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DA won’t pursue charges against driver of truck that killed Tamar Monhait

Posted by on October 30th, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Screen grab of video from the scene of the collision.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office will not pursue criminal charges against the man who was driving the garbage truck that ran over and killed Tamar Monhait on August 21st.

Deputy District Attorney Nicole Jergovic, in a memo released on Thursday (PDF), wrote that, “After a complete and very thorough investigation by the Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team, it is apparent that Tamar Monhait’s death was an accident and the facts do not support a criminal homicide.”

This decision was reached despite the fact that a PPB investigator concluded Monhait had the legal right-of-way and that the garbage truck operator, Paul Thompson, did not use his turn signal (contrary to what he told PPB officers at the scene), admitted to trying to beat an oncoming train, cut the left turn sharply, and was described by a witness as taking the left turn “fast”.

In order to pursue charges, the DA would have to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Thompson’s actions were willfully negligent and reckless.

Paul Thompson had apparently not activated the turn signal before or during the turn onto SE Taylor, thereby not making any conspicuous indication of his intended change in direction to other road users.
— from the DA’s memo

In the four-page memo Jergovic lays out the salient facts in the case and shares the legal analysis that led her to her conclusion.

According to the memo, Thompson was driving southbound on Water Avenue at around 1:50 am and had initially wanted to turn left (east) on Yamhill. However, he changed his route upon hearing an oncoming southbound train. “His statements to [PPB] Officer Sandler,” reads the memo, “were that he was ‘trying to beat the train’ and using his two-way radio.” Thompson turned turned left just one block south of Yamhill.

Even though Monhait was riding and at a reasonable speed in a bike lane, Thompson says he didn’t see her until she was “right in front of him”. He also told the PPB he completed his radio call before he turned and that he was “not in a rush” at the time of the collision. Video of the collisio shows Thompson’s truck came to rest with its driver-side wheels across the centerline and resting in the oncoming lane. DA Jergovic said in a phone call today that cutting a corner sharply isn’t “something out of the ordinary for someone driving a truck of that size.”

A witness who was standing on the corner and saw the crash, told investigators that despite not visibly speeding, the truck operator, “did turn fast.” But that witness also said neither party in the collision was traveling too fast for conditions.

The police found no signs of intoxication with Thompson.

Monhait, on the other hand, had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .128 — well above the legal limit. The lead PPB officer on this case determined that Monhait’s alcohol intake was a factor in the collision because, as noted in the memo, “alcohol is a depressant and can delay normal brain functions such as concentration, hand-eye coordination and reaction time.” While she was above the legal limit, and a fact about alcohol impacts were mentioned in the memo, there’s no proof that Monhait’s actions were actually influenced by her alcohol intake. The PPB officer on the case said Monhait was riding in the proper position on the road. The officer also mentioned that Monhait made no “evasive action” prior to the collision. Regardless of her BAC level, there’s no reason Monhait would have tried to avoid the collision because there was no turn signal used, she had the right-of-way through the intersection, and the truck operator made a “fast” and illegal left turn right in front of her.

According to the memo:

Paul Thompson had apparently not activated the turn signal before or during the turn onto SE Taylor, thereby not making any conspicuous indication of his intended change in direction to other road users.

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The lack of visibility was a key consideration for the PPB and the DA in their analysis of this collision. There was repeated mention in the memo that Monhait was not wearing reflective or highly visible clothing:

She was wearing dark colored pants and a tan and white plaid shirt and a black purse. None of her clothing was reflective or high-contrast. Officer Maynard notes that he knows from experience that pedestrians and bicyclists often overestimate their visibility and believe they are visible to drivers when they actually are not. This is particularly true at night.

The driver was not intoxicated and he did not engage in reckless or criminally negligent driving behaviors. He was turning at an appropriate and lawful speed. He failed to signal his turn. But otherwise, the manner of his driving was unremarkable.
— from the DA’s memo

There’s no Oregon law that requires vehicle operators to wear high-visibility clothing; but in this case Monhait’s lack of visibility is likely a factor that would influence jurors.

The intersection was described as being “relatively well-lit” with overhead streetlights and lights from adjacent buildings. However, the east side of the street (where Monhait was hit) is noticeably darker than the west side.

Monhait was also not using a front light (which means she was in violation of an Oregon law). To determine how visible she would have been, officers recreated the collision by recording video from both a bicycle and truck operators’ perspectives:

Officer Maynard noted that while riding with no front headlight, he felt as though he would easily be visible to vehicles as they passed despite the fact that he did not have a front light. When he later viewed the video, he noted that it was actually much more difficult to observe him (a cyclist) than he had thought or expected.

Given what is known about the facts of the case, Jergovic determined that there is nothing in Oregon’s criminal code that is applicable to the actions of Mr. Thompson.

In order to pursue charges, the DA would have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Thompson acted with criminal negligence, which means (as per ORS 161.085(10)), “that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

To find someone guily of criminal negligence in a case like this, the DA has to prove a certain mental state of the defendant. They do this by looking at all the actions and behaviors prior to and immediately following the collision. Because it likely comes with a prison sentence and serious consequences, a DA has to determine that the person did more than just make an innocent mistake. They usually require reckless and/or drunk driving to reach the criminal threshold. These behaviors would be enough to reach the all-important legal requirement of, “gross deviation from the standard of care that a a reasonable person would use.”

Here’s more from the memo:

Historically, most vehicular homicides are charged as Manslaughter I or II because they involve intoxicated drivers who also speed, make unsafe passes, run stop signs or red lights, and engage in other aggravated, aggressive driving. Under Oregon case law, Criminally Negligent Homicide cases typically involve similarly bad driving, but usually without intoxication. “Criminally Negligent” vehicular homicides are fairly rare since the level of bad driving required by this crime is usually accompanied by intoxication, which then elevates the conduct into the “reckless” category, resulting in a charge of manslaughter.

In Oregon, not every fatal vehicle accident can or should result in felony homicide or other criminal charges, even when caused by a driver committing traffic violation(s) and/or being inattentive. The law requires substantially more egregious conduct to charge a driver with a criminally negligent homicide, with its presumptive prison sentence and many other serious consequences. Drivers who are not charged criminally do not, however, escape the law’s punishment; they are held responsible by a civil lawsuit using the standard of ordinary or “civil” negligence. This lesser form of negligence is generally defined as a failure to use “reasonable care” when acting in a given situation. “Reasonable care” is “what a reasonable person of ordinary prudence would, or would not, do in the same or similar circumstances.” Wollston v. Wells, 297 Or 548 (1984).

“Criminal negligence” is, therefore, more than a mere civil negligence. Criminal negligence is a significantly higher level of misconduct with the much higher criminal burden of proof. In a criminal case the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” while in a civil case the burden of proof is only “a preponderance of the evidence.” It is unusual to have negligent driving rise to such a high level that it becomes Criminally Negligent Homicide when death results.

In her conclusion, DA Jergovic said, “The driver was not intoxicated and he did not engage in reckless or criminally negligent driving behaviors. He was turning at an appropriate and lawful speed. He failed to signal his turn. But otherwise, the manner of his driving was unremarkable.”

On the issue of a civil case against Thompson, Monhait’s family has already filed suit. In a story last week, The Portland Tribune reported that lawyers who represent the trucking company have replied to Monhait’s family, “accusing Monhait of negligence in failing to have a front head lamp on her bicycle, failing to wear a helmet and bright clothing, riding while being intoxicated, riding too fast, and lacking effective brakes on her bike. It claims the company was ‘improperly named’ as a defendant, that Monhait ‘failed to yield the right of way to defendants’ and ‘struck’ the truck, ‘causing her own death’.”

From here, the PPB will decide if Thompson deserves a traffic citation.

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

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205 Comments
  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    this is so infuriating. The driver of this truck made an illegal left turn that resulted in the death of another person. He admitted he was trying to beat the train and a witness said he appeared to make the turn “fast”. The fact that that is labeled an “accident” and is “unremarkable” and that it fails to rise to the level of culpability needed for serious consequences through our legal system, is a sad statement that shows how hard it is for bicycle riders to get justice in america.

    Driving a truck like this comes with an inherent risk that should be codified into law and recognized by our system as some level of inherent culpability regardless of the mental state of its operator (similar to how huge SUV drivers should be able to claim innocence for driving over a child simply because they couldn’t see them).

    The fact that criminal vehicle homicide thresholds are based on what’s deemed “reasonable” or normal by a society that has pretty much normalized dangerous and abusive driving behaviors is crazy.

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    • Chris I October 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Do you think that Oregon law should require cyclists to utilize front lights during low-light conditions? To me, that seems like a contributing factor in this crash, and one of the reasons (the others being the fact that the rider was drunk, and that the driver was trying to beat the train and turned left quickly) for this crash. More importantly, although it is not law, the lack of visibility and BAC levels of the cyclist were important in the DA’s decision to not press charges. More importantly, can you imagine a jury that would actually convict the driver in this case, considering all of the evidence?

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      • Stephen Keller October 30, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        Oregon law does require the use front lights in limited visibility conditions See:

        https://www.tcnf.legal/oregon-bike-light-requirements/
        https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.280

        The law allows a rear-facing reflector but calls for a front light:

        At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:

        (A) The lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.

        (B) The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.

        (C) The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.

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    • B. Carfree October 30, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Time to reincarnate the “comment of the week” and give it to yourself.

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    • wsbob October 31, 2017 at 12:49 am

      The witness said neither the truck or the bike were traveling too fast for the roadway:

      “…He said that the garbage truck appeared to be driving the speed limit but that it did
      turn fast. This witness was not sure if the bicyclist had a light on but he thought she did not. He didn’t think either the truck or the bike were travelling too fast for the roadway. …” Jergovic, DDA memorandum

      The witness is reported to have seen the truck hit Monhait: “…he saw the garbage truck turn left onto SE Taylor and strike the bicyclist …”. The investigation found that Monhait crashed into the truck.

      He’s reported as having been standing on the NE corner of Water Ave. Same corner, roughly, as the Water Ave Coffee video was taken from, isn’t it? Would his view from this vantage point, of the actual collision impact have been blocked by the truck?

