Man hit while bicycling downtown has died from injuries

Henderson’s bike was found in the bike lane on this section of SW Alder just east of 3rd Ave.

40-year-old Johnathan Henderson moved to Portland four years ago and spent most of his time riding his beloved singlespeed “fixie” on downtown streets — filling one delivery order after another. Around 9:30 pm on March 12th, he was involved in a collision with the driver of a Land Rover SUV near the intersection of Southwest Alder and 3rd. The impact with the SUV knocked Henderson to the ground and he was taken to the hospital in a coma. He died on March 18th at 3:02 pm.

Police have yet to release an update about the death or details of the crash (their initial statement is here), but BikePortland has learned that Henderson’s bike came to rest in the bike lane on Alder just east of the SW 3rd. The SUV was stopped in the left-most lane. This section of Alder is known to be stressful because it’s a de facto on-ramp to I-5 via the Morrison Bridge. SW 3rd is one-way southbound and Alder is one-way eastbound.

While police continue their investigation, Henderson’s family and friends are reeling at their loss. His family — who he hadn’t seen for many years — arrived from out of state to be around his bed at the hospital. His close friend and neighbor, Filly, is managing Henderson’s belongings and memorial details.

“He was really my big brother,” Filly shared with me in a phone call a few minutes ago, struggling to speak through the sadness.

Johnathan Henderson.

“I saw him the day before and he was just stressed about bills and stuff. He was living day-to-day just hustling and doing deliveries for UberEats and Instacart.”

Henderson loved riding his “Indigo 96” fixed gear. Filly said he’d put over 11,000 miles of delivery miles in Portland and was pulling 40-mile a day shifts. When he wasn’t knocking out a delivery, he was doing local group rides or hanging out with his dog “Callie” (short for SuperCaliFunkyPuppy). A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Henderson moved to Portland from Detroit by himself and found his chosen family through bicycling. He was a mainstay at the Thursday Night Ride (“TNR”), where he was a proud corker he kept the ride safe. On the Tuesday he was hit, Henderson had just peeled off from a weekly, social, fixed-gear ride.

He would often leave rides early to make a delivery. Filly said whenever a big order came up on his phone, he’d jump on it because he needed the money. He also didn’t want to do it anymore. “He’d tell me, ‘I really want a job so I can stop this delivery bullshit. It’s stressful and cars aren’t paying as much attention nowadays. I just want something stable’,” Filly said.

Some days he’d make deliveries just to make sure Callie would have food. “He just loved that dog so much,” Filly recalled.

Henderson also loved his bike. Filly said it was gifted to him by a stranger and that it had 20 years of life as a courier bike in San Francisco before it fell into Henderson’s hands. “He was just so excited to ride it all the time,” Filly shared. “He was always trying to get me motivated to ride with him, like, ‘Come on! Let’s go do laps around Ladds!'”. When Henderson moved in next door to Filly, they weren’t friends right away. But once they realized they both rode fixies, “That’s how we connected at first,” Filly said.

Henderson’s love or riding comes through in this LinkedIn profile he wrote (and that Filly urged me to share):

Self Employed, Partnered with Uber Eats Delivery. Delivering meals from various Restaurants within the Downtown Portland Area, via Fixed Gear Bicycle. I absolutely love doing deliveries on bicycle, not only do I get to deliver great food, I get to enjoy all the sights, and discover new locations to eat, and while I do it, I get to stay active and in great physical condition.

Providing great customer service, and delivering smiles to everyone I deliver to, plays a big role in my own mental health and wellness. Before this job, I had worked in customer services as well as the food service industry, which, unfortunately, did not leave much time to myself, and maintaining my own mental and physical health. Unfortunately, I had to resign from those positions because of the issues that were becoming more predominate, worsening my depression and physical health. I am now much happier with where I am at, and has made me more goal oriented and mission driven, in my pursuit to become a Peer Support specialist for military veterans with PTSD as well as other mental and physical disabilities.

Filly admired his friend’s riding skills. “He’s hyper-conscious of traffic and cars. He’s skilled as shit,” she said.

Now Filly plans to paint Henderson’s beloved bike white and place it as a ghost bike where it came to rest on that Tuesday night. There’s also a memorial gathering and ride planned for April 26th, the day Henderson would have turned 41.

But organizing those events will have to wait. Today, the emotions are still too raw. “We’re all feeling it. I’m feeling like I’m in that whirlwind still where I’m angry and sad.”


— Henderson is the 17th person to be killed while using Portland roads so far this year. We had 12 fatal crashes by this same time last year. Stay tuned for more details about the memorial gathering and ride on April 26th.

