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Truck operator in Water Avenue fatality cited for dangerous turn, failure to signal

Posted by on November 14th, 2017 at 11:26 am

The man driving the garbage truck that was involved in the collision that killed Tamar Monhait on August 21st has been issued two traffic citations.

The Portland Police Bureau has cited Paul Thompson for a Dangerous Left Turn and Failure to Signal a Turn. The former is a Class C traffic violation that comes with a presumptive fine of $260 and the latter is a Class D violation that has a presumptive fine of $110. If Thompson challenges the citations in court the fines could be dropped to $130 and $60 respectively.

After a fatal collision, it’s standard procedure for the PPB to defer any citation decisions until after the District Attorney completes their investigation. On October 26th the Multnomah County DA declined to pursue criminal charges against Thompson. The DA found no evidence that Thompson engaged in the behaviors required to reach the legal threshold to prove a criminal recklessness or negligence.

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Monhait was operating her bicycle at a safe speed within the bike lane prior to the collision. However, investigators determined she was under the influence of intoxicants, was not wearing reflective or high contrast clothing, and did not have a legally required front light on her bicycle. Those factors and others were noted in a memo issued by the DA that explains why police chose to not pursue elevated charges against Thompson.

Even though Thompson was operating a large truck in the central city and made a dangerous turn across a bike lane without using his signal, the PPB felt his actions did not even warrant a (non-criminal) Careless driving charge. As defined in ORS 811.135, someone is guilty of careless driving if they drive, “in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.”

I asked the lead DA on this case, Nicole Jergovic, why the police didn’t cite for careless driving (and the additional consequence of causing death to a vulnerable roadway user). Jergovic said the rationale for a finding of careless is similar to what was laid out in the DA’s memo. “We’re looking at the same fact base that applies to the criminal case,” she said. After all is said and done, in the eyes of the DA and the police, the only things Thompson did wrong were to not use his turn signal and not yield the right of way.

Monhait’s family is seeking $24 million in a lawsuit against the trucking company who Thompson was driving for. Lawyers for the trucking company, Republic Services Alliance Group/McInnis Waste Systems, Inc., blame Monhait for own death.

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

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68 Comments
  • Jonathan Radmacher November 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

    The description of the defense is a little sensationalistic. In nearly every negligence case the defendant asserts a defense of comparative fault, which creates the issue of whether the injured or deceased person did anything that contributed to the accident. Any percentage fault attributable to the plaintiff will only reduce the damages awarded, unless that fault is found by the jury to be greater than 50%, in which case the defendant prevails.

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  • Paul Atkinson November 14, 2017 at 11:36 am

    “All the driver did was to break these two small rules. That it killed someone does not enter into it from a legal standpoint, so it’s a small citation and you’re on your way.”

    If the DA is correct, and that’s the accepted interpretation of Oregon law, then we need a new law. If not, we need a new DA.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy November 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Or you can start killing drivers and risk only a small fine 🙂

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    • Tom Hardy November 14, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Pe3rsonally I can say that with all of the motorist created maiming and deaths of VULNERABLE USERS! in the last few years The DA definitely needs to be replaced. I is rather difficult for a motorist to even be ticketed let alone fined in greater Portland. If there is a gunshot fired there are 15 to 20 police cars on the way. There are policemen stumbling all over each other to try to find spent bullets or casings for hours. If a policeman runs into someone while headed for coffee with no lights or siren. Citations are issued to any civilian present charged for the damages. If a vulnerable user is injured for any reason, the vulnerable user will be charged for the accident or blamed for the injuries sustained.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    This is a very troubling case for me.

    Here’s what I’m still asking the DA about:

    If Thompson is guilty of a “Dangerous left turn” and failing to use his signal… Why doesn’t that rise to the “careless” level which is defined as driving, “in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.”?

    Put another way, isn’t driving a garbage truck in the central city and making a dangerous left turn without signaling, driving in a way that endangers people?

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    • Dan A November 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Indeed. It doesn’t require “criminal negligence” to be “careless”.

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    • BradWagon November 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      In the same way passing a cyclist that results in injury is prima facie evidence of an unsafe pass so too should a dangerous maneuver that results in injury be considered prima facie evidence of a careless / negligent act.

