Lisa Padur, Arlen Witter, and Bret Lewis.
(Photo: Friends of Bret Lewis)
Bret Lewis, the man who was hit and killed while attempting to cross Tualatin Valley Highway one week ago today, left behind a community of friends in Beaverton.
Bret was an Oregon native, who spent most of his life in Beaverton. He has worked several jobs over the years, including one five-year stint for the Sub Station on SW Broadway where he delivered sandwiches by bike, pedaling the same streets that ended up claiming his life.
He was married once and had two sons, Leo and Max (Max died of leukemia just last year). He is survived by Leo and his father, mother, and sister. Bret had a close-knit circle of friends he considered to be his family.
I’ve met several of those friends in the past week, some of them via email and others during a visit to the crash scene yesterday.
Yvonne Boeckel knew Bret for 12 years. She said he was very social and loved having friends over. “He loved to hang out and he was a very gracious host. He was actually on his way to a friend’s house when he was hit.”
Yvonne met Bret through her friend Lisa Padur. I met Lisa yesterday. She was very close to Bret. The two used to be romantically involved and they remained friends. Yesterday, sobbing by the side of the road, she said, “He was going to take care of me when I got old.”
Bret treated Lisa’s son, Arlen Pierce Witter (in photo) like his own (Arlen’s father Jim Witter was a close friend of Bret’s). Bret played an important role in Arlen’s life, friends told me, “treating him like a son.” It was among these friends that Bret found family. The four of them made up an “unconventional” family unit, wrote one of his friends via email…
It was with this “unconventional family unit” that he spent the last months of his short life, enjoying the football season (he was an avid Vikings fan) and the Holidays, all five together, for the first time.
Lisa Padur put together the following tribute to Bret…
Bret was first and foremost “A Lover”.
He was a lover of “Music”, the kind that made you feel.
He was a lover of “Art”, both expression of his own creative talent as well as appreciation of others’.
He was a lover of “Beauty”, in all of its forms (the simpler the better).
He loved the “Lovers” (and loathed the “Haters”).
He made his own path, preferring to live outside the “Mainstream”.
He had a “weathered” exterior, which was barely large enough to contain the warmth and greatness of his soft heart and loving soul.
He was a great and giving host, who’s first thought, was to please others, sharing all that he had to offer.
His idea of a “Good Day” would include: an outdoor fire with good friends, a good smoke & a P.B.R.
A “Great Day” might include a burger and fries at Ringo’s [a local bar] as well!
Bret lived one day at a time, each being a struggle.
This being said, his creativity and motivation were ever-present.
He will be sorely missed… but forever loved.
Goodbye my friend, my brother, my love.
Another one of Bret’s close friends is Tedd Briggs. He shared this poem the night after the crash…
A Loving soul… lost
by Ted Briggs on Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 12:10am
Tonight the life of an unlikely friend was cut short… too short..
He was a loving, caring and kind hearted man. a loving soul. Our friendship was long overdue, yet unlikely. I am grateful that he was a big enough man to allow me into his life at all…I did not have enough time to know him as well as I would have liked to. He LOVED… & that, No one could be faulted for… in his heart I hope that he knew he was LOVED by those he loved and maybe some he would not have expected to…
He was my friend, however unlikely, for this I am grateful, and my heart goes out to all who loved him and were loved by him….
You will be missed more than I fear you knew. R.I.P. – B.L.
Yesterday, Lisa was still grappling with how her friend was suddenly gone. I met her at the scene of the crash that ended Bret’s life.
More than anything, what I took away from Lisa’s words — which often came through uncontrollable sobs while being comforted by friend Ted Briggs — was frustration. She was frustrated at how dangerous the road is in that location and she was frustrated at the way the crash was portrayed by the police and the media.
She also implored us (I was there with my friend and West Side correspondent Jim Parsons) to understand that Bret was an expert, experienced, and safe rider.
Crying, she said, “He wouldn’t just be stopped in the lane! The way they made it sound, he was just waiting right in the middle of the road.. Waiting for someone to run him down!”
Lisa also shared that Bret was frequently hassled by the Beaverton Police Department. Speaking of her concerns for the thoroughness of their investigation, she said, “Our friends came out that night and twenty minutes after it happened there was nothing on the street… Like it had never happened. I just want some answers.”
A large crowd of Bret’s friends are expected to join bike and traffic safety advocates for a vigil tonight starting at 4:30 pm at the intersection of SW Tualaway and TV Highway.
Thanks for all of this, Jonathan.
Solid work, Jonathan. You’re doing what nobody else wants to do, and it’s hard, important stuff.
This hits right at the issue of motorist entitlement, and the complicity of our government in maintaining that entitlement. The Beaverton Police Department should not get off this easy on this one.
Yes, solid, hard, important stuff. Thank you. We’ll be with you all in spirit.
“+1” to what Tacoma and peejay said, too. My thoughts to all of you, and especially Bret and his family. I’m going for a ride and the rain can wash away my tears.
some great words in there… sad, but uplifting at the same time…
and it’s great that some real info is coming to light on how this actually happened…
Thanks for your comments. I didn’t want to get into in this post, but there’s a lot more to report next week about this road. I am disgusted that roads like this exist and being out there yesterday really drove home the need for some advocacy out in Beaverton.