UPDATE, 3/25: PPB have released an update. They say: “The preliminary investigation reveals that the cyclist entered the intersection against a red light and was struck by a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that had a green light. The driver has been cooperative. No arrests have been made or citations issued.”

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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jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago

Blessings for his life and the memories he left others. I was not in the Corp, but wish to say Semper Fi regardless in thanks to his service and I am gladdened that he sounds as if he was getting better from whatever demons he could still see. To be a Peer Support Specialist it’s asked that you have experienced/are still dealing with PTSD to better connect with fellow veterans. To get to the point where he was doing better and to want to reach out and help his brothers and sisters speaks so strongly to his character. I hope his burial is at Willamette National, the grounds are beautiful, peaceful and would be a great site for a bicycle escort of his remains. A Marine burial is a sight to see.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  jakeco969

Thank you Jake, you so often come up with the right words.

Lee
Lee
1 month ago

Ride in peace John

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
1 month ago

what a tragedy to his community, I’m so heartsick over the loss of this young person. I’ve gotten that terrible call in the middle of the night and to know another family is suffering right now, fills me with immense sadness.

Johnathan sounds like the kind of person who make this city wonderful- just a normal guy with passions, living life, forming a community, hustling, trying to make ends meet in this tough world but literally was ground down. I hope someone is taking good care of Callie the dog, I am sure she is heartbroken and missing her dad.
May he rest in peace

JD
JD
30 days ago

This is gut wrenching news. We’ve been neighbors for a while. Cali and my pup became fast friends. We’d chat while the dogs said their hellos. Such a genuinely good guy taken far too soon. He’ll be missed and certainly not forgotten.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
30 days ago

This is so sad. Rest In Peace Johnathan

Troy
Troy
30 days ago

Sad time for bike family. Ride in Peace, John. You will be missed.

donel courtney
donel courtney
30 days ago

🙁

Jeffrey Placencia
Jeffrey Placencia
30 days ago

Thank you, corker. Rest in peace.

Fred
Fred
27 days ago

JM, are you going to update this story? Today PPB released a statement about this crash, saying the cyclist ran a red light and the SUV had the green.

Again I am skeptical it was all so cut-and-dried, which breeds cynicism about the crash investigation system.

cl
cl
27 days ago
Reply to  Fred

“Green” does not mean “right of way.” In the Oregon drivers manual, it states “go if the way is clear.”
I’m not a lawyer, but I am pretty sure that pedestrians (including those who pedal) have the right of way- at all times.
The family will need contact information for the driver of the SUV because they may want to do a civil investigation into the matter.
Although the police determined no crime was committed, the civil matter will need to be addressed.
In my opinion (again, I’m not a lawyer) the police investigation was wrapped up quite quickly for a case where someone died in the street.
I’m still waiting for the name of the man who was hit and killed on MLK over 6 weeks ago that still hasn’t been released.

Sharon Alvarez
Sharon Alvarez
24 days ago
Reply to  cl

As Jonathan’s mother I will say that we are all devastated by Johns death and to pursue civil action would not be something John would want. He knew the risks of riding with no helmet, no brakes, fixed gears. John lived his life his way on his terms. Period
The driver, of the SUV, cooperated with authorities completely), and was found to be not at fault. Let my son rest in peace and if you really want to make a difference then fight for stricter helmet laws. John was stubborn when it came to wearing a helmet saying “it doesn’t look cool”. Seeing him in the NeuroTraumaICU in a coma did not look cool.
To the driver of the SUV: I am as sorry this happened to you as I am that it happened to John. I hold zero I’ll feelings towards you. I hope you can find some peace in all this craziness. My prayers are with you.

Watts
Watts
24 days ago
Reply to  Sharon Alvarez

I find this to be a very generous and kind statement.

Fred
Fred
27 days ago

Thanks. Also I’m wondering if the photo you posted is wrong. The caption says the bike came to rest “just east of 3rd Ave,” but the photo you posted shows the block between 1st and 2nd – just west of 1st Ave. Or do I have that wrong? Thanks.

Home
Home
27 days ago

The police say Henderson entered the intersection against the red light. They don’t say how they came to that conclusion. Is that what the person in the car said, who has a strong motivation for it to be true? Do they have unbiased eye witnesses? Is there video evidence?

Fred
Fred
27 days ago
Reply to  Home

You have asked all of the questions I always ask myself after the results of these “preliminary investigations” are released.

I’d love it if BP did a deep dive into one of these so-called investigations.