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    • Todd Boulanger November 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      The other “missed” opportunity for the DA was to better differentiate the levels of compliance with basic traffic laws that a professional / commercial operator (with CDL) would be expected to adhere to versus a non professional driver (aka Joe 6-pack) or even a cyclist operating a non-motorized vehicle that does not require an operator’s permit or training per state law…this may have helped the DA “feel” more confident that this action rose to “criminal negligence”. I guess the community will have to wait for the next commercial truck caused vulnerable roadway user fatality …

      [Sounds like an internal “training opportunity”, per Bjorn’s comments on the intent of the law’s change and intended legal outcome.]

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    • wsbob November 14, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      “…Jergovic said the rationale for a finding of careless is similar to what was laid out in the DA’s memo. “We’re looking at the same fact base that applies to the criminal case,” she said. After all is said and done, in the eyes of the DA and the police, the only things Thompson did wrong were to not use his turn signal and not yield the right of way. …” bikeportland

      I think the DA is saying that careless driving without any particular intention to be driving carelessly, or recklessly driving, by Oregon law, does not warrant a citation by 811.135 Careless Driving. There’s some distinction between intentional and unintentional careless driving that the DA might have elaborated on some, to help people understand what the law is able to provide for.

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      • Dan A November 14, 2017 at 11:28 pm

        There’s no legaldifference between intentional and unintentional careless driving, just as there’s no legal difference between intentional and unintentional speeding.

        https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.135

        A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

        The offense described in this section, careless driving, applies on any premises open to the public and is a Class B traffic violation unless commission of the offense contributes to an accident. If commission of the offense contributes to an accident, the offense is a Class A traffic violation.

        In addition to any other penalty imposed for an offense committed under this section, if the court determines that the commission of the offense described in this section contributed to the serious physical injury or death of a vulnerable user of a public way, the court shall….[etc]

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    • Steve Scarich November 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

      How can you consciously endanger people who you can’t see and don’t know are there?

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 15, 2017 at 9:17 am

        You can’t of course. And that’s what the DA has historically decided.. as with the deaths of Kathryn Rickson (SW 3rd/Madison), Brett Jarolimek (N Greeley/Interstate), Tracey Sparling (W Burnside/14th), and others. See a post on BP titled, “When failure to yield, isn’t.”

        I don’t have to answer your question in order to believe the system is broken. That is, one common theme in these four deaths is that the person who failed to yield was operating a vehicle that — in my opinion — is deadly by design and carries an inherent risk to others, and therefore an inherent culpability, in some driving contexts. That’s what upsets me: That we have circumstances (“sun in my eyes” “I couldn’t see them”, and so on) where vehicle operators are not required to assume ANY responsibility for the safe operation of their vehicles, simply because the vehicles they choose to use are more dangerous than the vehicles other people choose to use. That is not fair, it’s not humane, and it’s not in keeping with a commitment to Vision Zero.

        What’s the solution?

        We need more regulation of these deadly vehicles. We need some legal mechanism to dole out a consequence when a person is hurt/killed. We need to change this culture of “oops” innocence.

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      • Dan A November 15, 2017 at 9:36 am

        Easy — consciously choose to not use your turn signals, drive too fast for conditions, play with your phone, etc. You don’t have to know people are out there to make a conscious choice in your vehicle that will endanger any people that may be out there. Turn signals and speed limits aren’t just to protect the people you know are there — they are also for the people you can’t see or might not be aware of.

        If you walked into a mall and closed your eyes and started firing off a gun, you would also be consciously endangering people who might be there.

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        • q November 15, 2017 at 12:10 pm

          Yes, you took the words right out of my mouth.

          Turning without signaling is in a sense similar to drunk driving. Drunk driving has huge penalties, even if you obey every other law. And millions of miles have been driven without incident by drunk drivers. People (and the law) know that once you make the decision to get behind the wheel when drunk, there’s a good chance you won’t create any problems for anyone. On the other hand, it increases the potential for you to harm others, and that’s why the penalty is high.

          Once you start driving when drunk, you no longer have full control of what will happen next. Maybe nothing, or maybe it will be your bad luck that someone walks in front of you that you could easily have reacted to when sober, but being drunk slows your reflexes enough that you hit and kill them.

