuals,” Luther said. “I’m alive, and you can still have your freedom,” he said.”

    -I can only wish that I would be that compassionate and forgiving a person. Get well Mike!-

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    151 June 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Unfortunately a suspended license won’t prevent him from getting behind a wheel again, as the thousands of yearly convictions for driving with a suspended license will attest.

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    naomi June 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Wow, no jail time? Incredible. Stuff like this makes me not even want to ride.

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    twilliam June 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Is Thompson smiling for his mug shot?

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    encephalopath June 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Would getting caught driving be considered a parole violation which would send him to prison?

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    tony June 9, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    So the judge says this decision is obvious to anyone who sat through the trial, but anyone who wasn’t there has to trust him?

    Jonathan, do you know how to get the court records of this case? It would be very enlightening to know what kind of behavior is considered a mitigating circumstance when a driver backs over you. I’d like to make sure I avoid such behaviors.

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    beth h June 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I find it ridiculous that drivers who use their vehicles as weapons get off with a slap on the wrist in the same environment where bicyclists take so much crap just for being on the roads.

    Is it any wonder that so many bicyclists scoff at the law?

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    Matt Haughey June 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I cannot think of any legitimate reason to be driving a car in reverse over 10mph. Most every car is so low-geared in the reverse gear you’d have to floor it to get up to 20+mph going backwards.

    Crazy and awful judgment handed down today.

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    wsbob June 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    The reporting of the update of this story here on bikeportland, and some of the increasingly predictable reactions to it, such as comment #1 and #11, suggests that it might be worthwhile for everyone to re-read a particular reader’s comment to an earlier bikeportland story on this case:

    “Just a very brief and very general lawyer comment in response to a couple of questions that were voiced…”

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    Drew June 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    This is appalling.

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    wsbob,

    i get the reasonable doubt thing… but it seems the facts in this case do not line up with the decision and the tone expressed by Judge Kantor.

    There is a huge gap here from a case that started as assault/murder (luther was in a coma for a few days) wherein authorities treated it as an intentional act to where we find ourselves now — with the judge finding for only probation.

    what could have possibly been said in the trial that led Kantor to this decision?

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    rigormrtis June 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    So the judge acknowledges that the cycling community will be angry, but that “they were not there” and thus don’t have a full reckoning of what happened.

    Well your Honor, you were not their either.

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    snolly June 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    The downside of minimum prison sentences is that people like this don’t get locked up at all because the judge doesn’t think the crime warrants doing that length of time.

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    rigormrtis June 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I am going to try this next time….

    Well your Honor, I ran 230 feet towards him, pointed the gun at him, pull the trigger but I did not actuall intend to shoot him.

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    Roma June 9, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I really wish I could say I was shocked. I mean, we live in a society where people get relatively no punishment for driving drunk.

    I wonder what the sentence would be for a cyclist who picked up his bike and hit someone with it hard enough to put them in a coma…

    The funniest part of this sentence is TWO DAYS of anger counseling. TWO DAYS.

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    Tim June 9, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    The Judges orders are entirely inconsistent. If he didn’t try and kill the cyclist with his car, then why is he being sent to anger managment?

    Not much that we can do about “liberal” judges. This is Portland.

    But Wayne Thompson should have a couple of thousand Parol officers on bikes. Publish his address, car make model and #. Everytime he drives to his anger management class – someone calls it in.

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    Roma June 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    “Everytime he drives to his anger management class – someone calls it in.”

    Well, you’ll only have two chances to catch him driving to anger management class, so make it count.

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    MIndful Cyclist June 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Two days of Anger Management counseling? I am sorry, but I used to facilitate AM classes and it takes months of classes to learn new coping skills, examine beliefs, and understand the effects on others. I have had court ordered people who committed much less serious assaults that were required to spend 48 weeks in classes.

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    Perry June 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Wonder if there is a way to keep track of these rulings so I can quickly refer to them come election day?

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    wsbob June 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    maus…I wasn’t at the trial to hear all the evidence and testimony serving to establish Thompson intended to strike Mike Luther. Were you, or was anyone else that’s commented here so far, at the trial?

    I’ll readily admit I don’t know the law, and so, as a result, I pay special attention when someone with what I’m inclined to believe has some reliable legal knowledge and experience says (excerpting from the comment I earlier referenced):

    “…Third, according to the news report, the court’s decision to acquit on the greater charges was based on the court’s determination that the state failed to prove that Luther acted with the requisite intent (or mens rea, as we show offs like to say), and not on a general idea that a car is not a dangerous weapon. …”

    Your question “…what could have possibly been said in the trial that led Kantor to this decision?”, might better have been ‘what could have possibly not been said in the trial that led Kantor to this decision?’

    The answer is, something that would have allowed the state to prove its case. Authorities suspicions that a suspect’s act was intentional doesn’t necessarily mean that by law, it was intentional. Proof is required.

    I, and I think other people as well would certainly like to hear more about the case; what witnesses heard and saw; what the judge was able to make of testimony presented at trial; what his reading of the law allowed him to make of that material. Seems to be very hard to get that kind of information from the media.

