Bicycle rider hit and killed on North Portland Road -UPDATED

Looking north on N Portland Road. This is the crossing between the two paths. Smith & Bybee Wetlands are on the left.

Just in from the Portland Police Bureau:

Jason Ruhmshottel

A cyclist has been hit and killed on North Portland Road.

On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at approximately 5:57 a.m., officers responded to reports of a crash on North Portland Road involving a cyclist and vehicle. When officers arrived, they found the cyclist and determined the individual was deceased. The cyclist appeared to be an adult male.

The driver of the involved vehicle, also an adult male, remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team responded to investigate the crash. North Portland Road is closed between North Marine Drive and North Columbia Boulevard.

This is the first fatal bicycle crash in Portland so far this year. More updates below…

Jason loved his dogs. (Images shared by the Ruhmshottel family)

The victim’s name is Jason Ruhmshottel, a 43-year-old man who was born and raised in Portland. According to one of his family members who has knowledge of the case, Ruhmshottel was struck while riding in the crosswalk that connects two paved trails about a half-mile south of N Suttle Road. Police say the driver was operating a Mazda CX-7 and so far, no arrests have been made and no citations have been issues (as is usual when a crash is still under investigation).

According to someone who knew Jason, he loved his family and his dog Eddie. He also loved coffee, camping, cycling and spending time outdoors. I’m told he leaves behind many nieces and nephews, who were a huge part of his life.

This crosswalk is well-known to many Portland bike riders. It connects a northern extension of the Columbia Slough/Peninsula Crossing trails with the paved path that heads east-west to Smith & Bybee Wetlands and Kelley Point Park. It’s a popular section of the 40-Mile Loop network.

If anyone has information about this crash, and has not already spoken to police, please e-mail crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov with subject line “TIU (for Traffic Investigations Unit) case number 23-246591”.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago

That crossing is treacherous in the day time. I ride and drive out there frequently. I’d estimate the ambient speed of N Portland Road to be more than 55 MPH. I’m guessing its higher at times like 6 AM when there aren’t a lot of cars out to slow other motorists down.

The crossing seems like a common sense place to have a flashing crossing beacon. #ZeroVision prescribes that the collision should be studied and improvements be made that would have prevented the collision. I’d bet $1000 that nothing changes on this road.

Aaron
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

They won’t be upgrading this road because they already reallocated those funds to go towards removing the Broadway bike lane. PBOT thanks you for your support.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
5 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Hard to tell what’s sarcasm and what’s a deliberate attempt at misinformation.

Aaron
5 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

That was definitely snarky sarcasm based on recent events, I’m not interested in spreading misinformation.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

Dave recently had his funnybone removed. 🙂

idlebytes
idlebytes
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

They just did traffic counts and speeds this last June southbound the 85th percentile was 53 north it was 50. So your estimate seems pretty spot on. Posted speed is 40. It’s a city maintained road I’m surprised it’s so fast and there’s no calming. Probably because there’s no homes or businesses around it.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

It’s actually pretty dead before 7am. Worst in the early afternoon from what I’ve experienced.

Here’s a Street View of the crossing (which has been improved since I started riding out that way 20 years ago). There are signs, wands and a middle refuge island. It’s no longer what I’d consider a high-stress crossing. I feel much more sketched out crossing Marine Drive, for instance.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.607601,-122.7107005,3a,75y,26.91h,86.7t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sQgbxMsR8BieVZ23Aq3_rvw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

I would not be surprised if the accident occurred somewhere else in the area.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
5 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

It’s actually pretty dead before 7am.

Unfortunate choice of words there.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

And the word “accident.” There are no accidents.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

There are no accidents.

Really?

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Correct. Things happen that people did not intend to happen, but they are not accidents, cf. Vision Zero.

PS
PS
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

That’s literally the definition of accident. Unintended things happen.

Jordan Ruhmshottel
Jordan Ruhmshottel
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Thank you, this was no accident thank you for the support

Michelle Ruhmshottel
Michelle Ruhmshottel
4 months ago

Yes this was no accident this person needs to pay for what he has done.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

Your interpretation is dark. Not sure what to tell you beyond that.

Nina Nestlen
Nina Nestlen
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

This summer I was stopped to cross, when a woman slammed on her brakes to let me go, the motorcyclist behind her had to lay his motorcycle down to avoid rear ending her, both driving way over the speed limit. Definitely needs a flashing light like on Marine Drive.

David Hampsten
5 months ago

5:57 AM would have still been dark, essentially still at night and at very low visibility. This was not really a daytime crash.

