Tour de Lab September 1st

Man dies in collision with SUV in West Linn

Posted by on September 12th, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Street view of Pimlico Dr. as it
approaches Hwy 43/Willamette Dr.

A man riding his bike in West Linn (about 11 miles south of downtown Portland) died earlier today when he collided with an SUV.

According to the West Linn Police Department, 37 year-old James Allen Hill was riding his bicycle eastbound (downhill) on Pimlico Drive at about 1:00 pm on Sunday and the crash occurred at the T-intersection with Willamette Drive (Highway 43).

The West Linn PD say that according to witnesses and an investigation, Hill was “travelling at a high rate of speed prior to the intersection, disregarded a stop sign and was unable to negotiate the sharp right turn he was attempting.” A Ford Expedition was going southbound on Willamette Drive and Hill “lost control of his bicycle” and slid under it.

Here’s a snip from a press release sent out by the West Linn PD:

“This is a tragic event” said West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus, “Our thoughts are with both Mr. Hill’s family and the family of the driver.” The West Linn Police reminds bicyclists and all roadway users that they must obey the rules of the road, the rules are there for their safety.

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58 Comments
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    trail abuser September 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    RIP Sir.

    Makes me think I shouldn’t fly down Taylors Ferry at 45+ anymore. It’s really fun though.

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    Spiffy September 12, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    eek, sounds like maybe brake failure… how long and steep is this hill?

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    Roma September 12, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I don’t even want to know what the Oregonian story comments are going to look like on this one. Very sad.

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    mcquain September 12, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I know that street. That hill is so damn steep, I’d be scared to walk down it. A bike could easily get to over 40 mph in a very short distance. Be careful out there.

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    wsbob September 12, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    bikeportland’s twitter notices listed a KATU story on this collision. An excerpt:

    “… Witnesses say he disregarded a stop sign and was unable to negotiate the sharp right turn. …” KATU.com Staff

    Bicyclist dies Sunday afternoon in West Linn crash/Submitted by KATU.com Staff/Sunday, September 12th, 2:23 pm

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    wsbob September 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Sorry…without noticing, scanned right over maus detailing of high rate of speed and not stopping for the stop sign.

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    West Linn Neighbor September 12, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    The photo’s wide-angle lens does nothing for the real view of this busy intersection. It’s a very steep hill with several sustained curves. Awful thing for his family and those in the SUV that hit him.

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    Marcus Griffith September 13, 2010 at 12:19 am

    One’s life is a steep payment for making a simple mistake. Safety first people.

    My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic loss.

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    Red Five September 13, 2010 at 5:48 am

    how soon till someone here twists this into being the fault of the motorist?

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    Jeff September 13, 2010 at 6:05 am

    You have excellent instincts Red Five…

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    SkidMark September 13, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Like how, Red Five? By saying that the SUV shouldn’t have been in the road in the first place? (because that’s what motorists always say about bicyclists)

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      MIddle of the Road Guy March 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Skid, it is the modus operandi of people on this site to disregard their own shortcomings and place them all on drivers.

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    jim September 13, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Skidmark-
    Just how did you get your name? Was it from incidents like this?

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    Bob_M September 13, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Rolling south down Terwilliger toward the Barbur intersection several years ago I was traveling at a high rate of speed and waited late to brake hard and pulled the lead ball on the brake cable through the front brake lever. (Talk about skidmark! I produced two!)

    Equipment malfunction could have contributed to the tragedy

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    SkidMark September 13, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I skid for fun. For stopping I want to maintain traction.

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    Amos September 13, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Very sad news. My sincere condolences to his friends and family.

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    K'Tesh September 13, 2010 at 7:51 am

    My Prayers go out for both families involved.

    Ride Safe Folks!
    God Bless

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    spare_wheel September 13, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Caliper breaks are a joke.
    *They weaken your rim.
    *Cables are prone to failure.
    *Cheap rubber/plastic break pads fail catastrophically. (there is almost no stopping power once the pad wears off or peels off).

    With hydraulic disc breaks and metal pads I have close to the same stopping time with one break engaged as with both.

    *they do not weaken your wheel rim.
    *a well maintained hydraulic line is far less prone to failure (snags, rust, loosening).
    *if the pad wears out the metal base will still work effectively (and provide a very noisy warning).

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      MIddle of the Road Guy March 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      They’re worked pretty well for professionals. Bike within what your equipment is capable of – Pretty simple.

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    are September 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

    re comment 9, how soon before some troll comes on and tries to turn this into a cyclists hate motorists thread?

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    A.K. September 13, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Spare wheel:

    I agree, disc breaks are really cool, unfortunately they seem to only be offered on a limited number of bikes.

