Truck driver Paul Thompson wants you to know he’s sorry for role in deadly crash

Paul Thompson.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In the early morning hours of August 21st, 2017, Paul Thompson was on his usual route picking up recycled cardboard from businesses in Portland’s central eastside industrial district. A truck driver for over three decades, Thompson had a spotless record before that morning.

After a stop to empty the bins at All Service Moving on Southeast Morrison, he drove south on Water Avenue. Then he turned left onto Taylor and his life changed forever.

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Opinion: We failed Tamar Monhait

Memorial for Tamar at Water and Taylor.
(Photos: Patrick Rafferty)

I can’t stop thinking that we’ve failed Tamar Monhait.

Monhait is the woman who was killed while bicycling northbound on SE Water Avenue back in August. On that fateful night, a professional driver named Paul Thompson was operating a commercial garbage truck in the opposite direction. As Monhait crossed Taylor Street, Thompson made a sudden left turn in front of her. She died from the impact and took her last breath in the middle of that intersection.

The intersection isn’t as well-lit as it should be and Monhait did not appear to have a legally required front light. Thompson claimed he never saw her. The police say Monhait’s impairment from alcohol was a factor in the collision; but there’s no evidence she could have done anything differently to avoid the truck — especially since Thompson, according to the police, admitted he was trying to outrun an approaching train and gave no warning before making his turn.

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