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A man died on a corner in Happy Valley and the police statement blames him for it

Posted by on October 23rd, 2019 at 11:34 am

Images of Sanchez and memorial on corner of Hwy 212 and 102nd in Happy Valley. (Via Facebook, used with permission)

“His attitude was priceless. Our teacher always used Josh as a positive example to the rest of the class.”
— Anthony Dryer, classmate

Last Thursday around 7:30 am 20-year-old Milwaukie resident Joshua Lee Sanchez had just gotten off work and was walking to the bus stop on the corner of Highway 212 and 102nd in Happy Valley (about nine miles southeast of downtown Portland). As he waited on the corner, the driver of a three-axle, 58,000 pound commercial landscaping truck made a right turn in front of him. For reasons that aren’t yet clear, Sanchez died as a result of a collision with that truck.

A memorial has sprung up at the corner where friends and family have left photos, candles, and notes. A vigil organized by his mother was held last night.

Sanchez was born in Portland and attended Parkrose High School. He studied machining at Clackamas Community College and was employed as a CNC machinist operator at Consolidated Metco (ConMet), an aluminum parts manufacturer located across the street from where the collision occurred.

Machining class photo. Sanchez is in orange “OSU” hoodie on right in second row. (“He always was wearing high viz. Can’t miss that orange hoodie,” shared classmate Anthony Dryer.)
(Photo: Anthony Dryer)

Anthony Dryer remembered having Sanchez in his class. “His attitude was priceless,” he shared with me this morning. “On days that weren’t going very well he always seemed to cheer me up. Our teacher always used Josh as a positive example to the rest of the class. He was able to visualize and draw things out that many of us had trouble with.”

“… the deceased man on the sidewalk had been acting strange… For an unknown reason the male entered the roadway and was struck by the rear tires…”
— Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office

According to his manager at ConMet, Sanchez was the sole provider for six siblings.

This is a tragic loss for many people who knew and loved Sanchez, not to mention that we’ve lost a bright young person who would have made a positive contribution to our region. That’s why I’m so disturbed at how the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office chose to frame what happened.

The first and only (so far) public statement from the Sheriff’s Office says their initial investigation, “revealed the deceased man on the sidewalk had been acting strange” and that, “For an unknown reason the male entered the roadway and was struck by the rear tires of the CMV [commercial motor vehicle].” The statement also mentions that the truck driver had the green light. Was it green for Sanchez too?

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Screengrab of article in Clackamas Review.

Police statements after tragic crashes are very powerful. They are often written by police staff who are not trained in writing and the statements are repeated verbatim by local media outlets — a very bad practice that perpetuates a general cultural bias that sympathizes with car and truck drivers. When the statements include such charged language that paints a clear picture of fault, those media stories amplify a narrative of blame that perpetuates existing biases and leads to unproductive discourse, inaccurate public perceptions, and makes efforts to solve the root cause of these tragedies (an automobile-dominated built environment) much harder. In this case, many people reading about the crash will immediately assume Sanchez was responsible for his own death (I know because I’ve read many comments online that are already doing this). That’s not fair to him, his family, or anyone that travels our streets without the protection of a large metal box around them.

Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s irresponsible, insensitive, and unnecessary to include highly-charged phrases in police statements so soon after a crash like this.

(Graphic: BikePortland)

(Images from the scene show that the truck came to a stop several yards beyond the corner. Photos: Clack Co Sheriff’s Office)

I’m still trying to learn more from the Sheriff’s Office about the basis of their statement. In the meantime, I’ve received a statement from one of Sanchez’s managers at ConMet who shared a different perspective on what happened based on conversations from baristas at a drive-through espresso cart located at the same corner.

“According to the baristas who were witnesses, [Sanchez] pressed the button to cross and was waiting on the sidewalk to cross. From their view – the truck’s back end jumped the curb and hit him while he was on the sidewalk. Unfortunately his back was to the truck and he never saw it coming.”

The man says he has encouraged the baristas to give their statements to investigators.

