Grand Jury says no criminal charges for woman in SW Multnomah Blvd crash – UPDATED

A Multnomah County Grand Jury decided today that 63-year old Candice Palmer — the woman who told police investigators she reached into her back seat to tend to her dog and then struck and seriously injured a man who was bicycling on SW Multnomah Blvd — should not face criminal charges.

Palmer’s car swerved into 20-year old Reese Wilson while he rode home from work on the 6100 block of SW Multnomah Blvd on February 4th. Palmer had her dog in the car and reportedly looked into the rear seat where the dog was just prior to the collision. After hitting Wilson, Palmer’s car ran through a fence and came to rest on the side of a house.

Wilson sustained life threatening injuries including head trauma and spent several weeks in the Intensive Care Unite at OHSU hospital.

After the decision was reached by the Grand Jury, the lead investigator on the case for the Portland Police Bureau issued Palmer a traffic citation for violating ORS 811.135: Careless Driving causing serious injury to a vulnerable road user (read more about the Vulnerable Roadway User provision here). Her court appearance is set for May 5, 2011.

UPDATE #1, 4/5 at 5:25pm:
Just off the phone with Chuck Sparks from the Multnomah County DA’s office. He says the Grand Jury heard lengthy testimony over several days before coming to their conclusion that Palmer’s actions did not rise to the level of recklessness required to find criminal wrongdoing. Sparks also noted that Palmer had never had a traffic ticket in her life and that she had never been arrested. Crash investigators believed Palmer’s speed wasn’t a factor. Crash reconstruction experts with the PPB determined that she was going an estimated 41-53 mph in a 40 mph zone. There was a sign posted for 30 mph due to a construction zone, but since the zone was inactive, it wasn’t considered to be a safety hazard (meaning 40 mph could be considered the safe speed in this case).

In a nutshell, the Grand Jury likely looked at the totality of evidence and saw a woman who wasn’t breaking any laws, was not impaired by any substance, was cooperative and remorseful, and who had a long life without any run-ins with the law — but who simply had a momentary lapse of good judgment.

UPDATE #2, 4/6 at 10:45am:
Here is a statement from Reese Wilson’s lawyer:

“Reese is doing remarkably well for a man who had his head opened two months ago. That said, there have been, and will be so many complications, so much to worry about medically, financially- generally everything in the future is a worry. That Candice Palmer is not held criminally liable, in my opinion, doesn’t make any difference to Reese’s struggle. I also read the police report and did not read the word “sorry” anywhere.”

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