          Turning without signaling is similar, especially at night. Once you make the decision to turn without signaling, fate steps in. You can’t always see everyone in your path (as this case proves). You’ve taken away the ability of others to protect themselves from you. That’s why you signal–so others have a chance to react before you turn.

          With drunk driving, you certainly are consciously endangering people who you can’t see and don’t know are there, as soon as you start your engine. Turning without a signal is similar.

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        • Steve Scarich November 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm

          But, the reality is that even if he had signaled, and not cut the corner (which is pretty typical at that time of night), the result would have been the same. He would not have turned at all if he had seen her. I doubt he is some kind of heartless person, who just thought, ‘well here’s a bicyclist that I can kill’. The same thing result would have occurred to any of those commenting, including me, in those circumstances. We all want to punish a guy who did nothing particularly out of the ordinary that contributed to this tragedy. What we should learn from this as cyclists, is to take every logical step in making ourselves safe. Anytime you mix multi-ton vehicles with 25 lb bikes and their riders, you are creating a dangerous dynamic. That is a no-brainer. What is a brainer is using our brains to maximize our chances of survival. I would have a totally different view of this situation if he had done something outrageous (like not yielding to someone that he saw or driving 25 mph over the speed limit), but, in this case, he did not.

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          • q November 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

            How can you know that the results would have been the same? How do you know she wouldn’t have changed her speed or course if she’d seen a signal? How do you know that even if he hadn’t signaled, but had continued forward to the location he should have been in before turning, that she wouldn’t have prepared for the possibility that he’d turn?

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            • Matt S. November 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm

              With all the variables in play—for both parties—it’s difficult to think the “what if” scenarios. Tweak any of them on both sides and this tragedy may have never happened.

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          • q November 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm

            Also, I agree he wouldn’t have turned if he’d seen her. But one reason for requiring signaling is so other people can prepare for your turning. It’s possible (maybe likely) that if he’d signaled, then turned, he still never would have seen her, but she would be alive because she would have slowed down to avoid being in his path.

            Have any of us ever turned, while signaling or not, and had people slow down or take other action to avoid being hit, and we never saw them? Have you ever been honked at by a car you didn’t see when you started your turn? Then the answer is probably yes. And there could be other times you’ve turned, and people you never saw avoided being hit by you, but since you never saw them you never knew it even happened.

            I agree the driver didn’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary, but that’s the problem.

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          • Dan A November 15, 2017 at 4:46 pm

            “But, the reality is that even if he had signaled, and not cut the corner (which is pretty typical at that time of night), the result would have been the same.”

            You don’t know that, not at all.

            “I doubt he is some kind of heartless person, who just thought, ‘well here’s a bicyclist that I can kill’.”

            Where, in ANY of this, is someone saying that? He should have been cited for CARELESS DRIVING, not heartless driving.

            “The same thing result would have occurred to any of those commenting, including me, in those circumstances.”

            Which result? The turning into someone while not signaling, or the being hit by a driver who didn’t signal?

            “We all want to punish a guy who did nothing particularly out of the ordinary that contributed to this tragedy.”

            Speeding is not out of the ordinary, but is still a ticketable offense.

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      • wsbob November 15, 2017 at 10:50 am

        Steve, and Maus…look at Maus’s statement here:

        “…That is, one common theme in these four deaths is that the person who failed to yield was operating a vehicle that — in my opinion — is deadly by design and carries an inherent risk to others, and therefore an inherent culpability, in some driving contexts. …” maus

        Saying “…deadly by design…”? Where does a conclusion like that about a garbage truck, come from? The truck involved in this collision was not designed to be deadly, and isn’t deadly, unless someone fails to do their job in safely using the road. Same applies to bikes used on the road.

        It’s just as essential that people riding bikes on the road recognize they’re vulnerable road users, and equip themselves accordingly for visibility at least by the requirements of the law… as it is for people driving motor vehicles to recognize that people riding bikes are vulnerable road users, and to drive their vehicles accordingly, in ways that will allow vulnerable road user to safely travel the road.

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        • Paul Atkinson November 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

          “…equip themselves accordingly for visibility at least by the requirements of the law…”

          I think we can see from so many times in recent history that this is a red herring. Vulnerable road users who are fully compliant with all applicable laws, including those in high-viz, are frequently killed by people in cars who then face no significant charges from police.