A view of the corner shows it’s dangerous by design. The wide turning radius encourages fast turns and the crosswalk is set back which shortens sight lines. It’s also common for wheels of large trucks to mount curbs when making right turns.

I’m in touch with Sanchez’s mom and am expecting a call from the Happy Valley Police Chief. Stay tuned for updates.

Rest in peace Joshua.

UPDATE: I just received an email from Crystal Smith, a woman who Joshua had lived with for a period of time:

“Thank you for your article… I was so beyond angry when I read the statement that he was “acting strange”. This is not the boy I know. I know for a fact that he would not jeopardize his life. Family meant everything to him. The statement is not fair because Josh is no longer with us to defend himself against this statement. Our family, mostly my children, are having a very difficult time with this. My younger son was the last person to speak to Josh before he passed. There was no mention of any “strange” behavior. I am deeply sorry for his mother and his siblings. “My boy” would NOT have done anything to harm himself and the sheriff’s department should be ashamed of themselves… An innocent boy should not be subjected to ridicule, especially after such a tragedy. His family should not have to face those words, EVER.

— 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

65 Comments
  • Avatar
    Bike Guy October 23, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Great reporting Jonathan. I witnessed something similar today; a large commercial truck drifting into the southbound bus / bike only lane on N Broadway and N Vancouver. If hadn’t been all the way right on the lane, I would have been more upset that I already was.

    Requiring cameras on all sides of any vehicle over 10,000 GVW (say) seems like good practice. Maybe we could get commercial trucking liability insurers to sign on?

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    Joe Fortino October 23, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    crazy how victim blaming is the latest attack on humans outside the box. 🙁 RIP

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    El Biciclero October 23, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Well, if he was “acting strange”…

    What does that even mean? And whose description is it?

    How do we reconcile “…entered the roadway” with “standing on the sidewalk”?

    How do we reconcile “…man on the sidewalk…[had] entered the roadway”? If he had “entered the roadway”, wouldn’t he have been found there?

    This whole statement sounds like a contrived script. Nobody in their right mind would walk smack into the side of a moving truck, so we have to establish the “acting strange” backstory to make the bizarre outcome seem plausible…

    I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I’m inclined to believe the barista account, given my own experience observing drivers—especially of large vehicles—for years.

    I also don’t want to sound cold, given the tragic result of this incident; condolences and peace to the friends and family of Mr. Sanchez.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 23, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      exactly. Maybe he was listening to music and dancing. Who knows? The police take one statement from one person (who has biases of their own of course, we all do), and then gives it the power and prominence of police authority and then it becomes the dominant media narrative. This is why statements like this should never be put in crash statements. I’ve been yelling about this for over 10 years now! Police should have a template crash press statement that includes basic facts like: location, time of day, type of vehicles, extent of injury. That’s it. No judgments or subjective statements of any kind. If media wants more information, let them figure it out and do some reporting. I think this would be a very worthwhile reform.

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        q October 23, 2019 at 2:47 pm

        I love that you’ve put so much focus into the problems of poor official statements. This one’s off-the-charts bad. Good choice to make the statement the focus of the story. I think a lot of people here are looking forward to hearing what you find out about where that idea that the victim was “acting strange” came from. And if it came from the driver–who obviously has an incentive to come up with a reason it was the victim’s fault–why it was accepted as true.

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        David Hampsten October 23, 2019 at 5:35 pm

        What I find odd about Vision Zero in the Netherlands and Sweden is that it’s all based upon predictable human behavior. From an early age, people in those countries are taught, and presumably learn, how to be predictable in their movements in traffic, be they drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

        Americans on the other hand are notorious for being unpredictable in all their actions, including driving, bicycling, and walking. So we try, as a society, to compensate by designing our streets to force our users, ourselves, to be predictable to the point of death – if we screw up, we die (or will receive life-changing injuries.) We have let fast-moving trains be the king of the system, the top of the hierarchy, followed by emergency vehicles, transit, freight, fast cars, bicycles, and a combination of the disabled and regular pedestrians at the bottom.

