Truck driver Paul Thompson wants you to know he’s sorry for role in deadly crash

Posted by on January 10th, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Paul Thompson.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In the early morning hours of August 21st, 2017, Paul Thompson was on his usual route picking up recycled cardboard from businesses in Portland’s central eastside industrial district. A truck driver for over three decades, Thompson had a spotless record before that morning.

After a stop to empty the bins at All Service Moving on Southeast Morrison, he drove south on Water Avenue. Then he turned left onto Taylor and his life changed forever.

In that intersection Thompson and his truck collided with 41-year-old Tamar Monhait, who was bicycling north on Water. She died from the impact.

Thompson’s truck just moments after the collision.
(Captured from video taken by Water Avenue Coffee)

In October 2018 I got an email from Thompson. He wanted to talk and share his side of the story. I met him yesterday at the Burgerville on Southeast 122nd near Parkrose High School, just a couple miles from his home in the Wilkes neighborhood of east Portland.

As Thompson shared his story he oscillated between a warm smile (he’s a jovial guy) and a voice that quivered with regret as his face fought away tears during heart-wrenching recollections.

“There are some things I probably did wrong,” he recalled, as he stared out into the grey January rain. Throughout our conversation I could tell he fully accepted his role in what happened.

He said would have never been at that intersection at that time on August 21st if it wasn’t for the total solar eclipse. He started his route early that day with hopes of getting home in time to snap photos of it. A fan of astronomy-related conspiracy theories and an avid listener to Coast to Coast, a popular radio talk show that covers them, Thompson said he was excited to see the eclipse.

But it’s what he didn’t see in the darkness that morning that haunts him to this day.

“I’m looking down the road, just looking for lights or movement. And I’m not seeing anything. I’m not on my phone or anything, just driving,” Thompson said, recounting what happened in the moments before impact. “I think I had my four-way flashers on and I put on my signal,” he added. Then he said he wasn’t sure if the signal stayed on for the turn. The way he tells it, Thompson didn’t make a smooth left turn. He admittedly turned a bit too early, then tried to correct his trajectory — and in that twisting motion he said his blinker might have switched off. Then another thing happened during that left turn. “And this is the weirdest thing,” Thompson recalled, “I get up to the corner of Taylor and Water — and I still thought it was perfectly clear and didn’t see anything — but there was a guy walking over here [on the sidewalk to his left near Bunk Sandwiches]. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to walk across the street. So I looked over at him, and I’m turning, and then I turned back and looked out the other window and I said, ‘Holy Fuck!’ here comes the bicyclist.”

In video of the collision captured from a nearby business, it’s clear Thompson’s truck ends up in the wrong lane (over the centerline) on Taylor. He said that happened because of a last-ditch effort to lessen the impact. “When I saw her I turned my wheel as far as I could to see if I could get out of her way. I saw her right in my window and I was trying to get the truck as far away from her as I could.”

It didn’t help. Monhait’s head struck the front of his truck and she died shortly thereafter.

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Thompson remembers getting out of his truck and going to her side as she lay on the street. Then he started talking to her.

“This is gonna be in my head for the rest of my life.”

“I said, ‘Forgive me’. I was rubbing her leg, saying, ‘People are coming. Hang in there. Hang in there. I’m so sorry about this.’ I was tearing up quite a bit.”

In the video, you can see Thompson bolt out of his truck’s cab and run to Monhait — then run away. He did that twice, in what looked like frantic movements brought on by the blur of confusion that surrounds tragedy. Thompson explained to me yesterday that seeing Monhait on the ground instantly took him back to a day in 2009 when his wife died. “Tamar was the same age as my wife when she fell down our stairs and died from a head injury. It sent me visions from that day. So I ran away.”

Some time later, as he sat watching investigators go through the scene, a police officer walked up to him and informed him that Monhait had passed away. “I thought, oh my gosh… It’s just heartbreaking…heartbreaking.”

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Several times in our conversation Thompson expressed regret for not making different decisions that morning. “Why didn’t I hit my air horn?” “Somehow I should have seen her before I made that turn.” “I want to turn back time and go straight.”

Thompson, now 56, was born in Nebraska. His father moved the family to Oregon when he was four. He has two kids, an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. He started driving garbage trucks in 1980 and used to have a route in the West Hills above Portland. He worked his way up to operations manager at one point, then realized management wasn’t for him and went back to being a driver.