      Veteran garbage truck driver, eight years with the same company, four years on this route. Not an amateur, or unfamiliar with the route. Wasn’t driving too fast for the street, according to the witness, who mentions the turn made, having been quick. Didn’t turn on his turn signal, though he said he did, so maybe he thought he did, or he’s lying, and maybe knows he didn’t turn it on. Speculating here…why wouldn’t he have turned it on? Probably just forgot, in trying to beat the train, even though he may not have been speeding to beat the train.

      People reading here, that don’t think the law provides sufficient consequences for road use oversights like that of this garbage truck driver, associated with a collision involving the death of a vulnerable road user…what do you propose, the consequences should be? Maybe some kind of means of codifying level of ‘careless driving’ on a scale of 1 to 10, with corresponding degrees of consequences?

      Both of these two people messed up bad. Not criminal, but routine carelessness with in this instance, tragic consequences.

      Personally, I think Paul Thompson was careless not to have turned on his turn signal. He should have had that signal on, a 100′ back from the intersection. That would have given Tamar Monhait about 3-4 seconds advance notice of the truck’s signal displayed for her to realize, ‘hey…truck’s turning, I got to slow down or stop.’. Tamar Monhait, didn’t have a front headlight, which under the circumstances, is at least careless, and maybe reckless, especially considering she apparently got a little drunk before hitting the road. Not enough to be falling down drunk, but at .128, enough to possibly have critically slowed her awareness and reflexes.

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  • David October 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    With a report like this it appears this type of case, where both parties contribute to a traffic fatality, Vision Zero doesn’t apply.

    It’s a fine line between a thorough analysis (which it sounds like PPB conducted) and victim blaming. There will be a lot of people citing this report to say “cyclists need to wear hi-viz clothing and yield their right-of-way” when it would seem that the lack of a front light led to clothing and accessories even being an issue. Still disappointing to see that there are no meaningful criminal consequences as a result of this crash.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      Vision Zero absolutely applies. The idea is to design the system so people don’t die, even when someone makes an error.

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      • David October 30, 2017 at 5:09 pm

        My observation was that the DA calling this an accident makes it seem that the stance is that it was not preventable. When the city’s official stance is pointing fingers in both directions and saying something along the lines of “what do you expect?” it doesn’t exactly offer much hope.

        While I don’t necessarily disagree with the DA’s decision (Oregon laws are deficient when cars become involved) the wording is not ideal. In addition it would have sent a better message if there had been a statement by the DA’s office separate from this report about working to get laws in place to cover these types of situations in line with Vision Zero.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 5:13 pm

          I wouldn’t read too much into the use of that word. It is commonly understood to also mean “mishap” and is used thusly in all sorts of non-automotive contexts. If does not mean there was no cause, fault, or blame to be apportioned. It does, however, suggest a lack of intentionality, which I believe is consistent with the facts as reported.

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          • Dan A October 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm

            The driver lacked intention but he consciously chose to drive his 50,000lb vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to others, going too fast for conditions, cutting the corner, and not operating his turn signal, which he could have turned on with his pinky. If you drive like that and assume there’s not going to be anyone in your path, well, eventually you may kill somebody. We cannot continue to let people drive like that.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 6:17 pm

              Not only can we, but we will.

              At least until robots remove the human element from driving.

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              • Dan A October 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm

                Ah, so our plan for Vision Zero is to just wait 30 years. Good to know.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 8:43 pm

                Have you seen any evidence to the contrary?

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            • B. Carfree October 30, 2017 at 7:43 pm

              As a driver of much larger vehicles than garbage trucks, I was particularly offended by the DA’s comments about cutting the corner being unremarkable. Driving like that would get you fired from some of the companies I have worked for. They also send out spies so they can fire such drivers before they kill someone.

              This DA needs to spend some time with properly trained truck drivers before she so casually normalizes terribly dangerous driving. You only cut the corner when you’re driving too fast for conditions. Note that those conditions involve the type of vehicle, so that a sports car could make a normal squared-off turn at the same speed that requires a truck to cut the corner.

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        • wsbob October 30, 2017 at 11:43 pm

          “My observation was that the DA calling this an accident makes it seem that the stance is that it was not preventable. …” David

          In using the word ‘accident’ to describe the nature of this collision, don’t think the DA is speaking to the question of whether the collision was preventable, but to the nature of the actions and oversights of the person riding , and the person driving.

          One person did not have the required front light. The other person didn’t activate their vehicle’s turn signal. By law, does that omission of basic safe road use procedure, meet the conditions of ‘reckless driving’? I haven’t reviewed the ‘careless driving’ law tonight, but have read it in past, and the basic road use omission each made, may meet the conditions for ‘careless driving’.

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        • JRB October 31, 2017 at 8:28 am

          This isn’t a matter of the law favoring cars. “Criminal Negligence” has a single definition in the Oregon penal code and that definition applies to all crimes where criminal negligence is a requisite mental state, such as water pollution in the second degree, to cite one example I am very familiar with.

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      • paikiala October 31, 2017 at 9:17 am

        Achieving a safe system includes better laws and better adjudication. Better roads alone will not achieve zero fatal collisions.

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    • SD October 30, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Looking into the idea of vision zero would be time well-spent.

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  • rick October 30, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    CRASH. Not accident.

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    • eawriste October 30, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      It appears that the DA is using the word “accident” (for once) actually meaning it was unpreventable due to unexpected circumstances. Unfortunately, our culture defines this differently based on context, not objective analysis based on data. Cars, swords, Tesla coils and guns can all be used as weapons. But because cars are ubiquitous, the threshold required to label behavior as “unsafe” is higher, AKA “accident” in the eyes of our culture.

      Simple example:
      “Most drivers (93.5%) view it as unacceptable to drive through a traffic light that just
      turned red when they could have stopped safely; however, more than 1 in 3 drivers
      (38.7%) admit doing this in the past month.”

      https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2015_TSCI.pdf

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      • soren October 30, 2017 at 3:04 pm

        “however, more than 1 in 3 drivers (38.7%) admit doing this in the past month.”

        and the other 61.3% are liars.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy October 30, 2017 at 5:08 pm

          Ah, the expected hyperbole from Soren never disappoints.

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          • eawriste October 31, 2017 at 7:17 am

            Remember this is self reported behavior. A driver’s threshold for labeling what is unsafe may be well into the unsafe zone for people who do not drive. The above driver in question may well have thought he was driving “within the norm,” but voice concerns about safety elsewhere. Also, note this data originates from a driver’s advocacy group.

            “Although many drivers seem to think traffic safety is important generally, the survey
            findings reveal some aspects of the current traffic safety culture that might be
            characterized as a culture of indifference, with drivers effectively saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” For example, substantial numbers of drivers say that it is completely unacceptable for a driver to drive when they’re so sleepy that they have trouble keeping their eyes open, yet many admit to doing so anyway. Furthermore, 86.6 percent of drivers reported engaging in at least one of the risky behaviors examined in the survey at least once in the past 30 days.”

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  • Doug Hecker October 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Jonathan, I hope you’re not overlooking some basic facts… she was drunk, without a helmet, and didn’t have a front facing light on. I hope you don’t condone those actions. I’d expect you to be a bit more reasonable.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      I’m not overlooking any of those facts. Not at all. And this has nothing to do with whether or not I condone her specific actions.

      This has everything to do with the fact that our entire system is biased against bicycle users. That is a very real fact. And it’s bullshit.

      Is there any proof that Monhait’s actions were impacted by her drinking in this specific situation?

      She is not obligated to wear a helmet. Nor is she obligated to wear hi-viz clothing. The fact that they’re a “good idea” is an entirely different conversation.

      Was it a good idea for Mr. Thompson to be operating a large truck and make an unsafe left turn across an intersection on a dark city street where many people are known to ride bicycles?

      Am I unreasonable for thinking that someone who’s been drinking and who for whatever reason didn’t have a front light on their bicycle should be able to bike home without worrying about a huge truck turning suddenly in front of them and killing them… And then to add insult to her death, we learn that there’s no culpabibility whatsoever for the driver of this dangerous vehicle beyond a traffic ticket?

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      • Matt Pennington October 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm

        “there’s no culpabibility whatsoever.” The culpability is laid out in the statement. It would be financial in civil court. But it doesn’t rise to the level of being a criminal action.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 2:42 pm

          Thanks Matt. I’m aware of how the law works in this situation .I’m referring to there being no serious criminal consequences. I don’t want to talk about civil cases. We need a justice system that doesn’t kick the can over to private lawsuits.

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          • John Lascurettes October 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm

            Exactly this.

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          • JRB October 30, 2017 at 4:51 pm

            Actually, we do need a civil justice system to complement the criminal system. Not every wrong rises to the level of a crime and in those instances the best means of getting justice is a civil suit. From reading the O article, it appears that PPB did its best to reconstruct the conditions of the accident and that the lack of a front light may have made it extremely difficult to see a bicyclist. Given that the prosecution has the burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, I doubt they could have met their burden to prove the driver operated so negligently as to amount to criminal recklessness. I wonder if you would be this outraged if it had been a car operating without headlights that collided with the truck. From what I have learned of the facts, it appears that there was negligence on both sides, but even so Tamar Monhait’s estate is still entitled to civil damages, although they may be reduced by any contributory negligence on her part.

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      • m October 30, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        “Is there any proof that Monhait’s actions were impacted by her drinking in this specific situation?”

        Would you be asking that question if the truck driver’s “actions were impacted” by his drinking if he was the one who was legally drunk? Is that standard for operating under the influence?

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        • Doug Hecker October 30, 2017 at 3:34 pm

          That’s all I’m asking but it is clear that the readers would rather kick that can somewhere else. She wasn’t responsible and her blood alcohol level is reflective of that. Probably more reflective then the front of her bike as well.

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          • rachel b October 31, 2017 at 1:34 am

            Was the truck driver being responsible if he was–as he admitted–“trying to beat the train?” While driving a very large, heavy, dangerous vehicle?

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        • JRB October 30, 2017 at 4:55 pm

          From my reading of the facts, her BAC was not a factor in the collision and therefore should not be considered in apportioning blame. To me the compelling evidence of contributory negligence on her part was the failure to have the required front light and that alone.

