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One week later, man hit by distracted driver remains in ICU

Posted by on February 11th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Reese Wilson.

20-year old Reese Wilson remains in the ICU today, one week after a distracted driver ran into him as he pedaled home from work on SW Multnomah Blvd.

Last Friday, 63-year old Candace Parker was driving westbound on SW Multnomah Blvd when she took her eyes off the road to tend to her dog in the back seat. She veered into Wilson, then struck a parked car, and ended up driving into the side of a house.

“He’s such a nice guy, easy to get along with. We all really miss him.”

Wilson suffered a massive head injury and a broken leg. Speaking through their lawyer, Wilson’s family says he is responding to nurses, but has had a few complications that doctors are watching closely. He still cannot move the left side of his body but he is responsive to commands — holding up his thumb and saying, “yes,” “no” and “help me.”

Jody Enders works with Wilson at the Shell gas station on 45th and Multnomah. On the phone today, she couldn’t say enough positive things about him. “He’s such a nice guy, easy to get along with. We all really miss him.” Enders said Wilson’s girlfriend usually drove him home from work, but not on Friday. “We watched him leave on his bike that afternoon,” she remembered, “and shortly after we saw the fire truck, police cars… All of our hearts just sank.”

Enders said many of the station’s regular customers are asking about Wilson and some of them have left donations in a tip jar labeled, “Reese Fund.” “We’re up to $54 dollars,” Enders said, “Which is a lot for us, because we don’t usually get tips.”

The section of SW Multnomah where the crash happened is straight, has a wide bike lane, and has very good visibility. Enders said they see people riding on it all day long. “It’s a very safe road… We’re frustrated, when you’re driving, why would you take your eyes off the road. How could she not see him?”

Wilson has lived in Oregon all his life and he attended Wilson High School where he was a standout baseball player. He’s the youngest of three siblings, with two older sisters. One of them, Lindsay Wilson, commented here last week. “I am keeping a notebook of people keeping him in their thoughts and prayers,” she wrote, “any comments you can email my way I would love to include for him when he has fully recovered. Thank you so much.”

Portland Police are still working on their investigation of this crash. We’ll have more updates as information becomes available.

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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spare_wheel9wattsJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)DavidReese Wilson Recent comment authors
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Nick V
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I will keep Mr. Wilson in my thoughts and hope for a complete recovery.

K'Tesh
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K'Tesh

Continuing to pray for him and his family.

God Bless

wally
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wally

they had photo radar set up near the crash site yesterday.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The installation of photo radar seems an unusual post crash safety activity for this case due to distracted driving. I did not understand the driver to be speeding at the time for the roadway conditions.

More appropriate and effective might be a distracted driver ‘sting’ using law enforcement officers. Past studies in WSDOT safety zones in Vancouver have found that over 50% (my memory) of all crashes are defined as distracted driving. I assume similar levels of distracted driving exist in Portland.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Todd. We don’t know why the PPB was doing the photo radar. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Perhaps they were out there as part of their investigation into this crash.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Don’t worry: the head of PPB Traffic division thinks the lack of a helmet caused this crash.

I agree. Had the driver’s dog been equipped with a Vehicular Pet Helmet ™, she could have been assured as to the dog’s complete comfort and safety, and never would have had to take her eyes off the road. If only more dogs in cars wore helmets! Please, let’s pass a law.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

In my technical opinion, our traffic engineering profession needs to create a more appropriate term for this type of driver behavior.

‘Distracted driving’ seems as to almost absolve the driver from their primary certifiable responsibility – to safety and competently operate a motorized vehicle on our public streets. And who knows if the driver could perform the above activity…it is after all only her account of the event and not a professional opinion.

craig
Guest
craig

“Reckless Negligence”

Paul Manson
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Paul Manson

Yup.

Dude
Guest
Dude

My prediction: Multnomah DA says it cannot find a crime for which it thinks it can convict Parker.

DK
Guest
DK

Unfortunate.
Get well soon Reese.

craig
Guest
craig

Hmm. ORS 161.085 :


“(10) “Criminal negligence” or “criminally negligent,” when used with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

jram
Guest
jram

I use this route daily, and Reese has been on my mind alot since reading the news last week. I hope he has a full recovery.

The toughest thing for me to grasp here is what is the best legal course of action in this situation? I definitely think the driver should be held responsible for her actions, but at what point does it become more about vengeance than justice? I know that no matte what she is charged with, it won’t change Reese’s situation (well, maybe after the civil suit). But i am really wondering, how much will the assignment of punishment deter other drivers from doing the same thing? No matter what, I want the result to be safer streets, but I get the feeling the driver will end up being a victim in the end with no increase in safety or driver education as a result. I really hope I am wrong on that. Also, I am not claiming to having any solution to this, but I really hope there is one.

craig
Guest
craig

I feel that same tension, vengeance vs. justice, jram. The victim and his family deserve justice in whatever form that it can be exacted. Beyond that…

We as a society deserve an outcome that promotes public cognizance that driving a car is a deadly responsibility that CAN NOT be left unattended, neither through distraction, inattention, impairment, nor recklessness; that outcome should be criminal consequences.

