Holiday Sale at Western Bikeworks

Woman killed in Beaverton bike lane last week lost her brother to Portland hit-and-run last year

Posted by on December 7th, 2017 at 10:20 am

Stanley and Helen Grochowski.
(Photo Left: Portland Police Bureau/Photo right: Susan Putnam-Jensen)

When I first heard about the fatal collision in Beaverton near Southridge High School last week I was sad. But that was before I made a heartbreaking realization.

These siblings were both killed by people driving cars within 15 months of each other while using our streets under their own power.

On the evening of November 30th a teenager driving an SUV hit a 63-year-old woman who police say was walking her bike in a bike lane on SW 125th Avenue when she was hit.

After being sad at that news, my next feeling was outrage that the police (and the media who so often parrot their statements as fact) were so quick to absolve the driver. “There was nothing he could do to avoid striking her,” was the statement made at the scene and the soundbite that made the news.

Without further reporting and investigation it’s hard to know exactly what happened (Did she dismount to avoid leaves or debris in the bike lane? How fast was the teenager driving? How did the teenager’s car have such a huge dent in it if he was going a safe speed for those conditions?); but I don’t think it’s fair or professional when police make definitive statements with such haste.

Fortunately KOIN did a follow-up story with comments from a good friend of the victim so we could learn more about her life.

But there was something else that stuck with me about this collision. The name of woman who died is Helen Grochowski. That last name that sounded familiar. A few days passed and I kept reading coverage of the crash while my hunch about her name wouldn’t leave my head. Yesterday I finally thought more deeply about it occurred to me: I know that name from another fatal collision that happened about one mile from my house in August 2016. I looked up my story and sure enough, the names matched.

65-year-old Stanley Grochowski was hit and killed by a person driving a car as he walked in a marked crosswalk across North Greeley Avenue at Bryant Street. The driver sped away and left him there to die. Neighbors posted a flyer on a nearby telephone pole and painted a ghostly stencil to memorialize him. We learned from reports that he was houseless at the time he was hit. We later learned drug abuse had contributed to his hard times. His nephew told KPTV news that Stanley, “Had a rough life,” but that “he was equal to everyone else and didn’t deserve to be left on the street.”

With the same last name and similar ages I had find out if there was some relation. I connected with a friend of Helen Grochowski’s via Facebook. This friend confirmed it: Helen and Stanley were brother and sister. Now when I look at their photos side-by-side the resemblance is unmistakable.

These siblings were both killed by people driving cars within 15 months of each other while using our streets under their own power.

Helen rode her bike everywhere, her friend told me. She used it because she couldn’t afford car insurance. Like Stanley, she was just trying survive. Neither of them deserved to die.

Friends and family of Helen Grochowskie will gather for a funeral on Saturday.

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

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105 Comments
  • rick December 7, 2017 at 10:23 am

    So horrible. Heartbreaking.

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  • BradWagon December 7, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Still can’t believe the mindset of “oh well, nothing he could do”. I ride that section of road every day on my way home and if you can’t see someone walking in the bikelane or attempting to cross the street you need to not be driving, not even considering it is absurd he was already moving that fast after pulling out of the parking lot just 400 ft prior to hitting her.

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    • Smarty Pants December 8, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      He had traveled 400 feet? I got the impression from the description of the accident that he was essentially coming from a driveway onto the street. KXL article said: “….student from the International School of Beaverton who was leaving the school’s parking lot when he struck the bicyclist…” If he had traveled 400 feet he was no longer “leaving the parking lot” but was in fact driving down the street. Sounds like she was repeatedly in the car lane, then the bike lane, then the car lane – my guess is to avoid leaves or other debris. If he saw her he should have slowed way down until he passed if she was going in/out of view. Folks that young probably don’t really know the danger.

      Unfortunately, few details on whether she was using lights, etc, but it did look rainy and darkish in the few photos provided.

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      • BradWagon December 9, 2017 at 1:38 pm

        Yeah I’m not sure why they included that he was leaving the parking lot. A better wording would have been “had just left the parking lot” or something like that. The pictures and now small memorial make it pretty obvious where it happened.

        As for her actions I imagine unfortunately that she was likely under some type of drink/drug influence but that doesn’t excuse someone driving from seeing that hazard and negotiating around it. Having ridden that bike lane about 45 minutes prior to the accident I don’t recall enough large debris that would cause that amount of necessary leaving the bike lane. Usually only the typical leaves at storm drains and a larger branch or two every few hundred feet.

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  • bikeninja December 7, 2017 at 10:43 am

    For hundreds of thousands of years humans have walked the earth without having to fear a quick and unexpected death from nowhere ( except an occasional Tiger or Bear). I am not sure that when autos first appeared people knew what was coming, that most of the land we humans have called home for millenia would be colonized by huge, speeding metal boxes. Now we arrived at the point where no-one is safe from instant death unless they are deep in the forest or indoors. They advise us to be vigilant, wear bright colors, carry a light like each time we leave home as if we are going to war, and only skill and luck we keep us from an untimely demise at the hands of the motorized wraiths that stalk us in the night, or day. I wish we could go back in time at vote on this takeover of the planet. I think the price we paid was too high for few decades of convenience, comfort and imagined freedom.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy December 7, 2017 at 11:33 am

      “walked the Earth”.

