As we debate infrastructure and policy solutions that could make places like the St. Johns Bridge safer to use, we should not lose sight of the fact that what we’re dealing with here is a systemic problem.
Our system fails us because it lets dangerous people operate dangerous vehicles on dangerous roads. Joel Schrantz, the man who was unable to control his vehicle before he struck and killed Mitch York on Saturday, is just the latest in a long line of criminals who were allowed to drive when they had no business being anywhere near a steering wheel.
At least not in a civilized society.
Schrantz is a man who, according to The Oregonian, has around 30-40 previous traffic violations going back over 20 years. He was driving a vehicle that was in a bad state of repair and his license was suspended. It has been reported that “chuckled” about his poor driving record to the police officer who responded to the scene.
This man is a clear and present danger to other road users and he’s making a mockery of our obviously inadequate driving regulations.
After York’s death we got an email from another victim of Schrantz. The man who contacted us said Schrantz drove into him and then tried to flee the scene in May 2014. Fortunately the victim got photos and police were able to catch him. Not that it mattered of course, because Schrantz continued to drive. “It frustrates me that guys like this get away with light sentences,” our reader shared, “he needs to be locked up for a long time.” Our reader now wants to testify about his experiences in Schrantz’s new trial.
Speaking of which, Schrantz appeared in court ealier this week on a preliminary charge of criminally negligent homicide. A judge set his bail at just $20,000 and he has since paid 10 percent of that — just $2,000 — in order to leave custody.
We’ve confirmed Schrantz is out of custody because a neighbor of his who lives near him in St. Johns got in touch with us. “The fact that he’s now out walking around is just outrageous and very upsetting,” the neighbor told us via email. “This is a failure of the judicial system!”
We contacted the Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney assigned to this case, Elisabeth Waner. She confirmed that Schrantz did indeed bail out. Waner said the bail amount isn’t up to her office, it’s set by the judge and based on a presumptive, statutory amount according to the charge (criminally negligent homicide, a Class B Felony in Oregon).
Schrantz will appear before a grand jury tomorrow and DA Waner will present her case against him. An indictment will follow and there’s a preliminary hearing scheduled for November 15th where Schrantz will present his plea.
The ride to remember Mitch York and protest this broken system is tonight at 6:00. It meets in Cathedral Park in St. Johns. More details here.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org