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    jon September 13, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I know this is not statistically significant but I have only personally seen onc brake failure in 20 years of mountain bike riding. It was a hydraulic disc front line that resulted in a crash on a downhill at the Syncline.

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    Brad September 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I have friends that live in that neighborhood. Pimlico is a sustained 10-12% grade.

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    Joe September 13, 2010 at 10:01 am

    RIP Bike Friend.

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    cyclist September 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I want to give my condolences to the man’s family, this is truly a tragic accident.

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    El Biciclero September 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I crashed like this as a kid, only it was a left turn, and I ran into the opposite curb and rolled off into a neighbor’s barkdust landscaping. Same mistake, much different results. This incident reminds us all of our vulnerability and the need to understand the limitations of our equipment and skills. Condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Hill.

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    RexMarx003 September 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I live about 1/2 mile from this street and ride on it often as it is one of the best routs from the 43 to the Safeway Store at the top of the hill (ironic store name, come to think of it).
    – The local government closes this road during snow events as it is soo steep.
    – If your brakes are not in perfect working order do not ride down pimlico (take Summit Road down) or just walk down.
    – Tragic and completely too close to home…..

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    spare_wheel September 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I also want to add my condolences. This is a tragedy for everyone involved.

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    jim September 13, 2010 at 11:40 am

    perhaps they can put up some signage to warn people of the grade before they realize they are in trouble

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    KWW September 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I agree with @17, rim brakes are limited in their power. You even see guys in TdeF wiping out because their plastic pads ‘cook off’.

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    Brad September 13, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Spare Wheel @ 17,

    All of the “problems” that you list with road calipers only become issues if they are not properly maintained to begin with. Checking rims and pads for wear, replacing cables, and mounting the proper pads for riding conditions are all common sense solutions.

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    WOBG September 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    KWW: You sure that’s why they wipe out? What’s your source? Having ridden lots of high-speed mountain passes (such as those in the Markleeville Death Ride for instance), I gotta say that doesn’t sound right. The pros likely would be braking *less* than my mortal 50-mph self, and I never even came close to cooking pads, rolling or blowing tires, etc. Now heavy ol’ *tandems* on mountain passes, that’s a different story…

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    WOBG September 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I like disc brakes too, but they’re not without hazard. I’ve experienced the controversial skewer-loosening phenomenon on my XC mountain bike. And not every maker is clued in yet; you still see disc-brake forks with the axle slots facing down instead of forward—a wheel-ejection hazard, according to some, when combined with the skewer-loosening phenomenon.

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    SkidMark September 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    It was a very unfortunate accident. There is no need to speculate on the condition of the victim’s bike or debate what braking systems work best.

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    WOBG September 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I dunno, SkidMark. I agree that no speculation or debate is necessary if the rider simply *didn’t* stop. But if the rider *couldn’t* stop, then discussing brakes and braking may help save others and thus honor his memory.

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    WOBG September 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Also, maintaining the same standard here as others have noted with coverage of other collisions: Was this sufficiently unforeseeable and unpreventable to be called an accident?

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    spare_wheel September 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    @brad, i was too preachy. i think you will agree that there are a lot bikes out there with badly maintained caliper brakes.

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    Mike Fish September 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    RIP

    Be careful on the roads everyone.

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    SkidMark September 13, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Well then I will say that I’ve never run into a situation that two Kool-Stop equipped brakes could not handle, and because I weigh 200 lbs. I pick up quite a bit of speed down hills. Braking has more to do with proper assembly and maintenance than the type of braking device. Also disc brakes are out in the rain just like calipers so there is diminished braking either way when it is wet out. This is not so with a drum brake or even a coasterbrake.

    /discussion

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    WOBG September 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Skidmark: Agreed, good rim brakes with Kool-Stop pads will get ‘er done—with maybe a heart-pounding moment now and then in the wet.

    You sound like you’ve never tried a well adjusted disc brake with broken-in pads; the difference over rim brakes can be pretty profound. Yeah, they get wet too—but they have so much reserve power, it just doesn’t matter. You’re limited only by how well your tires can hold the wet road.

    But that’s all I’ve got. RIP, Mr. Hill. Here’s hoping for no copycats.

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    jim September 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I saw a kid going through the red lights at interstate and going this morning only to find himself in the middle of a lot of traffic, in the middle of the intersection (lots of trucks there). if he got ran over would that be an accident or just stupid?

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 14, 2010 at 9:07 am

    jim,

    what’s the purpose of your comment? Obviously it’s stupid to run a red light and put yourself and others in harm’s way.