          The situation remains, despite attempts to remedy the laws, that the de facto rules permit killing with a motor vehicle so long as the driver:
          1) Is committing only common traffic infractions (e.g., not drunk, not doing donuts)
          2) Remains on the scene
          3) Says the magic phrase, “I didn’t see them.”
          The interpretation of the DA is then that because the driver didn’t *deliberately see and hit the victim,* there’s no crime. Oops! Here’s your citation, back on the road with you ya scamp.

          Which is frustrating as hell because that’s not how people *think* the law works, nor how I believe it was *intended* to work, but so long as it *does* work that way people can do these dangerous things knowing that they’re not at any real risk.

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          • Steve Scarich November 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm

            I agree with you. If a motorist hits an obviously visible, law-abiding cyclist, I say, throw the book at him. I was hit last year by a guy doing an outrageous attempt at illegal passing. He was ticketed for ‘failure to yield’. I told the officer exactly what I thought of his citation.

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  • Bjorn November 14, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    As a member of the small group who wrote the VRU law I can say with absolute certainty that this is precisely the type of case we were trying to address, very frustrating to see an officer who is aware of the statute not applying it in this case. If it had been applied the driver could have contested it in court, as it is now he doesn’t even have to show up and can just mail a check.

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  • Mike Sanders November 14, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Accusing her of vehicular suicide makes no sense. This should at least be manslaughter! The fact that the driver esentially gets a slap on the wrist and gets to walk away is illogical. In other words, it’s not the driver’s fault she died, it’s hers. If this is how the law is being interpreted, then we need to change the law.

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  • Dan A November 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Don’t signal and run somebody over in your 50,000lb truck? $110. Yep.

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  • John Lascurettes November 14, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    OMG. The statement by the garbage company:

    And second, the garbage truck company has filed its reply to the suit, 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.”

    Okay, we know that she didn’t have a light and was intoxicated. But she was otherwise in her lane and operating normally. There is no liability for not having worn “bright clothing”. The garbage company cannot make definitive declarations that:
    – A helmet would have made a lick of difference
    – She was “riding too fast” (seriously, what the heck?)
    – She lacked effective brakes
    These are all absurd statements. That the driver broke the law multiple ways in a large, dangerous vehicle is why she would have had to suddenly brake without warning. And to say she was riding too fast is patently absurd. Are they saying she was riding faster than 25 mph?

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    • John Lascurettes November 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Oh, and that she “failed to yield the right of way” — I didn’t even catch that on the first read through. What planet to these lawyers live on?

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      • Middle of the Road Guy November 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        The ones they are paid to live on.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      unfortunately john, crazy statements like this by defense attorneys are not uncommon. In the Mitch York case, the defense attorney had the audacity to – in front of Mitch’s grieving family – say that Mitch was in the wrong place in the roadway prior to the collision and that if he’d been in the right place he would have had time to avoid the reckless driving loser who ran into him. I gasped in the courtroom purposefully so the lawyer could hear me.

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    • shirtsoff November 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      Statements about “riding too fast” continue to confound rationale sense. What is the posted speed limit? Republic Services Alliance Group is asserting that Monhait was riding in excess of the posted speed. I am calling bull. Until I see a reading that Monhait was traveling at 26 Miles Per Hour and in excess of the posted speed limit this is a boldfaced lie to distort what happened.

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      • John Lascurettes November 14, 2017 at 4:33 pm

        I on very rare occasion can actually speed on my bike. I can’t sustain it. It’s pretty absurd to accuse a cyclist of speeding when there isn’t a downhill. In that video, she was riding fairly upright and had a low cadence. She couldn’t have been speeding.

        In the one and only car on bike accident I had 10 years ago, where a guy in a car ran a red (made a right on a red without stopping) I had three witnesses on the sidewalk that corroborated my story that he ran it, but he had one guy (in a car half a block back) that said I was speeding. The insurance company believed him. They literally said, “he’s a third party, why would have a reason to lie?”