      Take that one step further – with the way we do land use planning here in the US, we have managed to remove the need to walk at all. Heck – we have freaking hoverboards now. It’s human nature (and good from an evolutionary perspective) to minimize effort and conserve personal energy. It’s why I’ll bike 10 miles but not walk 10 miles. We are pretty good when it comes to short term planning (for convenience and avoidance of effort) but not so good as a species when it comes to longer term impacts of our actions. This comes across in our Urban planning, also. Not only are people getting hit by cars when they do walk, we are also suffering from all manner of ailments from NOT walking – obesity in particular. So there are more “wraiths” than just the motorized kind.

      It’s true that our planning is designed around the automobile, but the automobile is also a symptom of our planning (designed for “efficiency”). The Romans designed roads and chariots became the fastest way to get around. It’s just human nature to try to travel faster and carry things and an inevitability that things would become even more mechanized.

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    • chezztone December 7, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      I agree wholeheartedly that the recent shift from walking to cars is destructive to mind, body and planet. But I think the shift is not about convenience or human nature. It’s about profits for the car and oil companies.

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      • Matt S. December 7, 2017 at 7:02 pm

        More times than not, I prefer to get somewhere in eight hours versus eight days. Humans walked, rode horses, then bikes and now prefer cars. Soccer dad drones are next. Corporations profit off of people wanting convenience.

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        • Smarty Pants December 8, 2017 at 9:17 pm

          If you walked 30 miles/day, in 8 days you’d travel 240 miles. A 3 hour drive at freeway speeds in Utah and Idaho. Yup, I agree, 3 hours is way better than 8 days. BUT, you can drive to awesome places in 1 or 2 days (and see nice scenery on the way), and then get out your backpack and walk for 1 or 2 weeks, and that’s really nice. And, as we’ve seen in some of JMs recent posts, you can drive and then bike for a few days also.

          We like cars. They’re nice machines, but everyone needs to work really hard to drive them safely – same with biking or walking or scuba diving. Safety is important.

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          • soren December 10, 2017 at 5:35 pm

            “We like cars. They’re nice machines”

            Speak for yourself.

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  • Joe December 7, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Beaverton is becoming very interesting place to ride with all the traffic NOW, most follow too close and don’t understand bike lane law or don’t care.. R.I.P 🙁 be aleart if you ride in Beaverton.

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  • Middle of the Road Guy December 7, 2017 at 11:02 am

    poor family.

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  • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 11:16 am

    There are a number of things I find curious about the description.

    For starters, the news report says, “according to witnesses, she was going between the bike path and the roadway as she walked.” What exactly does that mean?

    SUV appears to have damage on the left side but positioning of the vehicle in the pic given that they’d just come out of parking lot indicates they turned right.

    Given that the driver couldn’t have even gone one block, how could have he had no way to stop or see the victim?

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    • bikeninja December 7, 2017 at 11:38 am

      The part of the news story that gets me is,

      “The driver saw her walking her bike and then she was in front of his car, and there was nothing he could do to avoid striking her.”

      What? he saw her walking her bike while he was driving and then Scotty up in the starship Enterprise beamed her instantly in front of his car. I have heard this type of description one too many times in news stories about auto mayhem. It is right up there with the generic ” then they lost control of their car” excuse.

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    • Dan A December 7, 2017 at 11:56 am

      “Given that the driver couldn’t have even gone one block, how could have he had no way to stop or see the victim?”

      Nevermind that, we’ve got our statement that exonerates the driver….off to the presses!!

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    • BradWagon December 7, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Driver turned left out of unsignaled driveway and collision happened roughly 400ft later just before a signaled intersection.

      Yes the description goes through some pretty elaborate linguistic gymnastics to make it sounds like the situation was “weird” or unpredictable instead of just stating it how it was, she was walking in the bike lane, maybe starting to cross the street and he hit her.

      I asked about clarification regarding what bike path they meant but obviously heard nothing.

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  • Dan A December 7, 2017 at 11:21 am

    “Witnesses say there was no way for the student to avoid hitting the woman.”

    You could say the same thing about every crash where the driver fails to watch out for and anticipate the movement of humans.

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    • Pete December 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      And witnesses would know… they witnessed it!!

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  • Dave December 7, 2017 at 11:40 am

    High school student? Male? My only question is iPhone, Samsung, or Motorola. It’s reasonable to assume he was on the phone, guilt should be assumed and innocence made to be proven in this case.

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    • BradWagon December 7, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Reports did mention there was no recent texts or calls but not sure how well they could time stamp other app use. Having been a male high school driver before I can guarantee he was accelerating at an unsafe speed (maybe trying to make green light he was approaching?).