This has nothing to do with vengeance, and everything to do with transforming our collective consciousness as road users. When a child is killed playing with a parent’s unsecured, loaded gun, that parent is criminally culpable. I ascribe the same mechanism of culpability to the car driver whose reckless inattention causes harm to another person.

esther c
Guest
esther c

On a straight stretch of road like this she must have been well aware that there was a vulnerable user on the shoulder yet she made the conscious decision to attend to her dog rather than pay attention to her driving.

Don’t most people, when aware that there are bikes, pedestrians around become hyper vigilant to be sure you don’t make a mistake that could injure these persons.

Another example is when I’m on the freeway and know there is a motorcycle around I do not change lanes until I am sure of exactly where that motorcycle is.

Being so unable to control your vehicle that you run off the road, through a fence and into a house is beyond the normal. Its not like two wheels momentarily left the road and went onto the shoulder for a few seconds like can happen to anybody. When was the last time any of us ran into a house?

Not being able to slam on the brakes when you hit something is evidence of some sort of a serious problem.

excat2
Guest
excat2

A criminal prosecution seems unlikely. Look at the Sandi Day TriMet case. The accounts above may very well be true, but at this point what exactly happened isn’t known. It seems clear the driver was not paying attention, as she did not see the rider but there is some very rough pavement and a metal plate in the road/bike lane in this area from construction. That may, or may not, have played some role.

I will keep the rider in my prayers and hope for a full recovery. I will also keep the driver in my prayers. At fault or not, I have no doubt she is struggling with the events of last week as well. I can understand those calling for a criminal prosecution, but (without trying to lessen responsibility) in these kind of situations I do think it is important to remember that there are human beings on both sides of the event. My thoughts are in line with the previous post that questions the line between punishment and vengeance. For me, it is a hard line to definitively mark.

Tonya
Guest
Tonya

I’m personally tiring of the “driver is human too” argument. Abused children who grow up to become criminals are human too, but we hold them accountable for their actions. How is this different? Just as we expect people raised with no moral compass to obey laws, or pay the price, I expect adults piloting 2 ton hunks of steel to operate those vehicles without killing people or pay a price. Feeling guilty does not absolve someone of responsibility.

CaptainKarma
Guest

Today, going down 39th, I saw a fairly large rental truck that had a fairly large (> 40 lb) dog hanging waaay out the passenger window. WTF?

Alan O
Guest
Alan O

I disagree with Enders emphatically. It is NOT a safe road. I live in the area and ride it regularly. Because it is straight, some (lazy) drivers weave carelessly into the bike lane on occasion. If a car follows closely behind another, the driver of the following car may not be able to see a cyclist up ahead. A cycle track would improve things immensely.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i don’t think a conventional cycle track would have made a difference since most are separated from traffic by a minor grade or nothing at all.

a cyclist has virtually no defense against gross negligence by a motorist. seeing motorists yabbering on their phones, eating food, drinking coffee, and fiddling with innumerable distractions is common. until law enforcement and our court system take these accidents seriously, it will be impossible to change motorist behavior.

Seth Alford
Guest
Seth Alford

jram
I use this route daily, and Reese has been on my mind alot since reading the news last week. I hope he has a full recovery.

Multnomah, before the sewer project, was the alternate route for my daily commute. I too wish Reese a full and speedy recovery.

jram
… But i am really wondering, how much will the assignment of punishment deter other drivers from doing the same thing? No matter what, I want the result to be safer streets, but I get the feeling the driver will end up being a victim in the end with no increase in safety or driver education as a result….

I disagree.

Assume the facts are as reported. Then Parker a perpetrator, not a victim. If she gets jail time, she deserves it. If she gets jail time, that’s time she won’t be driving, so that alone will help make for safer streets. If she gets jail time, I think that everyone who knows her or heard of her will be more attentive in their driving, and that will make for safer streets.

Do I think she’ll actually get jail time? Sadly, no. The DA isn’t brave enough to try to prosecute her to that extent, and if he was then a jury wouldn’t convict.

jram
Guest
jram

I agree, but i would hope that the effects of her punishment cause more than the people that know her to change their behavior. in my opinion, if jail time for her is what it takes to prevent this in the future, then we, as a society, should be pushing for jail time. However, if a stern punishment for the driver goes largely unnoticed and distracted driving remains an acceptable side-effect of our busy life, then what’s the point?

That being said, I really hope that the DA brings the heat on this one. But even more so, i hope the word gets out that unsafe driving is taken seriously and will not be tolerated.

Shoemaker
Guest
Shoemaker

Careless Driving is what would apply here, as far as traffic law is concerned:

811.135 Careless driving;
http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/811.html

For anyone close to the Wilsons, please let them know that they can issue a citation for 811.135 on their own with our without the DA.