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    Barney June 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I don’t care whether the guy intended to do it or not. (Okay, I care.) But shouldn’t we look seriously at reckless driving in reverse in parking lots? Even if the prosecution didn’t prove intent, the sentence strikes me as pretty minimal given the resulting injuries.

    @Tim This doesn’t strike me as a particularly liberal or conservative sentence. It strikes me as the established protected class (motorists) getting a pass when the unprotected classes (cyclists and pedestrians) get next to nothing. Again.

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    Noel June 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Way to show how a driver can get away with it! “It” being using your car as a weapon.

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    greenkrypto June 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Let’s see…a crazy dude who cuts hair on Tri-met gets 2 years in prison, but another angry crazy dude who nails a bike-rider with a two-ton weapon gets probation. Meh, seems totally fair….NOT!

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    Bruno June 9, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    typical, another crime goes unpunished. and we wonder why our civilization is going to hell in a handcart. Anger management is basically “rehab” for your attitude and no amount of rehab can change you if you don’t want to be changed

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    chrehn June 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    This is just plain wrong.

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    George June 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    In protest of this sentence, I’m not going to run any stop signs or red lights tomorrow while riding my bike.

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    CW June 9, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    This is the result of putting liberal judges in the court. Their ‘feelings’ get in the way of the law.

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    Opus the Poet June 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    This isn’t because the judge is either “liberal” or “conservative”, it’s because the judge in all likelyhood has never ridden a bicycle since childhood. It is likely that he drove a car to the courtroom and identifies with the defendant as a driver, and not with the victim, because he doesn’t ride a bicycle on the road.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT June 10, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Tim,

    If you think that this ruling is at all “liberal,” you need to get out and have some beers with some actual “liberals.” You apparently have no idea what many of us think.

    A driver let off easy for attacking a cyclist sounds awfully right-wing am radio to me.

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    Ross Nicholson June 10, 2010 at 3:41 am

    The driver’s problem with anger (and obvious criminal intent) can be successfully addressed medically with human pheromone therapy. (Yes, attempted murder is curable now. Nobody ever needs to go to jail, ever again, so we can ditch our society’s heavy lawyer burden, too.) It’s all detailed in my new book on medical exocrinology: Of Love KISSES PASS EPIGENETIC PHEROMONES IN THE PATHOGENESIS OF SOCIOPATHY, ‘MENTAL ILLNESS’ AND DISEASE The Cure for Crime. The Cure for Drug Addiction. It’s available on Amazon for free preview. It deserves study by intelligent people, i.e. people who ride bicycles!

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    Spiffy June 10, 2010 at 7:43 am

    well at least he’s not legally driving… we can all hope he gets on a bicycle for the next 5 years… but I can tell you first hand that it’s unlikely he’ll stop driving… it’s a hard habit to break…

    and the two days of anger management? that’s a joke… there’s no mental health issue that can be addressed in two days…

    in just the stats they mention in the article it’s clear that there should have been a more harsh punishment… the system has failed once again in properly fitting the punishment to the crime… this guy is extremely lucky that his victim is being so nice… I would not afford him the luxury…

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    krx June 10, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Ross,
    Interesting how you failed to include the last sentence in your title, “The Cure for Homosexual Perversion.”

    What a load of utter crap!

    Kindly take your trolling elsewhere!

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    Joe Rowe June 10, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Nice research WSBOB

    If possible, how would someone get a copy of the Thompson trial audio or transcript from this trial?

    I’d pay to see or hear what happened in that trial. In the future, the BTA or bike community should pay someone to attend these trails.

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    brian June 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

    This is pathetic. Our Judicial system is a joke.

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    Joe Rowe June 10, 2010 at 10:17 am

    This Judge is worth watching. wsbob cited an old link that affirmed the Judge.

    I found more recent info on the same case: the Judge did error.

    He was too harsh on a woman caring for an elderly parent. He seems to have compassion for cars who run down cyclists.

    http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S53295.htm

    ( Judge Kantor ) instructed the jury that “particular circumstance” could mean more than one thing, implied to the jury that “exist[e]nce of skin breakdown” could be one of the circumstances, and otherwise authorized the jury to pick any other circumstance that it thought appropriate. The instruction incorrectly conveyed the law to the jury

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    KWW June 10, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Nevermind the judge, who was the DA who blew the case?

