The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Collision on Hwy 101 north of Gold Beach leads to serious injuries – UPDATED

Posted by on October 4th, 2011 at 10:38 am

Approximate location of collision.

Another collision on Highway 101, this time involving two people who were riding about 11 miles north of Gold Beach.

According to the Oregon State Police (OSP) at about 12:55 pm yesterday, a PT Cruiser driven by a 61-year-old man was southbound on 101 traveling over Ophir Dike when it “struck two bicyclists riding on the southbound shoulder.”

The two people hit were 30-year-old Martha McClean and 26-year-old Essya Mabrouka Nabbali. Both of the women are from Ontario Canada.

The police statement describes that they were “ejected from the bicycles” and that “they were wearing protective helmets.”

McClean is in serious condition and Nabbali is listed in fair condition. They were both airlifted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Springfield (near Eugene) after first being transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

The investigation into the collision is ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the Curry County DA’s Office where they will consider whether or not any type of enforcement action is warranted.

Highway 101 is one of the most popular bicycle touring routes in the world. In August, a Vancouver, Washington man was killed after being involved in a collision with a logging truck.

UPDATE, 4:45pm: A reader has sent in a link to photos taken by someone who arrived on the scene just after the collision occurred (warning: images may be considered graphic).

UPDATE, 10/5: Please see this follow-up story for the latest news about this collision.

UPDATE, 9:00 am 10/20: Still no update on the investigation into the collision. However, the Oregon State Police confirms that the case has been referred to the Curry County District Attorney’s office, which could mean that criminal charges are being considered.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • 9watts October 4, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Mandatory driver (re-)training. This is (or certainly sounds) inexcusable.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Paul Johnson October 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Came here to say that, you beat me to the punch. And I don’t think this should be tied to age or driving record, just across the board, every other year (since we update our driver’s manuals that often).

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Otto October 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Hwy 101 has beautiful scenery but it’s not a good bike route. It’s basically a high traffic country road with a strip of paint on the shoulder, if there is much of a shoulder at all. There are no bike lanes and there is debris all over the place, especially as you go through the towns.

    It’s promoted as this great scenic bike route but just putting up bike signs on the side of the road doesn’t make it so. If it’s going to be used to promote cycling and tourism in Oregon then a lot of improvements need to be made.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 4, 2011 at 11:18 am

      I couldn’t agree w you more Otto.

      I think the State of Oregon needs to be put on the hook for a massive planning/engineering project to make Hwy 101 safer. It claims many lives each year because of its high speeds and other problems.

      It was devised as a scenic route but it has become a commercial corridor. Continuing to promote it as a bike route is irresponsible.

      We need a major advocacy effort to get the issue on the radar… It could start from towns like Newport where there’s a fledgling bike advocacy network.

      Recommended Thumb up 19

      • Paul Johnson October 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

        Oregon is working on getting the OCBR upgraded to USBR 95 right now, so definitely let the bike and ped coordinator at ODOT know your concerns about the existing route before it becomes a national cycleway.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • wsbob October 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

        “…the State of Oregon needs to be put on the hook…” Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

        It’s worth keeping in mind that the State of Oregon isn’t just some amorphous entity. The State of Oregon, first and foremost, is the people that live in Oregon, then…the residents of Oregon as taxpayers, and finally, the government that represents them.

        It’s the people of Oregon that you want to put on the hook. These days, Oregon’s not exactly loaded with cash. Coastal towns are poor. Restoring 101 to being the great scenic route it was originally intended to be, is a great idea, but where’s the money for this? From people willing to speculate that with improvements to 101, tourism will boom to a level that would approach being sufficient to pay for or justify the improvements?

        Money gets spent on big, fast motor vehicle highways, because that’s the kind of infrastructure people tend to continue to believe is essential to the viability of the state and the nations economy.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Mike Fish October 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

          I see the problem being that they’re trying to promote bike tourism ($) without providing safe infrastructure. If they can’t fix it, stop saying that it’s a great bike route – because it’s not and cyclists regularly get injured and/or die riding on 101.

          Recommended Thumb up 2

          • Dave Thomson October 5, 2011 at 11:26 am

            Please post some actual references supporting your allegation that the OCBR is unsafe. My take is that the number of cyclists on the OCBR is quite high, and the number of serious crashes is quite small.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • sorebore October 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

          webob.. Your statement’s ring so very true. I have ridden 1 and 101 no less than 14 times by bicycle and at least 6 on a motorcycle , all of which before I moved here over 8 years ago. Small Oregon coastal towns are for the most part poorer ( Newport is not San Luis Obispo for instance) . Soon I will be headed south for the fist time since then. It will be interesting to see what has changed.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 9watts October 4, 2011 at 11:19 am

      That’s the infrastructure approach.
      But I don’t think we have money for improving scenic routes when most of us bike in towns. Many roads in Europe (the Autobahn excepted)are half as wide as our roads, and multiple modes share them o.k. (my experience). I think in the short run fiddling with the laws and focusing on updating and increasing the frequency of driver training is a quicker and cheaper way to tackle this situation.
      If we can do all of this and improve the infrastructure, fine, but I think more likely we’ll have to pick and choose.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • 007 October 6, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      I’m a fairly fearless cyclist with decades of experience but I would never ride 101, and giving tourists who are not familiar with it the idea that it is a great cycling route is almost criminal. Boy are they in for a surprise as these two women unfortunately were. The driver…grrr.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Tanya October 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      I rode hwy 101 through the entire length of Oregon in September and found Oregon’s bike infrastructure fabulous. I only wish in Canada we spent half the money on infrastructure. The tunnel and bridge signages, wide paved shoulder in most sections (yeah some unavoidable non-existent ones, but what can you do when there’s cliffs in the way?)

