Given the extent of his injuries, it’s probably for the better that River City Bicycles owner David Guettler doesn’t remember what happened as he crossed NE Sandy Boulevard while on a bike ride on June 2nd.
Just after 5:00 pm, Guettler was rolling southbound on 42nd Avenue as he came toward Sandy Blvd. A witness (who has requested anonymity), who shared an account of what happened with BikePortland, said she was in a car just one vehicle back from the same intersection going the opposition direction (so she was facing the collision). The witness said the signal for traffic on 42nd Avenue was red. When the light turned green, she noticed the bus in front of her move forward. And then out of the corner of her eye she saw a pickup truck driver on Sandy Blvd increase their speed. “The truck driver definitely ran a light and was going well over the speed limit,” they said.
The truck driver, “just blasted through the intersection really fast, like someone does when they’re trying to run a red light,” she added. Then the witness recalls hearing “the sound” of impact and saw a bicycle rider, “Fly up into the air about 15 feet.” Guettler landed about 25 feet west from the point of impact.
The witness then parked her car and ran into the intersection to direct traffic. She didn’t know the victim’s identity and was shocked to find out later that it was Guettler.
Guettler (above) was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit at Legacy Emanuel hospital where he spent the next two weeks in the ICU. Staff from River City Bicycles posted a photo of him in a wheelchair on Instagram Saturday. Here’s an excerpt from the post:
“After riding bicycles nearly every day for over 45 years, our fearless leader Dave was struck on his bike by a vehicle that ran a red light. He woke up in the emergency room with nine broken ribs, a broken pelvis, clavicle, shoulder blade, and more. He feels fortunate to be leaving the hospital considering the extent of his injuries.”
This section of Sandy is in the heart of the Hollywood District and is full of retail businesses. The speed limit is 30 mph. 42nd Ave has a bike lane and is a main north-south route over I-84 (via the Hollywood Transit Center).
Guettler is a very skilled and experienced rider who logs thousands of miles on his bikes through all types of terrain each year. He’s been the owner of River City Bicycles since he founded the shop in 1995.
The police have confirmed the crash and say they’ve conducted an investigation. Impairment was ruled out as a factor. The witness I spoke to says she also spoke to officers at the crash scene to share her story (which was corroborated with another witness at the scene). She also recalls hearing that the driver was saying they didn’t remember anything about the crash.
For Guettler, the severe impact will (hopefully) shield his memory from the trauma; but he won’t forget its aftermath. “Sadly, I am not the only one who has gone through this. Others have been through worse,” he shared via Instagram. “I consider myself an extremely safe cyclist and anticipate others not following the rules of the road. This collision has changed my life and I hope others learn the ramifications of careless driving…”
I’ve reached out to police to see if any charging decisions have been made in the crash. I’ll update this post when I hear back.
UPDATE, 6/29: Portland Police have issued a citation to the truck driver — 64-year-old Wilson L. Lee of Portland — for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device (ORS 811.265).