Of particular note is that several people crossed at that location while we were there… Including a woman and her young child coming from the Farmington Apartments (where Bret used to live and where I think he was turning into prior to the collision). The fact that they are taking their lives into their hands on a major highway just to get across the street is mind-boggling to me. This kind of stuff cannot stay on the backburner.
I’ll get more into this next week. Thanks for reading and caring about this crash.
And I think one might even say
“The fact that they _have to take_ their lives into their hands on a major highway just to get across the street is mind-boggling.” Not trying to put words in your mouth, Jonathan, but I think in light of some of the comments here over the past few days about how stupid it is to cross there, show up there on foot at all, etc., we should note how is easy it is for folks who don’t live there to make statements like that.
There may be good alternatives, or there may not be, but it is clear who at that location gets to call the shots: those in cars and those who have money. Those who may have neither have to fend for themselves against pretty stiff odds, and we should do better by them.
I live in Beaverton, not so far away from Tuallaway and TV Hwy. I can say from first hand experience, without hesitation that the traffic conditions on the road this close to town suck big time. That it is, is no great secret to anyone that’s simply stood next to it, let alone riding along it or attempting to cross it.
Also, that as tempting as it may be to take a short cut and cross the road at this unsignalled for crosswalk intersection rather than travel on down to Hocken Ave, it’s not very bright to do this on a dark, stormy night. In the best of conditions, it’s risky.
I’m glad people are upset about someone getting hurt here…killed. Will the emotional momentum over this be enough to get some pedestrian favorable improvements to this section of TV Hwy, and perhaps the intersection of TV and Tuallaway specifically? Maybe. Readers may remember an outcry over injuries to some kids trying to cross TV Hwy at about 178th (closer to Aloha.). The county was finally prompted to speed up its schedule for installing a flashing yellow crossing aide light. Maybe something like that will happen for Tuallaway too, though a full fledged crosswalk signal is what should be there.
Also beneficial, would be for the city to be able to knock the posted speed limit, down from 45mph to 35mph. As you can see from Oregon legislators 2011 session efforts to implement a law allowing cities to do just that sort of thing, this option seems to be off the table. So it looks like Beaveton residents near Tuallaway are going to have to continue living with this highway at near freeway speeds that runs straight into town.
chills all over my body.. rest in peace bike bro..
see you on the road someday.. we ride for you and others, you will never be forgotten.
Saw the vigil on my way home from work today (unfortunately, in my car). Gave everyone a friendly honk. Hope that wasn’t inappropriate.
I bike or drive this stretch of TV highway almost daily, and I often see people running across. For a pedestrian it’s pretty far away to go all the way to Hocken or Murray, and I can’t blame them. Perhaps we need a pedestrian-activated crossing signal? Yes, I know that costs tens of thousands of dollars, but this is a historically deadly road. Might be worth the investment.
Ok, so you were the one. It was fine, we understood that it was a honk of support.
I completely agree, ped-activated crossing signals (with refuges) are needed all along TV hwy (anywhere people routinely cross).
It’s hard to not be cynical about the rate at, and manner by which local government makes improvements. Of course people are running ‘jack be nimble’ across TV Hwy, even though it’s risky. People that have seen the google aerial snaps of the area posted to bikeportland recently, can see that there are residences both south and north of the highway. Walking from Tuallaway, east to Hocken can be a two tenths of a mile one way, out of the way addition to a route.
I expect that tax revenue is the prime motivation for the city, and since the residences in the area aren’t big revenue producers, residents there don’t get the convenience of a signaled crosswalk at Tuallaway.
photos are up:
Sad story, excellent follow-up. Thanks, JM.
“‘Our friends came out that night and twenty minutes after it happened there was nothing on the street… Like it had never happened.'”
I’ve only seen a few fatal crash investigations, but it seems that it usually takes a few hours for an investigation to be completed.
Somewhere there is an official “fatal transportation crash investigation procedure.” With the state? County? [begin speculation] My guess is that a policy exists, and that the Beaverton police did not follow it. [end speculation]
If there is a policy, and it was not followed, then I assume they would need to reopen the investigation.
Has anyone heard of such a document, and can steer us towards something? Maybe a call to the Washington County Coroner’s office would yield results…
The story distributed by the Beaverton Police about what happened to this poor guy does not pass the “sniff test.” I am very interested in finding out more about what really happened. I feel so sorry for his family and friends.
Here’s a link to the “Anne Arundel County” procedure. Looks like it would take a while to go through all of the requirements for a fatal crash. Even the “first officer on the scene” (III.A) would take about 20 mins to complete the list…
Thank you JM for giving us a sense what Brett was when he was alive, that he was a person who touched many lives rather than just another faceless statistic.
I am the Chair for the Beaverton Bicycle Advisory Committee. My comments are personal and I am not speaking on behalf of the committee at all. I wanted to state that the topic of the “city to be able to knock the posted speed limit, down from 45mph to 35mph” has come up with both our committee and the Traffic Committee over the past few years. And Ernie Conway, advid cyclist, has now been appointed to sit on the Traffice Commission for Beaverton. Voices are being heard! I do know there are plans in the making to change the traffic speeds, and the City Planning is proposing a re-design Canyon Rd (TV Hwy) to calm speed and to add mid-block crossings. Unfortunately, it comes to late in this case but there are folks paying attention to this issue. I am very sorry for the loss of Brett’s life.