        Well, for one thing, this was on flat ground downtown, I had just come off a red light two blocks before that. I was on a 26″ wheel POS old mountain bike. I couldn’t possibly have been doing over even 20 MPH. That was pretty much at the beginning of my bike commuting and I can guarantee you I know today what 20+ MPH feels like — I was doing maybe 15 MPH at best. Why would the guy lie? Because he thought I was “speeding” because I passed “illegally” on the right (no, it’s legal dude) while he was stuck in traffic several blocks back. I explained all that to the insurance agent and they still found me “20% at fault” because I was allegedly speeding.

        The myopic and delusional view from behind the windshield is hard to overcome.

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    • encephalopath November 14, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Depending on where this company is located (the internets tell me that it’s a company registered in Connecticut) the lawyers who wrote that statement may not know anything about Oregon law.

      They try that “no helmet” defense in civil court in Oregon and the judge will smack them upside the head.

      ORS 814.489
      Use of evidence of lack of protective headgear on bicyclist

      Evidence of violation of ORS 814.485 (Failure to wear protective headgear) or 814.486 (Endangering bicycle operator or passenger) and evidence of lack of protective headgear shall not be admissible, applicable or effective to reduce the amount of damages or to constitute a defense to an action for damages brought by or on behalf of an injured bicyclist or bicycle passenger or the survivors of a deceased bicyclist or passenger if the bicyclist or passenger was injured or killed as a result in whole or in part of the fault of another. [1993 c.408 §8]

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    • Spiffy November 14, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      “we know that she didn’t have a light and was intoxicated”

      to be clear, all we know is that they found no evidence of a light, and that there was a certain amount of alcohol in their blood…

      we don’t know if there was a light that didn’t show up in the video and got obliterated or knocked down a sewer during the crash…

      we don’t know if they were capable of handling a large amount of liquor…

      we don’t have video of the front of the bike to prove if there was a light or not, and we don’t have a field sobriety test to check their level of impairment…

      there’s no real evidence that they contributed to their own death in any way…

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  • Ryan Janssen November 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I understand that the company is trying ti limit liability, but these statements are just gross. Does anyone know if there’s a way I can request that Republic Services Alliance Group is never responsible for picking up my garbage?

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  • rsk November 14, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    This is insane.
    Oregon law doesn’t require bright/reflective clothing or use of a helmet.
    And how can they even prove the brakes/too fast thing? The only thing they have her on is a light, but that’s the death penalty?
    This is depressing. I fear victim blaming is the new normal.
    And that D.A. is not good at his job.
    I’ve gotten bigger fines for rolling a stop sign.

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  • Phil Richman November 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Sickening

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  • Will November 14, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    PBOT engineers have blood on their hands. Their utter refusal & repeated failure to build safer, protected lanes leads to preventable deaths like this one. Protected lanes have been shown to reduce speeding & collisions. PBOT knows this and still chooses the more lethal option. They should be ashamed of themselves and the senseless violence they allow on our streets.

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    • Buzz November 14, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      I call BS on this, it was an intersection collision, what could/would a protected bike lane have done to prevent it?

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  • Buzz November 14, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    The fact that Tamar was ‘under the influence of intoxicants’ should have absolutely no bearing on the DA’s decision whether to prosecute the truck driver or not; that’s just a red herring, like whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not.

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    • q November 14, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      I read a case (which I’m recounting by memory from years ago) by Gerry Spence, the famous trial lawyer. He represented the family of the town drunk, who was run over and killed in a crosswalk. People in the town, and the driver, claimed, “Well he’s the town drunk and he was found to have been very drunk when he was struck, so it’s his own fault”.

      Spence won by reminding everyone that the “town drunk” is exactly why we have laws. Crosswalks aren’t there to protect only the young and strong. They’re there for everyone. This guy was VERY drunk, nevertheless he remembered that to cross the street, he needed to get into that crosswalk, which he did. Spence won, and his argument was “Yes, he was drunk. So what?”

      It’s not exactly the same situation, and I’m not saying the victim was very drunk or that that should be a focus. I’m just saying if she was, it’s nothing that should take focus off the failings of the driver.

      Once you decide to turn without signaling, or turn too soon, as he apparently did, then you’re opening yourself up to the possibility that someone might be there who would have avoided you if you’d signaled or turned where you should have. And if it happens to be someone who’s not able to dodge you due to being not young, not strong, not agile, not fully sober, or whatever, well then that’s your bad luck. It doesn’t make you less blameless.