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    Joe Rowe June 10, 2010 at 10:35 am

    You don’t need a lawyer with an expensive subscription to the FindLaw database. Just use google:

    site:ojd.state.or.us “Firstname Lastname, Judge”

    example:
    site:ojd.state.or.us “Henry Kantor, Judge”

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/henrykantorjudge

    Right hook judge
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/michaelzusmanjudge

    Related Right hook story:
    http://bikeportland.org/2009/12/18/judge-woman-hit-in-unpainted-bike-lane-is-not-protected-by-law/

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    Joe Rowe June 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Hey KWW, from my guess the DA did a good job, and won a conviction on first degree assault, so says KGW news.

    http://bikeportland.org/2010/05/24/man-who-intentionally-ran-over-mike-luther-found-guilty-of-assault/

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    Ross Nicholson June 10, 2010 at 10:51 am

    It is science, krx, and I have 1000 X’s your I.Q. The cure is usually instantaneous and anybody can do it. Jeeze, I can see why it took Semmelweis so long to get surgeons to wash their hands between patients! People get angry when you challenge their ignorance and superstition. Road rage is just a manifestation of a simple pheromone deficiency and easily cured. With a cure in hand, there is no reason this crazy murdering car driver needs to go to jail. Furthermore, there is no need for cyclists to put up with road rage incidents in the future, either. All we need is a little surveillance and pheromone treatments for perpetrators.

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    gix June 10, 2010 at 11:46 am

    i am stunned.

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    dan June 10, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    #45 Ross Nicholson says: “It is science, krx, and I have 1000 X’s your I.Q.”

    LOL, I feel fortunate to have such a savant in our midst. Perhaps now that he’s licked this pheromone thing, he will turn his efforts to getting that pesky cold fusion power generation up and running.

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    JE June 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    typical
    sad, but typical

    I and others have said it before, but I’ll say it again:

    It is not a crime to kill or injure someone in the State of Oregon so long has the victim is a pedestrian or a cyclist and the weapon used is a motor vehicle.

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    matt picio June 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    151 (#7) – 40,000 per year in Oregon alone. And that’s just convictions, the number of people driving suspended is likely quite a bit higher than that.

    Tim (#21) – That’s a VERY good question.

    wsbob (#35) – Thanks for the research, and encouraging others to make their own decisions. Should warn that NAC link is probably NSFW, though.

    KWW (#42) – The DA didn’t necessary blow the case. I read excerpts from the court docs on another story (don’t have the URL handy, sorry) which place some doubt on the ability to prove conditions necessary for 1st-degree assault. The larger issue is the judge issuing probation.

    The DA can only do so much – in the end, it all comes down to the judge.

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    K'Tesh June 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Put glue in someone’s hair, and cut clumps out of it… Five Years in Jail

    Intentionally run over a cyclist… Probation

    What’s wrong here?

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    wsbob June 10, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Joe #41…for everyone reading, the link you posted(for the appeals court decision review “Argued and submitted September 7, 2006.), and the one on the bottom of the list I posted (appeals court decision “Argued and submitted May 23, 2005.) in comment #5 relate to the same ‘State vs Karla Crosby’ case, but different occasions.

    It’s good to read both, because the information in them offers an example of how critically important it can be to correctly read and interpret the wording of the statutes. For me, reading and understanding what’s being said in those two documents is quite a challenge.

    Not to be rude, but I certainly would not sum up in the way you have, the judges role in that case or the one with Thompson:

    “…He was too harsh on a woman caring for an elderly parent. He seems to have compassion for cars who run down cyclists. …” joe roe #41

    I can’t tell…maybe you’re speaking ‘tongue in cheek’. At any rate, I wouldn’t think the judges response to the people he’s obliged to serve is as simple as your remarks imply.

    You mentioned in comment #39, getting a recording or transcript of the trial. I’d say, go to the Multnomah County Circuit Court website:

    Multnomah County Circuit Court website/about us

    There, under the heading ‘Reporting Proceedings’, it says this:

    “…In every other courtroom, there is installed an audio, digital recording system. This new, computer based audio system is the reporting system now used by the judges in trial departments in the Multnomah County Courthouse and it is the backup system in Judge Wilson’s courtroom. The digital system is used also in the other court facilities. The presiding judge’s courtroom uses a video digital recording system to record all call and ex parte proceedings. …”

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    umop June 11, 2010 at 2:46 am

    The Judge’s email is: henry.kantor@ojd.state.or.us for anybody who cares to share their protest.

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    Joe Rowe June 11, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    The Oregon Supreme Court said this Judge gave some very bad instructions to a jury of a medical death. On the day the instructions were being given, the judge was notified they were possibly bad. The judge ignored those, and continued anyway.

    http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/S53295.htm

    WSBob posted comment #35, which mentioned this case, but not the finding of the Supreme Court.

    I find the court documents easy to read because I was the victim of a judge error, which was reversed with a lot of work on my part. Judge mistakes happen, the bigger crime is when they are repeated.

    Upon reading the record for this judge, and looking at the reversals, there is serious concern, and the transcripts/records of the Thompson case should be purchased.

    The BTA should have some funds for this. It would help make the case when going to Salem in 2011 or 2012 to toughen laws to protect cyclists.

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    wsbob June 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Joe…I agree with you that someone should be studying the Luther-Thompson trial and the ruling to understand why Judge Kantor claimed he couldn’t determine that Thompson deliberately tried to strike Mike Luther with his car.

    Something about the way I did the search for the document links I posted in #35 didn’t bring up the Supreme Court review. If it had, I certainly would have posted the link for it along with the others.

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    sysfail June 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Seriously pisses me off, this is the example given to bicycles in dealing with irate and crazy stressed out drivers.

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