Chris I
Chris I
5 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I was riding at 5:57am this morning, and it was still pitch black. We need more info on the circumstances of this crash before jumping to conclusions. Illumination would be legally required at this time of day for both vehicles.

socially engineered
socially engineered
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Ah yes, safety is truly a shared responsibility, even when one party is ensconced in a 2-ton metal box that allows them to kill someone with a flick of the steering wheel, and the other party is on a bicycle. It’s like that line from Spider-Man: “With great power comes just as much responsibility as anyone else”.

FauxPorteur
FauxPorteur
5 months ago

I still haven’t heard of the location of the incident. While there is a separated path for a significant percentage of the length of North Portland Road, to _get_ to the separated path from N. Fessenden St. in the St Johns neighborhood there is a _very_ dodgy connection that involves poor sight lines, narrow/completely absent shoulders, uneven pavement, tons of debris and speeding traffic. I’ve had to do it dozens of times, and I hate it every time.

Jim
Jim
5 months ago

It was not at Marine/Portland. (I crossed Marine/Portland from the north this morning at 8 AM, the investigation scene appeared to be south of Suttle Road.)

EP
EP
5 months ago

The northern end of the trail up towards Marine Drive can get pretty crappy with all the gravel from the trucks using the parking lot/pull off on the east side of the trail. I’ve taken the lane on N Portland there, instead of messing with the path. So it’s possible they were riding in the road. A specific location on this may be telling.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
5 months ago

According to the KGW report, the incident happened “near North Portland Road and North Marine Drive” and includes a photo of a police car at the intersection of Portland Road and Suttle Rd. I think it’s pretty likely it had nothing to do with that crossing.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
5 months ago

KATU has an article with photos of the crash site. Not quite sure what bridge that is.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
5 months ago

Yeah I see that now. I got thrown off by the plastic poles which aren’t near the bridge. I could tell they were using a telephoto lens but didn’t quite realize the compression was that extreme.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Max S (Wren)

That bridge is in the background of the streetview link Dave Fronk posted above.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
5 months ago
Reply to  Max S (Wren)

*accident site

Mike N
Mike N
5 months ago

I don’t want to speculate either, but I think it’s certainly possible the victim was struck while crossing the crosswalk further south, traveling to or from the Bybee Lakes area. The KGW photo makes it seem even more likely to me — this is the most likely location for an officer to park to block traffic on N Portland Rd. The officer in the photos appears to be facing North and preventing traffic from traveling South on N Portland Rd., toward that crosswalk. In fact, this is exactly where PPB blocked traffic this past weekend when there was a fire on N Portland Rd nearby.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago

PPB can’t help using that heinous “driver is cooperating” language.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

What language would you prefer they use? Have you ever been involved in a collision? Was it intentional? Did you cooperate with law enforcement?

Would love to hear what the “correct” conclusions to jump to are about something that has barely been reported on yet.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

Thanks for asking, Dave. I would prefer PPB not use a word like “cooperating” b/c it implies that the driver did nothing wrong and effectively absolves her/him of any blame. JM has written extensively about this problem, though I can’t be arsed to find his many thoughtful posts and link to them here.

In a nutshell, a driver whose car is involved in a collision (with anything – wall, tree, bike rider, another car) is obligated BY LAW to stop and render assistance, exchange info, wait for police, etc. That is not COOPERATION; that is doing one’s minimal duty as an operator of a motor vehicle – and again I’m too lazy to link to the ORS that spells out these obligations.

Law enforcement should say, in their news releases, that the MV operator stopped and is speaking with police, or doing what is required by law. “Cooperating” implies blamelessness, however you slice it.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

“Cooperating” implies blamelessness

Nonsense. Guilty people “cooperate” with the police all the time. Guilty pleas are often built on such cooperation.

Now, the opposite might be true, that is “not cooperating” sounds like an admission of guilt. But wanting to consult with your lawyer before talking to the police over a serious matter in which you are a central actor is just smart, even if you are completely innocent of any wrongdoing.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

That is not COOPERATION;

That is absolutely what cooperation means. Where are you getting the idea that cooperation implies it was optional or that it implies innocence? Do you have any linguistic evidence for that interpretation at all? That people are hearing the word “cooperate” and assuming that’s the case? It’s a fully neutral word for me.

And to reiterate Fred’s original question, what your preferred language in cases like this, where we don’t even know the specific causes of the crash and can’t yet allocate blame.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I like your “speaking with police”. What I don’t like about “cooperation” is that it assumes the person IS cooperating. That’s often impossible to know until much later in the investigation.