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          • wsbob October 31, 2017 at 11:38 pm

            “From my reading of the facts, her BAC was not a factor in the collision and therefore should not be considered in apportioning blame. …” JRB

            I can’t be confident that her .128 blood-alcohol level wasn’t a contributing factor to the collision. That level isn’t falling down drunk, but it’s nearly five points past legal. At that level, many people might feel a little woozy, but could probably go about most of their activities without too much of a problem. At that level, could they easily pass the ‘toe to toe walk test’? Or the ‘eyes closed, touch fingers test’ Fact is, fast turn or not, un-signaled, on the part of the truck driver, Monhait didn’t stop soon enough to avoid colliding with the truck, fell down, and tragedy ensued.

            Examining split seconds are critically important to understanding how this collision transpired, and next to impossible to exactly recreate for close scrutiny. No way now, to determine whether and how much this person’s reaction time and alertness may have been delayed and dulled by nearly five points above legal. As a general rule of advice, this is why people are repeatedly urged to not be drunk when driving.

            Determining cause, I think should be the objective of looking at this collision. Not blame. This collision had nothing to do with two people having a spat, or engaging in road rage. It was just two people, for the most part just traveling along, minding their own business, trying to tend to their duties, and unfortunately, neither party sufficiently doing that.

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      • pruss2ny October 30, 2017 at 3:31 pm

        “am i unreasonable for thinking that someone who…” is drunk should be on the roadway? either on bike or in a car? Not trying to be an a__hat given the situation, but this is a pretty abrupt cliff to dive over.

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      • jeff October 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

        she is obligated to have a front light, which you conveniently ignore.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 3:56 pm

          Hi jeff.

          You’re absolutely wrong to make it seem like I “conveniently ignore” the fact that she didn’t have a front light.

          Here’s what I wrote in the story: “Monhait was also not using a front light (which means she was in violation of an Oregon law). “

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          • Racer X October 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm

            I do not fault the DA for not taking this case forward after reading their memo – Yes, a jury of [a driver’s] peers can make it very difficult to “win” a case on behalf of a dead cyclist…even one who does everything right. But part of the weakness of their case may have been self-imposed…due to the methods/ processes of its analysis and institutional expectations…

            The state of practice of PPB Traffic detail documenting the scene of a bicycle crash needs to be re-examined for how it approaches the investigation of alternative vehicles such as bicycles and how their accessory safety equipment requires a a more rigorous investigation vs. what is typically done for motorized vehicles with factory installed safety equipment. The memo did not document the level of effort spent looking for an ejected light, all too easy to do for many small lamps held on by an elastic band (did a street sweeper come by? did anyone pick the lamp up?) …There was also no discussion of any missing reflectors on Monhait’s wheels, pedals, tire sidewalls or other bike parts in the investigation…PPB / DA only focuses on of the lack of contrast on her clothing (thought her shirt had white portions) or lack of high-viz treatments, though these clothing treatments are not required in the OR vehicle code ORS 815.280 nor are bike helmets for adults.

            The PPB and the DA needs to take more care in how vulnerable roadway users are not able to give testimony as to “their” side of the story as they are often dead and thus silent. Whereas motor vehicle operators who strike cyclists (or pedestrians) are often the only witness to the interaction and thus their active voice (opinion of the “facts”) may overshadow what actually happened before the impact. The truck operator seems to have multiple contradictory statements (being in a rush to beat the train / use of turn signal) that may also affect how “distracted” he was…if he was not talking on the radio / not looking down to rest the radio receiver then he may have seen her movement without any headlamp further down the street, as often when cyclists (and pedestrians) move through city areas they can be seen as movement because they are back lit vs. front lit after passing intersection/ building lights…etc.

            The DA and PPB seemed to have missed answering too many open questions: If the truck driver was NOT racing the train then:
            – why did he still turn at this earlier corner?,
            – why did not take the time to signal?, and
            – why did he not expect there to be bike traffic in a heavily used bike lane if he travelled the same route for work each day/ week?

            Why did the PPB officer who wrote the report focus on Monhait’s history of being a professional bike messenger (was it an attempt to colour her as a lawless bike messenger with the DA?)…though typically there is no certification or licensing of bike operators – professional or otherwise vs. professional truck drivers who have CDLs.

            Instead the officer gave the the truck driver the benefit of the doubt for limiting the use of the 2-way radio as that of a professional (no discussion if there was a tape of this radio transmission or interview with the other driver on the radio as to how short it was etc.). But what about the lack of use of a turn signal as a commercial driver?…or investigation if the truck driver did a safety check of his vehicle’s lights, mirrors or windshield before leaving the base yard [or later by the PPB]? These steps would be expected of a professional commercial truck operator.

            The DA / PPB gave the professional truck driver strong praise for stopped quickly AFTER the impact…but should not we as a community of roadway customers expect more of professional drivers to act well BEFORE the impact or is that the state driving on Portland’s streets now…just drive well AFTER the impact?!

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            • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 7:21 am

              Great comment. I’d also like to know if the officer who did the ‘lack of front light’ test also checked to see what the visibility would have been for a cyclist using the same rear blinky that Tamar was using that night. From the video, it appears to be a fairly bright rear blinky, and should have made her easy to spot by a driver doing his job, even without a front light.

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              • Racer X October 31, 2017 at 1:06 pm

                I would feel more comfortable if such roadway safety audit/ post crash reviews were done by an independent (neutral) agency or institute…such as PSU’s TREC.

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              • wsbob November 2, 2017 at 11:08 am

                “…From the video, it appears to be a fairly bright rear blinky, and should have made her easy to spot by a driver doing his job, even without a front light.” dan a

                Easy to spot for someone driving and approaching from behind the rider, or from the side angle the video was directed from. Someone approaching the rider from the front, is not going to be able to see a tail light mounted on the back of a bike or any vehicle.

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              • Dan A November 2, 2017 at 11:15 am

                I frequently see people walking & biking in my neighborhood in the dark with very little or no lighting at all. I’m sure I would be able to spot a red light blinking on & off across the pavement. Now, if I was chatting on my CB while trying to beat a train, that might be different.

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        • Dan A October 30, 2017 at 6:08 pm

          I hold commercial drivers operating 50,000lb vehicles to a higher standard than humans on bikes.

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      • JeffS October 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm

        “Am I unreasonable for thinking that someone who’s been drinking and who for whatever reason didn’t have a front light on their bicycle should be able to bike home without worrying about a huge truck turning suddenly in front of them and killing them…”

        Yes, I think you are.

        If she had been in a car without lights on I don’t believe you would be showing the same level of outrage.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 8:53 pm

          IF SHE WAS IN A CAR SHE WOULD STILL BE ALIVE. IF SHE WAS IN A CAR THE TRUCK DRIVER WOULDN’T HAVE MADE THE TURN. IF SHE WAS IN A CAR – EVEN WITH LIGHTS OFF – SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE VISIBLE. IF SHE WAS IN A CAR THE POLICE WOULDN’T MENTION WHAT COLOR THE CAR WAS PAINTED. IF SHE WAS IN A CAR THE POLICE WOULD PROBABLY HAVE CITED THE TRUCK DRIVER IMMEDIATELY. IF SHE WAS IN A CAR THE DA COULD EXPECT SYMPATHY AND RESPECT FROM A JUROR OF HER PEERS. IF SHE WAS IN A CAR SHE WOULD BE ALIVE.

          SHE WAS ON A BIKE. THAT’S THE ONLY REASON WE’RE DEALING WITH THIS BULLSHIT AGAIN.

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          • Pruss2ny October 30, 2017 at 11:07 pm

            If she was in a car she’d have a dui and no sympathy from this board.

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            • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 7:23 am

              I hold drivers of 4,000lb vehicles to a higher standard than humans on bikes.

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              • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 7:52 am

                And that is the problem. Maybe you need to hold drunks accountable for their own death.

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              • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 8:19 am

                Is that so? Did they do BAC tests on the victims of the Las Vegas shooting?

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            • NC November 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm

              “IF SHE WAS IN A CAR THE POLICE WOULD PROBABLY HAVE CITED THE TRUCK DRIVER IMMEDIATELY” <– Absolutely not. The Truck driver would have been the victim of a drunk driver and the police would have immediately absolved him.

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          • m October 31, 2017 at 10:02 am

            This reads like an argument for not bicycling except in the safest of conditions.

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      • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 7:43 am

        Am I unreasonable for thinking that someone who’s been drinking and who for whatever reason didn’t have a front light on their bicycle should be able to bike home without worrying about a huge truck turning suddenly in front of them and killing them…

        excuse me? She was drunk. Had she not been drunk could she have managed to stop or get out of the way. Go ahead, say that is irrelevant…..

        She was drunk.

        He didn’t use a signal. She was drunk. It WAS TOTALLY HIS FAULT AND HE SHOULD FRY FOR THIS!!!!!!!!

        This alone is why bikers in Portland will never get respect. Nothing is ever the fault of the biker. Drunk with no light, but it is reasonable to think that she should make it home safely. As others have pointed out, would the fact that the driver of the truck was legally drunk make no difference to this. Personally I hope the family gets nothing in their lawsuit. SHE WAS DRUNK. People turn left in front of me all the time. I don’t run into the side of their truck.

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        • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 8:15 am

          I gotta admit, I typically agree with most of the comments on this board, but the prevailing opinion here on this story is just wrong. We can agree that the driver is “the most” at fault here, but the cyclist has culpability as well. They both broke the law and it is extremely likely that the driver would have seen a cyclist riding with a front light. No jury would ever convict this guy, which is why the DA isn’t wasting resources on this case.

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          • Lester Burnham October 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm

            It’s why I have my 950 lumen NiteRider burning brightly anytime after dark.

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        • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 8:20 am

          I guess you didn’t watch the video.

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        • Todd Hudson October 31, 2017 at 8:33 am

          The fact she was very above the legal BAC limit will make the civil suit a lot more difficult for her family/estate. Also, a sober adult wouldn’t choose to ride a bike without a front light at 2am.

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          • JRB October 31, 2017 at 10:14 am

            I disagree. Again, there is no evidence that her BAC was a contributing factor in the collision. As I have posted elsewhere, her failure to have a front light may reduce the damages her estate would otherwise receive, but it does not even the slate. I expect the civil case to settle. I doubt the attorneys on either side would want this to go to trial.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 31, 2017 at 8:54 am

          Yes she was drunk, but I think the outcome would have been the same were she sober. Is there any evidence this is not so?