Jenae Williams
Jenae Williams
27 days ago
Reply to  Fred

I’d love it if BikePortland readers stopped inventing conspriacy theories

Matt
Matt
27 days ago
Reply to  Jenae Williams

Police conspiring in general, and particularly conspiring in favor of people who drive and against people whose cars they collide with, is not a theory; it’s a well-established fact.

Watts
Watts
27 days ago
Reply to  Matt

it’s a well-established fact

Is it? Can you point us to some well-established evidence that the police conspire against crash victims?

I am aware of some examples of plausibly sloppy police work, but a well-established conspiracy? I’m curious!

Jan P
Jan P
26 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Of course they can’t. It’s just another blanket “cops bad” dismissal. We’re all supposed to nod along in agreement because echo chamber

Matt
Matt
26 days ago
Reply to  Jan P

Complaining about echo chambers is classic projection.

Will
Will
24 days ago
Reply to  Jan P

Cops…are bad though. It is known.

Matt
Matt
26 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Just search “cyclist killed no charges filed”. There are so many examples, it should break your heart. But if you even have to do that, you’re either willfully ignorant or not paying any attention to the world you live in.

Watts
Watts
26 days ago
Reply to  Matt

“no charges filed”

Happens a lot (actually, it doesn’t because cycling deaths are thankfully rare in Portland, but let’s not get hung up on that).

Is that your evidence of a conspiracy?

Humor me… Given what you know about this case, what crime would you charge the driver with, and what evidence would you use to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that they were guilty?

Something I’ve found helpful when thinking about this is reading what the law actually says. You can easily find Oregon laws by searching for (for example) “Oregon vehicular homicide” or whatever. Lawyers often post summaries as well. Read a law and think about what it would take to prove someone violated it, and what evidence the police likely have.

And the police don’t decide who to prosecute, the DA does. If you think more people should be prosecuted, talk to Mike Schmidt.

J1mb0
J1mb0
26 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Adam Joy?

Watts
Watts
26 days ago
Reply to  J1mb0

Sloppy policework or well established conspiracy?

Matt
Matt
26 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Let’s compromise with “sloppy police conspiracy.”

John V
John V
26 days ago
Reply to  Jenae Williams

One person stretching the truth and the police taking their word for it is hardly a conspiracy.
Nobody invented any conspiracy theory, we’re just justifiably (given history) skeptical that the story nearly always comes out to favor the driver.

Watts
Watts
26 days ago
Reply to  John V

Nobody invented any conspiracy theory

Matt did.

Matt
Matt
26 days ago
Reply to  Watts

I did not invent ACAB. The cops did that themselves.

Watts
Watts
26 days ago
Reply to  Matt

That’s a slur, not a conspiracy theory.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
26 days ago
Reply to  Watts

One person’s “slur” is another’s evidence-based political position.

Watts
Watts
26 days ago

evidence-based political position

If I can definitively falsify that “position”, will you commit to stop saying it?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
27 days ago
Reply to  Home

PBOT, ODOT, & Multnomah County (who owns and operates the Morrison Bridge) all have live video cameras at many intersections, as do many adjacent businesses. Also, many signals are timed and are on loops, so if they know precisely when the crash occurred, they can tell what phase the signal was on.

Home
Home
26 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

If the police have corroborating video evidence, why not say that? Why leave the public in the dark about the results of their investigation?

Miguel
Miguel
25 days ago

It’s very sad and tragic that Johnathan lost his life in this incident. That said, reading the comments it seems that some folks simply can’t believe that someone on a bicycle would run a red light and hit a motor vehicle. As a cyclist for 45 years who has never had a collision with a motor vehicle, I’m astonished daily at the brazen disregard that MANY people on bicycles have for their personal safety in Portland as they shoot through intersections in front of moving vehicles. And no, it’s not an exaggeration to say that I see this daily. And yet, every time there’s an accident involving bike vs. car, BikePortland and many of its readers jump to how to blame anyone but the person on the bike. Not once have I seen an article that examines an incident and offers tips on how a bike rider could have avoided the incident, whether the incident was the fault of the bike rider (which seems to be never on this site) or the driver of the motor vehicle.

qqq
qqq
25 days ago
Reply to  Miguel

every time there’s an accident involving bike vs. car, BikePortland and many of its readers jump to how to blame anyone but the person on the bike.

and

Not once have I seen an article that examines an incident and offers tips on how a bike rider could have avoided the incident, whether the incident was the fault of the bike rider (which seems to be never on this site) or the driver of the motor vehicle.

1) Where in this article is the driver being blamed?

2) If BikePortland wanted to blame the driver, why would the article quote the police report that says the bike rider was at fault, and not write even one word disputing that?