If someone talks to the police and says, “the pedestrian just darted out into my path from nowhere” or “the bicyclist suddenly swerved into my lane and I didn’t have time to avoid hitting them”, those could be absolutely true statements, or they could be something a driver says who veered onto the shoulder while texting and killed someone.

In both cases the report will say “the driver cooperated with police” when all that’s really known is that he gave answers of unknown truthfulness to their questions. They may have been totally cooperative, or they may have been telling blatant lies, which certainly isn’t “cooperating”. “Spoke with police”, “stayed for questioning”, “was questioned by police”, etc. don’t make assumptions about truthfulness, and (the other side of the coin) they also don’t make a blameless person look guilty.

Wren (Max S)
Wren (Max S)
5 months ago
Reply to  qqq

That works for me as an argument.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  Wren (Max S)

I agree – qqq makes a really strong argument, which accounts for the asymmetry in a situation where a driver is standing outside of a vehicle while a person lies dead on the pavement. When that person can’t speak for herself, why does LE privilege the statements of the driver?

I get it: a police officer arrives at this scene. What is he supposed to do? At a minimum the officer should assume nothing and simply note the facts. A word like “cooperation” is not factual – it is interpretive and completely colored by the perceptions of the listener.

Watts is famous in this space for not appreciating the nuances of language, but neither does the PPB.

PS
PS
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

For what its worth, being oppressively pedantic is not indicative of an appreciation for the nuances of language either.

In the instance of a motor vehicle collision, “cooperation” of the driver can absolutely be indicative of a factual description of their behavior. Most of us don’t interpret fault/innocence by that statement, we just don’t need to be spoon fed that the driver stayed at the scene, was asked questions by an officer, answered questions asked by the officer and provided a statement about what happened. Of course the investigation will continue and if there is evidence in contradiction to the driver’s description of events, there should be consequences (i.e. finding text messages immediately prior to the crash). There is often not consequences because there is not evidence of wrongdoing, and using cooperation doesn’t change that reality.

John V
John V
5 months ago
Reply to  PS

There is often not consequences because there is not evidence of wrongdoing

But this is the real tragedy. I don’t know what other ideas people have, but I don’t think we give anywhere near as much benefit of the doubt to the killer of a person in any other situation. Maybe we do. Maybe it’s disturbingly easy to get away with killing someone if you can do it successfully without witnesses. If you hit someone in the head with a bat and nobody sees it, can you just say it was an accident and it’s all fine? I guess maybe so if there’s no evidence.

I guess this gets to one of my comments I was lambasted for in another story. Everyone driving is basically just getting by on luck that they don’t plow into someone. Even very careful drivers. Anyone who says they would never have made this or that mistake are kind of just lying to themselves about their own abilities. Obviously, some people do irresponsible things that make driving more dangerous, but every driver is just rolling the dice and most of us are just lucky to not have any serious bad effects.

PS
PS
5 months ago
Reply to  John V

If someone got hit in the head with a bat at a baseball game and they die and it was evident there was not malicious intent, yes, you don’t have consequences. The way you describe driving sounds like everyone has malicious intent so there are only rare scenarios where someone shouldn’t be guilty of something, unfortunately that’s not the case.

There is no statistical data to suggest your opinion about driving is true.
Even with the latest increase to pedestrian deaths, the per capita incidence is about 1.09 per 100,000. For occupants of vehicles or drivers, the odds of dying in an accident peaked in about 1970 and have trended down since. Not sure if you’re into calculating probabilities, but thats a lot less than snake eyes, which is 1 per 36 rolls of the dice.

John V
John V
5 months ago
Reply to  PS

The way you describe driving sounds like everyone has malicious intent

Not at all. The way I describe driving is that everyone who does it is doing something that has a reasonable chance of killing someone else (not to mention the obvious climate impact). And they’re just rolling the dice that they won’t mess up. It’s like shooting a gun blindly in a sparsely populated area (only with more utility obviously). It’s not malicious intent, but you’re doing something that statistically will sometimes hurt someone.

There is no statistical data to suggest your opinion about driving is true.

You say, following with statistical data to suggest my opinion about driving is true. Cars have gotten safer for the occupants. They still kill people, and it’s not all drunk drivers and cell phone users. People get hit and killed by cars, and it’s a situation anyone who drives a car could be in even if you’re very careful.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  John V

If you hit someone in the head with a bat and nobody sees it, can you just say it was an accident and it’s all fine?