      This collision was extremely unfortunate but as it appears to be on a section with a decent shoulder, the fault lies not with the design of the road but rather with the driver.

      Overall I found the vast majority of Oregon drivers safe and considerate. The one incident we had was with a non-101 signed portion of the route – quiet and empty 7 Devils Road, with a California plated driver that refused to move over to pass us on an empty road, forcing us on to the soft shoulder.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan Packard October 4, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Amazing. That stretch of 101 (in the photo) is straight with great sight lines. Of course, as anyone who has done 101 knows, plenty of spots have up/down and left/right scary curves. I wish the struck Canadian’s a speedy recovery

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • michael bogoger October 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I live off Hwy 101 near Newport. What I call “centerline (or fog line) infractions” have become a huge problem for cyclists and motorists alike. When I’m riding, I get a nervous stomach when I see the fog line has disappeared from being over-run too many times. (Same thing for the yellow line – if a person knows cars will ride the centerline on a curve, the only thing to do is ride the fog line. If there are cyclists around that curve…).
    This is not a share-the-road mentality.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Paul Johnson October 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      I’d rather take the risk of a sideswipe keeping the lane when driving a motor vehicle than blindly round off a shoulder. Gambling with a vulnerable user’s safety is the greater of two evils when the alternative is gambling with an oncoming driver’s safety.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • oliver October 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      Your absolutely right. Vehicles that just can’t seem to keep it within the lines are a huge problem in both urban and rural environments.

      I think a lot of it has to do with folks driving cars that are two wide or tall for the speeds that they like to travel.

      If only the police were interested in ticketing people for this infraction outside of late night “I think this will get me a duii conviction” stops.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mark Hashizume October 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I would like to learn of what happened to the driver. Was he cited?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Essya October 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      * this post has been deleted by the publisher.*

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • 9watts October 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

        thanks so much for posting here. Jonathan does make some pretty amazing communication possible through his website. How is your friend doing? We are hoping the both of you recover fully and soon.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • wsbob October 6, 2011 at 4:24 pm

        “…I have called the Curry County Police a number of times, having left at least 3 voice messages, to no avail. …” Essya

        I’m sure you’d like, and need, info about the investigation into the collision and the driver. Understandable that it might take some time to pull that together into a report and release it. And it’s been just three days so far.

        For the immediate present though, people probably should be asking themselves:

        Why might Curry County Police not be at least simply responding to Essya’s phone messages? Isn’t it reasonable to expect that this police department at least be in touch with the gals that were injured in this collision, advising them, as well as the driver, that their calls have been received?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • 007 October 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm

        You should get a darn good lawyer.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • pdx2wheeler October 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

    What a wonderful way to treat a couple guests to our beautiful state. I guess we as Oregonians are too cheap to provide a safe environment for the residents and guests that cycle along Hwy 101… Sure we’ll take your tourist dollars…, and here’s your body bag in exchange! We can do better.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Steve B October 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Let’s work together to compel ODOT to take up another phase of roadway safety improvements on 101. It’s not just a problem for cyclists or pedestrians, it is also a dangerous place to drive.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Bob_M October 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

      In the ODOT point of view “safety improvements” result in straightening and widening roadways. This results in faster traffic and not necessarily safer conditions.

      The fix is behavioral. Stepped up enforcement, Harsh penalties for infractions, and difficult driver training are needed to make roadways safer.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • ron October 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        Exactly! There is virtually no deterrent to driving like an idiot in the state! Enforce the laws, put some police on the roads and highways. Who knows, maybe they will figure out a way to generate revenue by ticketing speeders.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

      I’m on board Steve. I’ve been wanting to see someone help pick this up as a campaign for a long time. And yes, 101 isn’t safe for anyone. I’ll try to get a tally of fatal/serious crashes in last two years… but from my daily tracking of such things I can tell you it will surprise ppl just how deadly it is.

      I think one of the advocacy hurdles w 101 is that no large, defined community feels ownership over it. I like the approach of convincing people town-by-town to push for changes.. and then you connect those changes to each other. Then, when a town is a “gap” in a safer 101, you can apply pressure to them to fill the gap.

      And 9Watts. We shouldn’t dismiss infrastructure improvements. ODOT has lots of money, they just tend to spend 99% of it on highway widening projects. Education/driver training/enforcement should be part of it to. For sure.