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    • Pete December 7, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Young males don’t pay extra auto insurance premiums because they’re known for attentive, sensible driving or well-planned moves…

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  • wsbob December 7, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Maus…if you haven’t already tried contacting the Beaverton Police to clarify from them what’s been reported they’re saying in the kxl and koin stories, why not call them up and ask them?

    KXL story says a couple things directly related to the question of whether or not the police already have concluded, as you seem to think they have, that the person driving could not have done anything to avoid the collision.

    KXL story reports close to the top: “…Witnesses say there was no way for the student to avoid hitting the woman. So far, no names have been released. …”.

    Later in this story, it reports, following, ‘More from Beaverton Police’: “…The deceased was not riding her bike but was walking with it. According to witnesses, she was going between the bike path and the roadway as she walked. The driver saw her walking her bike and then she was in front of his car, and there was nothing he could do to avoid striking her. …”

    The story goes on to report from the same police statement, that: “…It does not look to be criminal, and the Washington County Crash Reconstruction Team (CART) is on scene doing the diagram and assisting in the investigation, and this is standard with any fatal vehicle crash. …”.

    The KOIN 6 story reports, with a quote: “…A police spokesman said based on what the driver and witness said, “there was nothing he could do to avoid striking her.” …”.

    Maybe the police could have chosen words for the on camera interview, to better indicate that a more thorough investigation was ongoing. At any rate, the driver has not yet been charged with a traffic related crime or violation, and initial investigation has not shown that a crime has been committed. Until it’s been found that he’s guilty of a crime or violation, if it turns out he is in fact guilty, he can’t be forgiven for having committed a crime or violation.

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    • Chris I December 7, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Was the witness also inside of the SUV?

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      • BradWagon December 8, 2017 at 9:43 am

        Another GEM from KATU follow up story: “Investigators say there were no witnesses who saw the moment the woman was hit. “

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      • wsbob December 8, 2017 at 11:52 am

        What’s your reason for asking that question? Please explain what your thinking is.

        So far, it’s just news stories and initial collision scene police reports available to the public to read. There isn’t yet available to the public, additional details from full investigation, about witnesses; how many there were, who they were, where they were in relation to the two people involved in the collision, and whether that would have allowed them a good opportunity to be able to see the moments surrounding the collision.

        I don’t know all of what goes into investigation of collisions, but it seems logical to me that the consideration of factors contributing to collisions, vary according to each one. Asking the police and the investigators what went into the investigation of any particular collision, seems to me one of the important means of finding out more about what contributed to the occurrence of the collision.

        So far, I’ve read three local news media stories about the collision. Two of them appear to have directly inquired of the police about the collision. The stories published by those two media, were short, didn’t have as much information or questions asked, as I as a member of the public, would have liked to have available to read. Seems to me they might have done a better job of interviewing and reporting, and editing their stories before publication. I’m glad though, there at least was some info in those stories about the collision.

        I can think of many questions that seem to me could be asked of the person driving, and the witnesses to this collision, that I would like to have available to read the answers to. I could on my own, assemble a number of hypothetical scenarios that could possibly resemble the factors contributing to this collision. It’s likely impossible though, to come to a reliable determination of the factors that caused the collision, without the opportunity to do at least the kind of full investigation that the Beaverton police carried out, details of which, again, were not available to be reported in the news stories published so far.

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  • PeaDub December 7, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    “The driver saw her walking her bike and then she was in front of his car, and there was nothing he could do to avoid striking her.”

    So what, she just teleported in front of the car? There’s no clear explanation of what happened; making statements with such certainty when the scenario hasn’t been explained is a bad law enforcement practice. Same thing for the pedestrian that was killed on Farmington in Aloha a few weeks ago. Super frustrating.

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  • CaptainKarma December 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Subpoena the phone records.

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  • Joe December 7, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    still blows my mind that every report sides with the drivers story, shows we have a divided process.

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  • Kristi Finney Dunn December 7, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I remember meeting her at the vigil that the neighborhood association had for Stanley shortly after he was killed. She was devastated. This is so utterly heartbreaking.

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  • Sukho Goff December 7, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Unbelievably sad in Biketown USA 🙁

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  • Ryan December 7, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    So, from the statements in the story, it sounds like she was walking her bike in the bike lane, and then stepped out suddenly. If that’s the case, of course they will say there was nothing the driver could do. What gets me (and what has started to become more and more irritating as I ride), is that this is exactly why cars are supposed to give extra space when passing. She could have slipped/tripped on something, been trying to get around a hazard, etc… I’ve been gradually getting to where I prefer riding on streets without bike lanes (with some shoulder space) unless the lanes are buffered. On non-bike lane streets I seem to get more space from passing cars. When I’m in a bike lane, it’s like drivers feel that as long as they’re in their lane it doesn’t matter how close they are to me. It gets really stressful if I have to hug the edge to stay out of door zones or dodge debris and/or storm drains that take up all but a few inches of the lane. Most drivers don’t account for this and assume they can continue by without modifying their chosen vector. So yeah, I’m sure there was nothing he could do *at the moment she left the bike lane*, but there was definitely something he could have done prior (make sure he was giving adequate passing space) that most likely would have prevented this.