In this country, the government needs to prove you did what you are accused of doing beyond a reasonable doubt, which usually requires evidence.

This is as it should be, even if some guilty people go unpunished.

I guess this gets to one of my comments I was lambasted for in another story.

I, at least, agreed with you.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  PS

If the driver is telling the truth, “cooperation” is a factual description. If they’re not telling the truth, it’s not factual.

Saying “spoke with police” or any of several alternatives is just as concise as “cooperated with police”, and they’re correct whether the driver is being truthful or not.

It’s not a major issue, but on the other hand it comes up over and over in police reports, and would be simple to correct. It’s also the way it’s done in other types of police reports. I’ve read “the suspect (or witness, or victim) was questioned by police” or “…gave their account” or similar phrases countless times. I’ve never seen a non-traffic report that said a suspect, witnesses or victim “cooperated with police”.

SD
SD
5 months ago
Reply to  qqq

A common use of “cooperation” is by the media in criminal cases where a witness, informant or co-conspirator is “cooperating” with prosecutors. In this use, it is assumed that “cooperation” means being on the same side as the prosecution and providing truthful, factual information. This use is probably more common for the general public than reading car crash reports. So, yes, when a driver kills someone and then is described as “cooperating” with the police, that description changes the way people perceive the driver, because criminals do not “cooperate” with the police.

John V
John V
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I agree that the “cooperating with police” language is used to downplay / remove blame. That has been clear for a while. But you’re going to (already did) get a bunch of people saying that literally is what cooperating means. Sure. The problem is this is like a code word. You can be completely negligent and hit a person, but if you say you didn’t see them and cooperate, the driver almost never faces any consequences. It’s just one of the many things they do to minimize vehicle violence.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

So what do you want them to say. In this day and age when many drivers tend to leave the scene of a “crash” this driver does there lawful duty and stays at the scene and gives there statement to the investigating officers and you say that’s heinous. So what do you call it when it’s a hit-n-run. I have news for you not all bicycle riders are saints and not all drivers are guilty.

SD
SD
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Cooperation is loaded because it implies providing truthful information.

Joseph E
5 months ago

The pictures in the KATU article were taken with a telephoto lens from south of the railroad bridges, looking north. It is hard to tell exactly where the investigation is, but it is somewhere somewhat south of those two railroad bridges, near where path crosses to head northwest toward Smith & Bybee lakes. Compare this street view with the first photo in the KATU article: https://www.google.com/maps/@45.6063581,-122.712222,3a,15y,39.1h,89.21t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfA73_OytkM3YshUmDOdYmw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
5 months ago

In fairness I didn’t really help in that department.

Jeanne
Jeanne
5 months ago

This was my uncle. Thank you for being so precise in your location. My family is devastated and left with so many unanswered questions.

Dusty Reske
Dusty Reske
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I’m so sorry for your loss.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I’m very sorry for your loss.

Jim
Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I’m sorry for your loss.

Christina Cuanalo
Christina Cuanalo
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeanne

Really? Because I’m his sister and don’t even know a Jeanne existed. Please don’t lie about who you are.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago

Thanks for the update, but I wish someone could provide more context on this terrible incident. Was Jason commuting to work? What was his usual rig for riding in the dark? Sounds like he was in the crosswalk, and if so, why didn’t the driver stop for him?

Jonathan, you have (unfortunately) followed so many of these cases. Do police ever provide a full investigation for the public or media to review? Do police regularly examine the cellphones of drivers, as most European police forces do?

The police statements, which invariably absolve the driver, give me ZERO confidence that the police know how to investigate cases where cyclists or pedestrians are killed by drivers and there is no witness except the driver.

Miranda
Miranda
5 months ago

I’m one of his nieces.
He was riding his bike home from work.
There are pictures on his Facebook of his bike wheels having lights on them.
The police aren’t giving much information because it’s still an active investigation. He was hit from the side.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Miranda

Miranda, Thank you for writing to keep us abreast of what is going on. I’m sorry about your uncle, and what you and your family are going through.

Christina Cuanalo
Christina Cuanalo
4 months ago

My brother’s bike was fully lit with bright lights around the wheels. He worked on his bike to make sure he was safe at all times. He was a security guard for Columbia Sportswear and got off work at 5:30am. He always rode the Bybee/Smith bike trail and finished his ride to the max station. He’s worked there for almost 10 years. This is an active investigation so I’ve kept quiet. My brother was in the crosswalk. He died a horrific death. I want to seek further safety at that crosswalk so other bike riders do not experience what my brother did.

JB
JB
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Yes he was commuting to/from job as security