After the crash, his employer (Republic Services) gave him paid time off. His company-provided attorney told him to not read comments about the crash on the Internet. “But I was at home doing nothing,” Thompson shared, “So of course I started reading them.” Thompson read comments from people who sympathized with him in The Oregonian. “On your site though,” he said. “Some people were very angry. Some said they should put me in jail.”

“I do care about people. I really cared about her. I tried to help her. I’m very sorry it happened and wish it didn’t happen. Not just cause of what’s happened to me, but what happened to her was the worst thing… she was too young.”

Thompson didn’t end up in jail. In the end he was charged with one traffic ticket for making a dangerous left turn (his lawyers got the failure to use a turn signal citation dismissed). The Multnomah County District Attorney declined to pursue a criminal case and he was never charged with Careless Driving so the Vulnerable Roadway User law — which would have given him a $12,500 fine, suspended license, and/or community service — wasn’t triggered.

A lawsuit filed by Monhait’s family was settled out of court. Republic allowed Thompson to come back to work a few months later; but not as a driver. He says they fired him unjustly in January 2018. “I think they just wanted to get rid of me,” he said. Getting fired meant he was unable to collect unemployment benefits. Thompson had trouble making ends meet before getting a job at another trash-hauling company, making substantially less per hour than he made at Republic.

Asked if he thinks justice has been served, Thompson said, “Yeah… I think so. I got a ticket. I lost my job. And no other place will hire me because of the incident. I’ve paid a price. I mean, I still feel terrible about it. This is gonna be in my head for the rest of my life. I even prayed to my wife, ‘Can you find her and say God bless her and I’m sorry?'”

Before sitting down with him, I wondered what Thompson’s true motivation was for wanting to talk. In my 14 years doing this site I’ve never had the driver in a fatal collision reach out to me like this. I asked why he contacted me: “I just wanted to say my truth to people,” he explained, “I felt like I needed to share it with somebody and you seemed like the best person to share it with.’

I also asked him what he hoped would come from our meeting. “That I’m not a bad guy that doesn’t care about people,” he said. “I do care about people. I really cared about her. I tried to help her. I’m very sorry it happened and wish it didn’t happen. Not just cause of what’s happened to me, but what happened to her was the worst thing… she was too young.”

Five days after Monhait died, her friends held a vigil at the intersection. Thompson was there. He brought his son with him and they watched from afar. “I said to him, ‘This is where it happened. This is a terrible thing. Look how I hurt all these people. Her friends and all these artists.”

___

Before parting ways Thompson and I talked about how he could help improve road safety by becoming an advocate and speaking out to more people about his experience. He said he’d be willing to do that. Trucks like his claim far too many lives in Portland and we must do more to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

— 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

69 Comments
  • Avatar
    Middle of the Road Guy January 10, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    This is a nice write-up JM.

    It’s always good to hear both sides of any story and a good reminder that be it rider or driver, we are all still human.

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    Mike C January 10, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Paul Thompson is an okay guy in my book.

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    MantraPDX January 10, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Even though it nearly made me tear up I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this. It’s brave of Paul and I think it will help bring acceptance and closure for a lot of folks. What a tragedy for everyone involved.

    Thanks for doing this Jon and Paul.

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    nuovorecord January 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    That took a lot of intestinal fortitude. Kudos to Paul.

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    John Lascurettes January 10, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    “I think I had my four-way flashers on and I put on my signal,” he added. Then he said he wasn’t sure if the signal stayed on for the turn.

    I have questions:
    1. if the four-way flashers are on, how does one even register that there’s also a turn signal on?
    2. In the video I see no flashers of any kind, so did he turn of the 4-ways mid turn?

    This is horribly tragic. And I understand that he feels bad. I don’t think anyone accused him of doing it deliberately at any point, but plenty of us feel it was fairly reckless. I still do. Still, kudos to him for coming forward and talking, and for using it to put the fear of doing the same into his children.

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      billyjo January 11, 2019 at 7:10 am

      And plenty of us think it fairly reckless to bike drunk without a light. As I read this I was wondering how long it would take for a comment like yours……

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        Dave January 11, 2019 at 8:33 am

        Bravo–when all of us cycle or walk we should remember that motor vehicles create diminished mental capacity in their operators. It’s on us to light up to the maximum degree which fortunately today is much better than in the era when some of us started cycling. Paul Thompson sounds like one of those rare conscientious drivers who is a good person and truly torn up by this.

