BikePortland

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

Justin credits his helmet with saving his life.


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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