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          • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 9:43 am

            I’m sure the lawyers will have a field day with this.

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      • Lazy Spinner November 1, 2017 at 4:41 am

        “Am I unreasonable for thinking that someone who’s been drinking and who for whatever reason didn’t have a front light on their bicycle should be able to bike home without worrying about a huge truck turning suddenly in front of them and killing them… And then to add insult to her death, we learn that there’s no culpability whatsoever for the driver of this dangerous vehicle beyond a traffic ticket?”

        Yes. If a car driver or motorcycle rider was impaired, driving at night without headlights, and rear ended a slowing/turning vehicle, they would be pilloried for their actions. Bike riders and pedestrians do not get a pass when their actions while impaired cause harm to themselves. I personally do not see the truck driver faultless in this matter but, the late Ms. Monhait paid the ultimate price, in part, for her errors in judgement.

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        • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 6:32 am

          If a car driver or motorcycle rider was impaired, driving at night without headlights, and rear ended a slowing/turning vehicle, they would be pilloried for their actions.

          That’s a strange analogy to use, as it has little bearing on what happened in this incident.

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  • Bjorn October 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I wish there was a good way to make sure that the officer in charge of writing a citation in this case was fully aware of the Vulnerable Road User’s statute. This type of case is exactly what the law was written for, a careless driver causing the death of a VRU and the DA decides not to charge because they are afraid they won’t win a jury trial. It should definitely be used here but many officers aren’t aware of the law so it is not applied uniformly.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Bjorn,

      Pretty sure that the PPB could still cite for a Careless VRU. Remember they haven’t made a decision yet. But given the narrative of this case so far I doubt they’d do that. My hunch is they’ll cite for dangerous left turn and maybe also failure to use turn signal.

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      • El Biciclero October 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        “…cite for dangerous left turn and maybe also failure to use turn signal.”

        I wonder how many “minor” violations have to be committed simultaneously to constitute prima facie evidence of carelessness?

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        • JRB October 30, 2017 at 5:26 pm

          It’s not a question of how many moving violations the driver committed but his conduct that led to those violations and the death of Tamar Monhait. Oregon law states that “criminal negligence” “means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.” Whether a person’s conduct meets this definition is not dependent on how many moving violations they committed. Was the driver’s failure to perceive the risk “a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would observed in the situation”? If the police determined that it would have been very difficult to see Tamar Monhait since she had no front light, I can understand the DA thinking she wouldn’t be able to meet her burden of proof.

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          • Racer X October 31, 2017 at 1:24 pm

            Regarding your point about “criminal negligence”- I would like to suggest a scenario by which this could have occurred, if a professional commercial driver was knowingly operating a truck without fuctioning turn signal(s) or other safety equipment … the PPB / DA memo documents that the bicycle was inspected for functioning safety equipment but the same memo did not document any level of review for the commercial truck. (Did the PPB check the Republic fleet inspection logs? or perform a post crash inspection on the truck?)

            So did the truck have a working turn signal, perhaps not and …perhaps the truck driver knew it was not working, but he thought he indicated his turn in an earlier statement, but as the witness said that there was no turn signal light.

            This is just another “unanswered” question from the DA’s description of the PPB review of this case for the ​Memorandum declining prosecution…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 16, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      For anyone still reading. I am seething about this case still and have not forgotten about it.

      This should absolutely have been a Careless/VRU situation and I’m very disturbed that it was not cited that way.

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  • bikeninja October 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    This ruins my day. It appears that as long as you are not intoxicated or street racing you can break any other rules of the road and not be held responsible for running down pedestrians or cyclists. Our children will look back in disgust at our medieval traffic justice system.

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  • pdx2wheeler October 30, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Wasn’t reckless, yet a cyclist was killed? Because that’s a societal norm… Wow, good luck everyone!

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  • dan October 30, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    If there was a branch in the middle of the road, that means they would hit it. How is that carrying out the duties of a driver?

    “Monhait ‘failed to yield the right of way to defendants’”

    Not sure which is more upsetting, the level of cynicism on display if they know better (as I assume they must?), or the wrongheadedness if they actually believe this.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      That’s the lawyers saying anything to muddy the waters and help their clients win the lawsuit. That’s exactly what their job is.

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    • Dan A October 30, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Does the city have a contract with that garbage company? Maybe it’s time to re-examine that contract.

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  • todd boulanger October 30, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Did the DA’s discussion include any mention of holding the commercial driver to a higher expectation for safe operation based on their status as a “professional” vehicle operator (with extra training and experience) and state regulatory certification (CDL)?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      no. but it should. this is a doable change to our system that we should fight for. And not just for commercial drivers — for anyone who drives large/high vehicles like big 4×4 trucks and SUVs especially given the facts that many of the cars ppl drive are much more likely to result in the death of a vulnerable road user simply by the nature of their size.

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    • Dan A October 30, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Exactly. Failure to signal in a rig like that should be a very serious offense.

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      • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 7:45 am

        Fry him for not signalling, but she was DRUNK and didn’t have a light. BUT HE DIDN’T SIGNAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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        • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 8:22 am

          If a drunk pedestrian was walking home in the same location, crossing with the light, and was run down, would you feel the same way?

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        • Evan October 31, 2017 at 11:13 am

          She’s dead. He’ll face no criminal consequences. Do you see the difference?

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        • Pete November 2, 2017 at 9:27 am

          Trying to “beat the train” in a truck that size seems like a responsible thing to do.

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  • John Lascurettes October 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    … however, escape the law’s punishment; they are held responsible by a civil lawsuit using the standard of ordinary or “civil” negligence.

    The main thing I don’t like about this is the DA makes it sound like the county brings the civil case — and that’s not the situation. The family has to bear the cost of that trial (should they lose).

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    • JRB October 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Actually, the family is in all likelihood not risking anything financially. The vast majority of personal injury cases are taken on “contingency” which means the attorney bears all the costs. If their is a settlement or damages are awarded at trial, the attorney gets a percentage. If the plaintiff loses at trial, the attorney eats the costs.

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    • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Yes, they should lose.

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      • dwk October 31, 2017 at 11:49 am

        Do you want to wager on that?
        The driver was negligent. No signal, basically an illegal turn.
        He gets a lot of blame here and I think the family will get a financial settlement as they should.
        BTW, I am glad that some people choose to bike rather than drive after they leave a bar.

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  • Mike October 30, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

    Driving a truck like this comes with an inherent risk that should be codified into law and recognized by our system as some level of inherent culpability regardless of the mental state of its operator (similar to how huge SUV drivers should be able to claim innocence for driving over a child simply because they couldn’t see them).

    Ok. Except. Drinking and operating a bicycle like this comes with an inherent risk that is codified into law and recognized by our system as some level of inherent culpability. So. Even if your proposed truck law existed, do you really think that would change the DA’s mind on the likelihood of winning a conviction? I don’t. This doesn’t seem like a very good model case for what you are advocating.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 30, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Here’s the difference:

      — the drinking by monhait appears to have had zero bearing on the outcome of the collision.

      — the unsafe use of a large commercial truck led to the death of another road user.

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      • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 8:00 am

        Drinking impairs your reaction. It slows your response time. All the lawyers for the trucking company needs to do is show that a “reasonable person” would be able to stop before impacting the truck and they win.

        Unfortunately, so many here are blinded to the specifics of this case. The majority of bike fatalities are innocent, but this case is not like that. She was drunk without a light. I’d bet money that had she had a light and been sober she would be alive.

        I’ll fight alongside you on just about any other fatality, but this is not the one to fight.

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        • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 8:27 am

          “All the lawyers for the trucking company needs to do is show that a “reasonable person” would be able to stop before impacting the truck and they win.”

          They wouldn’t be able to do that, as the video shows. I don’t see a link to it anymore or I would share it again.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 31, 2017 at 9:10 am

          Hi billyjo,

          You said:

          Drinking impairs your reaction. It slows your response time. All the lawyers for the trucking company needs to do is show that a “reasonable person” would be able to stop before impacting the truck and they win.

          Again. Here’s a fact: The truck operator made a sudden left turn without any indication of doing so prior to doing it. How does the physical condition of the bicycle operator matter in this case? Maybe – maybe – if she was sober she would have been able to brake a milisecond before impact, but the result would have been the same regardless.

          I disagree that if she had a light and had been sober that she would be alive. This truck operator made an illegal and dangerous left hand turn and he was clearly not operating safely (didn’t use turn signal, made the turn “fast” according to witness, admitted to trying to beat an oncoming train). A little white light approaching in the distance might not have changed the results much at all.

          And FWIW I don’t think Monhait is “innocent”. That to me isn’t the point. My point is she didn’t deserve to die and the person who killed her deserves a much greater consequence than just a traffic ticket.

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          • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 9:37 am

            The person who killed her….. if she had gotten behind the wheel of a car and gotten into the same accident, would you assign even some of the blame to her. She got drunk and drove her bike home. She was actually guilty of a felony right there. Nothing personal to her, but that is the reality that I see being missed here.

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            • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 10:12 am

              It’s not a felony, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. It’s a felony for the 3rd offense.

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            • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 31, 2017 at 10:52 am

              I never said Tamar was 100% blameless. I’ve made it clear that she broke the law by not having a light and by being intoxicated. I say she didn’t deserve to die. Big difference. If I referred to her as being “innocent” somewhere on this thread yesterday that was me being overly emotional because I was really pissed in general about this and other stories yesterday.

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              • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 11:26 am

                As has been pointed out by multiple other people this is not a winnable case for the DA. I would agree. I also don’t see a settlement for any more than financial reasons (paying out less than it would cost to fight) I for one will take my energies to a cause that is winnable and will move the overall good forward. I just feel that the community needs to fight the winnable fights and not fall into the trap of fights that we won’t win.

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 31, 2017 at 11:40 am

                we’re different billyjo. and that’s ok. I don’t approach everything as being either a win or not a win. I am disturbed by some aspects of this case so I feel it’s worthwhile to speak out and share my feelings about it.

                i also don’t think “the community” needs to be all on the same page on every issue or story. People have different styles of activism and different opinions about the issues. That’s great. Let’s hear all of them and hopefully the best ones will… errr… “win” ;-).