      ODOT could pretty quickly make the entire stretch of 101 a “Bicycle Safety Corridor” wherein traffic violations would come with double the fine and there could be associated (and cheap) signage/marketing/etc.. That would help and it would be a quick/cheap change.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • 007 October 6, 2011 at 11:35 pm

        Signage and enforcement hasn’t helped yet. And unfortunately, ODOT, state patrol, police, reckless and negligent drivers all sympathize with each other.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Paul Johnson October 7, 2011 at 6:08 am

          What enforcement?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero October 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    “Yeah, I’m just headed down 101 right now…I don’t know, what do you…well mayb–” [KA-CLUNK] “what the…?! sorry, I gotta go, I think I just hit something…yeah…call me later–bye.”

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Dan October 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Heartbreaking. Wishing a full and speedy recovery for the victims, and a revoked license for the driver at fault.

    I did a tour down the coast some years ago…not so sure I’d be willing to risk it again.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan Kaufman October 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    It’s time to trade in the Columbia River Crossing Corridor for a Coastal Recreation and Community Corridor for vulnerable users.

    Many locations along the coast have no other way for people to travel except on the 55mph-HWY 101.

    They want to call it the “People’s Coast”. – Then there needs to be a safe path for all the people – including the children, the elderly (those not in motorhomes), pedestrians, cyclists, and horseback riders. It needs to be large enough to accommodate all of those users comfortably.

    This kind of project would be a real stimulus to Oregon that would pay into the future and would bring back basic fairness to OUR right-of-way.

    That all said, it is still an amazing ride that is worth the risk (as is most bicycling around here). You should do it!


    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Caroline October 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I’m thinking of you ladies, rooting for you. I rode 101 alone four years ago and was surprised I survived. You are brave! Get well soon!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Opus the Poet October 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’m still confused, why isn’t hitting someone in front of you in a different lane of travel not some kind of vehicular assault? They were hit riding on the shoulder, not the lane of travel, which means the driver had to (technically) leave the road to hit them. Why no arrest?

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • RonC October 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Was the driver well insured? If not, the real insult to these two young Canadian women might come from the US medical/industrial complex. Unfortunately our country seems to take a bigger interest in invading and pillaging foreign countries, rather than funding basic services like health care. I sincerely hope they both come out of this OK, physically and financially.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Allan L. October 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    You write: ” In August, a Vancouver, Washington man was killed after being involved in a collision with a logging truck.” That seems a little harsh.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wride October 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      How? I’m not sure I understand your point.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    We were about a minute behind the accident and blogged it at the above wordpress address this morning. It was horrible and not understandable, how this small car hit them on the shoulder. I’m still shaken about it today and every bicycle rider we saw after that made us gasp at how vulnerable they were riding on highway 101. I don’t know the answer to the problem. I do know it is not a safe place to ride bicycle. I’m also a biker, but do not do highway.
    Mary Matzek.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • 9watts October 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for that first person account Mary. Horrible.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Kristen October 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you for helping.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ocean October 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Rode through there justs hours after these women were struck. From the yellow paint marks, flattened reflector post and tire print OFF the shoulder, the driver must’ve hit them them head on. It is a miracle they are both still alive. And the stretch of road is straight, with a wide shoulder. Driver should be in jail.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    He hit them from behind. They were all traveling in the same direction. I didn’t realize my blog address didn’t appear on my message. It is The wheel tracks are there along with Nabali’s crushed bicycle.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • mmann October 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    OK – while I agree completely with Otto (& Jonathan’s) assertion that if the state of Oregon is going to promote 101 as a bike route (and make money off of bike tourists) they could and should do a lot more to make this a safer route. But still – the driver hit them from behind. I don’t care how windy, narrow, whatever the road is, it’s inexcusable to drive in such a way that this happens. Being hit from behind, it’s 100% the driver’s fault – not the road, not the state of Oregon, and not the cyclists. Senseless.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • 9watts October 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    “After authorities conclude their investigation of the crash, the case will be reviewed by the Curry County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of possible charges.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 007 October 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      How can they conclude their investigation without even interviewing the witnesses?? The truck driver mentioned, he hasn’t been contacted by the OSP!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 5, 2011 at 5:03 am

    I had a second night of difficulty sleeping after the accident. There was one vehicle between us and the guy who hit the girls. I’m so sorry I didn’t ask them what they saw, because as soon as all the emergency people came, traffic was directed on from both directions.The Truck driver traveling north, and us traveling south, the same direction the girls were traveling-south. To the best of my knowledge, the state police did not interview any witnesses to the accident which was the truck driver and the motor home in front of us. So, what does the offending driver tell them? How do they prosecute? I’d be interested in knowing what the St. Police report said. I’m sure the girls didn’t know what hit them. The state police were not even on the scene until the traffic was moving. It was a civilian who commandeered traffic to get the truck moving first, and out of the way for the emergency first responders to get in to the girls. Now I wish I had been smart enough to take more pictures and ask more questions about exactly how it happened.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Kristen October 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Mary, your post has a picture looking down the road towards a large white truck with one of the girls in the middle-ground.

      Zooming in, one can make out the license plate of the truck.

      I strongly urge you to contact the state police, Curry County, etc with your pictures showing where things were (including the debris of sleeping mats, etc) and most especially, the photo with the truck. Make sure to let them know that the truck was there before you were, and may be a possible witness to the incident.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • esther c October 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Mary, your post is a good reminder that if we happen on something like this it might be a good idea to note the license plates of witnesses and other such details. Since the police often won’t and don’t do their jobs it might help if we do it for them. Later when they say “there were no witnesses and the driver said both bikes suddenly fell over in the road in front of him” maybe something could be done about it.

