The Portland Police Bureau are now have clear video evidence of the collision that resulted in the death of Tamar Monhait early Monday morning.
A camera facing southwest from Water Avenue Coffee caught the tragic incident and owner Matt Milletto has forwarded the video to the PPB investigator working on the case.
I watched the video today. I’m not going to share it out of respect for how it might impact people’s emotions; but I will attempt to explain what I saw.
In the video, Monhait can be seen bicycling northbound on Water Avenue. Her speed doesn’t appear to be exceedingly fast for the conditions. Based on her distance traveled per second, I’d estimate her speed to be around 15 mph. It’s also clear in the video that she had a blinking light on the rear of her bike. No light is visible on the front.
(This collision happened just before 2:00 am. In the video the intersection is very well-lit. Milletto also told me he feels the intersection has plenty of lights.)
As Monhait approaches SE Taylor Street she does not appear to slow down at all. She continues through the intersection and is more than half-way through it before the large garbage truck can be seen. The truck driver then comes into the frame and does not appear to have made any attempt to stop or slow down prior to impact. There is also no blinker visible on the truck.
From my perspective, it appears that Monhait had the right-of-way and the truck operator made an illegal — and potentially reckless — left turn. Monhait was just biking along and would have had no reason to expect that the truck would make a sudden left turn across her path. Furthermore, besides what appears to be the lack of a front light (Oregon law requires one) and pending the results of a toxicology test (standard procedure in cases like this) Monhait appears to have been following all applicable traffic laws.
Keep in mind my perspective is still based just on this video evidence and I’m not a trained investigator. This is speculation on my part, but given the Police statements so far (which have included an admonishment to use lights and wear a helmet) and the victim-blaming comments I’ve read, I felt like I should share what I saw.
From here, the PPB will finish its investigation and then forward the case the District Attorney for review. The DA will determine if there was any criminal negligence on the part of truck operator. Once the DA concludes their analysis, the PPB will make a final decision as to whether or not a traffic citation is warranted.
UPDATE, 8/25 at 3:19pm: PBOT Communications Director Dylan Rivera has shared this comment about the collision:
Vision Zero is our traffic safety goal and we believe it’s the only appropriate goal when it comes to transportation safety. We are aware of the freight conflict with growing bicycle and pedestrian traffic in the Central Eastside and we’re working closely with the community on improvements that could address those safety needs.
We work closely with the Portland Police Bureau to learn as much as we can from their crash investigations. In light of the fatal crash that took the life of Tamar Monhait earlier this week, we are going to review our design for the intersection to see if there are any adjustments that should be made based on the Police investigation.
Every fatal crash is a good opportunity for everyone to reflect on the impact that fatal crashes have on our community. No loss of life on our streets is acceptable. Everyone needs to be alert and follow the rules of the road. Most deadly crashes happen as a result of dangerous behaviors—speeding, impairment by drugs or alcohol, or violating traffic laws.
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