Beaverton fatality follow-up: A conversation with police spokesman

Posted on February 15th, 2011 at 11:33 am.

“Given the circumstances, it seems like issuing a citation would probably not stand up in court. Any person could go in and say, ‘It’s dark, rainy, there’s this little red light in the road’. I think any judge would toss that citation out’.”
— Det. Sgt. Jim Shumway, Beaverton Police Department

The community is trying to understand what happened in Saturday’s fatal traffic crash that resulted in the death of 47-year old Bret Lewis. In the meantime, Police investigators work on their investigation, advocates have swung into action, and family and friends grieve at the senseless loss of life.

As I mentioned in my initial report, the police statement about the crash seemed (to me at least) to go out of its way to absolve the motor vehicle operator (now identified as 48-year old James Nguyen of Beaverton) of any wrongdoing. Mr. Nguyen didn’t intend to kill anyone Saturday night; but as a vehicle operator, he has an important legal (and moral) responsibility to use enough care and caution so as to not hit another person who is operating their vehicle legally (which it seems like Lewis was doing) on the same road.

To learn more about the crash and about concerns with how it was framed by police, I had a conversation yesterday with Beaverton Police Department Detective Sergeant Jim Shumway. Sgt. Shumway is the Public Information Officer who wrote the press statement about this crash. [Read more…]

Vigil for Bret Lewis to be held Friday in Beaverton

Posted on February 14th, 2011 at 2:44 pm.

Intersection of TV Hwy and SW Tualaway Ave.
(Photo: Jim Parsons)

Community members plan to hold a vigil for Bret Lewis*, the man who was hit and killed while bicycling on Tualatin-Valley Highway in Beaverton on Saturday.

The event is being planned by local citizen advocate (and 2011 BTA Alice Award nominee) Jim Parsons along with Hal Ballard, the executive director of the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition.[Read more…]

Man killed while bicycling on TV Hwy in Beaverton

Posted on February 12th, 2011 at 10:26 pm.

47-year old Michael Bret Lewis died in the hospital this evening at after he was struck from behind by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle on SW Tualatin Valley Highway in Beaverton at around 6:30pm.

Police say Lewis was hit by a 48-year old man driving a Toyota Prius who was also headed westbound. The collision happened near the intersection of SW Tualaway Ave (in front an auto dealership – Google Map here).[Read more…]

One week later, man hit by distracted driver remains in ICU

Posted on February 11th, 2011 at 12:57 pm.

Reese Wilson.

20-year old Reese Wilson remains in the ICU today, one week after a distracted driver ran into him as he pedaled home from work on SW Multnomah Blvd.[Read more…]

Updates on two serious injury crashes from Friday

Posted on February 8th, 2011 at 6:55 am.

Screen grab from KATU.com

In case you missed it, there were two very serious crashes involving someone on a bicycle that happened over the weekend. As our minds turn to tonight’s Transportation Safety Summit, I thought some follow-ups were in order.

The first crash happened on Friday afternoon on the 6000 block of SW Multnomah Blvd. The motor vehicle operator, 63 year old Candace Palmer, was driving westbound on SW Multnomah when she struck 20-year old Reese Wilson, who was riding his bicycle in the bike lane in the same direction.[Read more…]

Man who hit Angela Burke charged with manslaughter

Posted on January 6th, 2011 at 10:23 am.

Caleb Pruitt’s booking photo
taken on 12/15/10.

After two weeks of testimony, a Multnomah County grand jury has upgraded the charges against Caleb Pruitt, the 28-year old man who struck and killed Angela Burke with his car as she attempted to cross SW Barbur Boulevard on December 15th.

Pruitt was arrested that night and booked on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Criminally Negligent Homicide. According to a witness, Pruitt had been drinking, was driving very fast and was unable to negotiate a sweeping corner on Barbur prior to the collision.

During the Grand Jury process, the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team worked to upgrade those charges because they felt like Criminally Negligent Homicide — which could result only in probation — did not adequately reflect the severity of Pruitt’s actions.

In large part due to the testimony of the PPB’s Major Crash Team, evidence they gleaned from the scene, and their of analysis of what happened that night, Pruitt is now charged with the following:[Read more…]

Photos and thoughts from the scene of Barbur fatality

Posted on December 17th, 2010 at 9:53 am.

Scene of fatal crash on SW Barbur Blvd-3

Looking south on Barbur about .3
miles south of SW Hamilton. The
orange paint is where Angela Burke’s
body came to rest. The apartment complex is
in the upper left.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last night I went out to SW Barbur to get a better sense of the scene of the fatal crash that occurred there Wednesday night.

By way of markings in the street painted by Portland Police Bureau crash investigators, Angela Burke’s body came to rest about three tenths of a mile south of where SW Barbur Blvd (99W) crosses SW Hamilton. The collision occurred directly across the street from a parking lot and just a few feet north of the entrance to the Town and Country Apartments at 4800 SW Barbur (map). [Read more…]

Advocates react to tragedy on SW Barbur

Posted on December 16th, 2010 at 3:28 pm.

“They just keep happening. There were two last night… It’s hard to keep talking about the same thing over and over again. I feel like I can just cut and paste.”
— Stephanie Routh, Willamette Pedestrian Coalition

Biking, walking and neighborhood advocates are frustrated and saddened by the news of a fatal crash that claimed the life of 26-year old Angela Burke on SW Barbur Boulevard last night. For them, the crash isn’t just about one allegedly drunk and negligent man driving a car and a woman who lost her life, it’s about a street that is known to be very unsafe and that is widely known to be in dire need of safety improvements.

In a phone interview today, Stephanie Routh, executive director of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC), called Angela Burke’s death a “senseless tragedy” and was clearly frustrated by yet another headline of someone being killed while walking. “They just keep happening. There were two last night [a man was also hit and seriously injured while walking on N. Lombard]… It’s hard to keep talking about the same thing over and over again. I feel like I can just cut and paste.”
[Read more…]

Fatal crash on SW Barbur last night – Updated

Posted on December 16th, 2010 at 8:05 am.

Red area is approximate location of collision. The woman was walking southbound (west side of street).

[Read more…]

Police capture hit and run suspect after Northeast Portland collision – UPDATED

Posted on December 1st, 2010 at 12:02 pm.

Photo from scene of collision at
NE Lombard and 15th,
(Photos: Portland Police)

A man was struck by a large motor vehicle while he rode his bike on Lombard Street in Northeast Portland yesterday. The crash left him with very serious injuries and the person operating the motor vehicle fled the scene. Portland Police later apprehended the suspect.[Read more…]