    It would never occur to me to get license plates if the police were there but after reading your post, next time I think I will.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Mary Matzek October 5, 2011 at 9:32 am

    You are so right. It IS a good idea to take down information. I could just kick myself for not doing the same. In fact, my son was once broadsided by a drunk driver and the woman bailed (at 2am on a lonely road) and ran from the scene, her car smashed. A lone witness called the cops who came soon enough. He asked my son questions, son claimed he was unhurt, he gave his insurance, etc. When he finally saw the police report, he had given a wrong address, the wrong insurance company, wrong telephone number and he was seriously injured. The adrenaline or shock takes over’. He was rattled and inaccurate. His witness gave a better account of the event than my son, who was totally sober.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Mary Matzek October 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Dave Thomson, in answer to your request to post actual references to my allegations that the OCBR is unsafe. You say your “take” is the bike route is well used and incidents quite small. Where do you come by YOUR information? Like it or not, wide vehicles, motor homes, drive that road. When we come around a bend and see a biker it is disconcerting and involves the necessity of making a wide swing around them because we WANT that biker to be safe. We bike as well. But, Otto’s post says it all. A paint strip, does not a bike line make. A rumble strip might help on the curves and more pullouts for bikes. Any winding road with limited visual clearance is certainly risky for both drivers and bikers. But, keep in mind, these girls were hit on the straight. I believe they were riding abreast when hit judging from the side by side dents in the drivers windshield. We do that when we feel the route is safe enough. The area they were riding in was certainly roomy enough. They were on the shoulder. What more can be said? The road is a dangerous place at best. Curvy, windy roads are inherently more dangerous and by definition unsafe.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • RonC October 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      First of all, thank you Mary for taking to time to post the details of this horrific event. It must be very hard on you, second guessing if you could have or should have done something differently, and who’s to really say. It’s easy to self-criticize with hindsight, but you did well to document as much as you did.

      In this particular instance we really need more details to understand why the car hit these two women. Was there a mechanical issue with the car? Was the driver drowsy? Medical issues? Distracted somehow (cell phone, radio fiddling, or a loose pet in the car to name a few)? Were there wind gusts? There are a lot of readers on this website that take issue with any classification of cycling as unsafe. The fact is that life is inherently unsafe, whether you are a driver, cyclist, pedestrian, or pogo stick rider, or just at home in the shower. A curvy road can lead to surprises around a corner, but it might do a better job of keeping a drowsy driver awake and engaged. A straight section of road might be just the opposite. And it’s not only cyclists that are injured or die in accidents on this road. So I think that may be what Dave is pondering. We should all be concerned and aware of safety issues and limitations as they relate to our own individual specific skill set, but hopefully not to the point that it paralyzes us in enjoying life and its variety of wonderful experiences.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • wsbob October 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

        “…In this particular instance we really need more details to understand why the car hit these two women. Was there a mechanical issue with the car? Was the driver drowsy? Medical issues? Distracted somehow (cell phone, radio fiddling, or a loose pet in the car to name a few)? Were there wind gusts? …” RonC

        Absolutely. Collisions like this one can be very emotion evoking, making thinking through clearly and objectively, as many possible causes and reasons for it’s happening, very challenging.

        “…My boyfriend was angry because the guy who hit the girls did not appear to be shaken or showing any feeling at all. But, appearances are deceptive. …” Mary Matzek

        That appearances can be deceptive is a very good point. For people getting their information about this collision almost exclusively from bikeportland stories and comments, the exact reasons for the driver veering out of the main travel lane onto the shoulder and into the people riding bikes there is at this point, anyone’s guess.

        Hopefully, there will have been a very good, thorough investigation of the condition of the person driving the motor vehicle, that will lead to understanding what might have been done to have him avoid driving out of the main lane of travel onto the shoulder at such a bad moment.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Alan 1.0 October 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Mary, Dave’s response is actually to Mike Fish’ post; you can see it nested under Mike’s in the blog. Maybe you ticked the “Notify me…” box for your comments, so the blog notified you. 🙂

      The side-by-side dents in Neal Lawson’s car’s windshield could just as well have been caused by him hitting bikes riding single file as two-abreast.

      Questions about bike safety have been discussed many times here, and it boils down to personal values of “safe” and “safe relative to what?” Many thousands of bikes ride OCBR every year with only a very few serious collisions, if any, per year. Is that safe or unsafe? What is the rate of motorist injury on that highway? Do the riders gain anything which would outweigh that risk…health, fitness? What seems most evident is that there is room to make the road safer, both in structure and by action of all road users.

      Thanks for helping at the scene, and for the first-hand account. Best wishes for McClean’s and Nabbali’s recovery.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 007 October 6, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      And as the truck driver witness said, he drives 101 all the time and doesn’t hit bicyclists.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dave Thomson October 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      I didn’t say I had statistics, that’s why I said “my take”. I ride lots of areas on the Central coast (Tillamook to Florence) year round, and in general I feel safer there than commuting to work between Tigard and Hillsboro.