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    • Dan A December 7, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      “So, from the statements in the story, it sounds like she was walking her bike in the bike lane, and then stepped out suddenly.”

      This implication is exactly why stories like this need to be more carefully researched and reported.

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      • fourknees December 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

        The victim matches the description who I’ve seen many times in the prior months acting very unpredictably both physically and verbally in this neighborhood.

        Like others though I don’t understand it couldn’t have been avoided. Based on the distance from the high school entrance to location of the incident and the speed comments it doesn’t make sense. It’s reasonably well lit there too. Plus there is middle turn lane so giving space shouldn’t have been an issue.

        Sad all the way around, hopefully it makes an impact on all the Southridge students.

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    • El Biciclero December 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      “…it’s like drivers feel that as long as they’re in their lane it doesn’t matter how close they are to me.”

      Unfortunately, it’s not just how drivers feel—it’s how the law is written. Drivers are required to give a bicyclist enough space to avoid a collision if the bicyclist were to “fall” into the driver’s lane…unless there is a bike lane present or the driver is going less than 35 mph. So if you’re in a 4-ft-wide bike lane and your elbow is hanging over the line, a driver may pass within inches of your elbow (at any speed) and not have broken any laws. Similarly, if you are riding on a street with no bike lane, and a driver passes within inches of your shoulder, but is only going 30 mph at the time—no violation.

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      • El Biciclero December 7, 2017 at 3:26 pm
        • Ryan December 7, 2017 at 3:57 pm

          Thank you for the link. That law could definitely use some tweaking. I especially don’t like the wording that says the safe distance part isn’t required if the vehicle is operating “In a lane that is separate from and adjacent to a designated bicycle lane;”. That doesn’t say anything about whether the cyclist is actually using the bike lane at the time.

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          • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 5:11 pm

            It is still not clear what happened.

            But *if* she stepped out in front of the car *and* she was virtually invisible in the bike lane from being dressed in dark clothing and being unlit, it is possible that the kid did not have a reasonable chance to respond because he wouldn’t have known there was even someone in the bike lane to give clearance to.

            In the news photos, visibility doesn’t look that bad. But there are places where shadows can be cast that make someone virtually invisible even if you’re traveling at very low speeds.

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            • Dan A December 7, 2017 at 7:05 pm

              “The driver saw her in the bike lane just before the impact. He noticed she was wearing dark clothing and carrying an umbrella. He looked left at the traffic light, then heard the sound of his vehicle striking her.”

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              • wsbob December 8, 2017 at 11:59 am

                You’ve posted a few statements between quotation marks. You haven’t given the quote an attribution. Are those statements from a news story, or just something you made up? Please help to keep the understanding clear, by making a distinction as to whether it’s your ideas you’re putting in quotes, or those of someone else.

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              • Dan A December 8, 2017 at 12:08 pm

                http://www.kgw.com/news/local/teen-driver-hits-kills-bicyclist-in-beaverton/495960525

                “The driver saw her in the bike lane just before the impact. He noticed she was wearing dark clothing and carrying an umbrella. He looked left at the traffic light, then heard the sound of his vehicle striking her.”

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          • El Biciclero December 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm

            “That doesn’t say anything about whether the cyclist is actually using the bike lane at the time.”

            Exactly. I think if a driver actually makes contact, it is a violation, but otherwise, you can be taking the lane and doing a 40-mph downhill, and if a driver passes you within inches going 55—no legal problem whatsoever. I have this exact situation on my ride home. I take the lane because there is no sidewalk along that particular stretch, and the curve of the road obscures the bike lane where people often walk. The speed limit is 40 (which I usually eventually hit), and I take the lane until I can clearly see the bike lane ahead, at which point I merge back over. I’ve never had trouble here, but any motorist that wanted to “teach me a lesson” could buzz me at high speed and not have broken any laws. I’m the one breaking the law by going the speed limit outside of a bike lane…

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            • Dan A December 12, 2017 at 3:02 pm

              Is that Barnes by the Sunset Medical Plaza? Yuck.

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              • El Biciclero December 13, 2017 at 12:21 pm

                Heh. You know it.

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  • esther2 December 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    i’m not getting a clear picture at all of what happened here. Did she have the right of way?

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  • HJ December 7, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Here’s my thing. Regardless of whether she “swerved”, the thing is she was in front of him and he admitted to having seen her. If it were another car there would be some sort of charges being filed. When you rear-end someone (essentially what happened) it’s almost always considered 100% the fault of the driver behind, not the one in front. So why is this being so completely ignored every time it’s anything but another car?

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    • Kyle Banerjee December 7, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      While the general rule that the person behind is always at fault, it doesn’t work the way you describe if you swerve or open a door in their path.