        In our responses to this tragedy, we are all engaged in a certain level of victim-defense and looking for a perpetrator. For most of us on this blog, the pedestrian, as the most vulnerable user, is the victim, and the driver is the perpetrator. The police on the other hand blame the least predictable user (the pedestrian) for not being predictable enough and the driver as blameless (or less blameworthy.) The driver acted exactly as the system and our society intended – they went around a 35 mph curve at approximately 35 mph through a green light. Yes, technically the pedestrian had a certain degree of right-of-way on the same signal, but was he there first or the driver?

        Unfortunately, we as a society bear a lot of the blame for this tragic incident. We and our ancestors have created a roadway system that is designed to move the most, biggest and fastest VEHICLES as quickly as possible without worrying over much about moving PEOPLE safely, at any pace, through a pleasant environment. And that is tragic.

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        Steve Scarich October 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm

        I do not want the media deciding how and what public agencies can say to the public. That us what Jonathan’s ‘template’ does. It is a form of censorship before the fact. I think the ‘acting strange’ portion is unjustified hyperbole, but the description of a party’s behavior prior to an incident (e.g. driver had been observed driving erratically) is normal content of such press releases. Jonathan’s censorship will delay release of information, perhaps for days, and the media and families will go bonkers if that happens.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 24, 2019 at 1:41 pm

          That’s not censorship at all Steve. They’d still be able to make their own decisions, a template would just be a better protocol and would be positive for the community. Like I said, if the media – and obviously the family! – wants more info they are free to get it directly from the police and/or other means. And you point out one of the inherent problems of speculating about behavior prior to an incident. We would never know about a driver’s behavior because they are hidden inside a car/truck. And what’s considered “strange” for a person walking or biking is often consider normal for someone driving because dangerous and reckless behavior by drivers is so normalized.

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    Dan A October 23, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    To the police, “acting strange” = “not traveling in a car”.

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    Pete S. October 23, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    ACAB

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    Tom October 23, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    How could the sheriff not have interviewed the baristas when they had a direct line of site to the collision?

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      El Biciclero October 23, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      This seems “strange” to me as well. Not that it happens in every case, but I read too many stories about crashes in which the police actively refuse to take volunteer witness testimony, let alone seek it out. Why do we treat the driver involved in a crash like this as the only credible witness? Someone involved in the incident is almost guaranteed to be the least objective source of information.

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        David Hampsten October 23, 2019 at 4:58 pm

        In my advocacy, both here in NC and when I lived in Portland, I’d talk with a lot of different police officers in a non-confrontational (i.e. casual) context. For most of them, the large amount of paperwork involved is the leading reason they don’t talk with as many witnesses as they should – each witness involves several different forms now. And witnesses can be extraordinarily unreliable at times. You can call it laziness on the part of the officers, but it’s probably more reasonable to think of it as an all-too-human response to liability and American’s propensity to sue – more paperwork makes policing less about law-enforcement and more about being a common clerk, which most police find very undesirable. And the police officers I’ve met are among the most hard-working, honest, caring people in local government, but also among the most depressed city workers – low pay, long hours, and self-awareness of how much society despises them. As an officer once told me, he sees only two kinds of people in his world: victims and perpetrators.

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          pengo October 23, 2019 at 9:07 pm

          David, have you ever asked them why they think filling out paperwork and enforcing the law are diametrically opposed? I get that completing forms might not be as heart-pumping as nailing perps but I also understand that life isn’t television.

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            David Hampsten October 24, 2019 at 7:52 am

            That’s a big part of it. Most officers I’ve met always wanted to be police officers since they were kids, and TV (and Hollywood) has a way of removing the more mundane aspects of any job from children’s job fantasies. They resent having to file mundane forms in order to fight crime, as much as we all do going about our own jobs. Most police departments have a large number of non-sworn-officer employees, including detectives and lab technicians, but also a lot of clerks, and some officers I’ve met feel the non-officers should be doing more. But mostly they simply resent that our society itself has become obsessed with paper trails and bureaucracy.