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        John Lascurettes January 11, 2019 at 10:08 am

        I never said Monhait was without any responsibility in this, so I don’t get where your indignation comes from. However, Monhait was also not operating a multi-ton vehicle, while rushing to try and beat some self-imposed time limit, while operating at hours foreign to himself. There’s a certain amount of extra due care a professional driver should take. Both Monhait and Thompson made bad, irresponsible choices. Only one of them was operating a deadly vehicle.

        I feel absolutely horrible for Thompson, but I still feel the responsibility (I’m not saying blame, but responsibility) for taking extra due care lies with the professional driver with the dangerous equipment. Even by his own account, because of his own admitted haste, he made several twitch decisions within this high-speed turn, working to avoid both a pedestrian (who doesn’t appear int he video) and the rider. Had he been taking the turn slower, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

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          Dave January 11, 2019 at 2:08 pm

          Not indignant–it’s just that when we walk or cycle we are at the mercy of blind, retarded, hyperagressive subhumans so we have to be both sharper ourselves and equipped for visibility by those of lesser eyesight and alertness.

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          Jack C. January 15, 2019 at 1:27 am

          I think most “accidents” that don’t involve blatant recklessness occur when two or more people aren’t paying full attention. It comes down to bad luck and timing in such cases.

          We call the same thing a “near miss” when one or more of the people sees the problem in time to avoid it. There’s no way to ever prevent such coincidences.

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            q January 15, 2019 at 10:04 am

            They can’t be prevented entirely but they can be drastically reduced. Also not sure “most” accidents is true–I think it depends on how you define “blatant recklessness”.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 7:38 am

      I think of Paul’s story and the way he told it sort of like the fog of war. I think when you go through something like that, your own recollection of what happened might not be crystal clear. Tragedy like that releases chemicals in your brain that can cloud things up.

      Did he have those flashers on that he mentioned? Hard to say for sure.

      At one point I mentioned to him that some people might think he’s just lying to save his reputation… He said, “I swear to God, no lies. If I lie I don’t sleep for a week.”

      I believe that he’s telling what he believes is the true story of what happened.

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        John Lascurettes January 11, 2019 at 10:39 am

        Fog of War is a good way to put the seeming inconsistencies between his account and the video footage. I still appreciate his willingness to be as open as possible about it all. It’s got to be a horrible thing to live with now — as it is for Monhait’s family.

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    dan January 10, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    I think this writeup underscores that even with a professional driver who is being cautious, there is room for human error. All the more reason we need infrastructure that minimizes opportunities for unsafe interactions.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 10, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      Yes. That was one of my takeaways too.

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      Dan A January 10, 2019 at 11:12 pm

      I think we could get a long ways with mandatory black boxes on commercial vehicles.

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        9watts January 11, 2019 at 1:28 pm

        I’d prefer something that brings home to the pilot or driver—in the moment, every moment—what the risks and danger of the vehicle are: a six inch steel spike in the center of the steering wheel I think communicates this much more clearly than any black box could. Black boxes only tell us what happened after the fact, they do nothing or very little to dissuade risky moves.

        Is also like to add my appreciation to both Paul and Jonathan for this piece. Very important counterpoint to the scapegoating and shouting which our country has produced of late.

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          Dan A January 11, 2019 at 2:13 pm

          I think Portland could mandate GPS fleet tracking from its contractors a lot faster than it could mandate steering wheel spikes.

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            9watts January 11, 2019 at 2:23 pm

            Sure.
            But if pragmatism is our guide, we could instead mandate those deflectors that are meant to prevent people on foot or on a bike from being crushed under a turning truck? Lots of other devices could be mandated that plausibly would protect vulnerable road users directly, rather than giving us forensic date for ex post evaluations once someone dies.

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              Dan A January 11, 2019 at 2:45 pm

              Do it both.

              There should be no mystery as to how a commercial driver was driving after a fatal crash. It is inexcusable.

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          Sigma January 12, 2019 at 9:43 am

          Thank you for finally laying bare your belief that people who drive deserve to die.

