Woman seriously injured in hit-and-run; suspect remains at large

The crash happened near SW Market and
Naito at 9:15 am on Tuesday (4/12).

A Portland woman sustained serious injuries after being struck by a truck at 9:15 on Tuesday morning (4/12) while riding her bike on SW Naito Parkway (at SW Market). Marjin Wall is still at OHSU awaiting facial surgery and the person who hit her remains at large.

According to Wall’s friend Kate LaGrand, who was riding with Wall when the collision occurred, the truck’s right side-view mirror struck Wall in the head. The mirror knocked Wall unconscious “before she hit the ground,” causing her to land face first on the pavement.

Marjin Wall as of yesterday.
(Photo: Kate LaGrand)

Several facial bones were crushed around Wall’s cheek and temple and and she will need plates and screws inserted to reconstruct the left side of her face. The photo of Wall at right was taken yesterday.

LaGrand says the truck did not stop, but it stopped at the traffic light just north of incident at SW Clay. According to LaGrand, “The driver of the truck then left the scene without ever getting out of the vehicle. I did not get the license plate number because I was too involved in going to Marjin’s aid. To my knowledge, no one else got the plate either.”

After hearing from LaGrand, I contacted the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division to get an update on the case. Officer Barry Busse, with the PPB’s Traffic Investigations Unit says they are aware of the incident and have begun an investigation; but because little is known about the truck and no license plate number was recorded, they don’t have much to go on.

“We began to investigate it right away,” says Officer Busse, “The problem was we really didn’t have a lot to go on… A very vague vehicle description and no license plate unfortunately.” Busse adds that they’re re-interviewing witnesses and sifting through “conflicting information” from some of them.

LaGrand recalls that the truck was a flatbed commercial vehicle with double wheels on the rear axle and likely damage to the right side mirror.

“We are regular bicycle commuters. We were riding single file in the right lane on a clear, dry morning, and we were wearing bright colorful clothes and bicycle helmets. This truck gave us no berth.”

LaGrand hopes more witnesses come forward. “There were many people at the scene, and one may have taken down the license number or have a better description of the truck… if there is anyway to put the word out that would be most appreciated.”

If you have information about this incident, please call Officer Barry Busse at (503) 823-2216.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Tomas Quinones
12 years ago

HOLY FECK.
I’ve been hit 6 times in this fashion in one summer when I lived in Michigan. The worst injury I sustained in this manner was a bruised shoulder.

Let’s hope Kate recovers quickly.

BikeChick
BikeChick
12 years ago
Reply to  Tomas Quinones

Kate doesn’t need the recovering….Marjin Wall does. But kudos to Kate for being such a caring friend!

single track
single track
12 years ago

make it reflex to get vehicle descriptions and plates- heal quickly

RN
RN
12 years ago
Reply to  single track

Make it reflex to do exactly what Kate did–make sure that an emergency response is initiated and that the injured person is safe.

That a person could do this to someone and just get away with it is a great injustice indeed. But making sure that the victim survives is of far greater importance than making sure that the perpetrator gets caught.

Joe
Joe
12 years ago

get well Kate ! sorry someone had to just take off on you.. sad hit and run, I just keep asking why does this happen.

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
12 years ago

It’s collisions like this one that show the weakness of Oregon’s safe passing law. Vehicles going less than 35 m.p.h. are exempted from the safe passing requirement, even trucks with large side mirrors.
https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.065

pat h
pat h
12 years ago

The truck hit her. A number on paper doesn’t matter — a law doesn’t protect people. The driver of the truck was clearly negligent and failed to pass with sufficient care and distance.

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago

You definitely have a point with the safe passing laws.
It is interesting to note that passing in an area with a solid yellow line indicating a no passing zone is prima facia evidence of unsafe passing.
You realize that under the laws there are many, extensive sections of roads where it is illegal for any car larger than perhaps a Yaris to pass a bike. Not to excuse drivers, but they do become frustrated about having to follow slow moving bikes for long distances.

Once again, the solution might be changes in road designs plus laws that encourage bike to travel on streets that are safer for them. IE, the prohibition on bikes riding on down town freeways.

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
12 years ago
Reply to  James Crawford

A better solution is drivers getting into their head that they can’t get down the road at 10mph over the speed limit all the time and if they can’t handle that patiently they shouldn’t be driving.