      Jonathan said in a separate post he was going to try and dig up some statistics, I will be quite interested to see what he comes up with, especially if they can be compared with Portland metro stats.

      I’m going to repeat my main point: yes we should improve safety and comfort levels for cyclists on 101, but no 101 is NOT much more dangerous than the majority of other places people ride on the street or highway, and we shouldn’t be discouraging people from riding the coast. As we all know, more cyclists creates a safer environment for all of us.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan O October 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    It’s a public road. Yes, the scenery or whatever is probably distracting drivers, which presents a special hazard for this route, and yes, if things can be made safer that’s great; but the fundamental problem is not the road or the route – it’s drivers failing to operate their vehicles responsibly.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 9watts October 5, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I hope you are able to follow up with the two women in hospital, and the police’s handling of the crash. Thanks for your reporting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • esther c October 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I ridden the Oregon coast twice and never felt too threatened. I think its all about how much risk someone is willing to take. As a cyclist you are always vulnerable. But in a car you’re vulnerable sharing the road with semi’s. Its all relative.

    I you don’t ride a bike you’re vulnerable to disease from a sedentary life style, boredom, or whatever.

    The infrastructure could always use improvements, that is for sure. Wouldn’t a separated bike lane all the way down the coast be glorious? But then there is something thrilling about the rumble of a fully loaded log truck as long as they give you wide berth.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Opus the Poet October 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    OK I have viewed the crime scene pictures and it looks pretty cut-and-dried to me. While there was some restriction of visibility to less than CAVU conditions there was good visibility for more than a mile in each direction, so the cyclists could be seen. Reports that I can’t link to place the cyclist that ended up in the middle of the road next to and to the right of the fog line before the wreck, with the one that ended up down the embankment being next to the soft shoulder so neither cyclist was on the actual road prior to impact. That makes this either an assault with a WMD, or the result of a moment of inattentiveness by the driver. In firearm vocabulary he had his finger on the trigger without paying attention to what he was doing and shot (hit) someone. Why is hitting someone with a motor vehicle a war crime but not a civilian crime? Hitting civilians or unarmed soldiers with a motor vehicle is a violation of the Geneva Convention, why isn’t it a violation of the criminal code?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Chris S. cerevisiae October 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Too bad it isn’t a crime, maybe we would have the right to defend ourselves against the evil-doers.

      I chase people down, when given the opportunity, to let them know that they just endangered someone’s son, husband, brother, and hopefully one day, father. I give a good guilt trip…I used to get very angry, started a couple fights, but I’ve learned that if I can make someone cry and ask them to tell a friend that they could have/almost killed someone, they’re more likely to listen than become defensive.

      Be vigilant out there…better yet, be a vigilante.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Linda October 6, 2011 at 8:13 am

      I agree with your statement about how inattention to the road and hitting someone with your car should be a crime. I live in Charleston, SC, where in July a local MD was hit on Hwy 30, a wide, mostly straight road over the marsh from James Island to downtown Charleston. A utility truck driver was inattentive, veered into the breakdown lane where Mitch was riding, hit him, knocked him over the guardrail and he was declared dead at the scene following a 30 foot fall into the marsh below. He was charged with “improper lane usage”, a two-point violation. I thought that only in SC could you kill someone with your vehicle and get off with a wrist slap.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. We have many points of view to consider and think about. The more people become activists for their cause, bikers rights, walkers rights, too, the more chance we have to diversify attitudes to a more caring, awareness of each others lifestyles. My boyfriend was angry because the guy who hit the girls did not appear to be shaken or showing any feeling at all. But, appearances are deceptive. Another guy at the scene commented, “Cut him some slack!” I can’t believe he wasn’t feeling like doomsday had hit him through his own negligence. I say negligence even though I don’t know what transpired to affect impact. I don’t agree that this is an assault. Assault is deliberate. This accident cannot be undone. I’m sure this group works for more bicycle awareness, it really does help. And, of course, vehicles are speeding tin cans with many a lawless driver. Vigilante, it makes sense to confront people as you’ve learned to do, but it also makes sense to report lawless drivers, take license numbers whenever. Even if a cop can’t run that person down, they can radio each other to watch for careless drivers and speeders in the vicinity. And, I’m going to keep checking to see what happens to Lawson. I think it’s a good idea to offer the trucker’s license number to the authorities and maybe that will open a door to more information. I’ll try and enlarge my picture and get the license to number to them and see what happens.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Mary Matzek October 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I was unable to read the truck license plate by enlarging the picture.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Greg October 8, 2011 at 11:18 am

      To me it looks like I CCO 221. Also, the logo on the door of the truck is for Columbia Distributing –

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • 9watts October 8, 2011 at 11:24 am

        no need to speculate on the license plate. The driver’s already checked in here several times and supplied his e-mail address.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • k. October 6, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Opus the Poet
    OK I have viewed the crime scene pictures and it looks pretty cut-and-dried to me.
    Recommended 0

    This is the most inane statement you could make regarding this whole incident.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Opus the Poet October 6, 2011 at 9:54 am

      How so? And how many thousands of bike wrecks have you studied? My count is approaching 10K so far. No, actually I don’t know how many reports I have studied, I lost count somewhere after 3500 back 2 years ago. I can’t say anything for he psychology of the driver, just what happened. The driver went off the road to hit 2 bicycles. The physical evidence points that out quite plainly. what the driver’s state of mind was immediately prior to the wreck I can’t say but it had to be either deliberate, or the driver had to be so completely spaced that either way he’s a menace to every other road user. The physical evidence doesn’t lie.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • esther c October 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Choosing not to pay attention is a conscious decision, just like choosing to drive drunk is. Choosing to pay more attention to your radio, your dog in the back seat, or whatever else has your attention is a choice.