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      • Todd Boulanger November 14, 2017 at 4:31 pm

        Perhaps there is more similarity in the example you gave…this roadway has marked bike lanes and signage that remind drivers that there are cyclists on the roadway even if they do not “see them”…thus they should expect that my be there and to use one’s turn signals and make planned turns at a speed that an operator can stop quickly a [80,000 GVW?] truck…

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    • JeffS November 14, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      I agree about the helmet, not so sure about the intoxication. Either way, the lack of a light was all it took for me.

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      • John Lascurettes November 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        “All it took” for you to what? To absolve the professional driver of a multi-ton truck who cut the corner and didn’t give any turn indication while trying “beat a train” of any wrongdoing?

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      • dwk November 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm

        So one night a person rode a bike home without a light and was run over and that is “all it took” for you?
        So you NEVER rode a bicycle after dark without a light?
        And if you did you deserved to get run over by an illegal turn?
        Answer that yes……

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        • Chris I November 15, 2017 at 10:38 am

          No one deserves to get run over. If you get run over and you aren’t operating your vehicle legally, don’t expect them to string up the driver. You wouldn’t be able to find a jury in the world that would convict this guy of vehicular manslaughter.

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          • Dan A November 15, 2017 at 11:03 am

            “If you get run over and you aren’t operating your vehicle legally, don’t expect them to string up the driver.”

            Exactly the problem with the mandatory sidepath law, or the ‘looking at phone while walking’ laws. These are bailout laws for drivers, that absolve them of responsibility for failing to follow driving laws that already exist and are not being enforced.

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          • dwk November 15, 2017 at 11:07 am

            Again you are protecting this driver for some reason…
            And you could certainly find a jury that would convict, the DA just doesn’t want to expend the effort because she was “just a drunk cyclist that doesn’t matter”.

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            • Matt S. November 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm

              Maybe it wasn’t the drivers fault, maybe it wasn’t anyones fault. Maybe this was just a serious of unfortunate events intersecting at the wrong moment in time: garbage truck driver’s last second decision to make a turn without signaling; the bicyclists decision to take Water Ave home.

              It’s sad to see the commentary on this forum. From what I observe, justice wont come until the driver of the dump truck has his life ruined more than it already has been through criminal proceedings.

              My heart goes out to Monhait’s family and also the driver of the truck. Everyone in this picture is suffering. No money can bring Monhait back, but maybe it can ease the pain by setting her family up with financial security while she is gone. As far the the driver of the truck, he’s going to have to live with Monhait’s death for the rest of his life—seems terribly sad to me.

              I understand advocates’ concerns of people driving unsafely in Portland, the traffic congestion, the need for safe bicycle infrastructure, the law to protect vulnerable road users, and the law to hold drivers accountable. But maybe no one is at fault here.

              For what it’s worth, my grandfather was killed instantly by a drunk driver in 1971. He was in the backseat of a taxi cab when someone in opposite traffic drifted over and hit them head on. His death created an upheaval in my family felt for five decades to this day. The person was charged criminally and I believe served jail time. My family decided not to sue. Also, my grandfather was not wearing his seatbelt. Possibly he would have lived if he had been, but nonetheless, we don’t blame him for not wearing it and we have come to peace with the drunk driver’s decision to drink and drive that night…

              Monhait’s death calls for compassion on every front.

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              • Dan A November 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm

                “…justice wont come until the driver of the dump truck has his life ruined more than it already has been through criminal proceedings”

                Don’t get lost in the weeds. The criminal charges have already sailed. The question raised in this post is ‘why doesn’t this even rise to the level of “careless driving”?’

                In my mind, that’s what this law is for. If you have a CDL and can whip around in the dark in your 50,000lb truck without signaling and kill somebody and it doesn’t even rise to the level of careless driving, then that law is utterly useless. Again, that is defined as “in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.”

                If you don’t think he should get a careless driving citation, perhaps you could explain why not?

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              • dwk November 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm

                I never said the driver should do jail time…
                He should lose his license forever, find another job and his company needs to pay compensation.
                I don’t want him driving ever again, seems the least that should be done.
                A traffic ticket does not fit the circumstances.