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    Mindful Cyclist September 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Condolences to the family and friends of this man. RIP

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    Ted Buehler September 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

    I almost crashed the other day.

    I was pulling up to a bike rack the other day and my left handlebar broke off. Good thing it didn’t happen earlier as I was riding up Williams with traffic on the left. I’d been riding hard on this bike for 7 years, it never occurred to me that the handlebars might fail.

    It’s always good to do a thorough safety check on your bike once in a while, take the whole thing apart and look for stress cracks in bolts, frames, cranks. Frayed cables. Loose stuff.

    And when anything is in poor condition and in need of repair, be aware of it and adjust to a more conservative riding style until you get it repaired.

    I’m actually surprised that there aren’t more fatalities by equipment failure in Portland. It’s a testament to how much Portlanders love their bikes and tend to keep them beautifully maintained — 20,000 daily bicycle commuters in the summer, and zero fatalities because of equipment failure. It only takes one mistake to get yourself killed.

    Be careful, folks. Look after yourself, look after your friends.

    Ted Buehler

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    Ted Buehler September 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

    >>and zero fatalities because of equipment failure<<

    Um, zero, or possibly one…

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    Kt September 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Taking that right turn off Pimlico onto Will Falls there– it’s a decreasing radius turn and if you take it too fast, you’ll overcook it and have to go wide into the traffic lane.

    That’s a freakin’ steep hill, too, so it’d be easy to come to the T-intersection too fast, especially if you didn’t plan on stopping anyway and planned on making the right turn into the bike lane right there.

    My condolences to his family.

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    WOBG September 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Kt: Sounds like planning on stopping at the stop sign would be a prudent thing to avoid hurting fellow bike riders in the Will Falls bike lane who are about to enter the intersection, but who you might not yet see. Let’s head off bike-on-bike violence!

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    jim September 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Jonathon-
    What is the point of your story? Is it that cyclists should not do stupid things? or maybe they should follow trafic laws? Do you have a specific message that you want to get out?

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    jim,

    the point of this story is to tell people about what happened.

    thanks for the question.

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    jim September 14, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Jonathan-
    Isn’t it also a purpose of this blog to increase bicycle safety? To learn from the combined experience of all the riders comenting? To broaden our perceptions. I know this is the most unfortunate experiance right here. Perhaps if any good can come from it- it would be what we discused right here and possibly save someone elses skin. Following the traffic rules, better braking systems, better judgement calls… I appreciate your dedication to improving cycling in Portland. Keep up the good work

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    henry krinkle September 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    It’s a very steep hill. It so steep I tele skied it back during the big storm. Could have been a brake problem, maybe just a bad miscalculation, but if you look at the Oregonian comments he’s getting ripped by about half the people. However, someone who actually helped at the scene cut through the crap and tells it how it was. Made my wife cry when she read it. Apparently some people honked with irritation and several drove by as the biker just lay there.

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    Trek 3900 September 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Another note on safety. If the hill is as steep as some have stated here, then if I owned that home in the photo, I’d put up some kind of barrier to stop a runaway truck. Maybe buy an old dump truck and park it in front of the house, or in the drive way.

    Might as well take action BEFORE another tragedy occurs. What a concept.

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    jim September 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

    you would probably have to get a special permit or a variance of some sort to place an obstacle on your own property. it might endanger someone driving through your yard

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    Spiffy September 20, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    here’s the text of the comment that henry krinkle #49 is talking about…

    comment from L_Loomis September 14, 2010 at 6:07AM

    To the family:

    This was a tragic accident and nobody was truly at fault. I was there, and it was the wrong place, wrong time, wrong conditions.

    We were the first medical personell to arrive, and stopped moments after the accident occured. Though it may be painful to read some of this, if you wish to know our understanding of what occured, please read on. For the sake of decency and your feelings, I will limit what information I give in this public way.

    What happened was that James was travelling down Pimlico and tried to merge onto southbound 43. Pimlico has smooth pavement, and 43 does, but there is a section of paving between the two roads that has the exposed smooth-stone aggregate caused by studded tires. This was the cause of his fall in my opinion. His bike derailluer in the front was on the large sproket, but also the large in the rear, meaning he was in a mid-range gearing as he began to go down the hill – but is not enough gearing to accelerate beyond gravity down the hill. He may have shifted prior to 43 as well, in anticipation of his course, but I do not believe this is the case as it appears he was downshifting to the middle front sproket as he merged onto 43. He had his helmet on, and it had stayed on through the impact.

