Fatal hit-and-run at NE Lombard and 42nd Ave – Updated

The crash scene. (Looking east on Lombard from the westbound lanes toward 42nd)
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A man was killed while riding his bicycle on NE Lombard/Portland Highway tonight. According to the Portland Police the crash happened near NE 42nd Avenue. This is the same location we just wrote about on Friday as having a “scary pinch-point.”

The crash happened around 8:30 pm. Here’s the statement released by the PPB at 9:10 pm:

On Saturday December 12, 2015, at 8:38 p.m., North Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the report of a bicycle rider down in the street in the 4200 block of Northeast Portland Highway.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located the male victim suffering from life-threatening injuries. Medical personnel were unable to save the victim’s life and he died at the scene.

Witnesses described a suspect vehicle being driven out of the area eastbound on Portland Highway.

Northeast Portland Highway (Lombard Street) is closed in both direction at 42nd Avenue and will remain so for several hours as the Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team conducts an investigation.

A possible suspect vehicle has been located by police and two people detained at Northeast Sandy Boulevard and I-205.

No additional updates are expected this evening.

Lombard — also known as NE Portland Highway — is managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The bike lanes on Lombard end in both directions prior to 42nd, but it’s not clear yet if the collision occurred in the pinch-point or not.

People typically drive between 45-50 mph in this area (the posted speed limit is 45).

This is the second traffic crash in Portland this year that has claimed the life of a person who was cycling.

We’ll share more information as we can.

UPDATE, 11:35 pm: I just returned from the crash site. The Portland Police Bureau Major Crash Team is still on the scene doing the investigation. They’re taking careful measurements, snapping photographs, discussing things with each other, and overall doing what appears to be a very thorough and methodical investigation. It’s good to know we have such professionals working on our behalf.

As for the crash… We still don’t have official details. PPB spokesman Pete Simpson told me tonight they won’t release any updates until tomorrow or possibly Monday.

Given the history of this location and the fact that we’ve reported twice about the bike lane gap, I’m curious to confirm where this collision occurred. Based on what I saw tonight it appears very likely that the impact indeed took place in the bike lane gap.

It appears the man was riding eastbound and that the collision likely happened just west of the 42nd Avenue overpass, where the bike lane is gone and the shoulder narrows significantly near the bridge supports. As you can see in the photos below, the officers were focused intently on a location almost under the bridge itself.

Here’s a streetview image showing the location where police crash investigators are focusing:

And here’s a (poor cell phone image) of the crash investigators. Note how they are focusing under the bridge in the eastbound lane (I took this photo standing in the westbound bike lane looking toward the east):

Update, 12:53 pm on 12/13: PPB has just released an update (emphasis mine):

The driver in last night’s fatal hit and run crash was booked into the Multnomah County Jail early Sunday morning on multiple charges.

26-year-old Kenneth Britt Smith Jr. was charged with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Reckless Driving, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (Marijuana).

During the investigation, Traffic officers learned that the 38-year-old male bicycle rider was riding eastbound on Portland Highway/Lombard when he was struck from behind by Smith, driving a blue 2000 Ford Crown Victoria. Evidence at the scene showed investigators that the bicycle rider was wearing a helmet and had a rear flashing red light on his bicycle.

Smith drove away from the scene and was later taken into custody when police located the vehicle at Northeast 97th Avenue and Killingsworth Street.

The name of the deceased will be released after family is located and notified.

NOTE: 6:05pm on 12/13: I regret getting the directions confused. It was a mistake of typing and thinking, not a pre-judgment of fact. To clarify: The crash happened in the eastbound lanes.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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