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago

There are a lot of bike riders who can maintain 25mph, most don’t. I often pass bikes on my tractor that has a top end of 16mph, so obviously a lot of bikes go slower than that, ESP up hill. A lot of major arterials in the city have speeds limits of 45mph. Country roads generally have a speed limit of 55. Cars need to share the road with bikes, but bikes need to acknowledge that they do obstruct traffic. A little courtesy by everyone would help. Hostile drivers who think cars shouldn’t be on the road are no different than militant spokers who presume that they should force people out of their cars.

Spiffy
12 years ago
Reply to  James Crawford

it’s legal for a vehicle to cross the solid yellow line to pass a bicycle…

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Check out the link,

https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.065

It appears that you can cross a solid yellow center line, but only if you are going slower than 35 mph. This slower speed actually prolongs the passing time and makes the pass more dangerous for everyone.

Stumptwn
Stumptwn
12 years ago

Have a quick recovery. Sounds like the cyclists were prepared and did the right things. Good thing she had a helmet or she would surly be a veg. Downtown is a scary place to ride.

pat h
pat h
12 years ago
Reply to  Stumptwn

Her helmet status doesn’t matter. She would have been hurt because the driver of the truck hit her — not because she did not have a helmet on. By this reasoning we should blame her because she didn’t have on a full-face helemt (i.e., a motorcycle helmet) which would have prevented most facial injuries. There is no reason to discuss this subject mater in relation to individuals. Helmet use saves brains *on average*, not in individual cases. By discussing it in a single case, it seems to imply that helmet status somehow alters to propensity to have a collison and to might be the sole factor relating to “blame”.

Brian E.
Brian E.
12 years ago
Reply to  pat h

Yeah sure, but if I was going to hit my head on the pavement as hard as she did, I would rather be wearing my helmet.

Spiffy
12 years ago
Reply to  pat h

wow… what a response…

I would say that helmet status probably did matter… she went face first into the pavement and crushed her face… had there been no helmet she stood a greater chance of crushing her forehead, which could mean sever brain injury and possible vegetative state…

as originally stated, the helmet seemed to help lessen the injury here… but it’s possible it didn’t… everybody has the option to take their chances…

pat h
pat h
12 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

“I would say that helmet status probably did matter… had there been no helmet…”

Would you be arguing the converse if this poor lady happened not to have a helmet on? I don’t think you would.

Nick V
Nick V
12 years ago

Get well soon, Ms. Wall. I’ve said it before: There are WAY too many hit-and-runs here in the Portland area. People here complain about police brutality but, wow, any driver(s) who refuses to man up deserves a good beatdown.

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
12 years ago

That particular section of Naito is part of the hide-and-seek downtown bike lanes. There aren’t any until you’re closer to Salmon street. I’ll also note that in that section of town, riding on the sidewalks is expressly prohibited.

The mirror-knockdown is becoming more common. A month or more ago, a man on foot was seriously injured by one. I was within 18 inches or so of a mirror on a Goodwill truck on Monday, who was passing unnecessarily close to me. And now, this.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
12 years ago

Driver probably didn’t even realize contact had been made. I find a strange phenomenon among large vehicle drivers: they tend to pass me more closely than anyone else. I can only think of two reasons for this: 1) As “professional” drivers, they think they have the skills to pass closely because they are used to backing into tight spaces for loading/unloading and have better-than-average awareness of their vehicle’s position. 2) As untrained/inexperienced Drivers of Large Vehicles, they have very poor awareness of their vehicle’s position and unintentionally pass too close.

I also notice that large vehicle drivers have much more of an aversion to scooting partway into the next lane over (on streets that have two or more lanes in the same direction) than auto drivers seem to have. That probably stems from fear that some car will be in their driver’s side blind spot.

Whatever the case, I wish Ms. Wall a speedy recovery and hope they find the driver so the company he/she drives for can be held responsible for medical bills.

BTW, is it still a hit-and-run if the driver is unaware they hit anything? Or must the driver “perceive” that they have run into someone?

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
12 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

That’s a great question – I’ve wondered that myself!

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
12 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

“is it still a hit-and-run if the driver is unaware they hit anything? Or must the driver “perceive” that they have run into someone?”

Of course it is. Think about the greater implications of what you just asked.

If you have performed the action, you are responsible for it regardless of your perception.

http://www.deadlyroads.com/laws/oregon-hit-and-run-laws.shtml

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  Andrew Kreps

Actually Andrew, perception of a crash can play a role when these things go to court. Remember Tracey Sparling? She was run over and killed by a right-turning truck while she waiting for a light in the bike lane. The DA was unable to even get a bike lane violation from the truck driver because it was determined that since he didn’t see Tracey there’s no way he could be held liable for crossing into a bike lane “when a bicycle is present”. I could see this truck driver successfully arguing that because he was so high up that he was not aware of the “hit” so therefore how could it be “hit and run”?