    I was able to inspect the scene moments after it occured, and the bicycle, and the pavement. It looks like as he leaned to travel from Pimlico to 43 his tires slipped out on the pavement worn to stones by car studded tires, and his bike went out from under him. I can see no other reason why he could not navigate the curve. He then was hit by a vehicle as he tumbled out of the bike lane. His bike was totally undamaged, and barely even scratched. It had not been hit. It seems had James stopped at the intersection, or the driver been a little more cautious and alert (I base this upon the location of impact as it was evident exactly where James was hit (only 3-4′ feet outside the bike lane) things might have been different. I am so sorry they were not.

    My wife is a former ICU nurse, and has for years been the senior charge and code-response nurse on the post-surgical unit at the VA (a population with more serious issues than the general population, which lends a lot of experience). She attended to James almost immediately after the accident. She is one of the best people you could ever ask for in an emergency. After a few minutes, a retired neurologist also showed up on the scene – and someone we believe was another nurse arrived sometime later and helped as well. My wife continued to give orders about what other responders were to do, and also called out orders to be told to the 911 dispatcher for equipment needed.

    Initially, as we made our U-turn and blocked that lane of traffic (multiple cars just drove past him – God forgive these people) I was alarmed to see how angry other drivers became that I had just blocked traffic. I was honked and shouted at. Officers later instructed me that I and parked the car properly and ordered me to leave it where it was until they had cordoned off traffic lanes.

    My wife leapt out of the car and ran to where James was lying. There was a woman with him, talking to him. James had no clear pulse, but he was moving his arm, moaning, and his is pupils were responsive so it was thought there must be a weak one present. More cars stopped to help as traffic locked up and people began to notice him.
    After a couple of minutes of CPR his pulse began to recover, after checking his wrist, neck, and groin. We felt he was coming around and there was a chance. James became a little more responsive and began to moan again. We tried to tell him how many important things he had worth living for, and why he needed to hold on. We told him what had happened, and that he was being cared for now. He moaned and murmered but I could not understand him. After over 200 compressions, another responder who had kneeled opposite my wife began to do compressions.

    Shortly after that, the neurologist said his pupils dilated, he lost consciousness, and then we lost all pulse. He felt it was an aneurism from the impact.

    I hope you understand that your husband, son, brother, or father, died in loving hands and to kind, gentle, and loving words. We did our very, very best, and are very deeply affected by his loss. Saving him was very personal to us, and my wife did everything in her ability and beyond to save him. She is also taking his death hard, and does when losing any patient.

    James was obviously very healthy, happy, and young. His death is such a tragedy and a terrible twist of fortune. We are only sorry we were unable to do more. I hope you will forgive that we could not save him, but understand we did not only our best to help him, but to put him at peace as well.

    If you would like to talk or would like to know everything, you may reach me at loomisd at- gmail dot com, however I will require proof of your identity before giving out any additional personal information. If you would like I will walk over the scene with you and show you.

    To the replies:

    Judging by the comments found after this article, there are many unkind people in this world who do not know what compassion is. I am sorry to see it. I am sure you are the same kind of people who drove past him, and judged the circumstances of the accident without knowing the truth of it. It was a great tragedy. There are details left out of this for the sake of the family, but know that I was there and you were not. I saw everything that needed to be seen, and while I cannot say the driver was at fault, neither can I really say James was. Were it not for the slick stones, he shouldn’t have had the least of problems merging. My grandfather died after being hit by a train as it crossed a rural forested road without crossing guards (you had to slow down and peek around the trees). It wasnt anybodys fault, it was a tragedy. This reminds me of that.

    I think that brings it all into perspective…

    a sad story for sure… no happy endings here…

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      chris souza April 18, 2018 at 8:53 pm

      Thank you for your detailed acct of the accident. I travel that road when I am in town to see my 39 yr old son who lives near the top of that hill. I notice someone has been placing flowers there on the nearby fence for all these years. Just noticed them again tonight and got me to wondering about this tragic loss all over again. He must be well missed by his family considering their commitment to the flower program. There is also a picnic table dedicated to his memory at Mary S Young park near there.

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    Kt September 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you, Spiffy, and Mr Loomis.

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    Dan September 22, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks.

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    kristin September 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    I can appreciate the fact that so many are discussing the possibility of brake failure, miscalculation, etc. That is wise- and hopefully it heightens awareness to the dangers of potential unknowns…
    But- that is the technical side of this- the very human and heart-wrenching side of this story is that a really great guy left this world too early- This was a selfless man who coached my son’s soccer team and was a Dad- he was not reckless or self-absorbed, and would not have blown through a stop sign where he could potentially harm himself or anyone else.
    My heart breaks for the family- it’s tragic. Please be careful!

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