    Especially egregious on a long straight away where you have to be aware that those cyclists are up there.

    Just like a sociopath murders someone because they think the other persons rights don’t mean squat, in inattentive driver kills because he thinks his right to do whatever is important to him trumps others rights to be safe on the highway.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob October 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      “…Choosing not to pay attention is a conscious decision, just like choosing to drive drunk is. Choosing to pay more attention to your radio, your dog in the back seat, or whatever else has your attention is a choice. …” esther c

      Hopefully, investigation and facts will reveal that those were not choices made by the person driving the vehicle that collided with these women.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • 9watts October 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        “Hopefully, investigation and facts will reveal that those were not choices made by the person driving the vehicle that collided with these women.”
        I’m sorry, but why in the world is this relevant? To the run over it hardly matters whether it was the dog, a front tire that blew, or the guy’s favorite song playing on the radio, or none of the above.
        Driver runs over and nearly kills two women on roadside in broad daylight. Getting the facts right is important, but I’m not that wrapped up in the nuances, frankly.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • wsbob October 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm

          “…”Hopefully, investigation and facts will reveal that those were not choices made by the person driving the vehicle that collided with these women.” …” wsbob

          “…I’m sorry, but why in the world is this relevant?…” 9watts

          The relevance lies within what’s necessary to help avoid collisions under similar conditions in future.

          Different problems require different measures to resolve them. Measures needed to reduce DUI are different from those needed to reduce medically impaired, distracted driving or people simply failing to note that they’re too drowsy to drive competently.

          Sorry for not clarifying my thoughts on this in the earlier comment. Was having difficulty at the time, coming up with a clear way of saying them.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dennis Magee October 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I was driving the semi and was first on scene..I have called osp and given them my contact information.. but still no word from them. I believe the accident scene clearly showed it was the drivers fault as automobile tire tracks were approximately two feet past the bike lane in the gravel. I know we all have strong opinions, but these ladies were in the bike lane and not in the roadway. I drive this highway every week and I manage to do so without hitting bicyclist.
    I was shocked at the volunteer firefighter cleaning up the roadway and moving evidence around.The volunteer also forced myself and other witnesses to leave before police showed up I was very happy to find out some pictures had been taken.. in case they were needed later. Too was shocked at the behavior of both the driver and passenger. I too have had trouble sleeping , wishing I could have done more.!!
    I am praying for a full and speedy recovery.. and hope you will all do the same !!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • wsbob October 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      “…I was shocked at the volunteer firefighter cleaning up the roadway and moving evidence around. …” Dennis Magee

      Before investigators had a chance to do their work? I hope not, or if they did, they carefully took note of what they moved and where.

      By the way…do you believe you’re the truck driver Mary Matzek refers to in her comments here to this story on bikeportland? The truck driver that was traveling north?

      Thanks for taking time to offer a few thoughts and info about the collision.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Essya October 8, 2011 at 7:32 am

      Goodmorning Dennis, and thank you for everything that you have done so far. Martha and I were always very careful cyclist; and from my understanding, there was nothing we could have done differently to avoid the strike, other than – perhaps – not being right there, right then. In fact, I have been told that the driver’s tire marks were, not only, feet behind me in the gravel (ie to tge right of the shoulder) but that Martha and I were actually dozen of feet apart…

      But having been the first at the scene, you probably have a wealth of information to provide my family and I with. I would very much like to speak with you, if that’s okay. Please contact me at

      Again, many thanks!


      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dennis Magee October 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks Mary for all you did at the scene… the small group of us that leant a hand all played a vital part of getting these ladies the help they needed. I wish we were able to contact the witness in the pink shirt, she was a tremendous help with her knowledge of first aid.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 007 October 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      The lady in the pink shirt definitely needs to be found because she will be able to provide some of the best testimony when the driver is sued.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dennis Magee October 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I believe the that I am the driver AT&T was talking about.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob October 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Jim and Mary Matzek…pictures you’ve posted to your blog were very helpful to me for getting a better sense of the collision scene and some of its aftermath. Thanks for your efforts and compassion expressed.

