Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

48 hours in Portland: Fatal hit-and-run, three injuries, 2 arrests, and a police chase

Posted by on March 14th, 2017 at 4:04 pm

In just 48 hours many lives were changed forever because of dangerous driving. And it was all preventable.

I often feel that what’s often lost in our debates about transportation projects, policies and funding is a conversation about the staggering toll driving extracts from our city.

In 48 hours starting last Thursday evening, I noticed a stream of police alerts come across my computer. It was a startling spate of incidents that underscored this toll. They involved people using cars dangerously and without respect or consideration for others.

As we have conversations about how to invest precious resources in our transportation system, we must keep in mind the many — and very serious — negative consequences that comes with our car-centered culture and the infrastructure that facilitates it.

48 Hours in Portland…

Thursday March 9th at 11:19 pm: Fatal Hit and Run Crash Investigation Underway on Southeast Stark Street

East Precinct responded to the report of a pedestrian struck by a driver at Southeast 148th Avenue and Stark Street. The 9-1-1 caller reported that the driver fled the area in a dark-colored vehicle, last seen southbound on 148th Avenue. Officers and medical personnel arrived and located a pedestrian deceased at the scene and evidence of a vehicle collision.

Friday March 10th at 4:45 am:

The suspect involved in this fatal hit and run crash turned himself in to police. 23-year-old Israel Aldama-Sanchez was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Criminally Negligent Homicide and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run). Aldama-Sanchez will be arraigned on Monday in Multnomah County Court.

9:46 pm: Drunk Driver Crashes into Police Car Blocking Traffic at Crash Investigation

East Precinct and Traffic Division officers were investigating a crash in the 3800 block of Northeast 82nd Avenue, where a pedestrian was hit by a driver.

While officers were conducting a crash investigation, a driver crashed into a marked police car that was blocking the northbound lanes of traffic. The police car’s emergency lights were on at the time of the crash, no officers were inside the vehicle.

Officers contacted the driver, determined that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and took the driver into custody.

22-year-old Kiri Anna Guthridge was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) and Reckless Driving.

The pedestrian injured in the initial crash suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Advertisement

10:34 pm: Friday Night Crash Injures Three People – One Driver Cited for DUII, Another Driver May Face Charges

Central Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the report of a serious traffic crash on Southwest Naito Parkway at Market Street.

Officers, firefighters and medical personnel arrived and found four vehicles involved in the crash – one vehicle rolled over. Five people suffered injuries, three required transport by ambulance to Portland hospitals.

Traffic officers learned that 34-year-old Maika Otsuki was driving a gray Infiniti SUV northbound on Naito when Otsuki veered into oncoming traffic, collided with a tree on the westside of the street, then crashed into a 2009 Toyota Camry being driven by 51-year-old Heidi Dirkse-Graw.

The collision caused the Camry to spin and crash into a Red Subaru Forester driven by 38-year-old Ernest Syes. The Infiniti rolled over, landing behind the Toyota Camry and crashed into a fourth car, a 2009 Ford Focus driven by 27-year-old Carissa Cunningham.

Otsuki, Dirkse-Graw and her passenger 34-year-old Richard Graw, were all transported by ambulance to Portland hospitals with various injuries that were serious but not life-threatening.

Officers determined that Dirkse-Graw was impaired by alcohol, so she was issued a criminal citation for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII). Otsuki’s driving behavior remains under investigation and she may face charges upon completion of the investigation. Neither Syes or Cunningham were seriously injured.

Saturday, March 11th at 11:34 pm: Suspect Arrested After Traffic Pursuit in East Precinct Late Saturday Night

On Saturday March 11, 2017, at 11:34 p.m., East Precinct officers attempted to stop a driver in a red 2000 Honda Civic in the area of Southeast 113th Avenue and Division Street but the driver began to elude the police.

The driver led police on a chase in the neighborhood as officers attempted to use numerous pursuit intervention techniques to end the pursuit. At approximately 11:47 p.m., officers were able to get the driver stopped at Southeast 112th Avenue and Division Street where he was taken into custody.

22-year-old Levi Denison was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charge of Attempt to Elude by Vehicle, Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Reckless Driving. Additionally, Denison was lodged on a parole violation.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

233
Leave a Reply

avatar
19 Comment threads
214 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
33 Comment authors
9wattswsbobDan APeteHello, Kitty Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
buildwithjoe
Guest

5 ways to cut deaths to zero in under one year, with almost no added budget..

a) Investigate every crash with a vulnerable road user
b) Repeat offenders given more monitoring and less driving and free transit pass
c) Every dollar spent to make roads safer, not spent on trip time reduction
d) Cite drivers for speeding and use of screens while driving
e) Take spending decisions away from ODOT and to local municipalities

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

“Otsuki’s driving behavior remains under investigation and she may face charges…”

That there is genuine doubt whether she will face charges is a terrible indictment of how insanely we enable a reckless driving culture.

It’s not which charges she might face, it’s whether she might face any at all. She may not have been under the influence and she didn’t run, so that’s two legs of the stool; “I didn’t see them” is usually the third. With all three, the city tends not to prosecute.

Smokey Bear
Guest
Smokey Bear

Based on the article, this doesn’t sound like a driving problem. I think you have a “people” problem. Undisciplined, irresponsible people.

rick
Guest
rick

So much of the south side of Naito Parkway functions as a race track. Daunting on a bike ride. This trend is horrendous.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

If this were the Seattle times, they would blame the bike lanes.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Regarding the sidebar subtitle for this post:
“Necessary”: definitely not.
“Normal”: sadly becoming more so every day.