Have a good look at the text for 811.135 and keep in mind that it’s a traffic court case, no jury involved. There’s no “award” here, only the proper enforcement of the existing statue, which I believe carries the heaviest traffic related penalties Oregon has at the moment.

It’s important to consider that given the medical costs and emotional trauma associated with this collision, it might seem overwhelming to the family to start a traffic court case which essentially does nothing to help them. Growing awareness of the Careless Driving statute and its actual enforcement, however, will help us all.

There is a time limit that applies to starting this process after the incident. I think it’s 30 days. The entire process to a traffic court decision on the matter is pretty quick too, all things considered.

TM
Guest
TM

I’ve ridden this section of road many times. Most drivers are really good about seeing cyclists and pedestrians. Throwing up a photo radar (vile thing) just proves that they’re out for money and not deterrence.

Whatever happens legally, I just hope that Reese recovers. Head injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from.

Unit
Guest
Unit

And herein lies the problem…when they don’t enforce and something happens, people (rightfully, I think) complain. When they do enforce…yep, people complain…cuz’ they might get caught.

Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

Two thumbs up for Todd’s “distracted driver sting”. Go nab those folks who are talking on their cell phones, driving with a dog on their lap, etc.

One near-fatal injury is one too many.

I wish Mr. Wilson a speedy and complete recovery, though I’m concerned it will be anything but speedy or complete…

Thanks for keeping us posted, Jonathan.

Ted Buehler

Joe
Guest
Joe

pull thru man… pull thru.. Your in my heart..
peace always..

jessica
Guest
jessica

Reese i am praying for you.
No one should go through this. I knowe the whole area. It is high time the city and cops ticket speeders, and people driving on cell phones. They should pay fines, till they get the message. Driving is a privelege, not a right.
People can’t drive irresponsibly. If they are distracted, they need to be off the road before they put a single person’s life and well being in danger.
They cannot drive at the expense of the safety of others. So, let’s step up and ask for implementation of speeding laws, use of cell phones, and demand pedestrian crossings NOW.
This costs virtually nothing. It provides money for sidewalks , lights, and bikepaths. Most of all, it will protect cyclists and pedestrians, and this city needs that. It is deplorable thta nothing has, and is being done.
Let’s hold the city accountable, and our “representatives”/ mayor!!

jessica
Guest
jessica

Reckless drivers must not be allowed on the road. People need to report these incidents.

People must be made aware of the rights of pedestrians and cyclists. City officials must start work NOW on lights on dark roadways, pedestrian crossings and speed signs/bumps.

craig
Guest
craig

Jonathan, I think the time is right, and the issue is right, for putting pressure on the mayor to grant an interview with you on this topic.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

thanks craig, What exactly would you want me to ask the Mayor? The case is working through the system. I’ll try to get an update together.

craig
Guest
craig

I’m thinking of a followup to his appearance at the Transportation Safety Summit, and directly linking the recent spate of crashes with bike/peds to the possibility of dramatically increasing public awareness of related traffic laws–of which the public is widely ignorant–by upping PPB enforcement of those laws.

They can take their current program of “Crosswalk Enforcement Actions” and blow that up for a year or so into a large-scale self-funded initiative by consistently citing violaters, instead of just politely informing them of the laws they just broke.

I would love to see Portland become widely known for unprecedented vigilance in penalizing those offenses. What’s more, I would love everyone who drives a car here to know these laws, and to dread the cost of violating them.

Reese Wilson
Guest
Reese Wilson

Hey everyone thanks for all the prayers and support. I know this thread may be closed by now. But I figured I’d let everyone know how things turned out. It has been a very long road and I’m not done with doctor appoitments or pshyical therapy yet. Who knows if that day will ever come. I have regained function in my leg and a little in my arm I am fully independent though! I can’t say what happened to miss palmer other then she got off extremly lucky for nearly killing me. Nor did my family or I ever get an apology. I’m a firm beliver in what goes around comes back around. Thanks for taking the time to read this and be safe out there and wear your helmets.

David
Guest
David

Hey Reese–I don’t really have anything to say, just wanted you to know that people are still out here who care.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Thanks for checking in with us Reese. Sad and frustrating that you are still dealing with physical recovery after over 2 1/2 years. Also very frustrating to hear that you feel the woman who ran into you got off too easy. Unfortunately I hear that type of thing all the time. If you’d like to follow up with me to tell more of your story, I’d love to hear it. you can email me at jonathan@bikeportland.org.

I hope you make a full recovery and are able to put this past you.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Agreed. Very glad you checked in here. I often wonder what happens to the folks smashed up by others driving cars we read about here on bikeportland. There are too many.

I hope that day will come!

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

Hey Reese,
Thanks for the update and good luck with your continuing recovery. I hope that you take up Jonathan’s offer. I believe that the more we humanize so-called “accidents” the more likely society will start to take them seriously
Best,
S.