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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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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

52 Comments
  • turnips May 25, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    “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.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 25, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      thanks turnips,

      I think “failed to control their vehicle” is an accurate way to represent it right now. i don’t want to say at this point if it was intentional or not… but regardless.. a vehicle user has an obligation to control their vehicle and in this case the person did not.

      there’s absolutely nothing for us to gain by jumping to any conclusions before we know more details about what happened.

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      • El Biciclero May 26, 2018 at 10:09 am

        Maybe, “failed to keep their vehicle on the roadway” would be the agnostic way to state it, since we don’t know whether the driver was in control or not.

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  • Redhippie May 25, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    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.

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    • Cpt. Obvus May 25, 2018 at 12:50 pm

      Nah, the car companies would just go back to great big cylinders like the old days. Better to base it on some combination of gross vehicle weight and horsepower.

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      • Bjorn May 25, 2018 at 1:18 pm

        The car in question appears to be a mazda suv that is only available with 4 cylinders so the suggestion of limiting vehicles to 4 cylinders seems odd here.

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    • CaptainKarma May 25, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      I’m sorry but that is a tasteless attempt at humor while two people are possibly dying in the hospital.

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    • Racer X May 25, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Thank goodness there is not a 30th Amendment to the US Constitution (yet)…

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    • Skid May 25, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      This is ridiculous…how about stiffer penalties for hit-and-run, like mandatory jail time and permanent loss of driving privileges?

      Maybe electric cars should be banned because being silent you could sneak up on someone and run them over. Nope…just as ridiculous.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy May 29, 2018 at 9:06 am

        I am all for that. However, one could also argue that stiffer penalties would increase the incentive to run. But my own opinion is that people who hit and run are morally bankrupt and should be punished severely.

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        • Dan A May 29, 2018 at 12:19 pm

          Stiffer penalties for hit & run would increase the incentive to hit & run? Please explain.

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  • Dan A May 25, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    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.

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  • rsk May 25, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    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.

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    • rick May 25, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      It is one reason why I’ve studied many maps to find paper street trails and stairs. Peaceful, cyclecross-style rides.

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      • I wear many hats May 25, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        Every commute I do is an attempt to get away from cars. Most involve social trails, park trails, parks, paths, etc. The only thing that I have to deal with is a few angry NIMBY’s. Its far safer than contending with people driving. My thoughts are with those injured.

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    • soren May 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      it’s unfortunate how some frequent commentators make a habit of accusing people of either provoking hostility or making it up. and i say this as someone who almost never experiences hostility from people driving when i bike alone (perhaps one mild incident every year or so). in fact, after ~18 years of near-daily riding in portland the worst thing that has ever happened to me while riding has been a man loudly cussing me out for wearing a che guevara t-shirt. however, when i bike relatively slowly with other people i experience hostile behavior far more often (perhaps every few months or so): honking, shouting, swerving, and, rarely, throwing objects.

      it says something about our society that i can weave through arterial traffic at high speeds hundreds of days each year and get absolutely no grief but riding at 10 mph on a designated neighborhood greenway with others else can occasionally trigger rage in people driving.

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    • Tom Hardy May 25, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      RSK You mean the bit of history about the fact that “pavement” was originally for Bicycles?
      Cars do not need pavement. They have 4 or more wheels after all! And notice that the vast majority of newer cars and SUV’s are 4 wheel drive.

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  • rick May 25, 2018 at 1:04 pm

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

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  • boriskat May 25, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    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

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    • HJ May 25, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      You’re on to something there.

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    • Chris I May 25, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Welcome to America.

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    • Tom Hardy May 25, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      Because the driver could not be sold a gun.

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      • CaptainKarma May 26, 2018 at 10:29 am

        What has that to do with bicycling?

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        • Spiffy May 27, 2018 at 11:27 am

          both explosion powered weapons that kill around the same number of citizens, and people think they have a right to wield…

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          • Middle of the Road Guy May 29, 2018 at 9:12 am

            I can’t pick up a load of firewood with a gun though. So there is a bit of difference with what the tool is used for.

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  • TZ May 25, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    “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?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 25, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      TZ,

      I’m not anti-car. I’m just trying to prevent driving abuse. It’s an epidemic that is ruining many lives. And I think this is a completely appropriate time to talk about it.

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      • Bjorn May 25, 2018 at 1:56 pm

        Sounds like TZ is taking a page from the gun lobby here. If we always wait a couple of weeks after the last person was killed by a driver before talking about making our streets safer we will never be done waiting.