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    • Smarty Pants December 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Student driver should have slowed and moved over a bit if he saw a pedestrian going in and out of the bike lane. Sounds like she was dodging debris in the bike lane. But a 17 year old may not have the experience to know he should slow down and move over, so he didn’t. The problem may be that the pedestrian was difficult to see or perhaps she suddenly walked into his path of travel. In either case, the police will probably not fault the driver because it is unreasonable that a car can avoid hitting something that suddenly appears in front of it. The driver SHOULD have taken action anticipating the pedestrian would walk into his path, but young folks don’t always do the safest thing.

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      • Glenn December 12, 2017 at 11:48 am

        I believe they disproved the theory of “things suddenly appearing” in the 1800s sometime?

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  • John Liu
    John Liu December 7, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Excerpt from one news story:

    “The driver saw her in the bike lane just before the impact. He noticed she was wearing dark clothing and carrying an umbrella. He looked left at the traffic light, then heard the sound of his vehicle striking her.

    Evidence suggests she left the bike lane and entered the traffic lane, where she was hit, Rowe said.

    “There is no evidence that the driver was speeding,” Rowe said. “His cell phone was checked, and there was no calls or texts until after the collision. There is no evidence that the driver did anything that directly contributed to this tragedy.” ”

    There were witnesses, though it is unclear what information was received from them. I’ll do some more reading.

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    • Dan A December 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      “There is no evidence that the driver did anything that directly contributed to this tragedy.”

      Interesting that a driver running somebody over is not, in and of itself, evidence of anything.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu December 7, 2017 at 9:48 pm

        If someone suddenly steps in front of a car, the driver may well not be at fault. If that’s what indeed happened. Not sure. And this article doesn’t shed any additional light.

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        • Dan A December 8, 2017 at 6:32 am

          Try it like this:

          Person A hit Person B in the face with a baseball bat. There is no evidence that Person A did anything that directly contributed to this tragedy.

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          • Kyle Banerjee December 8, 2017 at 10:17 am

            I can always count on BP commenters for relevant and understated analogies. Clearly, the more accurate analogy would be:

            “Person A shot Person B with a gun. There is no evidence that Person A did anything that directly contributed to this tragedy.”

            😉

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            • Dan A December 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

              Yeah, I started typing it that way, but I know some people balk at comparing gun deaths to car deaths.

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              • Smarty Pants December 8, 2017 at 9:39 pm

                The baseball bat or gun comparison are in no way relevant to this incident. In this incident, the one being hit (pedestrian) took action (stepped in front of moving car)that resulted in being hit. It is also true that the driver SHOULD have slowed and moved over until they passed the pedestrian; and it is equally true that if you are walking nest to a car lane at night and a car is approaching from behind that you should not step into the car lane until the car has passed. Makes me wonder if perhaps she was using earphones and didn’t hear the car.

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              • Kyle Banerjee December 9, 2017 at 9:18 am

                That was my point with the gun comparison — it was a joke.

                But here, there is no limit to how ridiculous one can be and still be taken seriously because some people actually believe this stuff…

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              • Glenn December 12, 2017 at 11:58 am

                Yes yes, the ruthless and blinding light of your perfect and unbiased intellect humbles me as always Kyle. And speaking of ridiculous, ctrl-F for “banerj” yields 18 results so far on this page. If it’s so ridiculous around here, why do you hang around constantly trolling it? Everybody’s biased and stupid, but you’re going to change all that, aren’t you Kyle. Shouldn’t you be driving your car to go para-kite-heli-ski-boarding or something? Or hey since it’s working hours, maybe do some work for a change?

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            • El Biciclero December 9, 2017 at 10:03 am

              Well now, it’s not that crazy. Imagine, let’s say, there’s a batting cage that has a “warm-up” area where people can take practice swings before their time starts. They could do their warm-ups in their own cage area, but that would waste time they’d paid for, so most opt to warm up “for free” in the shared area before their paid time starts. Unfortunately, this practice area is also where people who have finished their time must pass through on their way out of the facility. Right away, this sounds like a recipe for lawsuits, doesn’t it? But let’s say we let this hypothetical business operate this way—maybe there are circles and lines on the floor where people swinging are supposed to stand and people leaving are supposed to walk. Occasionally, some careless swinging results in bats colliding and some potential wrist/arm injuries, and sometimes a batter loses their grip and a bat flies across the space doing a little damage, but all the batters wear helmets and other protective gear, so they never really get terribly injured. The people leaving have turned in their helmets and other equipment already, so they just stick to their “space” and are usually OK—if a bat’s swing arc comes across the exit pathway line occasionally, they’re vigilant and duck out of the way, maybe with an angry glance at the batter. So in this ill-conceived business layout, imagine that some batter warming up next to the exit pathway notices that one of the customers leaving is walking close to the line that marks the exit pathway, sometimes stepping over it (maybe somebody dropped a Slushee(tm) on the path, or the person is injured and limping, or has a friend who is horsing around with them, who knows). Would the batter be wiser/safer to give up a swing or two, waiting to resume full swings until this exiting customer was clear, or to keep on swinging with the assumption that everybody will stay in their “space” and nothing bad would happen? Now imagine the batter makes the latter choice and smacks the exiting customer in the face—did the batter do anything to contribute to the incident? Do we blame the “victim” in this case because they didn’t make eye contact with the batter and wait until he was between swings? (remember, the batter could have been doing his warm-ups in his own cage, but was too cheap to do that) Do we blame the business owner for creating this crazy layout in the first place? Do we create “self-swinging” practice bats that have some sort of gyro arrester to check a swing if sensors indicate a potential impact? Would we say that “there was nothing” this batter could have done to avoid smacking the other customer?

