Portland Velo club member killed in collision with a driver in Washington County

Dana Deardorff. (Images: Portland Velo via Facebook)
Approximate location of collision circled in red.

Friends are remembering a dedicated group ride leader and Portland Velo Cycling Club member who was killed in a collision while cycling in Washington County in November.

According to a statement released today by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, 78-year-old Dana Deardorff was riding northbound on SW Roy Rogers Road just south of Al’s Garden Center between SW Beef Bend Rd and SW Elsner (about 10 miles southwest of downtown Portland) at around 11:38 am on Monday, November 20th. Police say Deardorff “veered across lanes of travel” and collided with a driver who was going southbound. “[The driver] was unable to stop before they impacted,” the Sheriff’s office wrote.

The driver called 911 and stayed at the scene to perform lifesaving duties. Police say impairment is not considered a factor and an investigation is ongoing.

SW Roy Rogers is a very busy road with a speed limit of 55 mph. It sits directly on the border of the Urban Growth Boundary and sections of it north and south of where this collision occurred have been widened and updated with bicycle facilities recently or are planned for changes soon. The section where I suspect this happened is rural with one lane of travel in each direction. The most recent images on Google show that due to a construction project, the lane configuration is more narrow than usual (can anyone confirm if the image below from this summer is still accurate?).

Deardorff lived in Tigard and rode frequently in the area near where he last pedaled. According to his Ride With GPS account, he’s biked over 2,100 miles so far this year and did a 32-mile, nearly three-hour ride around Sherwood just three days before the fatal collision.

Friends remember Deardorff as a supportive ride leader and active member of Portland Velo. He also led a group ride from Lake Oswego for more than 15 years.

Here are just a few of the comments PV members have shared about him on Facebook:

“Like so many of us, Dana taught me how to group ride. He was always patient, kind and encouraging to newbies and enjoyed watching us develop into active Velo members. He took on the 14-16 ride group when we so desperately needed a reliable, consistent leader. He will be missed.”

“My son used to come out and ride with me on Saturday rides. There was one morning when we were just getting back and waiting to turn right onto Evergreen, and I heard Dana whisper to my son, ‘Hey Andrew, want to drop your old man?’ Andrew and I are so sorry to lose Dana.”

“A true friend and cycling buddy. So many rides with him. He was great to ride with in a group or just the two of us. Amazing man and friend. Coincidently, Wednesday is the day in Tucson that the Oregonians do a group ride so we paid tribute to him, wearing PV kits, and did a slow and silent rollout in his honor. Dana, you will be missed.”

Police say anyone who has information or who might have witnessed the crash should contact them at 503-629-0111 and reference case number 50-23-17393.

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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J1mb0
J1mb0
6 months ago

I was so heartbroken to see this. For whatever reason he veered, the consequence was too great. This is not how a transportation system should work.

There was a lot of activity on NextDoor about this. Details that I got out of the thread was that it happened near the Al’s Garden Center. There was a lot of agreement that 55 MPH was far too fast for this stretch and this high speed is probably to blame for the driver’s inability to react. With River Terrance and the development out there the traffic has skyrocketed. A lot of cyclists in the NextDoor thread mourned the good riding that used to be out this way. This section of Roy Roger is the best option right now if you want to access the Bald Peak area by bike.

Tigard has plan that Bull Mountain road will be connected to SW Elsner via 161st, allowing a hillier bypass to a lot of Roy Rogers. There is a new elementary (Art Rutkin) out there that desperately needs to be well connected to the surrounding neighborhoods. There are obviously the plans, since Art Rutkin has a MUP adjacent to it that goes right into a gravel pit and a ditch.

On another note, I once managed a weekday ride out to Bald Peak and had a lovely ride back up Roy Rogers during afternoon rush hour. Heavy congestion really does make things a lot safer, especially since I was considerably faster than any of the cars. How you survive doing that kind of commute in a car everyday is beyond me.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
6 months ago
Reply to  J1mb0

I absolutely hate riding that stretch of road. That whole area has gotten so busy.