I know it’s sick. But that’s the culture we live in.

Spiffy
12 years ago

cheap lawyer…

that’s like saying you could fire a gun blindly into a crowd and not be responsible for killing anybody…

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
12 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Kreps

Sorry, my question was somewhat facetious, which is why I put “perceive” in quotes, as I believe that was the word used in the Sparling case Jonathan cites.

Jeremy
Jeremy
12 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

I was hit last year by a UPS driver in this same manner with his mirror. He stopped the next block up and came back to see if I was alright. He was very apologetic and I was fine but I asked him why he took so long to stop and he said he was just in shock. When I told him I was afraid he didnt even realize he hit me, he said there is no way you can hit someone, even with your mirror and not realize it.
I was fortunate and here’s to a quick recovery for kate.

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
12 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy

Sure, just as anyone who’s driven down a narrow back-woods lane knows when even soft brush slaps their mirrors. Besides that, hitting a bike rider’s head with the mirror means that the side of the truck was within a few inches of the bike and rider’s side, if not overlapped (many flatbeds stick out past the curve of the doors). The driver HAD TO HAVE KNOWN how close he was, possibly buzzing her on purpose.

Heal well, Marjin Wall.

Barney
Barney
12 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy

I was driving a box truck blasting music down a narrow street and my sideview hit the sideview of a parked car. Even though I was playing music at an irresponsibly loud volume, I could hear the impact loud and clear. It took me a block to stop because 1) those things don’t stop on a dime, 2) I wanted to pull off in a place where I wasn’t blocking traffic.

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Good speculations about truckers. The profession has acquired more than it’s fair share of drivers who are rectal cavities or drug addicts.

As a general rule, experienced, well trained truck drivers are acutely aware of the size and location of their vehicle. However, the profession also has an unbelievable number of drivers, particularly long haul drivers, who are simply not competent to drive a heavy vehicle. Their frequent inability to back a truck up is amazing.

In the hope of perhaps aiding the police in solving the crime, I’d offer some observations and speculations.

The vehicle description is of a tandem Axel, straight, flatbed truck without a trailer. This vehicle type is seldom used for long haul trucking. The most common use is in construction or farming. If I was the PPD, I’d visit some of the construction sites in the area as well as building materials suppliers. Given how often vie seen their logos on this type of truck, I’d start with Parr Lumber and Mutual Materials.

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
12 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

It says he stopped for a while at the stop sign – sounds like he was deciding whether or not to stay at the scene. I really doubt he didn’t notice the ‘thump’ when his mirror hit her.

Anyway, my guess is that he deliberately didn’t leave much room. I’ve been finding that a lot lately with big vehicle operators.

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago

As a general rule, when a truck mirror hits something it makes a lot of noise which the driver will notice.
If for some reason the driver didn’t notice that he was approaching two bikes he might have assumed that he hit a sign or tree branches. However, since this guybwaited a few light cycles he obviously knew.

Keep in mind that trucks pass close because new by drivers don’t have a good feel for how wide they are. If they are pulling a trailer, the trailer will track ten to twenty feet inside the truck. This is why you see trucks swing out to the left lane to make a right turn.

Steve B
12 years ago

My sympathies for your suffering, Marjin. What a horrible thing to happen to someone. I hope the best for your recovery and let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

Tourbiker
Tourbiker
12 years ago

thank tri-met for the 35mph exception.
best wishes for a speedy recovery Marjin

Jim F
Jim F
12 years ago

Sure the location wasn’t Naito and Harrison? Saw an accident there same time, same day, I believe. Same circumstances with one biker down and another assisting. Happened on a straight-away. Bunch of us saw the after math and all that it must have been a brush by. Victim was taken away in an ambulance. No — none of us saw who hit her.

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
12 years ago
Reply to  Jim F

KGW is reporting Naito and Harrison. Based on the victims’ statements, the truck grazed LaGrand’s arm first, then veered toward Wall and hit her. Then it stopped for “a couple cycles” of the next light before leaving the scene. The KGW video includes a similar flatbed truck passing by (@ -1:45).

beelnite
beelnite
12 years ago

No berth. So sad. I was second guessing a decision the other day to politely confront the driver of a Subaru about passing too close. Lady gave me and my pregnant friend all of 6 inches. She was frightened I had followed her 2 blocks and livid pissed, but I stayed calm and explained. “It really frightened me when you passed so close. Please understand.” Her husband chimed in, “Hey listen to him hon, he’s not mad at you, just asking…” so we relaxed. Now I’m glad I did it. It was hard because I scared her… but I think that’s one less person who may now think twice when passing a cyclist and maybe has a better idea of when IT’S TOO CLOSE.