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        • BradWagon December 8, 2017 at 9:36 am

          Vehicles should give enough distance to VRU’s when passing so that should a sudden unpredictable movement occur they won’t kill them. I never just buzz someone walking / biking expecting them to continue in a directly straight path. Responsibility for safe passing falls on the passer / auto as they carry the potential energy that would result in injury.

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    • oliver December 8, 2017 at 9:06 am

      I was wondering what reason would a person have to look left at the traffic light…was he going to make a right turn on red without stopping?

      The only traffic light a driver should be looking at is the one above the lane indicating right of way for the direction one is heading.

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      • BradWagon December 8, 2017 at 9:42 am

        Strangely he wasn’t even at traffic light yet, collision happened well before it. Looking to the left at the point of the collision would give you a good view of a bus stop and the school parking lot.

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        • Kyle Banerjee December 10, 2017 at 7:36 am

          Nothing strange about it at all. That’s what defensive drivers and cyclists do to make sure no one is looks like they’re going to run the light/intersection — that’s by far the biggest threat you typically face in that moment.

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          • Dan A December 10, 2017 at 9:26 am

            Right. Why concern yourself with the unpredictable movement of pedestrians, who aren’t even a threat to you?

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            • Kyle Banerjee December 11, 2017 at 4:39 pm

              So you do not look to the left and straight ahead for people turning when entering an intersection? I hope you don’t drive.

              BTW, vehicles are not the only ones who cross your path from the left against lights. So do bikes and peds.

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              • Dan A December 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

                Gymnastics.

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              • Kyle Banerjee December 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm

                This is just the sensible way to navigate. If you really think he should have been staring to his right, my guess is you find yourself in more close calls than you should.

                One thing I will grant is that most drivers (and cyclists) do not adjust their trajectory or speed enough for situations that are unfolding — perhaps that happened here. But if it didn’t, don’t let the facts confuse you.

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              • BradWagon December 11, 2017 at 9:09 pm

                Come on Dan, clearly hitting and killing someone is just evidence of the driver sensibly and safely surveying their surroundings while approaching an intersection.

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          • BradWagon December 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

            Maybe you didn’t read my whole comment but I pointed out that the driver was not yet at the intersection yet. At roughly 200ft away you don’t need to look to the left to see what may be in the intersection ahead of it, the width of the intersection is well within the field of view just looking forward.

            You continue to impress me with the smug, condescending “this is how safe drivers/cyclists” navigate the road comments.

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            • Kyle Banerjee December 12, 2017 at 11:02 am

              I did read the comment. Looking left before you enter an intersection is a good idea and I do it consistently for the simple reason that once in a long while, people run lights and signs. Just so happens I was in St. Louis last week and noticed that a car was going to run a light at around 60mph (yes, in the city). Had I not noticed and stopped at my green, I would have been hit for certain.

              Anyone can get unlucky, but bad drivers and cyclists blame circumstances. Good ones try to figure out what they can do to achieve better outcomes.

              But I digress. We need to get the lynch mob whipped back up since it’s crystal clear over the internet that the investigation is a sham, everyone participating in it is in on the fix, and the kid is guilty.

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      • Kyle Banerjee December 8, 2017 at 10:13 am

        Hardly. Good drivers and cyclists pay attention to everything going on around them.

        Keeping an eye out for changes in light state that could affect driver behavior (e.g. someone squeezing in from the opposite side or getting a jump from the side about to get green) or anything else. Fixating for too long on any single detail in the environment — including a pedestrian in the bike lane — is dangerous for everyone.

        Hopefully, a clearer picture of what happened will eventually emerge. While there are certainly aspects of the report that raise my eyebrows, it doesn’t do anyone good to summarily presume that all those who were there misrepresented what happened. That might occur, but an actual investigation is more likely to determine what happened than internet diagnosis that systematically excludes all evidence that doesn’t support a specific conclusion.

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        • Dan A December 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm

          Yes, probably best to be looking elsewhere at the exact moment that you’re passing a person in a bike lane to remove all legal cause for blame. Thanks for the tip.

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          • Kyle Banerjee December 9, 2017 at 10:35 pm

            As if you know what happened here. All you know is you don’t believe the witnesses.

