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Someone drove onto the sidewalk on PSU campus and seriously injured three women – UPDATED

Posted by on May 25th, 2018 at 12:12 pm

The red x’s mark where victims were lying as they received medical attention.

Just as we feared back in November after a similar tragedy took place in lower Manhattan; the horror of vehicular violence has come to Portland.

About an hour ago someone appears to have intentionally steered their SUV up a curb on SW 6th Avenue just before Montgomery and hit at least three women. Portland Police say two of them are being treated at OHSU with life-threatening injuries and the other one has serious injuries that are not expected to be life-threatening. A fourth person is believed to have been injured but left the scene and so far PPB have not been able to contact them.

From media coverage we know that one of the victims was found right at the top of the ramp of the Portland State University Urban Plaza outside Cafe Yumm! and the Rec Center. Another victim was lying south of that near the transit stop outside the cafe.

The driver fled the scene and police are on the hunt (they typically don’t update media with cases like this because they don’t want to tip off the suspect who might be watching the news).

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Northbound on 6th approaching Montgomery.

A man who saw the collisions, said he believes the SUV driver “gunned it” prior to hitting the women. Other witnesses say the driver was going very fast. A speed of 35-40 mph has been reported.

I’m still not clear which direction the driver was coming from — northbound on 6th or eastbound on SW Montgomery. Based on witness photos seen here, the driver’s car was all the way up on the sidewalk in front of the Starbucks just south of Mill. That means it’s likely he mounted the curb near the plaza at Montgomery where the people were originally hit.

This is not a location where speeding or dangerous driving is very common. The streets are relatively narrow (6th has a bus/MAX-only lane), and the urban context is dense and lively with people biking and walking. The buildings around this plaza also happen to be home to PSU’s renowned transportation and urban planning programs. The PSU Bike Hub is just one block south of where the women were hit.

I can’t stop thinking about the fact that driving shouldn’t even be allowed in this area. When a new PSU building was recently built on the adjacent block of SW Montgomery, we hoped it would be carfree. And don’t even get me started about how we’re still allowed to drive private vehicles on the downtown “transit mall.”

As you watch and listen to local coverage, please help other reporters understand how important language and word choice is — especially when covering something like this. As many of you already know, this suspected crime was committed by a person, not an “SUV” or a “car”. It was not an “accident,” it was a collision. And the driver didn’t hit “pedestrians,” he hit people.

Given where this happened, I’ll be shocked if there isn’t high-quality surveillance footage. We’ll definitely be learning more in the coming hours and days. If you saw anything or have information, please contact PPB non-emergency at 503-823-3333.

We’ll let know about any major developments. For more coverage, check live update via The Oregonian.

UPDATE, 12:35 pm: The police have found and arrested the suspect at NE 16th and Glisan.

Arrest made at NE 16th and Glisan. Photo from live feed of KGW News.

UPDATE: Please note that I’ve made edits to this story as the police continue to make updates.

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

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turnips
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turnips

“failed to control the vehicle” might be generous. it may become clearer as more details are reported, but the description so far sounds like it could have been intentional.

Redhippie
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Redhippie

maybe there is time to put a new initiative on the ballot to limit all cars to 4 cylinders or less, or you have to register anything greater or be considered a felon.

Dan A
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Dan A

Video interview of the witness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MguEO29aY3w

It’s not clear whether he “gunned it” towards the women, or just towards the witness, in an attempt to either escape or to run down the witness.

I agree that “failed to control their vehicle and allowed it to jump the curb” is too generous. That’s saying it definitely wasn’t intentional, and we don’t know that yet.

rsk
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rsk

I’ve posted this before, but I’ve lived in many places and have not had to deal with the hostility towards cyclists that I’ve experienced in the Portland metro bubble. I’ve been run off the road and had guys try to curb me twice. They failed thanks to a skull saving bunny hop onto a sidewalk. Not sure where this hostility is coming from but it makes me think we should put Lithium in the water supply and get everyone on a bicycle. Somebody around posted an interesting link a few(?) yrs ago about how roads were not originally for cars. We need at least an aspecrt of that idea to percolate into the general motorists consciousness.

rick
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rick

Why did the nearby development on SW Montgomery not lead to a car-free street?

boriskat
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boriskat

Per the Oregonian: “A Portland police source said the registered owner of the SUV is flagged in the bureau’s database as suicidal with mental health issues.”

WHY DOES HE HAVE A CAR

TZ
Guest
TZ

“I also can’t stop thinking about the fact that driving shouldn’t even be allowed in this area. When a new PSU building was recently built on the adjacent block of SW Montgomery, we hoped it would be carfree. And don’t even get me started about how we’re still allowed to drive private vehicles on the downtown “transit mall.””

Can’t even hold off on your anti-car bias when tragedy hits your own city?

turnips
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turnips

maybe, TZ, you meant “anti-humans-getting-maimed-or-killed bias.” that’s a bias I would hope most folks share.

Mike Sanders
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Mike Sanders

This incident reminds me of the incident in Toronto, Canada, a few weeks ago, in which a guy driving a rented van and drove onto a sidewalk full of people on a major street there. That bore a resemblance to the incident last year in NYC in which the driver drove off the road onto an adjacent ped/bike trail next to the Hudson River (which happens to be a portion of the East Coast Greenway), running over several cyclists and sending folks walking along the path diving out of the way for their lives. New York has placed concrete Jersey barricades at every cross street along that corridor and is adding them to sidewalks in order to separate sidewalks from traffic. Toronto is now doing likewise. Don’t be surprised if concrete barriers start going up along Portland streetscapes in the near future. Sadly, it’s a sign of the times. Buses, Max and streetcar services were tied up for awhile in the wake of this incident. There were enough people around that folks took pictures of the car and the license plate and posted them on social media to TV stations and the police, which helped the PPD to track this looney bird down fairly quickly. As if we don’t have enough to worry about nowadays…

Shoupian
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Shoupian

Jonathan is right. The transit malls should be car-free. As a matter of fact, the transit mall used to be bus-only until the MAX lines were built and the City allowed cars to travel through the transit mall. It’s ironic the city put light rail through its downtown and then decided to take valuable public space from public transit and give it to the private cars.

Community advocates have supported making the transit mall car-free again, as a real transit mall should be, but the Portland Business Alliance have strongly opposed such idea. I don’t think it takes a genius to understand that it is bad for downtown businesses if people can’t even safely travel on the sidewalk.

Skid
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Skid

It’s wasn’t a car accident, it was a car intentional!

Edward
Guest
Edward

“Why does he have a car?” Seriously? Because we decided we didn’t like the practice of sending people to sanatoriums without some semblance of Due Process.

If this person was already “flagged” there’s a good chance that had the police found this person, such person would have been held at least temporarily to determine if the person was a danger to self or others.

Kittens
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Kittens

I have a sick feeling that this is just the beginning of these sorts of attacks.

SD
Guest
SD

Nothing wrong with common sense car control.