I’ve mentioned it before, but again, I don’t know what happened over last summer, but some time just before school started this last year, it seems traffic mayhem skyrocketed and hasn’t let up all winter. Has there been a spike in VMT since gas prices dropped? Is there really this strong a correlation between VMT and destruction? I’m sure it would vary by city, but I’d love to see some statistics or a formula for the amount of “destruction” (units? Dollars? Number of crashes?) as a function of per capita VMT. My admittedly biased gut imagines it isn’t a linear relationship, and the Metro area has somehow reached a tipping point where an x% increase in VMT has resulted in a nx% increase in “destruction”, where n > 1.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I remember when people didn’t drive like crazy people around here. It was not that long ago. What is happening to people? Is it simply that enforcement has been lax for so long now, EVERYBODY knows they can drive with impunity? Or is it that Portland attracts people who are (sorry, for lack of a better word) narcissists? Both, I guess. Just blows my mind, daily, though.

Borrowing my sis’s car the other day I was behind a girl who was clearly staring at her phone as she drove down traffic-heavy Division. The light ahead turned red and she kept rolling. I honked and motioned as she looked in her rearview mirror. She waited for the light and then when it changed, kept staring down at her phone and rolled forward again. Two more times on this single drive, I saw the exact same behavior from other drivers. It makes me want to scream and punch them all.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I’ve gotten into the habit of consciously being extra careful around full moons, just based on experience. Call it whatever you want…

Smedley
Guest
Smedley

Jonathan, you don’t have a picture of the hit and run driver. You posted a picture of a guy who got arrested for firing a weapon at a truck.

Jon
Guest
Jon

I am lucky that I don’t have to and never ride my bike or walk on the road after 9pm. One common factor in these crashes is the time – all 4 happened after 9pm. The percentage of drivers that are alcohol and recreational drug impaired is very large at night and visibility is poor. According to he NHTSA (https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811523), from 9pm to midnight 46% of fatal crashes involve a drunk driver, from midnight to 3am 66% involve a drunk driver. From 6am to 9am only 15% of fatal accidents involve a drunk driver.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

it’s almost as if people behind steering wheels know there’s little chance of enforcement or consequences. until they really dun goofed and hurt/kill someone.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Since the 1950’s our economy has been based on what I call ” Happy Motoring Capitalism”. Which is primarily based on oil, car manufacturing, drive through business’s, auto repair, car insurance . road construction and suburban tract housing. Because of this the hidden bias in all dealings with motor cars is to keep as many people driving as possible. Hence, rudimentary driving tests, low penalties for bad driving, etc. Untill we realize that”Happy Motoring Capitalism” is killing us and the planet at an increasing rate and decide that our societal bias must be to minimise the use of the private automobile and take every opportunity to cut down on the number of people driving none of this will stop.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

As long as there are apparently legal excuses like “I didn’t see him/her.” and apparent immunity from prosecuting while texting, giving the same excuse. No enforcement except camera enforcement for lights and speeding, Vision Zero does not have a chance of diminishing deaths.

mh
Subscriber

$4.00/gallon gas tax would solve every problem we have. (Welcome to my fantasy life.)

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Once we have some, you know, actual facts, then we can make a decision on whether there is a criminal case.”

Except that you seem to be forgetting how most of these go… All too often we know exactly what happened: driver mows down three people in a crosswalk(!) and yet there are no consequences. How do you square this all-too-common finding with your blase let’s get all the facts first approach?

I’m not all that wrapped up in the distinction between negligence and intent. The fact that someone contributed to this outcome is quite bad enough, and our system should have ways to seek to make it right again, to the extent that is even possible.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I think you’re missing how Car Head works.

justice in this case? Well for starters, a finding of not guilty when someone mows down a family in a crosswalk makes a mockery of the entire system. I’d venture that *anything* else would be preferable. But justice, for real, could entail any number of outcomes:
(a) how the legal systems deals with the case – given the obvious facts, guilt seems pretty much a foregone conclusion (see how we don’t need the sham of an investigation here?)
(b) what the punishment is – that seems open to a variety of options: forfeit license, vehicle, do penance in form of payment, community service, be required to go on lecture circuit with a mea culpa act…. I don’t know, there are a million meaningful ways to proceed here that could help make another such heinous act less likely to occur again, discourage it, scare the shit out of others who aren’t paying enough attention to how they drive right now.

Werner Herzog’s anti texting movie comes to mind.

Smokey Bear
Guest
Smokey Bear
Joe
Guest
Joe

agh just crazy on the roads these days. hit n runs? why 🙁 be safe all

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Last April a Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputy ran over a disabled veteran at Sandy & 238th at 4am, while driving 33 in a 25 with his lights off. Stephen Heberling was dragged 95 feet, and he died in the emergency room. This current story is about the lawsuit.

Subtle victim blaming in the story:

http://www.pamplinmedia.com/go/42-news/350997-230655-family-seeks-682000-in-wrongful-death-case-against-multnomah-county-deputy

“It was not particularly bright clothing, but it’s not like one of those dressed all in black sort of routines,” Traffic Lt. Ryan Lee told reporters during a press conference at the time. “Not the most visible clothing, but nothing terribly odd given that we live in a cold weather environment.”

Police also noted that Heberling was standing in the roadway, not a crosswalk, at the time of the collision. Investigators weren’t sure why Heberling was traveling by foot that night.

Olympia-based attorney John Kesler wrote that Krumpschmidt’s headlights were turned off, but the industrial area was well-lit and the deputy “was familiar with” the location.

Here is the memorial. No idea where Heberling was standing….in the lane? on the shoulder? The closest crosswalk is about 800 feet away.

https://goo.gl/maps/w7tx4aHkJK52