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm

                Of course she didn’t deserve to die. But would a 5 year prison sentence really be justice?

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 31, 2017 at 3:50 pm

                not just a question of whether it would be justice. … this is about changing our culture. The headlines from this whole thing are what make me sick. first: “bicyclist killed by truck” then: “no charges against truck driver”. See that? It’s a continuous narrative in our already car-soaked culture that these things are just terrible “accidents” and that no one is really at fault when they happen.

                And yes, I think in order to change our messed up traffic culture, people must fear serious consequences for their actions. If the norm was prison for killing someone with a car, maybe this truck driver would have slowed down a bit and taken more caution before making the left turn.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 31, 2017 at 5:02 pm

                Do you pursue a criminal case every time someone forgets their turn signal, or only in the 1-in-a-million (literally) situation where something bad happens as a consequence? If it’s only when there is a tragedy, then we’d be doing no better than a lottery, and behavior would not change. And if there is no tragedy, what jury would convict? Everyone who has ever driven has turned without signaling. Does that deserve prison?

                The fundamental problem is that cars are a force mulitplier; they let us easily accomplish difficult tasks, but also, on rare occasions, greatly magnify small errors into deadly events.

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              • wsbob November 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm

                “…And yes, I think in order to change our messed up traffic culture, people must fear serious consequences for their actions. If the norm was prison for killing someone with a car, maybe this truck driver would have slowed down a bit and taken more caution before making the left turn.” maus/bikeportland

                Let’s hear your suggestions for consequences for this particular type of collision…one in which the vulnerable road user failed to either legally, or sufficiently equip their bike or themselves for using the road under the circumstances at hand at 1:30 in the morning. And in which the many years experienced driver of the garbage truck made some road user oversights many road users…vulnerable and relatively less vulnerable…typically make, at least occasionally.

                Paul Thompson apparently failed to activate his turn signal. Not really much of an oversight, except in this case, someone on a bike was approaching the intersection he had in mind to turn at. Approaching without a front light on the bike, which deprived both him and the rider of the bike of the advantage of improved visibility of the rider.

                How well do you think people using the road in a state of fear can work towards avoiding road hazards and collisions? Don’t you think Tamar Monhait might have been scared, as many people that ride, generally are to some extent…of not being noticed by someone driving some motor vehicle, putting them at risk of being involved in a collision? I’d be surprised if she didn’t have that general level of feeling scared while riding. Yet…she went out riding at night, in the early, early morning…without a front light which would helped other road users see her more readily.

                No dollar amount or lost right to use the road, can surpass the fear of being killed. Which was what Monhait had incentivizing her to properly equip her bike, and still she didn’t have the light on her bike.

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          • wsbob October 31, 2017 at 11:07 pm

            “…I disagree that if she had a light and had been sober that she would be alive. This truck operator made an illegal and dangerous left hand turn and he was clearly not operating safely (didn’t use turn signal, made the turn “fast” according to witness, admitted to trying to beat an oncoming train). A little white light approaching in the distance might not have changed the results much at all. …” maus

            Maus…Monhait did not have a front light on her bike. A very possible reason (which should be considered.), that Thompson made the type of turn he did, is that he was not benefited by the awareness of her advancing presence that a front light on her bike is supposed to, and could have provided him with.

            There has been no report of traffic at the time of the collision at this intersection. Except for Monhait on her bike without a light, Thompson apparently had the road to himself at 1:30am. They shouldn’t do it, and this collision is an example why, but when traffic is next to nonexistent is probably one of the key occasions when people are inclined to relax and play a little loose and fast with the rules of the road.

            Is it even necessary to post a small list here of some of the road use sloppiness people indulge in when they don’t think anyone is around to make a difference? I wouldn’t be surprised if Monhait thought she’d be ok without a front light, as Thompson may have thought he’d be ok not signaling a turn, and cutting it a little short: looks like noboby’s on the street, should be ok.

            I’d like to hear more about Thompson…what kind of person he is. Been driving garbage truck a long time. What he thinks about vulnerable road users. I’m not saying he did this, but there are people that deliberately cut off other road users, especially someone operating a vehicle like a bike, that can’t hurt a garbage truck when someone riding a bike runs into the garbage truck. If he deliberately, maliciously cut Monhait off, presuming she would just abruptly stop to avoid the collision, and then continue riding on, that would be bad. Nothing has been presented to the public to date that would suggest Thompson is the kind of person that would do something like this.

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        • Chelsea October 31, 2017 at 2:28 pm

          Yeah, good point. Perhaps if she had been sober she could have just levitated out of the way of a fast, un-signalled left turn.

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  • bikeninja October 30, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    ” Grandpa, why are the glaciers, fish and polar bears gone.” Grandpa replies, ” Too many people drove cars powered by oil and filled the atmosphere with CO2.” ” But weren’t there any good people who didn’t drive cars?” ” Yes, but many of them got run over and killed by the people driving cars.” ” Did the the car people get in trouble for running over the good people?” ” No, they decided it was more important to get home to watch TV on time, or haul away styrofoam happy meal boxes to bury under the dirt.” ” Grandpa, I think the car people should have got in trouble for what they did.”

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  • shirtsoff October 30, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    It sounds willful, negligent, and reckless to me and beyond a doubt in my mind, but let’s play devil’s advocate and accept the preliminary judgement that criminal homicide is not an appropriate charge here.

    What other sentences will be leveled here to begin approaching a sense of legal justice? At the very least, they will remove the commercial class driver’s license from the operator and mandate safe truck operation training classes in dense, urban environments for all employees of the company.

    Is Waste Management the owner of the garbage truck? I can not locate this information from the prior BikePortland news article nor the legal PDF. Am I correct that WM is the provider of the garbage truck or is it another company?

    This information is useful in helping to establish more rigorous training of its employees. Sweeping turns at speed, lack of turn signals, and an assumption of domination over the public roadway will be avoided by current and future employees of waste disposal companies when a sufficient training program is established.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      There can be no justice in this case. If punishment is based on nature of the error, it would be far too light, and if based on degree of consequences, it would be far too heavy.

      That said, I’d start with revocation of CDL for the driver, and a hefty fine for the hauler.

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      • JRB October 30, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        Kitty, I think that’s where a civil suit comes in. While the error may not have risen to criminal conduct, I think it was textbook civil negligence. The degree of consequences and the amount of damages to be awarded for those consequences is most certainly the issue in a civil case, once negligence has been established.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 5:15 pm

          I’m of the opinion that no amount of money can fairly compensate for an outcome of this sort. That said, I hope the family is successful in their lawsuit.

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          • JRB October 30, 2017 at 5:31 pm

            I agree, but money is all our justice system offers until can figure out how to reattach severed limbs, reverse traumatic brain injuries etc.

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            • JRB October 30, 2017 at 5:33 pm

              As my torts professor said, personal injury law is all about calculating the monetary value of the incalculable.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 5:34 pm

                That sounds about right.

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    • Dan A October 30, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      The garbage company is Republic Services Alliance Group. It has an affiliated company which operated the truck, McInnis Waste Systems, Inc.

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      • shirtsoff October 30, 2017 at 9:27 pm

        Thanks, Dan A. This is pertinent information. I hope Jonathon can edit it into the articles about this tragedy.

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  • SD October 30, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    In response to multiple comments that use the ideal of personal responsibility to distort physical realities.

    1. Visibility can be assessed from the video tape of the crash. Visibility at the time of the crash is based on multiple factors. The existence of a law regarding front lights does not change an object’s visibility. The bike rider in this case would be more visible than a pedestrian in a crosswalk to a driver with headlights based on their size alone.

    2. The speed and path of the cyclist as well as the necessary reaction time can be assessed from the video. Based on the video, a person with a BAC of zero, with ordinary cycling ability, would have also been killed by the truck. The BAC of the victim is immaterial.

    3. The absence of a bike light and biking with a BAC above the legal limits violate Oregon laws, but these infractions are not punishable by death by truck. The concept that a driver is allowed to kill someone who is not adherent to these laws is a cultural construct.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 30, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      Visibility would be difficult to ascertain from a video; cameras have a totally different response to light/dark conditions than do the human eye.

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      • John Lascurettes October 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm

        Unless the cameras are specifically tuned to low light conditions, the human eye is usually much more able to pick up low-light movement and objects — as observed by just about every low-light picture I’ve ever taken never showing as much detail as I saw under the conditions (night-vision cameras excepted).

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      • SD October 30, 2017 at 9:08 pm

        Different, but reproducible. Reproducible will do.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 31, 2017 at 9:19 am

          Unless you are reproducing something that is irrelevant to the question at hand.

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          • SD October 31, 2017 at 10:05 am

            A comparison can be made between the video and any other visual recording based on objects in the video that have not changed and a measure of visibility can be assigned to the object of interest. In this case, the degree of precision that measurement has to achieve is not that narrow given the question being asked.

            Anyway, my point was that fantasies of personal responsibility and the particulars of a law do not change how visible an object is. A better discussion of driver culpability would examine visibility rather than whether or not the victim was adhering to a law. The light is not the only variable for visibility. A cyclist with a front light viewed from the side could be equally visible to one without a light if there is bright street lighting etc.

            But to reiterate, If we seriously want to consider driver fault across all drivers we would do our best to objectively determine victim visibility and compare that to a fixed standard when we can. My fixed standard for my own idealized personal responsibility is a pedestrian wearing black clothes in the path of a driver’s headlights.

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    • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 7:26 am

      I saw a cyclist this morning at 6am riding without a front light. He wasn’t even hard to spot, and I’m just an amateur driver.

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      • colton October 31, 2017 at 8:35 am

        Yes, and in other news I almost hit another (probably drunk) bicyclist with my bike on a curvy bike path because they were full ninja, wobbling down the center of the path and the only light was my headlight.

        Although I guess you could say he almost hit me…

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        • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 9:21 am

          Did you call 911?

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    • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 8:20 am

      Except that a cyclist and a pedestrian do not move at the same speed, nor do they occupy the same road space. This is why we have the headlight law.

