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Man claims he was victim of booby trap on Willamette River Greenway path

Posted by on August 22nd, 2019 at 5:41 pm

It happened on this path as it goes under the Sellwood Bridge.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve received information about another intentional act of violence against users of off-street paths.

Justin D. contacted us this week to share a harrowing story about what he refers to as a “booby trap” on the Willamette River Greenway Trail.

Justin says he was riding his electric skateboard (a.k.a. “e-board”) on the path under the Sellwood Bridge (on the west side of the river) on Friday night around 11:30 pm when the incident occurred. He says a trip-wire was placed across the path and it caused him to crash violently. He wasn’t seriously injured and credits a helmet for saving his life.

Here’s how Justin describes what happened (photos of his injuries and damage to his helmet below):

I was riding with the Portland E-board Crew on the third leg of a group ride. My battery got low so I had to stop and turn around to try to get back to my van. I felt uneasy riding in the dark by myself but I had to go… I crossed over the Sellwood Bridge and under down a long ramp to the bike path.

As I came down the ramp and on to the bike trail I was gaining speed. Around 15-20 mph. In the distance I could see a group of guys on my right. They were standing near a street light and another offshoot of sidewalk.

As I came up I was looking right and I was not slowing down to see what they were doing. As I looked at them in that moment I saw a thin line across the bike path. I looked up and felt immediately like a victim of a crime. Next thing I knew my head hit the concrete and a loud bang like a shotgun. All of my stuff flew all over the path. My sweatshirt slid up and road rashed my elbows, back and hip. The helmet hit the concrete so hard it broke. Next the helmet ripped off my head across the concrete. Leaving an abrasion on my neck.

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Justin was dazed but was able to call 911. While he waited two people who lived somewhere along the path approached him. They helped him and stayed with him until first responders arrived. Police also showed up and Justin says he filed a report. As he recalls, the line that took him down ws, “super thin and ultra-sharp.”

His wounds are healing, but Justin can’t shake the thought of how serious this incident could have been. “It could have resulted in the needless death of someone. All for a prank. An evil pre-mediated prank.”

So far no one has been charged or arrested in the incident (I’ve asked Portland Police to confirm the incident and share any updates on the case but have yet to hear back.)

Unfortunately this is just the most recent incident of someone purposely setting up a tripwire to ensnare path users. In November of last year three men strung a wire across the I-205 path near SE Division and injured a woman riding a bicycle. In 2014 we reported on a tripwire device strung across a trail in Forest Park. And in 2010 someone strung a wire across SE Ladd Avenue in an attempt injure bicycle riders who don’t stop at the infamous Ladd Circle stop sign.

And just last month a man was pushed off his bike and robbed while using the Springwater Corridor path. Following that incident, Parks Commissioner Nick Fish promised more park ranger patrols. The bureau has 11 bike-trained rangers to cover over 11,500 acres of park land.

— 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

19 Comments
  • Avatar
    Eric H August 22, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Yep, any day now we’re going to get the increase in patrols that we were promised. Any day now…

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      Mike Quigley August 23, 2019 at 5:26 am

      Eleven rangers to cover 11,500 acres? You’d never see one even if they were out there.

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        Dan A August 23, 2019 at 7:54 am

        Funny, we have fewer traffic police to cover 92,800 acres.

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        Buzz August 23, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        The Park Rangers main mission is to stop alcohol from being consumed in city parks.

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        Eric H August 23, 2019 at 2:29 pm

        So you’re saying that they could have already tripled or even quadrupled their patrols? I feel safer already.

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    maxD August 23, 2019 at 9:24 am

    The rangers have organized and prevent PP&R from hiring private security like Metro does. They also just avoid a lot of the difficult stuff and mainly focus on hassling people walking their dogs off-leash.

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      Chris I August 23, 2019 at 11:06 am

      All 11 of them?

      As someone who has had several very scary encounters with off-leash dogs, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing to enforce.

      Recommended Thumb up 23

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    Sio August 23, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Armed patrol isn’t going to turn scoundrels who want to hurt others into daisy-crown wearing dirt worshipers.

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    9watts August 23, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Pre-meditated

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    Fred August 23, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Did anyone recover the trip-wire?

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    Suspicious August 24, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Seems strange that the wire was ultra sharp, and yet it didn’t cause any damage to him (as evidence by the lack of photos). Seems like the guy hit a rock or a crack and fell, and is trying to blame anyone else.

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      q August 24, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      Rocks? It’s an elevated path. Cracks? It’s nearly new. A wire could have hit his board or shoes and left no mark. The photos only show about a quarter of his body. And there’s no huge incentive to lie about crashing.

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      Chris I August 26, 2019 at 7:50 am

      I think we now have our primary suspect.

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      Justin August 26, 2019 at 8:38 am

      Actually it was me. And you’re wrong. The wire was taken by the cops. Thanks for attacking a victim. Like so often people do.

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      Cory P August 26, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      I’ve ridden with this guy. He definitely didn’t make this up. He didn’t even want to report this to the police. Members of the e-board community talked him into reporting. I don’t know of a single skater or e-boarder who would try to cover up a crash with a story like this. It’s just not a part of the culture.

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    Eric Fair-Layman August 24, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I wonder if the root of the problem is deeper. Some kind of set of norms we teach students and adults about compassionate listening. That means people on my side calling out anyone who makes negative statements about Trumpers and people generally doing their best to be compassionate. I think more patrols may be fine for now, but not a real solution. Always goes back to compassion and trying to understand the other guy. Even if others are doing things we might label “racist” or “misogynistic”, but always trying to see the humanity in others and making it the norm, encouraging others to do so. I think social media is enabling an extreme polarization. My 2 cents.

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      El Biciclero August 26, 2019 at 9:53 am

      “I think social media is enabling an extreme polarization.”

      I think you’re right. Anonymity coupled with a summary judgment “call-out” culture that equates ignorance—or even simple cultural differences—with malicious intent creates an environment where viciousness thrives. Such viciousness is little more than bullying that fosters either more anonymity or disengagement of the more compassionate and rational folks from what passes for “discourse” these days, whether out of fear, or just simple disgust.

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  • Rich Fox
    Rich Fox August 26, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    A good friend of mine was also victimized by a similar trap about 6 weeks ago. He ended up having to be taken away by ambulance. He’s a frequent reader of BikePortland, so I’ll let him tell his own tale.

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      Demetri August 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      I was riding on the east Springwater corridor coming back from Gresham around 128th ave. Two days after the person who got attacked and had his bike stolen. A wire was strung up on the bridge and I hit it traveling about 19 mpg. Ambulance arrived and took me to OHSU for X-rays.

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