            And they resent lawyers probably even more than society in general does.

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              Tom October 24, 2019 at 10:13 am

              Do they need to fill out paperwork every time they talk to someone? Do you think that they filled out paperwork for your casual conversation with them. I’m guessing not. I’m betting they are allowed to have casual conversations without paperwork, in which case there is no reason they could not have a casual conversation with the barista. It seems more that they just didn’t care. Why not at find out the truth for your own curiosity even if you are not going to report it officially.

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                David Hampsten October 24, 2019 at 1:58 pm

                Like most city workers, they have to fill out time sheets of one sort or another. In my cases, I’m talking with them at a meeting or an event they are assigned to go to (or “volunteer” for), and so the meeting or event is on some form or another. To a certain extent they have to justify all their time when on duty. But I don’t know how extensive that extent is.

                And of course we’ve all met police (and other city workers) who have next to no curiosity whatsoever. While I have met numerous police who are very good at their job, it doesn’t mean they are perfect 100% (or even 75%) of the time. And it doesn’t exclude the possibility that the police officer(s) in this particular case were either very tired, uninterested, or even incompetent.

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              pengo October 24, 2019 at 2:45 pm

              I’m reading this to mean that they equate gathering and recording information that might be vital to understanding, in cases like this, how and why someone died as mindless bureaucratic busywork. Of course there’s a paper trail; the details matter, and it’s pretty wild to try to make that an indictment of ‘society’ when a more valid one would be that someone looking for a job that’s mostly driving fast and busting heads is employable at all.

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              Johnny Bye Carter October 26, 2019 at 1:37 am

              If you carry a gun for your job then you want your job to feel like the wild west.

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            Steve Scarich October 25, 2019 at 9:27 am

            It’s actually pretty obvious. Every hour that you spend filling out forms, is time that you are not catching perps. A lot more crimes would be stopped or solved if cops were not filling out forms and interviewing witnesses. Of course, the more verification and evidence (e.g. interviews), the better the prosecution’s case. It is a balancing act. In Portland, with already way too few cops (just look at the steady downtrend in cops per capita), it is much worse.

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      Chris I October 23, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Because they don’t care and/or are lazy.

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      Chris I October 23, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      Dead men tell no tales. This commercial truck driver is human garbage to try and blame this on that poor kid. Take some responsibility.

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    CaptainKarma October 23, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    When! When will we require side guards on all vehicles with exposed wheels?

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    Chris October 23, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Chris. I’ve decided to not post your comment out of respect for the family who might be reading these. I appreciate what you had to say and thanks for sharing it. I hope you understand. – Jonathan.

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    Jason Skelton October 23, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    It is easy to dislike lawyers, but most likely it will take a lawyer for the family to find truth about what happened.

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    Tom October 23, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Why can’t they just place a hefty bollard at the apex? Seems like an easy cheap fix. At least put them at intersections near bus stops.

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      EP October 23, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Seriously. There needs to be something to stop people from driving up over the curb and onto the sidewalk. A lot of the new ADA winged-style curb ramps being installed in town just serve to make it easier to roll a vehicle’s rear tire up onto the curb, and then back down. Some of the ADA style ramps can maintain the sharp curb edges at the corners, but that’s not what’s being installed. Apex curb cuts are even worse. They serve to let people just drive right over them, like on a race track.

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      Steve Scarich October 25, 2019 at 9:27 am

      ADA

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    Adam October 23, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    If the truck had the green light, then the pedestrian would have had the legal right to be entering the crosswalk.

    If the truck driver was attentive enough to observe the pedestrian at the intersection waiting to cross, then I am failing to understand how it was possible for the truck to even collide with them.

    The truck driver should have waited for the pedestrian to cross. Not just gone ahead and blindly turned.

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      Gary B October 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

      Not necissarily. I encounter intersecitons where if the ped button isn’t pushed, or isn’t pushed in time, the vehicle lanes have the signal phase to themselves.

      Not to take anything away from the rest of this story. A tragedy, and potential criminal driving, confounded by police negligence.