Fred
Fred
6 months ago

Thanks for the tip. I will avoid this area next time I ride out that way.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  J1mb0

A lot of cyclists in the NextDoor thread mourned the good riding that used to be out this way. 

The patterns of development west of Portland have been hard on what used to be a nice area to ride. Anymore, there are dead-end farm roads that would probably be nice to ride (though short), connected only by dangerous highways choked with aggressive, fast traffic.

With development in the cities, there are so many more roads, and for a bike rider, there’s usually an option for getting somewhere with less traffic, or a safer bike facility. But with these exurban areas, the road network density is so low, every user ends up competing for space on fast highways.

There are a few non-highway roads that don’t dead-end, but they are more narrow, and they still have fast commuting traffic. I feel for the folks who live there!

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

It always breaks me up to read about a death like this. I love the quote from Andrew’s father. Dana sounds like he was a wonderful man.

Kathy Thomas
Kathy Thomas
6 months ago

Tragic. Condolences to his friends and family.

Kent
Kent
6 months ago

Dan or Dana? “According to a statement released today by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, 78-year-old Dan Deardorff” — Comments are about Dana…

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Kent

Three of the comments in the article, from people who knew him, refer to Deardorff as Dana, so I went with that in my comment.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
6 months ago

Sorry the hear about this. Is he of the same family as the Deardorff Road is named after, at the end of SE 134th Ave in East Portland, where the Cedar (covered) Bridge crosses Johnson Creek?

Joe
Joe
6 months ago

SW Part of city is very dangerous to ride. Riding infrastructure is lacking as you go further from downtown. A lot of transplants who are timid/dangerous in the rain and not having experience sharing road with bikes and peds.
People have been really crammed in there now even though you might feel like you’re in the country, its definitely city/suburbs.
I quit riding on the West Side in 2005 due to too many close calls on shared roads with drivers. Its just too risky for me without enough bike lanes.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Ditto. Helvetia is so beautiful but the last time I rode out there (2009 or so), I decided it just wasn’t worth it. That’s not to blame anyone for riding out there! I don’t live on that side of the metro area, and I have lots of options for riding safer, slower speed areas.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago

This wouldn’t be the first time that a cyclist was riding in a straight line, run over by a careless driver, accused of “veering into traffic”, and unable to tell the truth on account of being dead. Just a hunch.

Stephen Scarich
Stephen Scarich
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

A hunch with zero basis in reality. The driver stopped, called 911, and stayed on the scene. Maybe you could explain how a southbound driver would hit a northbound cyclist on a busy stretch of road without hitting another car. More reasonable (statistically) speculation would be a medical event.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago

“maybe I could explain”? Okay, I’ll take a stab at it: Despite some people’s best efforts, not every inch of space is filled with cars at all times (although it often feels that way). Thus, a bad driver may put their vehicle in any number of locations without colliding with another vehicle. If the road is so busy, why are there no other witnesses? Hold your own assertions to the same “reasonable” standards as you hold others’ to.

Seth Alford
Seth Alford
6 months ago
Reply to  Matt

That’s why I have front and rear GoPros.

Matt
Matt
6 months ago
Reply to  Seth Alford

Ditto. (actually a single 360 degree camera atop my helmet)

Champs
Champs
6 months ago

I didn’t know him, but this is painful to hear. Hopefully his final moments were enjoyed, doing what he loved.

Brad
Brad
6 months ago

This is so sad, feels like it could be any of us out here. Absolutely refuse to believe the driver was doing so with due care and attention.

I used to ride up and down Roy Roger’s all the time before they “improved it”. It used to be so great with the big shoulders and only two travel lanes. Now I almost refuse entirely to ride it as it’s just another oversized speedway with garbage strewn shoulders, errr “bike lanes”. Each year it’s another half mile further to get “out of town” in this area and bike lanes are often not finished for a year after the auto lanes.