Get well Marjin. Though there are no accidents in my opinion – ever unless the earth opens up and swallows you… and even then… I have to wonder if there isn’t a driver out there in A LOT of emotional turmoil right now. He/she may be scared witless and horrified by what happened. Time will tell. PPD will find them.

captainkarma
captainkarma
12 years ago

Review the traffic cams for dualie flat-bed trucks along the likely routes.
I sure hope someone comes forward with info or to turn him/herself in.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
12 years ago

The other issue one is dealing with is that many commercial trucks only have a side mirror or two, so if a truck driver hits a cyclist with one then the mirror is now moved and likely useless. Or who knows if it was functioning safely to begin with – like the truck driver who hit Brett – his mirror was held together by bungee cords etc (and needed to be reset each time the door was shut) and may not have been useful (from my memory of the event’s description in the press).

huh
huh
12 years ago

Big ouch! Hope the cyclist will recover well…

Rob
Rob
12 years ago

I ride this section of road every weekday evening. It’s definitely the most dangerous part of my commute. For the most part the drivers are very aware of cyclists, but the roadway is horrible – you’re safety completely depends on the awareness of the drivers passing you. Jonathan, any idea if this is on a target list for PBOT to enhance for cyclists?

Rob
Rob
12 years ago

your

Kine
12 years ago

How to drive with bikes on the road needs to be included in drivers ed for all license types. I know it is possible, but it is hard to imagine that a driver (even of a truck) would not know that they hit something and then continue to drive off. How does that happen?

Joe
Joe
12 years ago

don’t want a bike horn but its getting darn close to having one, also right hooked while riding on Taylor yesterday lady wanted a parking meter space at all costs, and didn’t look in her mirror. what if I didn’t act quick enuff. .. to many damn cars in downtown

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago

Checked Google maps to refresh my memory.

Naito Parkway has two travel lanes each direction. There was nothing to preclude the truck from moving over to pass safely.

One issue is cooperation of traffic. Most drivers will not slow down to accommodate someone who is signaling for a lane change. There is and should not be a law mandating it, but it is a courtesy. Hevey trucks that have a much lower horsepower to weight ratio (0 to 60 mph time of about a minute!) often have difficulty changing lanes on busy streets. It would be wonderful if people were willing to yield to someone changing lanes to pass a bike, especially a truck. You would make the driver’s day.

Question, were the two bikes traveling shingle file or two abreast? Not placing blame but it would be good defensive riding.

tacoma
tacoma
12 years ago
Reply to  James Crawford

Sir, to quote the article:
“We are regular bicycle commuters. We were riding single file in the right lane on a clear, dry morning, and we were wearing bright colorful clothes and bicycle helmets. This truck gave us no berth.”

James Crawford
James Crawford
12 years ago
Reply to  tacoma

Didn’t mean to be argumentative. I just got lazy and didn’t rereading before posting.

One thing I also notice is that the truck is duel wheels, but no mention of tandem axels as I thought. This combined with the fact that the mirror was low enough to the ground to hit her suggests that it was a medium duty truck in the 12,000# to 26,000# weight class commonly used for deliveries? No CDL is needed to drive one of these so they are more likely to get an untrained driver.

lisa
lisa
12 years ago

Read the article. Plainly states the circumstances.

jim
jim
12 years ago

She was obviously further out in the lane than the person riding with her. I know a lot of bikes ride closer to the traffic so they don’t get doored. Personally I think I would rather get doored than hit by a truck. As bad as this is, it could have been much worse. I wish her well.

Brian
Brian
12 years ago

For those of us who ride bikes and have no clue what a “flatbed commercial vehicle with double wheels on the rear axle” even IS, perhaps an example photo of said truck in the article might jog peoples memories?

A speedy recovery to Marjin, and I hope the driver is caught soon.

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
12 years ago
Reply to  Brian

“…perhaps an example photo of said truck in the article might jog peoples memories?”

The KGW article I mentioned above has video with a truck like that at -1:43 to -1:40 (it counts down), or see images.google for ‘flatbed dually’. KGW’s hit-and-run vehicle description is:

> tall, flatbed truck
> white
> dually wheels

Paul Tay
Paul Tay
12 years ago

Condolences and best wishes.