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      El Biciclero October 23, 2019 at 2:22 pm

      This is a right-only lane with what looks like a separate right-only signal (if google maps is to be believed). Often in this configuration, the right only traffic signal will be green while the ped signal is still orange. This is the normal signal cycle even if the ped signal beg button is pressed.

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        paikiala October 24, 2019 at 12:43 pm

        this view shows a green ball, not a green arrow:
        https://goo.gl/maps/8247gtU3VTWBtoDF7

        so it was not a protected right when the photo was taken. Still, if the button was not pushed, the pedestrian signal may not have signaled walk.

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    Jolly Dodger October 23, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    The crosswalk stripes have been moved. From simple deduction, the bike lane running parallel in between the turning lane and thru lanes seems “responsible”…(trading one bad sightline for another?).

    But, the result in any case is putting the crosswalk entry much too far away from turning vehicles entering the turn “at speed”. Leaving them with minimal reaction time to an unexpected pedestrian.

    Whoever redesigned that crosswalk layout should be on trial.

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      paikiala October 24, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      How was the crosswalk moved?
      A corner truck apron would slow down all turning vehicles.

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        q October 24, 2019 at 1:42 pm

        portlandmaps.com aerial photos show the crosswalk in the same location all the way back to the first aerial photo in 2000, which shows some sort of construction in the r.o.w. So the crosswalk was not moved, at least not within the last 20 years.

        But that was a minor point in JD’s comment. The important one is what he said about the entry to the crosswalk being so far from where turning vehicles are starting their turn, which means by the time a vehicle is entering the crosswalk the victim was in or at least about to enter, the vehicle is well into their turn and could be going fairly fast at that point.

        The crosswalk entry is so far from the corner it looks absolutely bizarre in the aerial photo, and that could be confusing to a driver. So the design seems to create exactly the danger that JD noted–the crosswalk location may surprise drivers, and those drivers are able to be going faster than typical for entering a crosswalk.

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      q October 24, 2019 at 3:35 pm

      JD, you’re right about how that crosswalk placement makes things dangerous in regard to drivers being well into their turn (almost done actually) and already going fast before encountering someone crossing.

      There’s also another huge problem with it. For someone crossing, typically you can glance 90 degrees to your left to see someone making a right turn towards you–you’ll see them peripherally even without moving your head.

      In this case, the person who’s turning right and potentially running you over is coming at you from behind your back. You won’t see them at all, and in the noisy traffic may not even hear them either.

      So it looks to me like this design may have robbed the victim of a chance to see the truck that ran him over, making him lose his chance to overcome the driver’s inattention or carelessness and save himself. There could even be some truth to the idea that the victim walked right into the wheels of the truck, but that wasn’t his fault, because given this design the truck was coming at him from behind.

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    m October 23, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    A link to the full statement is below. Irresponsible on the part of the CCSO.

    https://www.flashalert.net/id/CCSO

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      El Biciclero October 23, 2019 at 2:51 pm

      Even worse.

      Driver who ran over a person and killed him: “stayed at the scene and is cooperating with the investigation”

      Person they killed: “acting strange and entered the roadway for an unknown reason”

      I don’t want to point any fingers, but this statement sure seems to.

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      Glenn II October 23, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      Yeah flashalertportland.net is my bathroom reading, so I often read about these before they’re reported here. I remember this one, and I confess I lazily swallowed the whole “acting strange” thing. So thanks JM for challenging that. Sounds like 100% verbatim-reported driver self-absolution. Would’ve been a super-relevant & potent defense too, if only the law allowed you to run over strange-acting people on the sidewalk.

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    SD October 23, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    If the police will not issue statements that do not assign blame, then the name of the official responsible for the statement should be reported along with the statement.
    This statement is one of the worst that I’ve seen. The vague speculations clearly fault the victim without providing the sources of that information.
    It is careless and should be retracted.
    The only benefit from the statement is that it reveals the strong anti-pedestrian bias that police bring to these investigations.

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    Allen Yeager October 23, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Messy reporting doesn’t help anyone.