      Your item 3 comments are irrelevant, because the matter at hand here is a decision not to pursue CRIMINAL CHARGES in an ACCIDENTAL DEATH case. Unless you can present evidence that we have yet to see showing the driver intentionally ran her down, your comment is just hyperbole.

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      • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 9:20 am

        The point of the article, which I think you’ve missed, is that there ought to be some penalties for dangerous driving that fall between criminal charges (nearly impossible to charge) and a traffic ticket (nearly meaningless in a case like this).

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      • SD October 31, 2017 at 10:20 am

        The matter at hand that I was addressing was how we value the life of a vulnerable road user and standards of safety for driving. I think my comment is related to the article and discussion. I also think that headlights illuminate people when they walk and when they cycle and speed and road position are not different enough in this case to make the biker invisible. If you want to simply dismiss my comment, you could probably find a more accurate diminution than hyperbole.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 30, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    I was watching late night TV this week and I think I saw a traffic safety PSA paid for by Republic (the trucking company involved with this case). Did anyone else see it?

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  • Sean R-M October 30, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    The fact that the driver started the turn early is important. To make the correct left turn the driver would have to slow down and turn more sharply. starting the turn early he can make the turn faster. The way he made the turn his truck has on the wrong side of the street when he hit Monhait. When I ride my bike I am at my highest stress level when I’m entering an intersection but after I have cleared half of the intersection my guard goes down some m Monhait saw the truck but because the driver wasn’t slowing down or giving any signs of making a left turn when she entered the intersection she would have no way to predict what would happen whereas if the driver had started the turn from the correct location he would have had to slow down and even without a turn signal, a cyclist would at least have a chance to see it coming

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  • Todd Boulanger October 30, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Hey kids, did you know that garbage trucks take more time to stop?!

    Republic Services’ Gus [the Garbage Truck] and Mike [the Truck Operator] says,

    “Trucks Take Time, Trucks—especially garbage trucks—take much longer to stop than cars. Play it safe and let a truck go past before crossing the street.”

    http://site.republicservices.com/corporate/environmenteducation/kidssafety.aspx

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      • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 7:39 am

        For the video-averse, this is a PSA from Republic Services themselves. I didn’t transcribe everything, but here are some tips they think might be useful.

        “when you’re driving you gotta be careful…
        you gotta watch out for the other people…
        it’s up to you to look out for kids like me…
        watch out for older people…
        my mom or dad could be walking on the street…
        you gotta watch out for anybody you could see on the street…
        follow the rules…
        look ahead for signs of people…
        be aware of crosswalks…
        if you see kids go slower…
        being safe takes all your attention…
        be aware of what’s going on around you…
        watch out for bicyclists…
        be aware of blind spots and where people can hide…
        watch out for vision blockers…
        your situation can change quickly, keep a cushion of safety…
        no driving fast…
        use your turn signal…
        responsibility is up to you…
        our goal is zero…zero accidents, zero fatalities…
        you can make a difference and stop accidents from happening…”

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        • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 8:22 am

          Clearly, the problem is that their training video didn’t warn them about drunk cyclists without headlights.

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          • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 9:23 am

            Chris, there are multiple tips in that PSA that would have prevented this crash.

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  • rachel b October 31, 2017 at 1:55 am

    As with so many things lately, I’m dismayed and chilled by the increasing ease with which some (not just a few) people can dismiss the death of a cyclist in this city. I hate to know that’s one of the empathy switches people can turn off more and more readily.

    I’ve watched Portland go so quickly from a city full of generally considerate, low-key people to a preening, me-first, push fest of a place, so full of narcissists and rude sorts I can’t fathom why anyone wants to move here anymore. It is not a pleasure to be among the people of Portland anymore. Not to me. Despite all you good ones. 😉

    How you can avoid feeling a very basic, gut-punch kind of sympathy for Monhait is beyond my understanding, but humans seem to be getting colder and less emotionally–what’s the word I want?–educated? It’s almost like we’re fostering relational idiocy with our wan acceptance of phone addiction, “likes” addiction, selfie addiction, etc. etc. etc. People are getting colder, and it worries me.

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    • JRB October 31, 2017 at 8:13 am

      You are falsely equating a decision by the DA that she could not meet her burden of proof in a criminal trial with indifference to Tamar Monhait’s death. It’s depressing, but not surprising that some feel free to judge the DA and impute improper bias without any legal training and experience or knowledge of her character. Not that I owe you an explanation, but as one who understands the DA’s decision, I can assure that I am anything but indifferent to the death of Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, Alan Marsan, Kathryn Rickson, Mark Angeles and Tamar Monhait and anyone else injured or killed on our streets. If we were to administer “justice” on the basis of emotion alone, however, why bother with laws and courts? Why not just string the driver up from the nearest light pole?

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      • Middle of the Road Guy October 31, 2017 at 9:20 am

        I did not get that impression at all from Rachel’s comment.

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      • rachel b November 1, 2017 at 12:05 am

        I was reacting to comments about Monhait in this thread, JRB. But thanks for the tongue-lashing. 😉

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        • rachel b November 1, 2017 at 12:09 am

          Did you actually read my post? Because it’s just plain odd, your take on what I wrote…

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          • JRB November 1, 2017 at 9:14 am

            Based on the other people who upthumbed my post, I wasn’t the only one who interpreted your post as I did. If I had it wrong, who are these people who are so indifferent to her death? Perhaps, I over reacted, but I guess I am also getting annoyed with another one of your posts about how newcomers have ruined Portland. I’ll just skip over them in the future.

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        • JRB November 1, 2017 at 9:19 am

          Other than the troll who said Monhait deserved what she got because her BAC exceeded the legal limit, I didn’t see any posts that expressed indifference to this tragedy.

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    • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 8:27 am

      It is possible to feel sympathy for the rider while agreeing with the DA’s decision in this case.

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      • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

        I agree with the DA’s decision to not pursue criminal charges, but I disagree with multiple points made in her statement.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 31, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Not much to add to the above, but just two little points.

    1. The DA should not have factored Tamar’s BAC into his decision. The DA declined to prosecute the truck driver because he thought he couldn’t prove the requisite level of misconduct BY THE DRIVER. Intoxication of the cyclist has nothing to do with that. Also because a completely sober cyclist would not have escaped that truck, but that goes to causation, not misconduct.

    2. The DA presumably feels this driving behavior (driving fast, trying to beat a train, cutting the turn, no signal) was not criminally negligent if the road was empty (as far as the driver could tell). That seems debatable.

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  • Jon October 31, 2017 at 7:59 am

    In engineering failure analysis this would be a triple fault condition. 1. Truck driver did not see the bicyclist or miss judged the bicyclist’s speed and thought he could beat her through the intersection. 2. Bicycle rider was intoxicated. 3. Bicycle rider did not have a headlight in a low light situation. Usually you have to design a system so that a single fault will not cause a hazardous failure. Most electrical appliances are double insulated so that a single failure of the insulation will not expose an operator to hazardous voltages. For mechanical systems parts that visually deform before breaking can have lower safety factors than parts that fail in a brittle (sudden) manor. If a single brake cable on your bicycle fails you have a separate independent brake that can bring you to a stop.
    It is extremely difficult to make a system (in this case our transportation system) completely safe when 3 things are in fault. It is possible that the crash would not happened if any one of the three failure conditions were removed.
    We must advocate for safer streets but cyclists must do our part. Below is an interesting article. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-bicycle-deaths-trends/more-bicyclists-many-helmetless-and-drunk-dying-idUSKCN0IU23Y20141110

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    • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 8:33 am

      The propensity of drunk cycling deaths is a symptom of our road conditions. Because of the conflict points with high speed, high mass objects being operated by poorly trained and inattentive drivers, a cyclist in the US has very little margin for error. You may get away with running stop signs and drifting out of the bike lane a few times, but eventually, you are going to get nailed by one of these drivers. Cyclists in the US also have to be proactive about their safety. Just about everyone on this page probably has a story about narrowly avoiding calamity on the roads, which is why it is so important to be visible and highly alert at all times. It is very unfortunate that we have to do this, but it is a reality.

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    • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 8:36 am

      You are missing some other faults by the driver. 4. Driver did not actively look for the cyclist, or apply his ~30 years of experience driving a garbage truck and ~4 years of experience on this same route to help him anticipate a conflict. 5. Driver was in a hurry and did not slow before turning. 6. Driver cut the corner. 7. Driver did not signal.

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      • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 9:18 am

        Item 4 has not been established.

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        • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 10:15 am

          Fair enough. It also wasn’t established whether or not the driver was using his radio at the time of the incident, other than by taking his word for it.

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  • Evan October 31, 2017 at 9:20 am

    The statement by the truck company lawyer that Monhait ‘failed to yield the right of way to defendants’ was a foolish one to make at this stage. Since the truck driver lied to the police about using the turn signal, he is all the more likely to be issued a citation. With that in hand the Monhait family lawyer can cite that statement as a case of an impersonal corporation vilifying an innocent individual. Another angle the Monhait lawyer could use in the rush the truck driver was in to get the job done quick to maximize company profits at the expense of public safety.

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  • Paul Atkinson October 31, 2017 at 9:27 am

    If they didn’t punish the driver who hit Alastair (ref: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/09/driver_in_se_portland_crash_th.html), why would you think they’d punish this one?

    The DA’s logic in that case was that while the driver took an illegal left turn and ripped an innocent man’s leg off, it wasn’t done with the intent to deliberately maim anyone so it’s not a crime. “According to the memo, Corkett had the right of way, but the legal question is whether Allen intentionally tried to cause the cyclist harm.”

    So long as that’s how our DA views the law, victims of dangerous driving will never see justice.

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    • JRB October 31, 2017 at 10:07 am

      I find the Multnomah Co. DA’s office decision not to charge the drivers in the cases of Alastair Corkett and Mark Angeles much more questionable than in the case of Tamar Monhait. In those cases, the cyclists committed no infractions and the collisions happened in broad daylight. I really was shocked that no felony charges were brought in Mark Angeles death. Intent is not an element of criminal negligence, which is in fact criminal fault without intent to do harm. Drunk driving is a classic example. You don’t have to have any intent to hurt someone when you get behind the wheel after getting plastered. We have decided as a society that your decision to ignore the obvious risks of such behavior is so outside the pale that it warrants criminal in addition to civil liability.