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            9watts January 12, 2019 at 6:57 pm

            I’m glad that my suggestion, which, incidentally is not my idea but John Adams’ * finally laid bare the risk of driving to you which apparently my other comments have not. The thinking underlying the spike in steering wheel idea anticipates “a redistribution of casualties, but also a reduction in the total number of casualties. Motorists driving with a heightened awareness of their own vulnerability would drive in a way that also benefited cyclists and pedestrians. Why then does the spike/explosives idea stand no chance of being adopted?”

            * https://bikeportland.org/2015/03/30/monday-roundup-distracted-driving-action-reflective-spraypaint-136293#comment-6314794

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      Glennry Ford January 11, 2019 at 12:39 pm

      Oh it’s ALL human error, baby! Seriously, the tragedy of this and the endless parade of similar incidents, is the very obvious fact that nobody can responsibly and safely pilot these vehicles. Our physiology and psychology evolved for running around on the savanna, on our two feet, at like 15mph tops (and that would’ve been just a short burst to get away from whatever-it-was). But ever since about 1910 we’re expected to catch and respond to chaotic stimuli coming at us at 20, 30, 40 mph and up? With eyes that saccade. And ears made useless by the sound of the engine. No my friend, that’s called traveling faster than you’ve got wits for. And carrying a load you haven’t earned the physical strength to carry, I might add. It’s really just kind of madness. Of course there are crashes under such a system. You’re right to want to be as far from it as possible; I only wish the people behind the wheel would do the same. It’s making victims of them too, in a way.

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    Clarence Eckerson January 10, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Here in NYC we have had far too many people die of recently due to sanitation trucks, private haulers and box trucks. Almost every time a pedestrian dies of late, it seems it’s a 50% chance it is one of those types of vehicles.

    Thanks to both of you for this conversation. We need more drivers to talk more in public about these sorts of crashes in so much as 1) what we can figure out how they happen, 2) be able to hear how much these tragedies do also impact those on “the other side” and 3) what can be done with either new laws, training or changing road geometries.

    Especially because we want these things to never happen again. They will. But we want to make the number as small as possible. So perhaps Paul (and others) can start talking to groups like Families for Safe Streets about how they can help the conversation move forward.

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    William Henderson January 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    This is heart breaking to read, but it also makes me so, so angry. Not at Paul but at the system we live in that puts people in conflict in this way. It’s simply unacceptable that such tiny errors in judgement frequently lead to someone dying.

    Thank you Paul for sharing your story. It was a really human moment for me to read it and think about what it means for you, and for the friends and family of the victim. It spoke to me in a way that no crash report or statistic ever could. And it motivates me to redouble my efforts to fight for world where this doesn’t regularly happen.

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    Toby Keith January 10, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Good write up Jonathan, thank you! If I recall, Tamar was riding without a light? Please correct me if I’m wrong. And PLEASE I’m not insinuating that absolves Paul of any fault BTW.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      She had a flashing rear light, but the investigation found that no, she did not have the legally required front light. Also, as you can see in the video, she didn’t appear to slow down at all prior to the collision. She was also over the legal limit for blood alcohol content. Given how the trash company’s lawyers tried to blame Tamar for this crash by pointing all this stuff out, I was curious if Paul would bring it up in our conversation. He never even mentioned it until I asked him about it.

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        Steve Smith January 11, 2019 at 6:23 am

        I’ve always thought the headlight is much more important than the rear light. As Paul said, “I’m looking down the road, just looking for lights or movement. And I’m not seeing anything.”

        It’s likely a headlight would have prevented this crash from happening as the professional driver was looking for one. Tragic. Let Tamar’s tragedy educate the rest of us riding bikes. Use headlights.

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          Dan A January 11, 2019 at 9:06 am

          One of my takeaways from the incident was that failure to signal can be deadly to those around you, which is still true. But unfortunately we’re left never knowing whether or not it was used. I’m curious to know what happened with the civil suit, and how the liability was split.

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    Bjorn January 10, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    This is a very different conversation than the one that I had with the person who hit me. I have mixed feelings about him because his quick action afterward ended up likely saving my leg, but he also blamed me for the collision and had little to no remorse afterward. I was lucky to survive being hit, but I wish that the conversations that I had with the man who hit me afterward had been much more like this than they were. I think that we should require a lot more community service type activities of people when they are involved in something like this. It sounds like for Paul it might be something he chooses to do without being required, but it also might have been something that he would have benefited from doing earlier.