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        • stephan May 25, 2018 at 4:10 pm

          Yep, this is absolutely the time to talk about it. And Jonathan’s word make completely sense — you do not have to be a bike enthusiast to see that this area of Portland is really not meant to be accessed by people driving vehicles.

          In Europe, these kind of dense places around universities and shopping areas are often only accessible by foot or bike. Unfortunately, that’s not enough — they now have to be phyicially protected from people who have learned that they can create havoc by stirring a car into a crowd of people.

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    • Chris I May 25, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Man, what is up with people blaming cars when they are used maim and/or kill innocent people? Right, guys?

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    • Glenn May 25, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Say I had an anti-car bias. Why would I suppress it ever? Who owes you any particular slant? Nobody. But then let’s say I start a website called Bike Portland. Does that sound like the name of a place where people go to talk about how awesome cars are? No. And then tragedy hits MY city in particular. Is that the time when I, or anyone in that city, would suppress their anti-car bias? Again, no. Objection overruled.

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    • Spiffy May 27, 2018 at 11:29 am

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

      you say this like it’s a bad thing to be anti-car… society is sick if they hold up the pro-car people higher…

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  • turnips May 25, 2018 at 1:32 pm

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

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  • Mike Sanders May 25, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    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…

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    • Spiffy May 27, 2018 at 11:35 am

      those bollards are installed on sidewalks, taking more space away from pedestrians due to fear of drivers… they made the sidewalks narrower… now they’re building the cages inside that already small space…

      is this wave of vehicular assaults just the latest ploy from Big Auto to get even more space dedicated to motor vehicles?

      have we seen any cities place these new protective bollards in the area of the actual threat? you know, the road? they could narrow the road, slow down drivers, and protect pedestrians… but no, they instead slow the pedestrians down with sidewalk bollards and ped bridges which enable the drivers to increase their speed after deadly incidents…

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  • Shoupian May 25, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    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.

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    • Sigma May 25, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Only the central portion of the mall, from about yamhill to burnside, was car free.

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    • turnips May 25, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      I would think a whole lane could be removed from the ROW if it was only buses and MAX. would make space for more… get this: Portland Businesses. and in a bustling part of town, no less.

      that block of Montgomery doesn’t get much auto traffic, but does get a whole lot of foot traffic. so much that there really isn’t enough room on the sidewalks. seems like a no-brainer for that small stretch to be closed to automobiles even if the bus mall isn’t.

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    • Chris I May 25, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      I like the idea of a bi-directional cycle track in place of the existing lane on 5th, and a closure of the general purpose lane north of Clay on 6th. It’s especially silly that they allow cars north of Burnside, where the mall is only 2 lanes wide.

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    • Drew May 25, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      I’m a fairly new Portlander, but I definitely agree that it seemed like the redesign of the transit mall to accommodate the MAX was a missed opportunity. It wasn’t quite a car-free bus mall prior, but traffic was diverted every couple blocks. I understand the forces that were at play and how decisions were influenced (i.e. sway of the PBA and businesses along the corridor), though it certainly would have been wonderful to have a more forward thinking group like Business for a Better Portland a decade-plus ago. There are still potential opportunities to repurpose/redesign in the transit mall in the future to make it car-free, and hopefully PBOT’s new Protected Bike Lane Guide can influence design concepts—here’s just one idea some then PSU grad students put together in a matter of days, inspired by a Netherlands study abroad oppportunity through the PSU Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation: https://psudelft2015drewdevitis.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/redesigning-the-6th-avenue-transit-mall-for-bikes/

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  • Skid May 25, 2018 at 4:43 pm

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

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  • Edward May 25, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    “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.

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    • El Biciclero May 26, 2018 at 10:24 am

      “‘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.”

      How is restricting motor vehicle access at all the same as “sending [someone] to [a] sanitorium”? People get their licenses suspended for things as silly as failure to pay child support; why should a “suicidal” driver who is already “flagged” in The System not have license restrictions or suspension? Seems to me that doing whatever it was in the past and being found worthy of being “flagged” constitutes a reasonable semblance of Due Process.

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    • Tom Hardy May 26, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      I personally am not anti car, but I think cars should be regulated (besides a license and insurance) at least as closely as Guns. If a person is deemed to be voletile or dangerous and is prohibited from legally purchasing a gun, the same with a car. There are getting too many residence apartments being constructed with no parking and predominantly unsafe transportation for vulnerable users (because of heavy auto and commercial truck traffic) on city streets. The park blocks west of Broadway must be made car free.

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  • Kittens May 26, 2018 at 12:37 am

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

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  • SD May 26, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Nothing wrong with common sense car control.

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