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      • Paul Atkinson October 31, 2017 at 10:29 am

        That’s really it for me. If they’d made charges in those cases but not in this one then maybe — MAYBE — I’d trust that the reason no charges were brought here was that the cyclist’s contribution to fault (intoxication, lighting) was sufficient to exonerate the driver.

        But that’s obviously not how it works. Those things are a red herring, which we know from prior example.

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        • wsbob October 31, 2017 at 10:35 pm

          There have been no official charges made against Paul Thompson, the driver of the garbage truck, from which he could be exonerated.

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          • Paul Atkinson November 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

            Failure to bring charges is one form of exoneration. Acquittal after charges are brought is another. That’s not an exhaustive list, but in any case I was referring to the first one.

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            • wsbob November 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm

              “Failure to bring charges is one form of exoneration. Acquittal after charges are brought is another. That’s not an exhaustive list, but in any case I was referring to the first one.” paul atkinson

              I suppose simply not blaming someone, even lacking charges them brought, for the consequences of a say, a collision, could be considered ‘exoneration’. I refer to this free dictionary ‘wordweb’, which has two simple definitions for what is ‘exoneration’:

              1) The condition of being relieved from blame or obligation.

              2) The act of vindicating or defending against criticism or censure etc..

              When I’ve heard people use that word in comments they’ve posted to bikeportland stories, the majority of the time, because of the manner in which they use it, I’ve wondered if they really understood what it means, and to the specific incident being discussed.

              With this particular collision involving the driver of the truck over in the central eastside industrial district, although he’s not been charged for a criminal offense, or maybe not even cited for a moving violation as of yet…some people could, and probably do…blame him in some way or entirely for the collision. And hold him to his obligation to use the road safely, which on that count alone is entirely fair. And from that blame, some people, including police officers and the courts, could choose to ‘exonerate’ him.

              But a first priority, it seems to me, is keeping in mind, who, and or what, is responsible for this collision. And accordingly, where blame and exoneration from obligation should be given.

              This is not a particularly simple collision in terms of assigning responsibility for it, to just one of the two road users exclusively. They both made mistakes that often don’t, but in this particular encounter, resulted in a tragic result. Would the same result have occurred if just one of the two people made the mistake they did? (either, no headlight on the bike, or no turn signal activated on the tuck.). That’s an interesting hypothetical scenario I’ve considered, with no easy answer.

              The driver of the truck, certainly is due some criticism for not having activated his turn signal at a intersection when, according to him, he did not see the person riding, until she was right there in front of him (or something like that….I didn’t check back in the story for a quote from him.). Personally, people can choose to defend, or ‘exonerate’ him from that criticism if they choose to, right or wrong. That’s their choice.

              His not having been officially charged for a crime though of say, reckless or careless driving, isn’t I don’t think, due to his having been relieved of, or defended by the police or the DA from those crimes. I think from reading this story, he wasn’t charged, simply because the officials did not believe they had the grounds to charge him. He wasn’t exonerated from a charge they were able to lodge against him.

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      • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 10:30 am

        The police couldn’t objectively determine whether or not Jolene Friedown would have been able to see Mark Angeles approaching the intersection at noon on a sunny day. It’s remarkable that they put more effort into determining visibility in this case.

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  • Gary B October 31, 2017 at 10:18 am

    If it were a pedestrian in the crosswalk, their clothing or lighting would be irrelevant. The driver’s conduct and consequences would probably have been exactly the same. Would it have been a crime then?

    That Monhait also broke a law isn’t relevant to whether the driver’s conduct was criminally negligent. They can both commit crimes, go ahead and charge Monhait. It should be viewed ONLY through that lens–were the driver’s actions, regardless of others or the outcome, criminally negligent?

    The DA is probably right, they wouldn’t get a conviction. But posit whether a driver in similar circumstances might actually be “aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk” of turning abruptly and without a signal IF drivers were prosecuted for killing others by doing such.

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    • Gary B October 31, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Was intended as a reply to ChrisI’s comment that “[lack of a front light] seems like a contributing factor in this crash…” But stands on its own.

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    • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      I believe the laws are different because pedestrians do not move as quickly as cyclists. Lights become very important as relative speeds increase. Cyclists, even in lit areas can effectively disappear into shadowed areas between streetlights, and reappear quickly. Cyclists are also typically operating in the street, outside of crosswalk areas.

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  • Evan October 31, 2017 at 11:09 am

    The DA says “not every fatal vehicle accident can or should result in felony homicide.” This expresses compassion for the consequences that might be faced by the killer. Where is the compassion for the victim?

    Every fatal vehicle accident necessarily results in the end of a life. I believe that simple fact should translate to a very high standard for anyone involved who is still alive.

    In this case, a woman paid the ultimate price for the driver’s poor choices, and he’ll face no criminal consequences. It’s hard to imagine how this DA can believe that’s appropriate.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Evan,

      This isn’t just about what the DA “believes is appropriate”. I happen think our DA is really sympathetic to bicycle users in general…But they are bound by existing Oregon law and bound by realities of the culture they operate in. Regardless of how they personally feel about a case, they won’t press charges unless they feel they can win. Because of the aforementioned laws and culture, and this is the real tragedy here IMO, is that often what’s right isn’t what will win in the courts.

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      • JRB October 31, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Jonathan, I’m curious. What changes in the law do you think would have resulted in a different outcome in this case?

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      • Evan November 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

        I understand & appreciate the limitations of what’s possible in our court system. I was taking issue with the DA’s statement, which showed a level of sympathy for the driver that was not evident for the rider.

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    • Racer X October 31, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Evan – good points, but please avoid the use of the word “accident” (vs. collision, crash, etc.) as use of this word uncuts the point you are trying to make…as an accident is an act of god or otherwise unavoidable…

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 31, 2017 at 2:13 pm

        “Accident” does not mean without cause or blame. It is an appropriate word in this context.

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        • Dan A October 31, 2017 at 2:39 pm

          Crash is better.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 31, 2017 at 3:13 pm

            It’s more kinetic and action packed!

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            • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 9:28 am

              Like crashes themselves.

              “Accident” is a overly vague term that doesn’t tell us anything about what happened except that something happened unintentionally (which may or may not even be true). As a fan of semantics, doesn’t it bother you that you could tell someone you were “involved in an accident” in your car and we are supposed to assume that it means you were in a crash? It could mean a bunch of different things, like maybe you spilled your coffee, or peed your pants, or sent a text with a spelling error, or took a wrong turn, or were going too fast when not watching your speedometer. When did we misappropriate the word “accident” to mean “crash”?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 9:34 am

                “I was in a car accident” means the same as “I was in a car crash” to almost everyone. Though now that I say that, I’m not so sure. Crash implies hitting another car, or possibly a tree or abutment. It seems to apply less well for striking a pedestrian or cyclist. In those cases, accident might actually be better.

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              • El Biciclero November 1, 2017 at 9:42 am

                Maybe we’re just talking about accidental crashes. But then there’s all the nuance surrounding accidental-negligent, accidental-careless, accidental-criminally-negligent, accidentally-on-purpose…the only thing we can be sure of initially is that two bodies, each possessing measurable mass and volume, collided. Energy and momentum were transferred.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 10:30 am

                “Accident” does not mean non-negligent. But seriously — say “crash” if you want. I prefer it myself in many contexts. Just don’t harangue those who choose a different (and equally understandable) word to describe the same thing.

                Where the word *would* be inappropriate is to describe the tragedy in NYC. That was not an accident in any way, because there was intent.

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              • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 10:41 am

                HK, do you support dictionary definitions or common use implications? You keep advocating for acceptance of the word “accident” based on the dictionary definition (and denying that “accident” implies there is nobody at fault), but you don’t want to accept the word “crash” because human bodies are involved? Webster has this as one of the definitions: “to hit something hard enough to cause serious damage or destruction”. The New Yorker had this headline in 2014: “A Bicycle Crash Kills Another Pedestrian in Central Park”. Is that headline using the wrong word?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 11:14 am

                Accident means “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” (according to Google) There is nothing in that definition that implies fault or lack thereof, and I believe this definition is consistent with common use.

                Using your interpretation of Webster’s definition, if I step on an ant, I have “crashed” into it. I think that definition must be referring to damage/destruction to the crasher, not the crashee. Was there serious damage or destruction to the garbage truck?

                I think common usage and the dictionary definition support my argument.

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              • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 11:22 am

                The Deputy DA and PPB Major Crash Team disagree with you.

                https://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/monhait-DA-decision.pdf

                “Tamar Monhait crashed into the side of the garbage truck and suffered catastrophic injuries
                to her head and her arm…The location where this crash occurred is in the Central Eastside Industrial District of Portland…Tamar Monhait was riding a light blue road-style bicycle that appeared to be in working order prior to the crash….[etc]”

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 11:34 am

                I think it is misleading to say that Monhait crashed into the truck, because that implies she had some control over the situation, which I believe she did not. But maybe the DA knows something I do not. If a pedestrian is struck by a car, would you say the pedestrian crashed into it? Why not?

                If you want to say “crash” go for it, I will not complain. My objection is the policing of the language other people use, not your choice of words.

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            • wsbob November 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm

              “I think it is misleading to say that Monhait crashed into the truck, because that implies she had some control over the situation, which I believe she did not. But maybe the DA knows something I do not. If a pedestrian is struck by a car, would you say the pedestrian crashed into it? Why not? …” h kitty

              kitty….Monhait crashed into the truck because she lacked sufficient control over the situation to avoid colliding with the truck. I think the investigators are concluding that she hit the truck rather than vice versa, in part based on what they can deduce from what’s visible of the second or two before the actual collision which is visible on the video. The truck appears to be nearly halfway past her when she disappears from view in the video.

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      • Evan November 9, 2017 at 10:22 am

        I was re-using the DA’s language & phrasing to show the hypocrisy. Perhaps I should have quoted it to avoid your criticism.

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    • Trek Top Fuel 9.9 November 1, 2017 at 12:04 am

      ***comment deleted***

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      • BB November 1, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        No. The forest service didn’t put the cliff there, but the driver did choose to put his car there. They are not equatable.