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            • Dan A December 11, 2017 at 6:12 am

              If it had been a cyclist in the main lane who hit somebody walking near the bike lane, would you not be critical of the cyclist for not watching out for (and giving space to account for) the unpredictable movement of humans?

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              • Kyle Banerjee December 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm

                Yes, I expect cyclists and drivers alike to provide clearance for a “reasonable” margin of error and also to adjust if someone is doing something erratic. Good driving and cycling is very much about finding a good solution when others mess up.

                Details are relevant — it is still not clear exactly what happened here.

                I’m not saying the kid did or did not sсrew up, but I don’t want to be biased against him because of his age. One thing I do wonder is if the witness and police reports would have been the same if the victim had been an attractive and popular young woman rather than who she was.

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              • Dan A December 11, 2017 at 8:44 pm

                I don’t believe anyone has mentioned age, gender, or looks until now.

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              • Kyle Banerjee December 12, 2017 at 11:07 am

                So if someone raises a question, the fact that no one else already had renders it irrelevant?

                You should work in an office that determines if people are getting treated equally at the workplace. I can see you’d streamline the case evaluation process considerably.

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              • A woman reader December 12, 2017 at 4:20 pm

                Kyle, if you’re referring to your Dec 11, 4:47 comment theorizing objectification of a female victim, it’s unclear if you’re asking other readers to make assumptions about the character, professionalism &/or genders of first responders, or if you were just stating yours. I actually doubt responders see “attractiveness” or “popularity” of a female victim in the 1st minutes or hours of a deadly crash response & I don’t expect it.

                I expect she not be objectified that way here, either.

                I can’t believe I need to address this, especially in this context… Maybe I’m oversensitive to the objectification of women, but I felt instantly put on guard by your comment, Kyle, even though it is about another woman. Frankly, I’d rather just ignore this like usual, drop how annoyed & offended I let myself get after reading your comment, & go be doing something else right now. But since Jonathan’s been asking women what makes us uncomfortable in the comment section, here I am. For context, since you & I don’t know each other, I’m a woman who’s been through some negative (& violent) experiences with being objectified, by men, based on my body & appearance. History makes me wary around remarks like yours, Kyle, which literally called attention to a woman’s appearance, on an article about her death.

                What I feel most unresolved about is our systemic policy, not individuals per se. I’d like to know what policy police use to determine when a crash investigation’s complete. A Beaverton official issued a judgment about the driver’s fault or lack thereof so early on that a full investigation couldn’t have been complete. Wouldn’t they subpoena the driver’s cell phone records first? Doesn’t that take a couple days?

                Rest & ride on in peace, Helen.

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        • BradWagon December 11, 2017 at 9:17 pm

          You clearly have no idea what your talking about in regard to this piece of road and the conditions of the crash. I ride this nightly, the “intersection in question is from the front staff parking lot of the high school and a 7-11 / neighborhood on the other. In my experience from riding this road at about the same time the incident occurred multiple times a week I would nearly guarantee he had a green light and there was nobody else at the intersection. Your unfounded speculation about unrealistic situations and efforts to avoid just accepting the most likely scenario is very strange. It’s almost like you are biased towards faulting one party over the other because their actions were abnormal and what you judge to be irresponsible.

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          • Kyle Banerjee December 12, 2017 at 11:16 am

            You also have no idea of what you are talking about.

            You were not there and what you can “nearly guarantee” is not the same as being a witness or knowing what happened.

            I don’t have an opinion of what did or did not happen. I have ideas for what I speculate happened (which I have not shared), but I have shared my opinion that people should look at more than one potential explanation.

            Have you ever been falsely suspected of a crime? I have and it’s not fun. Internet lynch mobs are total ВS

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            • BradWagon December 14, 2017 at 10:55 am

              I have no idea what I’m talking about when I ride this piece of road multiple times a week in the same time frame as when the collision occurred? Sure dude.

              And that’s BS, you have indirectly shown your opinions on what happened and have made ridiculous statements that don’t apply at all to the road environment or suspected circumstances of this crash. Victim blaming / driver absolving opinions regarding what “safe drivers” should do very much hints to your thoughts on this. Stop acting like we are a lynch mob for wanting fair and accurate reporting and accountability for what happened.

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    • wsbob December 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Which news story was that? I’ve commented that I’ve read a couple stories yesterday, linked in this story, the KXL story, and I think the KOIN story, but I don’t recall the statements in your quoted excerpt being in either one of them. One of the stories I read, said the woman was walking her bike, not riding it…and that a witness said she was going back and forth between bike lane and main lane. With conflicting reports, it’s hard to figure out what happened.

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      • Dan A December 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

        I think these stories are under-researched because people get run over all the time and we have just accepted traffic violence as the cost of getting around. It’s barely ‘newsworthy’, and it’s far too easy to just suggest that ‘nothing could be done’ and move on. I’d posit that in the vast majority of these cases where the police have suggested nothing could have been done that something actually could have been done. If we investigated car crashes like we do plane crashes, the real causes would be revealed.