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      • Spiffy November 14, 2017 at 6:36 pm

        there’s no proof that there was a lack of front light… there’s simply a lack of proof that there WAS a front light… maybe the video didn’t show it and it was pulverized in the crash and lost down the sewer drain…

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  • Scott Kocher November 14, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Our DA is Rod Underhill. He is a cyclist. He is an elected official. Each day he goes to work in the service of you and me. He has fought in Salem and won stronger laws to protect vulnerable road users. And there is a lot more to do. It is appropriate to ask him tough questions. It is appropriate to ask him what the constraints are on pursuing criminal charges (as opposed to civil liability) in a case like this. It is appropriate to ask him what the aggressive but politically viable next steps are to strengthen criminal laws to support safe streets. He needs to hear that people care, and he needs to see verdicts (criminal and civil) to show that the needle is moving, and jurors are willing to hold people to a level of responsibility that is proportional to the harm they can cause when they drive.

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  • soren November 14, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    To put this in perspective, I was fined $260 for cycling past stationary motor vehicles at ~10 mph downtown.

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    • John Lascurettes November 14, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Wait, what? What was the infraction?

      The law that allows a driver to share the lane with you and pass you on the left is the same law that allows you to pass the driver on the right when they’re stuck in traffic.

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      • soren November 14, 2017 at 8:59 pm

        i passed on the left because in order to avoid the door zone and was cited by officer bill balzer (of critical mass fame) for “unsafe” passing on the left.

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        • Dan A November 14, 2017 at 11:33 pm

          You should have done it from behind a windshield and claimed it was unintentional.

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  • Al November 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Failing to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn results in a common accident… in daylight… with other cars. This case could be compared to several others. In fact, I would be surprised to find out that there have not been any accidents where a vehicle turning left cut off a motorcycle causing an accident in this state recently. What happened to those drivers? They would not have had “unseen”, “intoxicated” and “without helmet” as excuses and yet they turned and caused the accident anyway. Were reckless charges pursued then? Why or why not? Did those drivers use “poor judgement of oncoming speed” as legal defenses then? What legal actions were taken by the other drivers, motorcyclists or their families as a result? It would be interesting to find out whether this case is at least being treated like other similar cases.

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    • Dan A November 14, 2017 at 11:35 pm

      I’m not sure I agree with the use of the word ‘accident’ in those cases. Certainly not ‘common accident’, which all but pretends nothing happened.

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      • Al November 15, 2017 at 8:36 am

        The difference between an accident and not an accident is intent. It’s only not an accident if someone intended for the collision to occur. I don’t believe that most of the collisions on our roads today are intentional. I don’t believe Monhait’s death was intentional, so, yes, the word accident applies. That doesn’t absolve the truck driver. Drivers are still cited for failure to do this and that which faults them for the accident but it’s another thing entirely to say that the truck driver intended to kill Monhait. I don’t believe that and if there was a hint of this then the DA would certainly have gone after the truck driver with criminal charges.

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        • Chris I November 15, 2017 at 10:40 am

          So you would agree that someone can be prosecuted for criminal negligence, even if they accidentally hit someone? I’m okay with the use of the term “accident”, provided that doesn’t end the conversation about criminality.

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    • Dan A November 15, 2017 at 11:07 am

      Also, there is a legal difference between “reckless” and “careless”. The problem in this case is that the driver was not given a citation for careless driving, which seems like a no-brainer to me.

      A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or premises open to the public in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

      A person commits the offense of reckless driving if the person recklessly drives a vehicle upon a highway or premises open to the public in a manner that endangers the safety of persons or property. “Recklessly,” means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards 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 disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

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  • Keith Mccall November 14, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    It doesn’t require “criminal negligence” to be “careless” ,
    sickening!

    Keith / amansworld.top

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  • Maria November 15, 2017 at 9:49 am

    I am angry and distressed by the downward spiral of our society and the hegemony of motor vehicles. Sickening.

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    • bendite November 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

      I wouldn’t say it’s downward. It’s more status quo. “I didn’t see him/her” has been a free pass since card have been on the road.

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  • bendite November 15, 2017 at 11:28 am

    *cars

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  • Joe November 16, 2017 at 11:06 am

    just the other day riding down Jenkins in Beaverton trash truck oncoming tried to left hook me :/
    I was like really im going 19mph and the look in his eyes had no cares about me. 🙁

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