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      9watts January 11, 2019 at 1:30 pm

      One version goes by the name: victim offender reconciliation.

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    Ruth Weston January 10, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you Paul for baring your soul. We’re all in this together.

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    B. Carfree January 10, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Like everyone else, I don’t hear or see a monster in Mr. Thompson. However, I also don’t see a man fully owning what he has done. He hints at his distraction that morning without fully acknowledging that he wasn’t fully focused on the job at hand, which is an error that can, and in this case did, come with fatal consequences. Worse still, he is back behind the wheel. I simply cannot comprehend how a man whose mistakes have killed an innocent person would put himself in a position to make those same mistakes.

    Here’s a little unsolicited advice from one former truck driver to one should-be-former truck driver: Paul, stop driving. People in their fifties need twice as much light to see objects as they did in their twenties. You clearly haven’t been willing to compensate for this age-related issue (you were driving too fast for your vision and that resulted in a needless death, among other sloppy mistakes). What other issues are you too proud to admit exist or simply ignorant of and thus aren’t adequately compensating for?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 7:41 am

      B. Carfree,

      Keep in mind that Paul would love to stop driving trucks. But he isn’t a wealthy man and he needs this job to pay his bills and keep his family going. Not everyone has a ton of options when it comes to work. And it’s not very easy for a 56-year-old man who’s done the same job most of his adult life to just switch and find something else.

      Several times in our conversation, he said he wanted to stop driving but he needs the money so he can’t.

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        B. Carfree January 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm

        I am aware that he is not made of money, though I can also make an educated guess as to what his lifetime earnings to date are. (I have worked in the trucking industry a wee bit and wages aren’t exactly a big secret.) However, this is more a matter of values. By continuing to drive he is confirming that he values his standard of living more than he values other people simply being allowed to live.

        That’s his LEGAL choice to make, but I question his morals. Had there been any indication in the interview that he is actively doing what he can to get out from behind the wheel, I’d have more sympathy, but it looks a lot like this is a person who enjoys driving trucks (it’s actually kind of fun) and won’t entertain the notion that the time has come to hang up the keys.

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          HJ January 13, 2019 at 3:00 pm

          It’s utterly beyond me how professional drivers can retain their CDLs after killing someone while driving. (short of a finding of 100% not at fault) That should be automatic grounds for disqualification. While I can sympathize with the challenges of finding a new career (I’ve been going through this myself) it’s not impossible and there do need to be consequences for killing someone. Regardless of intent.

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      BikeRound January 11, 2019 at 7:55 am

      I believe that traffic laws need to be strictly enforced. But based on that line of thought, the bicyclist was also partially at fault in this collision for not having a front light, which is just simply inexcusable. I will be riding home from work tonight, and I am going to be operating two front lights. Also, I do not believe that all 50-year-olds require twice as much light at 20-year-olds to see something. A 50-year-old truck driver would be in most cases fully competent at his job.

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      Middle of The Road Guy January 11, 2019 at 7:59 am

      Our agility and reflexes also decline. Perhaps it’s time to stop riding bikes.

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        Dan A January 11, 2019 at 8:56 am

        Most of us are able to differentiate between the dangers imparted to others by improper operation of bicycles and garbage trucks.

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        9watts January 11, 2019 at 1:33 pm

        “Perhaps it is time to stop riding bikes.”

        Ah, Mr. False Equivalence is at it again.
        Reflexes… Forks. Maybe we should stop using forks?! Or golf clubs?

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        q January 11, 2019 at 3:51 pm

        Wouldn’t make more sense to say, “Perhaps it’s time to START riding bikes”?

        That is, to replace the activity (driving) where your slower reflexes can kill people with one (biking) where you’re comparatively harmless to others?

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      PS January 11, 2019 at 10:44 am

      We don’t hold this expectation for the operator of any other road going vehicle to remove themselves from the driver pool when their ability diminishes to a point that they could/actually do harm to another person, so why would we for someone who has an otherwise perfect commercial driving record? Until there is required in vehicle testing (for all drivers) at regular intervals, annually above 55 I would say, I don’t think this argument has a leg to stand on. I see atrocious driving habits from all people, but there is a skew to older folks for sure, and they certainly supply a much greater aggregate risk than a few trucks running around the city.