    “According to the baristas who were witnesses…”
    Where is this information from? Police? Media? Facebook? Are there any other witnesses?
    Cameras?

    An opinion; That’s why I’m so disturbed at how the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office chose to frame what happened.

    Does Joshua Lee Sanchez have a history of “acting strange”? Drug use? Medication?
    Heath issues? For example; Hearing loss. Those larger trucks are very noisy.
    Plus, quoting a woman that Joshua Lee Sanchez had lived with has the chance of a biased statement-This is something you cannot ignore.

    What is the news about the driver of the large truck? What did he have to say? How could he have missed a person standing on the corner with a bicycle?
    Was the truck driver given a citation? Was weather/darkness/clothing color a factor?
    What was his mental state? Was he tired/drunk/distracted?

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) goes out of his way to give a long history of Joshua Lee Sanchez while giving views and suggestions that are unwarranted and unfair to all of those involved.

    What we cannot forget is that this young man lost his life-and the unmeasurable amount of pain this has brought his family. Another is the truck driver who will live the rest of his life and never be the same.

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      El Biciclero October 23, 2019 at 5:29 pm

      “‘According to the baristas who were witnesses…’
      Where is this information from? ”

      The article states that this information is from “a statement from one of Sanchez’s managers at ConMet”. So legally speaking, it is indeed hearsay, but that does not make it any less believable.

      “Does Joshua Lee Sanchez have a history of ‘acting strange’? Drug use? Medication?
      Heath (sic) issues? For example; Hearing loss. Those larger trucks are very noisy.”

      We do know he had just gotten off his shift at work, where I can only imagine drug use, etc. would be a severe detriment and sorely frowned upon by his employer—making it unlikely. Regarding “hearing loss”, a blind, deaf person ought to be able to stand on the sidewalk without fear of being run over by a giant truck.

      “[Q]uoting a woman that Joshua Lee Sanchez had lived with has the chance of a biased statement…”

      Any more biased than statements from the driver who ran over him? Plus, there are also statements from his classmates and co-workers—I’m sure there are varying levels of bias there, including next-to-none.

      “How could [the truck driver] have missed a person standing on the corner with a bicycle?”

      Mr. Sanchez was on foot, without any bicycle. How carefully did you read the article?

      “Was weather/darkness/clothing color a factor?
      What was his mental state? Was he tired/drunk/distracted?”

      Weather, darkness, and clothing color should never be excuses for running over someone. If you are having trouble seeing where you are going in a 58,000-lb GVW vehicle, you need to really slow down or get off the road until you can see.

      Seems all the authorities were interested in was a vehicle inspection, presumably to check for mechanical issues, and whether the driver “cooperated with the investigation”. They will not concern themselves much with distraction, since the victim was “acting strange” (most likely according to the driver).

      “Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) goes out of his way to give a long history of Joshua Lee Sanchez while giving views and suggestions that are unwarranted and unfair to all of those involved.”

      I would say the “long history” of the victim is warranted as part of a story that in part memorializes the victim of a questionable incident involving an extreme power differential. Which views and suggestions do you think are “unfair to all involved”? Jonathan is pointing out how the statement already given by the Sheriff’s office is unfair by de facto blaming the victim for “entering the roadway”, which statement itself contradicts witness testimony. Are you saying it’s unfair to call a statement that draws conclusions and places blame on a deceased person based on information from the person who killed him “unfair”?

      I’m not sure whose reporting you consider “messy”.

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      John Lascurettes October 24, 2019 at 10:25 am

      “Another is the truck driver who will live the rest of his life and never be the same.”

      Good! I hope he very much it definitely changes — because otherwise he can kill again.

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        q October 24, 2019 at 11:07 am

        Yes. I have sympathy for someone who kills someone innocently–say the railroad engineer who hits someone who’s committing suicide by standing on the tracks.

        We don’t know what happened here for sure, but if the driver hit the victim while he was standing on the sidewalk, or crossing in the crosswalk, then guilt SHOULD haunt him.