WashCo Roads and their continued failure to maintain bike access during year round and years long construction is absolutely at some fault in all of this as well.

Dave
Dave
6 months ago
Reply to  Brad

It’s unconscionable that there are/were zero accommodations provided for cyclists or pedestrians during construction. Jersey barriers were placed right on the fog line forcing people on bikes (of which there are many along this road) into the travel lanes.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  Dave

I looked at those streetview images and thought “That’s so great to protect a bike lane with Jersey Barriers” then realized it’s actually horrific.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago
Reply to  Brad

I just looked at the Google maps bike layer- there are zero North-South bikeway connections between downtown Tigard and the Coast Range. . . except for Roy Rogers and 99W. Neither of those is reasonable for most riders and obviously Roy Rogers is flagrantly unsafe currently.

This is why people drive a car to go bike riding!

Fred
Fred
6 months ago

Maybe I watch too many forensic crime shows, but I’m wondering if a post-mortem exam is conducted regularly in these cases. A post-mortem could determine if he had a heart attack or some other health event that caused him to “veer into traffic,” which sounds sketchy to me. Sometimes a cyclist needs to leave the shoulder to turn left or avoid something or whatever, and drivers of cars don’t react the way they should.

I’d like dashcams to be standard equipment on all motor vehicles.

Condolences to Dana’s family and friends.

TK
TK
6 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Given his age, even though obviously fit and experienced, he could have had a medical even that caused the “veer”. I have a friend, also a fit experienced cyclist, who at age 71 had a mini stroke while cycling on a rural road, went down and lost consciousness. She was found sprawled on the road with her bike. There were no witnesses. If there had been heavier traffic, she easily could have been hit by a car. Fortunately, she recovered. So, it can and does happen, to cyclists, drivers and a whole lot of other people. No way to know short of a post mortem exam. Barring a 3rd party witness, everything else is just speculation regarding a tragic situation.

Jaime
Jaime
6 months ago
Reply to  Fred

By Oregon statute accidental deaths (including traffic crashes) are automatically investigated the the Medical Examiner (ORS 146.090) so likely more information should eventually be available..

Greatdane
Greatdane
6 months ago

So sorry to hear this. My condolences to Dana’s family, he sounds like a wonderful person.

This is one of my least favorite stretches when I head from Portland out to Newberg/Dundee and wine country hills. I tend to only go southbound and on the weekend. Traffic is lighter and faster, and my head is on a swivel. But the construction is inactive, and I’ve just ridden on the other side of the concrete barrier through their stuff in that area because nothing is happening. At least there is a shoulder. I usually turn onto Lebeau where there is no shoulder, and cars that continue to go 55-70 passing too close. Feels terrifying at times. I’ve found myself questioning how much longer I will continue to ride out on the west side as it has grown, and the traffic and speeds on roads like this have increased with little to no change in infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians.

william mackenzie
6 months ago

So sorry. I’ve ridden that same route recently and it’s not safe because of construction that’s going to turn the road into a crowded speedway. The area near Al’s is really dangerous. Stay away and stay safe.

Charley
Charley
6 months ago

That’s so sad!

There seems to me to be a pattern in recent articles about fatal car-on-bike crashes involving mentally healthy, chemically unimpaired, recreational cyclists riding in the daytime:
The crashes seem to be happening on country, rural, or exurban roads or highways, with fast traffic.

I used to ride the rural roads in Washington County, but it’s been a long time. There was more and more traffic and it was going faster than I liked. Judging from the Rubber to the Road guidebooks (Vol. was published in 1998), a lot of those roads used to be quiet and scenic.

I live on the east side of the Willamette, where at least the city roads are lower speed or I can ride in parks like Powell or Tabor; I’d feel sad if I lived over in WashCo and had to witness the gradual shift from scenic country riding to dodging aggro commuters.

Ride in peace, Dana!