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  • wsbob October 31, 2017 at 11:45 am

    “The DA says “not every fatal vehicle accident can or should result in felony homicide.” This expresses compassion for the consequences that might be faced by the killer. Where is the compassion for the victim? …” evan

    The laws for Murder, Homicide, Manslaughter, Reckless Driving, Careless Driving, distinguish between the range of action and intent that were involved in the death or injury of another person.

    For these offenses, the laws don’t just provide a ‘one size fits all’, simply because that couldn’t be an effective way of dissuading people from committing crimes and violating the law, if all response and penalties were the same regardless of whether someone set out to kill somebody, or they just happened to do so by way of for example, forgetting to turn on their turn signal, or forgetting to make sure they’re vehicle has sufficient and legal required gear for visibility of themselves to other road users.

    Compassion for the woman riding, Tamar Monhait, abounds in stories and in comments to this weblog, and to me it seems, on the part of the DDA, who though, is bound by what the law is able to offer for recourse based on what the investigation of the collision found to be the culpability.

    Tragic occurrence of course, but it wasn’t found that the person driving, Paul Thompson, was driving in any particularly bad manner; route very familiar to him, not driving fast for the street, according to the witness, maybe whipped a quick turn because he had the train in mind, so he drove a block further south to get ahead of it, and in doing so, maybe forgot to put the signal on. Late at night/early morning, likely to generally be a near ‘0’ traffic volume situation. Logical to consider that under these circumstances, he might not have been as sharply alert for the unexpected as a person might be in a busier traffic situation.

    But let’s say, towards achieving the so called ‘vision zero’ objective of ending all traffic related deaths and injuries, society decides it wants accompanied by a very strong response and penalty, even common forgetfulness while using the road, that results in serious injury or death to another person: if not a response and/or penalty comparable to that for the laws I mentioned above…what should the response and penalty be?

    Tamar Monhait also made poor choices and mistakes that likely contributed to this collision. That she did, doesn’t justify or excuse the mistakes and poor choices made by the person driving. The price she paid though, is in part due to those mistakes and poor choices she made. If people as road users, vulnerable road users included, can not be reasonably expected to help safeguard their own lives in using the road, having the road be safe for all to use will be an extremely difficult thing to accomplish.

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  • SD October 31, 2017 at 11:57 am

    As others have said, police crash investigations have not evolved to evaluate motorized vehicle crashes that injure vulnerable road users and they are not adapted to modern scientific capacity to evaluate video. This is important for establishing fault, but more importantly for understanding how driving can be made safer. This is a clear area of improvement and should be a part of vision zero.

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  • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Just as a thought experiment here. What would the expectation for criminal charges be if the dump truck had crashed into a car traveling at 15mph on this street in the dark with no headlights on, operated by a drunk driver, resulting in the death of that driver? Would those arguing for criminal punishment of this garbage truck driver expect the same charges they are asking for here?

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    • dwk October 31, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      What if it was a jogger running 15mph?

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      • Chris I October 31, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        In what world is a 4-minute mile a jog? If Usain Bolt is doing sprinting repeats on Water Ave at 2am, he should probably wear a light.

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    • SD October 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Yes. Why did you choose 15 mph?

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    • dwk October 31, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Ok, 8 or 10 mph, you are really splitting hairs, do you know the driver or something?

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    • dwk October 31, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      The fact is, the driver ran over and killed a person and he was at some fault.
      Why should he get off?

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      • Chris I November 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        I agree that he was partially at fault. Partially at fault does not yield a criminal prosecution for negligent homicide. Why are you calling for his head?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        It probably depends on what you mean by “get off”, but if you look at the nature of his “crime”, rather than its consequences, it was really pretty mild by the standards of how people actually drive. Neglecting to signal is usually harmless. In this case it proved fatal. The difference between those two outcomes is primarily a case of (bad) luck.

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        • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 2:31 pm

          Studies have estimated that failing to signal is responsible for ~1-2 million crashes per year in the US. It is a very serious problem, as a result of choices made by drivers.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm

            Cumulatively, perhaps, but only very rarely compared to the number of frequency of unsignaled turns.

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            • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 3:11 pm

              It’s somewhere between 18 and 38 percent of all crashes. Not insignificant in any way, unless you think car crashes themselves are insignificant events.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 3:40 pm

                Signaling is important, absolutely. But any particular lack of it is highly unlikely to cause a problem. In that regard it is insignificant. Just as smoking a single cigarette does not incur a significant risk of lung cancer, while at the same time we can say that smoking is a serious problem, and lung cancer is a terrible thing.

                But then, you know this already and continue to try to redirect my argument into something I am not saying.

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              • Dan A November 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm

                “[Drinking and driving] is usually harmless. In this case it proved fatal. The difference between those two outcomes is primarily a case of (bad) luck.”

                How does it read now?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 1, 2017 at 11:06 pm

                Like an untrue statement.

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              • Dan A November 2, 2017 at 6:40 am

                As a bartender in a small town 20 years ago, I knew lots of people who drove home drunk on a daily basis (probably the majority of our customers). Saying that it’s “usually harmless” and that a crash as a result of it is “bad luck” is as true (or false) as your statement.* And both statements are embarrassingly dismissive of a significant cause for crashes. But then again, if all we can do is wait for robot cars, who cares?

                *I couldn’t find statistics on the frequency of drunk driving vs the number of crashes involved, just like I couldn’t find anything on the frequency of failed turn signal use vs crashes, so I have no idea what odds are, or whether they are comparable.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 2, 2017 at 10:06 am

                I don’t dismiss the problem; I’m just pointing out that we all see people not signaling, or doing it wrong dozens of times a day. I’ve never seen a crash as a result. So I know that of the tens or hundreds of thousands of signaling failures I’ve witnessed, none has caused a crash. Can you say the same of drunk driving? Are these things really equivalent?

                Again, I think signaling is important and the lack of signaling is a problem. What I don’t see is any sort of realistic way to change driving culture in the short-term. And why is it more important than behaviors like speeding?

                Maybe I’ll be convinced when somebody founds Mothers Against Not Signaling Turns.

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              • Dan A November 2, 2017 at 10:25 am

                Maybe we do need a mothers group. Is there one for distracted driving, or speeding? Those would be good too.

                https://www.autoblog.com/2012/05/01/turn-signal-neglect-study/

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        • wsbob November 2, 2017 at 11:04 am

          Relying on luck for safety, is a very bad way to be using the road. What responsible road user approaches an intersection with the intent to make a left turn, and thinks to themselves:

          ‘Should I flip on the turn signal to indicate to those cars coming, that I’m going to be turning? Or should I just wait and see how lucky I am today, whether they stop when I suddenly start turning in front of them?’.

          Relying on luck is a mindset that leads to the kind of collision this one in the early morning hours of the central east-side industrial district was. Very little traffic at the time, two road users thinking there’s no likely harm to come from simple oversights like neglecting to turn on a turn signal, or having a working front light.

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    • John Lascurettes October 31, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      If it was a drunk driver with lights off, otherwise operating legally within his lane of travel at 15mph, it still wouldn’t have contributed to the truck driver “racing” the train, cutting the corner at high speed, and not using an indicator. Yes, this hypothetical driver of yours still could have been cited at the scene (because he would have likely lived), but the garbage truck driver would have still been found more at fault for contributing to the collision for making an illegal and unsafe and high-speed turn in the first place.

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      • billyjo October 31, 2017 at 6:10 pm

        “A witness who was standing on the corner and saw the crash, told investigators that despite not visibly speeding, the truck operator, “did turn fast.” But that witness also said neither party in the collision was traveling too fast for conditions.”

        directly from the above article, and there is no indication the driver was speeding. Don’t know where you got your idea that he was going so fast. Trucks take time to stop, and look where it stopped. He obviously was not tearing around the corner.

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        • John Lascurettes October 31, 2017 at 7:04 pm

          I didn’t say speeding anywhere. Not at any point. I said high-speed turn. You even said, it takes a long time for a large truck to stop — you even imply that he should have slowed down considerably and made a slow, calculated and legal turn. Instead, he made an illegal cutting across the near lane turn so he could “beat” the train. That is unsafe and is not an appropriate speed. Too fast for conditions, even it if is below the posted speed limit.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 31, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Portland is a “Republic of [Roadway] Suffering” and thus this City needs a monument for roadside deaths and injuries…just as Gettysburg(*) created this Nation’s first monument to collectively mourn the Federal military dead and thus begin to collectively work to reduce such loss of life…

    Deaths like X’s [fill-in-the-blank for past and future deaths] are a product our local culture’s “individualization” of death(*) – seeing each death of a transportation customer as a separate and infanticimal outcome – that trivializes such versus seeing them as a part of a larger totality of death that our transportation system creates each year for all its customers.

    This change in the public’s attitude towards traffic can be done…as the Dutch did when protesting the death of child traffic victims in the 1970s Amsterdam and thus was one of the major planks for their changes in street design, enforcement, assigning of fault in crashes, etc. all leading to a more successful foundation for Vision Zero. https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/amsterdam-children-fighting-cars-in-1972/

    (*) OPB / PBS had an excellent show that discussed this topic…”Death and The Civil War” by Drew Gilpin Faust

    https://shop.pbs.org/american-experience-death-and-the-civil-war-dvd/product/DECW601
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17957712

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  • Trek Top Fuel 9.9 October 31, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    ***comment deleted***

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    • John Lascurettes November 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      You’ve not comprehended anything about this case if you’re putting this 100% on the cyclist.

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      • Dan A November 3, 2017 at 2:12 pm

        I’m not sure we should be taking Trek Top Fuel 9.9 seriously, since he can’t commit to a single user name for BP. I believe this is the same user that pops out of his troll hole every so often with a different bike name as his handle.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 3, 2017 at 2:24 pm

          yes I am in the process of deleting all his comments because he often just wants to provoke, he is often not on the topic, and he has used several different usernames.

          he is now blacklisted and none of his comments will show up…. unless he starts using a different tone and approach.

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          • Dan A November 3, 2017 at 2:40 pm

            Thanks JM. Funny, I was trying to find one of his previous comments, which I think he posted under Specialized something or other.

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  • BB November 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Sounds like they need a vulnerable user law like NYC’s right of way law. It removes alot of this bullshit.

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