        And if the driver did that after truly seeing the person already “acting strangely”, that’s worse, because that was a warning sign he ignored.

        And if the driver made up the “acting strangely” to avoid blame for himself, that’s no better than a hit and run–maybe worse.

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    pdx2wheeler October 23, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    My child acts strange and silly on the sidewalk too. Guess these days that’s a death sentence punishable by truck tires… Wow!

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    Bjorn Warloe October 23, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    In 2018 Jeff Scoville killed Eric Austin in Corvallis while he was crossing in a marked crosswalk with the flashing hazard indicators on. Eric’s death was recorded on the dashcam of another vehicle and the driver was cited for speeding and careless driving resulted in the death of a vulnerable road user. Even though Scoville pled no contest and had to perform community service and pay a fine I still see people including Scoville’s family members blaming Eric in comments online and claiming it was “just an accident”. It is really quite mortifying how invested so many people are in victim blaming even when poorly worded police reports aren’t the only thing out there, so really the police should be much more careful when releasing information.

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    q October 23, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    If someone’s acting strangely, that’s a great reason to be extra cautious when driving past them. Driving onto the sidewalk they’re standing on as you pass them isn’t being extra careful.

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      John Lascurettes October 23, 2019 at 4:26 pm

      Right? If the driver saw him acting strange, then the driver saw him and could have taken more due care!

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        El Biciclero October 23, 2019 at 4:52 pm

        And if that is true, it spotlights the cultural assumption that the victim will be blamed for not taking “personal responsibility” for their own safety. How did everything get so upside-down and backwards?

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      B. Carfree October 23, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      You are exactly right. That was actually part of my truck driving training and it has come in handy (as in preventing me from needlessly taking an innocent life) on several occasions.

      One of them sticks out. I was southbound on 99W through Corvallis late at night. A group of seemingly drunk college age people were on the corner. As my light turned green, I waited for their activity to become more understandable. In a flash, one of them fell in front of my truck and another leaped out to grab her. Had I proceeded on my green light, I would have killed two young people.

      Things happen quickly. We all need to pay attention and have a plan when operating deadly heavy machines around people. Absent a plan, default to slowing down, stopping, or just not moving.

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        Dan A October 24, 2019 at 7:24 am

        Excellent work. It’s almost as if someone should invent a basic speed rule to codify this kind of safe driving behavior.

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    Todd Boulanger October 23, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Yes, this intersection need a total re-design for transportation safety. The future post crash event Roadway Safety Audit will likely find many deficiencies: It is too permissive for turning at speed AND HGV easily dragging rear wheels without knowing due to the gradual curve. Did any see a photo of the truck to see if it had a right side mirror?

    Does anyone know if this intersection had any other design mitigations that were not built?

    [I wonder if it would have been a safer design to NOT have the right turn lane pocket to square up the approach turn…either way the right turning traffic will cross the bike lane. ]

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    Koralie Ferguson October 23, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    I worked with Josh. He was a great young man. Very contagious smile. I can tell you that i have walked and crossed that intersection many times to catch the bus and yes Josh would have been given the okay to cross at the same time the driver’s light turned green. It is the driver’s responsibility to pay attention to pedestrians!!!! I can not begin to tell you how many times i wittnessed driver’s just driving through without doing so! This is a tragic accident and very poor investigations on the police side.

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    Dead Salmon October 24, 2019 at 1:02 am

    David Hampsten: ” The driver acted exactly as the system and our society intended – they went around a 35 mph curve at approximately 35 mph through a green light.”

    No chance the truck was moving anywhere near 35 mph around that corner, or it would have turned over, likely coming to rest somewhere near the “green oval” on the other side of the street. A Corvette would be challenged to negotiate that corner at 35 mph. Also, had the truck been going 35 mph it would not have been able to stop ” several yards beyond the corner” as indicated in the photo caption.

    El Biciclero: “I’m not sure whose reporting you consider “messy”.”
    I believe he was saying that both JMs article and the news media/police reports were messy. He’s right. Police/media have their faults, JM appeals to cyclists and has his biases which support cycling no matter what the circumstances.