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        B. Carfree January 11, 2019 at 6:57 pm

        My statement that he should stop driving wasn’t from a legal perspective; it is a moral imperative. However, we do indeed compel people to cease driving at times because of a demonstrated physical limitation. My neighbor’s brother in law was recently banned from driving because of a medical condition, since fixed, that caused him to pass out while driving. However, you are correct that our standards are rather low.

        That said, why or why should we insist that because we have been doing something poorly that means we should continue to do it that way?, The tens of thousands of unnecessary roadway deaths we see annually coupled with the millions of injuries are abundant evidence that we have people behind the wheel who don’t belong there. Can we not entertain the notion that we can do better?

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    Mike January 11, 2019 at 8:20 am

    Riding drunk without a headlight certainly played a part don’t you think? I know it is considered victim blaming but how isn’t that a consideration here?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 11, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Yes it very well could have. And yes it is a consideration here Mike. This story focuses on Paul Thompson’s experience and perspective. We’ve mentioned those other factors in past coverage.

      I feel like we have to get over the call-outs around victim-blaming. To be clear, I think we need to be able to talk about each person’s role in a collision. One of the points of this story is that there can be more than one victim. Certainly Tamar and her friends/family have lost a great deal and have gone through unspeakable pain due to the actions of Paul Thompson. But in a larger context, their is suffering on both sides.

      We spend so much energy when these things happen trying to pin blame on one party or the other. It’s not always as clear as it seems. I want to honor Tamar and Paul, acknowledge and understand both of their experiences, and hopefully gain a more productive understanding of consequences and what’s at stake as we fight for safer streets.

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    I wear many hats January 11, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for sharing Paul. It made me cry this morning. Everyone can agree to be more visible. It would have helped in this situation. When I ride I’m lit like a christmas tree but I ride like a ninja. I don’t do this to teach anyone a lesson, just to stay alive.

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    Q January 11, 2019 at 11:14 am

    His prayers are pathetic. He should be in prison and the company who put him on the road should be out of business.

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      Paul January 11, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Probably 99% of everyone have made similar mistakes in their life and just got lucky that there was no one there to hit.

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        Dan A January 11, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        True. I’m definitely more concerned with the regularly-aggressive and/or negligent drivers I encounter daily than I am with someone who is generally careful.

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      9watts January 11, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Your caustic tone is corrosive.
      How about a little respect, a little deference to, or even appreciation of someone who is exposing himself unprompted to the judgements of the world. You and I aren’t even using our real names in the comments here. Doesn’t take much courage, by comparison.

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        Granpa January 11, 2019 at 5:12 pm

        Not just exposing himself to the world, but through a portal used by those who have eagerly and thourghly vilified him. He killed a gal by mistake she’s dead, forever and he is a guy who fucked up royally and will live with that burden forever. It just sucks. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity.

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          SD January 11, 2019 at 9:54 pm

          If this is about my comment, I was referring to Q’s comment, not Paul, whom I greatly appreciate for coming forward.

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      SD January 11, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      To be honest, I doubt the sincerity of this comment.

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      q January 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      I just want to point out that Q and I are different people.

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    Greg Spencer January 11, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    What a heart-crushing story! And a terrific piece of journalism. As Portland strives to make its streets safer, it’s important to hear from both points of view: from the crash victims and their loved ones, AND from survivors who’ve taken away some hard lessons. Reading a story like Paul’s, it’s impossible not to feel a refreshed sense of the grave responsibility you undertake when you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Paul acknowledges that one of his motives in speaking with Jonathan was to gain some sympathy from bikeportland readers, many of whom took him to be some kind of monster. He’s obviously not. It’s clear he has a profound sense of regret about certain actions leading up to the crash and that he feels terrible for Monhait and her family. I believe him when he says this crash will haunt him the rest of his days. The article’s postscript indicates that Paul is willing to follow through and share his story with other audiences as a way of safe-streets advocacy. I applaud that. Legacy Emanuel runs the Trauma Nurses Talk Tough program, where people who’ve suffered from road crashes share their stories with drivers facing serious traffic charges. Could be the right vehicle for Paul’s activism.

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    Charley January 11, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Terrific reporting of a horrible collision deeply involving two human lives. This website is a reminder of how journalism can make our world more humane.