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        • Kyle Banerjee December 8, 2017 at 2:56 pm

          You mean we’d hardly ever know what happened because the case backlog would simply explode and few would actually be investigated

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          • Dan A December 8, 2017 at 4:33 pm

            If you’re ever the victim of traffic violence, I hope you get more than a check-the-box-and-exonerate-the-driver investigation.

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            • Kyle Banerjee December 9, 2017 at 7:13 am

              I hope that if you’re ever the target for an investigation with penalties that affect you for the rest of your life and tarnish your reputation forever, you are not summarily judged guilty by people who didn’t even try to determine what actually happened.

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              • Dan A December 9, 2017 at 7:32 am

                In this story, the victim has been deemed guilty by the public after what appears to be very little investigation whatsoever.

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              • Kyle Banerjee December 9, 2017 at 10:49 am

                I wasn’t aware the investigation was complete or that anyone was deemed guilty of anything by anyone who thought actual facts had any relevance.

                We have preliminary information that includes a few confusing statements by police and paraphrases of people who were there.

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              • BradWagon December 11, 2017 at 9:19 pm

                They didn’t even give him a citation. Any “investigation” at this point is just formalities and paperwork.

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        • Smarty Pants December 8, 2017 at 9:57 pm

          In many of these crashes both parties involved made a contribution that resulted in the crash. Best plan is to study them and learn how to help prevent it in the future, and that means that both parties have lessons to learn. And, it really isn’t “traffic violence”, it’s just an accident, but I get it, the term is used incorrectly on purpose to fan the flames of outrage. Here’s the definition of violence:

          “noun: violence
          behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.”

          No one in this case intended to hurt or kill someone. It was an accident. It was preventable by either party, but neither party took the action required to prevent it. Was a crime or traffic infraction committed? It’s possible, but I don’t know the ins and outs of the law. I hope I’d have slowed and moved over to give the pedestrian more room.

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  • Barbara Larrain December 8, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Walking or riding in bike lane, then gets hit and nothing. So any of us hit while bike in a bike lane and it’s ok even if they know we are there.

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    • Smarty Pants December 9, 2017 at 12:44 am

      Wonder who the witnesses were that agreed the driver could not avoid hitting her?

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      • Dan A December 9, 2017 at 7:34 am

        And yet didn’t see the collision itself? These are some good witnesses.

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  • oliver December 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    He saw the person, and noticed she was wearing dark clothing.

    ergo, high vis is not necessary to be seen.

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    • Glenn December 12, 2017 at 11:24 am

      If anyone ever rolls down the window and concern-trolls you about your dark clothing, just go “Who are you talking to? There’s nobody here!”

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    • Dan A December 12, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Randomly enough, I happened to be talking about this incident with another adult when a kid came over and told us that he’s a classmate of the driver. We only had a moment to chat, but he basically said, ‘yeah, it was really sad’ and ‘the woman was wearing dark clothing’.

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  • BradWagon December 8, 2017 at 10:00 am

    “The driver told police he SAW HER walking in the bike lane just before the moment of impact. He said he LOOKED TO THE LEFT at the traffic light (he wasn’t at the light yet) and then heard and felt the impact of striking her.”

    “The driver SAW HER walking her bike and then she was in front of his car, and there was nothing he could do to avoid striking her.”

    “Witnesses say there was no way for the student to avoid hitting the woman. ” BUT ALSO “Investigators say there were no witnesses who saw the moment the woman was hit.”

    Get you crap together Beaverton Police Department. Kid admitted to seeing her, told you he took his eyes off the roadway, then hit her… but “WELP NOTHING HE COULD DO”. B.S.

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    • BradWagon December 9, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Kid got his way out of this pleading ignorance. “Uh I didn’t see her… well I mean I was watching where I was going, so I did see her but then all the sudden she was in front of my car… cause… uh… I was looking to see if anyone was coming… uh from my left… at the light that I wasn’t at yet… and then she was suddenly in front of my car.”

      Likelier story: Kid pulls out of parking lot and accelerates over speed limit trying to make light or just to drive fast for the heck of it. May or may not have seen her (typically things don’t just appear in front of you when your paying attention) and make absolutely no effort to give her any room.

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  • Justin December 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

    You really need to post a link to pictures of children playing with puppies at the end of articles like this. Or I need to mix a cocktail before I come to bike portland or really anywhere in 2017…

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  • Susan Putnam -Jensen December 12, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I’ve know Helen for over 30 years. She has always exercised and watched her weight. She never drank , smoked, or did drugs. She was pretty strong gal. Helen was very vigilant about her bodily associations adjacent to other objects. As an artist she was very observant . She was so watchful of people in fact she had many opportunities to be empathetic to hurting people . She also did some modeling which also made her aware of her appearance and surroundings . Helen was actually proud of her old bike. I remember years ago we rode some pretty long rides but she carried on this habit into her senior years. Such a good person just trying to survive . Tears down my face . Rip my friend.

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