    Bottom line, be careful out there, particularly at intersections. Almost got nailed twice within 30 minutes walking out here in the burbs a few days ago – first one daylight was getting dim, second one it was dark – first was partly my fault, second was 100% my fault. NEVER assume drivers see you, particularly if like me, you are wearing dark, non-reflective clothing in low light – you are essentially invisible, cops (and all drivers) know it, and will give ANY driver the benefit of the doubt if lack of visibility was an issue. In that case, it’s just an unfortunate accident, and you can’t blame the driver. Unfortunate accidents happen ever day at home, at work, and on the streets. 2 of my friends were killed in a 1 car roll-over a couple of weeks ago – the investigation is ongoing to figure out what happened – no witnesses. Now put on those asphalt and concrete colored clothes, take off those gawdy bike lights and reflectors, and get on those bikes and ride!

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      Tom October 24, 2019 at 10:51 am

      There is no safe speed for driving on the sidewalk.

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    Mike Quigley October 24, 2019 at 6:18 am

    When driving (or biking) about downtown Eugene be extra cautious. So many people wandering completely oblivious to their surroundings. Bus drivers are always on alert and will stop immediately if someone stumbles toward the street. Locals call Eugene village of the damned.

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      Dan A October 24, 2019 at 7:25 am

      Victim blaming in an article about the problem of victim blaming. How very on-topic.

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      Dan A October 24, 2019 at 7:28 am

      ANOTHER commercial vehicle without a dash cam. There’s a lesson here. I’m curious to know what percentage of Portland metro VRU fatalities involve drivers who are on the clock.

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    X October 24, 2019 at 8:32 am

    I have nothing to add to this story except more regrets for another life lost needlessly but can we learn from it? Jonathan you are right on the point about the compromising police statements.

    Large multi-axle vehicles can easily cross the interior corners of an intersection. I’ve seen traffic signal standards rubbed off their substantial concrete foundations. The intersection of NE Broadway and Williams creeps me out just sitting here. The layout and light sequence can combine to potentially stop a person with a bike (heading W on Broadway) on the inside of a 90 degree corner with heavy traffic turning around them.

    I avoid this corner as much as possible and at need, I pull up on the sidewalk behind a post and hit the beg button. That spot makes me uneasy in a way that is nearly unique in my experience of Portland.

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    Rob Kline October 24, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Jonathan, you nailed it. Thank you for your thoughtful reporting. As a lawyer that represents victims in these cases, I’ll add that, in addition to all the other problems you address, these types of uninformed, incomplete statements can make resolving cases far more difficult. Insurance companies and defendants dig in based on the flimsy conclusion that the pedestrian or cyclist was at fault. That makes is far more likely that we have to file a lawsuit and pay a host of associated expenses such as hiring a crash reconstruction expert. These costs come right out of any recovery we’re able to achieve for the injured person or their family. At a minimum, justice is delayed and harder to achieve when public agencies issue these half-baked statements. I agree 100 percent with your suggestion that public agencies all should adopt a form crash statement that sticks to basic facts and avoids any commentary on fault. I have seen more than a few cases where quick pronouncements of fault turned out to be completely wrong.

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    mark smith October 25, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    I drive a truck for a living. I hate it when people walk toward the back of the trailer when I am turning. It’s like they are drawn towards it like a magnet to metal. People never step back, they never think about their life. But I always make sure they see me moving. If they don’t, I stop. And wait. But of course…one mistake on my part, people die. It’s a horrible situation.

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      John Lascurettes October 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      Sounds like trailers are built beyond the limits of what should be on public roads, especially in populated areas.

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    Jenelle Pena October 26, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    RIP THE POLICE SHOULD OF NEVER SAID ANYTHING!!! BLESS HIS FAMILY& ALL OF HIS CO WORKERS IM SURE HE WAS A GOOD HARD WORKER THAT WAS NOT ON DRUGS OR ACTING WEIRD!! IT SHOULD BE DELETED ASAP!!!

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