    I notice the air was just slightly hazy…I suppose from fog or smoke, but doesn’t seem as though it would be enough to have significantly obscured visibility of the fog line or people on bikes riding out of the main lanes of travel, on the shoulder of the road to the right of the fog line..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I’m so glad that you submitted your information Dennis, that makes me feel better. I’ve heard of this slap on the wrist kind of thing happening before, as the person from Charleston reported. Many voices to the authorities will give them pause and make sure he gets charged with negligence, or reckless driving. NO SLAP ON THE WRIST. By the way, I posted a letter from Essya right after I saw it last night and I don’t see it here. Her wonderful letter is on my blog today at In essence, what it says is that Martha is out of critical condition and stable. Will be trying to walk a bit for the first time today. Essya has a couple of broken bones and they will both be returning to Canada in a week. Essya claims frustration because the police have not given them much information. In California, I might state, in some counties, anyway, you have to pay for a copy of the police report. You can physically go into the department and request to read it. We travel everyday, over 100 miles today. If somebody has the phone number of the proper authority, please post it and let us all make it a point to inquire. The local newspaper, too. Anybody?
    I’m glad the cycling community is outraged and pushing for awareness.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • 9watts October 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks, Mary, for alerting us to the goings on. But I have to ask about your use of the word ‘raging’ in the following passage:
      “I learned there is a raging community of bicyclists out there who feel a necessity to continually fight for their biking rights in a world ‘devoted’ to the automobile. Their anger over this accident is understandable, and anger sometimes moves people to positive action.”
      Is that really the best choice of words? I will admit that I don’t think of the commenters here that way, or perhaps you were referring to others? I think folks here are pretty well informed, level-headed, thoughtful folks. Raging, to me, suggests unhinged.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 7, 2011 at 6:15 am

    To 9 Watts, your point is well taken. “Raging” bicycle community was not a good description for collective anger. Most comments expressed more concern and frustration; everyone looking for solutions and yes, punishment and there is anger. We don’t highway bike, and we don’t belong to a group. We travel all over the U.S. and I was amazed at this whole biking community response enmass. I apologize if I sounded offensive. The anger is well placed and a necessary element to wrench change. This is a fight, political and otherwise. In the beginning of modern roadways and freeways, no highway engineer ever planned for the simple act of walking or biking. They do so now in a limited way because people like your organized community have fought for it and won concessions. It is so important that it continue as bridges are rebuilt, roads widened and population increases. I like to fight for trains to get more vehicles off the road. And, organized groups need a lobby, the people who make money on bikes. Bike manufacturers should chip in help your group. Look how the Mothers of Drunk Drivers made changes in the law and forced law enforcement to actually enforce the laws they had; increased awareness among judges; leveraged stricter punishments and heavier fines.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • esther c October 7, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Dennis, if the OSP won’t contact you, perhaps you need to contact the state attny general office or something. This is bizarre. Also the victim’s families so they can press for charges to be filed.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dennis Magee October 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I will do whatever. I can to help the two ladies. I have information and another witness and phone number. I have posted my personal emails should the victims or families of the victims need any information from me.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • TC October 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Is there any update to this story? I can’t find any new information.Thanks

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • esther c October 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Hopefully the DA is going to indict with the next grand jury session.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • TC October 19, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Anxious to see how it is handled in Oregon. A car/bike collision occurred here in Mississippi just a few days later, and it is “still under investigation” by the state highway patrol. Most likely, if the previous incident that happened here not long ago (this time it resulted in the death of the cyclist), the state will do nothing.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 19, 2011 at 5:42 am

    To Ester C,
    Yes, hopefully the grand jury will indite with the next session. To think a guy can kill a bicycler and get a $42 fine is unacceptable. How can they say he committed no crime? Reckless driving? Careless driving? Something. It makes no sense. I don’t see it here, check this out on our blog at Also, the lady in pink contacted us and is now in contact with Essya and Martha. Yay!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 19, 2011 at 6:44 am

    TC-The fact that he refused alcohol and toxicology tests is a clue. What a waste of life and potential.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • esther c October 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I’m baffled at how the driver who recently ran a red light she “didn’t see” got 2 years for killing another motorist. For some reason that is a serious crime. But not bothering to look for cyclists, no harm no foul. Chose to attend your dog in the back seat rather than watch the road, why that’s just a harmless accident, no ones fault. Couldn’t be prevented.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • K-Ken October 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    This is a tough one for me. I’m a serious bicycling advocate and live on the Oregon coast. I’m happy to hear that the ladies are recovering physically. Emotionally is another question. I wish that Oregon, and all states would adopt a program to administer at least another written test for drivers license renewals. The level of awareness that motorists, law enforcement, the media and the courts have is unbelievable. It’s bad enough that motor vehicles pretty much drive themselves, its another thing when those folks that are supposed to protect our rights are still thinking that the roads are for motor vehicles and when a bicyclist is hit they automatically blame them for being on the road instead of placing the blame where it belongs, the driver who hit them. I hate the excuse that the sun was in my eyes or I didn’t see them.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 20, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Ken, I’m not sure how another written test for drivers would make much difference unless you are indicating there should be more questions and more statements about awareness of bicyclers. Hit them where the pocket book is. Lobby to make it an automatic law that if you hit a bicycle and cause injury, the fine is in the thousands. Manslaughter charges should be an option if you kill someone on a bike. Bicyclers are vulnerable, they are humans with rights. Police departments need education about how to handle bicycle accidents and write up reports that are as in depth as vehicular accidents. Obviously, improvement in Essya and Martha’s case was needed. First responders have a job, not to collect evidence but to take care of the injured. They shouldn’t have touched stuff. It was up to the St. Police to move stuff off the road and photo where it was located. Arrrrgh! I get a bit carried away. Anyway, for what it is worth.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dennis Magee October 20, 2011 at 6:48 am

    The first responder ” a volunteer firefighter” was so concerned with moving traffic and forcing possible. Witnesses to leave that he in fact did not even really check on the medical condition of the two victims. The punishment should not only be fines it also should include community service involving bicycle safety….