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    Betsy Reese January 11, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    I agree that there might be a public outreach role for this man with Families for Safe Streets. Maybe the beginning of an organizational branch for people like him? He seems to be seeking healing, and maybe, with assistance, his message could be more one of restorative justice and raising awareness among drivers than simply telling his side. He sounds like a good and sincere man.

    Betsy

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    Mark smith January 11, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Yes, he should have done jail time. He admitted by his own careless actions that he killed someone’s daughter and friend. He failed to follow the law and he failed to follow safe practices as a driver. Every commercial driver knows their actions can lead to jail. Sorry. No sympathy. This guy makes drivers look bad and he killed. Lawyers bailed him out and now he wants people to feel sorry for him.

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      9watts January 11, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      From the tone of your post are we to infer that are the kind of person who would take the advice you are so freely giving here, if you were in his shoes?

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        mark smith January 12, 2019 at 12:10 pm

        Well, it’s not like I went on the sprocketpodcast to more freely give my opinion. Feel free however to actually comment on my comment, not make it more personal.

        This guy killed, lawyers bailed him out, he admitted to unsafe truck driving. BP should not be whitewashing this whole thing.

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          9watts January 12, 2019 at 7:03 pm

          All I’m asking is whether you Are trying to convince us that in his shoes, having suffered only modest state-sponsored punishments for these deeds, you would walk yourself to jail?

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          q January 13, 2019 at 11:24 am

          I wouldn’t call it whitewashing, especially when this article is taken in context with the previous articles.

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    Kristent January 13, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    He should have been able to get unemployment benefits. There are only two ways you are absolutely denied benefits:

    1– you quit your job
    2– you are terminated for cause

    In the case of #2, the former employer would need to prove to the state that you were terminated for cause. Very often, the state will still side with you as the terminated employee.

    I know this from 20 years in the payroll and HR industry, working with employers across a LOT of industries. I am familiar with the process from the employer side.

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      HJ January 13, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      So killing someone while on the job doesn’t qualify for terminated for cause? I honestly can’t think of a more legitimate reason.

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    mark smith January 14, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    HJ
    So killing someone while on the job doesn’t qualify for terminated for cause? I honestly can’t think of a more legitimate reason.Recommended 1

    Exactly.

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    mark smith January 14, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    9watts
    All I’m asking is whether you Are trying to convince us that in his shoes, having suffered only modest state-sponsored punishments for these deeds, you would walk yourself to jail?Recommended 1


    Are you asking if the shoe fits, wear it? Yes, if you kill innocents, while failing to follow the law (which he admitted to) then yes, everyone should face jail time. What are you getting on, get on with it.

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    Guy M January 27, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I found this write up very well done. I also find many of the posts holier than thou. Paul is telling the story from his perspective. It was quite a heart wrenching event for him. Few have experienced death the way he has. Everyone reacts differently to an event like this. I have seen more than I care to see both while working in hospitals and palliative care with loved ones. I have seen families totally lose it sometimes for several days until they accept the loss. Paul’s reaction was totally understandable. Count yourself very lucky if you never have to go through something like this. If you do hopefully you will remember Paul’s story.

    Those who call for his imprisonment obviously have NEVER made a mistake. Some posts I wonder if they have ever driven a car? If so you obviously have been able to see EVERY pedestrian and bicyclist. We are all human! I cant tell you how many close calls I have had both driving and riding a bike. Fortunately I haven’t injured anyone or been injured myself YET! I am a fairly cautious rider because I KNOW drivers cant see me as well, specially in the DARK. At the same time I see bicyclist who are almost belligerent or simply don’t know the rules of the road. I try to be a cautious driver but some bicyclists, pedestrians and scooters are quite unpredictable. Some either don’t know the rules of the road or simply don’t follow them. Also there are some who are pedestrians or bicyclists for very good reasons. What do you think happens to an alcoholic who has their drivers license revoked? IF they follow the law they become pedestrians and possibly bicyclists. Its much more difficult to put away the alcohol away. They can become alcoholic bicyclists or pedestrians. Just like alcoholic drivers for alcoholic bicyclists its only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed.

    Paul is taking the appropriate amount of responsibility and maybe than his fair share of the guilt. The evidence shows he was not the only one who was at fault. May none of you have to go through the same thing as Paul has and may you all have a safe ride no matter your mode of transportation.

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