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 20, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Hey, Dennis. You are so right, community service really wakes people up.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • K-Ken October 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Education and enforcement are crucial to making it safer to use the roadways for all users. The newer OR Drivers Manual has information specific to bicycles that wasn’t in previous editions. That’s why I recommend retaking the exam on a regular basis. I still don’t understand why so many motorists can’t pay more attention to what they’re doing. There are more people that ever riding bicycles and the best and easiest way to get from point A to point B is to use the existing infrastructure. This is a “Shared” commodity by law. Drivers and public safety personnel need to pay more attention to what there job is. Sorry for the rant but I just completed a 3000 mile cross country ride myself and witnessed a few of these situations first hand.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 20, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Ken, a friend of mine just went on my blog and said he hopes to see a bike trail like the Coast To Crest trail from ocean to ocean for bicyclers. What a great idea. Some of the old railroad beds are walking and biking trails. It could be done all over the country. What do you think? Of course, not all are scenic.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • K-Ken October 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Mary, there are already several Rail to Trail conversions across the country and there is an effort now by several national organizations to to establish a US Bike Route System from coast to coast. These are primarily existing roads that at some point will have signage and other amenities (similar to the OR Coast Bike Route). I have my eye on some local RR facilities that, if they become available, I’d like to see converted to bike/ped trails. Overall, however, separated trail networks have their own maintenance and safety issues.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 22, 2011 at 5:24 am

    Ken-I knew there were rails to trails in patches across the country and they certainly make sense. But, I know nothing about the nuts and bolts, maintenance and safety issues. There are probably multiple solutions to making things better for pedestrians and bikes, but R/T should be part of it and push, push, push another part of it. Doncha know. Nothing comes easy. I certainly have a lot to learn about the subject. Thanks

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek October 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Tanya, I’m so glad your experience bicycling 101 was a positive and enjoyable experience. It only takes one driver, like the one you described, that won’t pull over. And, near cliffs, you don’t have a choice, and the driver doesn’t always have a choice with oncoming traffic, either. As one person observed, it isn’t a perfectly safe drive. And, yes, the area where Martha and Essya were hit was straight. Driver error? Careless and inexcusable. Sorry

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Talitha October 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Hello. I am Essya’s sister. I am so happy to read all these comments to know that so many people care about Essya and Martha and the safety of cyclists generally. It is nice to know that strangers can be so kind and caring. When I returned to Ottawa after flying to Portland to be with Essya, a cyclist was killed after she was pushed under an oncoming car by a motorist opening her door. It has really been an eye opening week for me in terms of cyclist safety. I have taken a lot of comfort in reading all your messages.
    I was also wondering if anyone has the contact details of Vince (I believe White) who stayed by my sister’s side and is pictured in some of Mary’s pictures. He provided my sister with two of his business cards but she can’t locate him and wants to get in contact with him.
    Thanks, Talitha

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Neal F Lawson Iv November 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      hello talitha I am sorry for what happend to your sister it realy is a blessing that they are both ok.Although I dont talk to him much i know my dad feels very bad about what has happend and I can only imagin what he is going through. Not by any means taking away your sisters pain but what a deal.I was wondering if you would keep me informed on your sister and her freinds status for I am wondering what happend. Sincerly Neal F Lawson Iv or on facebook i would like to talk w/your sister if possible.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • 9watts January 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Jonathan, Talitha,

    any way you could find out for us/catch us up on what consequences the driver of the car who ran over Essya and Martha faced? I’ve not forgotten about this and would really like to know.


    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Mary Matzek January 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Charges WERE filed against the driver. Essya and Martha, going through the legal stuff, are not free to comment at this point, nor am I, by choice. When there is something solid to report, I will be happy to post. Glad you are all still concerned, as I am. Injuries were very serious, as you can imagine.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • 9watts January 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks, Mary. I’ll look forward to hearing more when the time is right. Best of luck to you.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe June 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe June 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Find it so hard looking at the photos and reading. I just don’t get it!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mary Matzek June 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Joe, Interestingly, my partner and I were in a horrific accident when a tour truck tipped over in Canyon de Chelly. Essya Nabbali contacted us today with this information about the trial of Neal Lawson:

    Neal Francis Lawson III, born 1950, Coos Bay, was convicted April 26 of two counts of assault by use of a dangerous weapon, and reckless driving. For the first assault, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, three years’ probation and pay $50,829 restitution plus compensatory fine of $50,000 to Martha McLean. For the second, he was sentenced to 90 days and to pay $78,827.20 restitution plus compensatory fine of $75,000 to Essya Nabbali. His drivers license was suspended five years for both. For reckless driving, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years’ probation. All jail time is to be served concurrently.

    No more information is available about Essya and Martha because of personal litigation.

    We know many bikers and safety is a primary concern for the vulnerable act of transporting oneself on foot or by bicycle.. Happy Trails out there to all..

    Recommended Thumb up 0