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Lawyer seeks info on hit-and-run at Interstate near Steel Bridge

Lawyer seeks info on hit-and-run at Interstate near Steel Bridge

Map of incident created by laywer Charley Gee.

Map of incident created by laywer Charley Gee.

Portland-based lawyer and bicycle law specialist Charley Gee needs our help.

Gee represents a man who was struck by someone driving a car as he biked in the bike lane on North Interstate Avenue on August 15th. The person driving the car didn’t render aid or wait around for help to arrive at the scene. The victim needs information about the suspect to help his case.

Here’s more about the incident from Gee:

“After being struck and knocked to the ground, the car driver stopped, rolled down his window and laughed at the injured man before leaving the scene.

The car is described as a gold sedan. The driver was a male. The bicyclist is a middle-aged African American male. He suffered severe injuries due to the collision.”

Unfortunately the nearby MAX platform was unable to produce video footage of the collision.

If you have any information about what happened or were there to witness it, please get in touch with Gee as soon as possible via email – or (503) 278-5389.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Linn County DA won’t prosecute driver who admitted checking his phone before deadly hit-and-run crash

Linn County DA won’t prosecute driver who admitted checking his phone before deadly hit-and-run crash

“The evidence shows that (the driver) diverted his attention away from the road in the moments immediately preceding the crash… he noticed something on his phone, which was on the seat next to him. He then looked down, and it was in this moment that the crash occurred.”
— Alex Olenick, Linn County Deputy DA

A case from Corvallis should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who uses our roads.

As reported today by the Gazette Times, the Linn County District Attorney’s Office has decided to not file charges against the driver who hit and killed 34-year-old Shiloh Sundstrom while he was walking on the side of a road east of Corvallis on the night of November 22nd. The auto user admitted to drinking and looking down at his phone prior to the crash. Despite these facts, the Deputy DA Alex Olenick said the evidence wasn’t enough to prove the driver acted with criminal negligence.

We’ve covered this legal situation numerous times and are aware of the existing limitations in Oregon law around traffic crashes. The threshold to prove intentional and reckless behavior by the driver of a car in situations like this is very high and often — even when it’s clear that a person’s behavior was dangerous and led to the crash — DA’s feel they must decline to prosecute.

What makes this case stand out however, is the statement Olenick made in his report. Here’s the relevant excerpt from Olenick’s memo (taken from Gazette Times with my emphasis):

Olenick noted in the report that there was no evidence to support that the driver acted intentionally, so the prosecutor focused his analysis on whether there was sufficient evidence that the driver acted recklessly or with criminal negligence in causing the crash.

“The evidence shows that (the driver) diverted his attention away from the road in the moments immediately preceding the crash,” Olenick wrote in the report. “(The driver) told police that he noticed something on his phone, which was on the seat next to him. He then looked down, and it was in this moment that the crash occurred.”

Olenick wrote that the question was whether the act of looking at the phone, and away from the road, constituted conduct that was criminally negligent, which is defined as a “gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the same situation.”

“This presents a difficult question on which reasonable minds may differ,” he wrote. “My analysis is whether simply looking away from the road at his phone is any different from looking in one’s blind spot, looking at a map, grabbing a cheeseburger, or turning momentarily for any other reason where the practical effect of the behavior is to deviate one’s attention from the road…

“I cannot conclude that (the driver) acted recklessly or with criminal negligence when he struck and killed Mr. Sundstrom with his vehicle.”


Scene of the collision.
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

It’s worth noting that the auto user also admitted to drinking prior to the crash but by the time authorities were contacted it was too late for a breath test.

Legal constraints are one thing; but it’s outrageous for a DA to casually dismiss distracted driving in this context (where alcohol had been consumed and a man was killed as a result). Earlier this month a bill pushed by the Multnomah County DA’s office tried to make it easier to prosecute someone whose careless driving led to serious injury; but the bill died after trucking and automobile lobbyists convinced lawmakers that it was unfair to motor vehicle users.

This isn’t a legal issue or an enforcement issue, this is a cultural issue.

When we drive a car we are operating a deadly weapon. Until people respect it as such and adjust their behaviors accordingly, and until our justice and legal systems follow suit, these unavoidable accidents senseless and preventable tragedies will continue.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Updates and reactions to Saturday’s tragic fatality on Lombard

Updates and reactions to Saturday’s tragic fatality on Lombard


This area of eastbound Lombard is where crash investigators focused their attention on Saturday night. Note where the bike lane picks up again in the background.

On Saturday night around 8:30 pm someone was killed while traveling on NE Lombard at 42nd.

Police still haven’t released the victim’s name, but they have arrested 26-year-old Kenneth Smith Jr. Smith was driving eastbound on Lombard and he hit a man who was riding a bike in the same direction, then fled the scene. He was caught soon after and has been charged with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Reckless Driving, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (Marijuana).

Both Smith and the man he hit were traveling eastbound on Lombard and the collision occurred right at the overpass of 42nd Ave. This section of Lombard is has two standard lanes in each direction and speed limit of 45 mph (people often drive much faster). There are bike lanes, but they end abruptly 300-400 feet prior to the 42nd Avenue overpass. We haven’t confirmed it yet, but based on my observations of the crash scene Friday night, it does appear that the impact happened in the bike lane gap.

Here’s an overhead view:


We’ve written about this dangerous section of Lombard twice in the past. On Friday, just one day before this tragedy, we highlighted it as a “scary pinch-point”. We also featured it in 2013 in a story about how poorly we treat bike lanes under overpasses compared to the Dutch.

Last night KGW (our local NBC TV affiliate) aired a piece about the crash. They included comments from myself and from ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton. Hamilton said, “This is a reminder that we all have to look out for each other on the roads,” Hamilton said. When asked about the possibility of a road diet to make a safer bikeway, he told KGW’s Maggie Vespa, “That depends on the numbers, that depends on what the traffic engineers say about the amount of volume we have in the area, the amount of bicycles we have in that area.”

Here’s the KGW piece:

As for Hamilton’s comments about traffic volumes on Lombard, there are very few people who brave this stretch of Lombard on a bike — but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be or couldn’t be a good bikeway connection. The neighborhoods south of Lombard in the Cully Neighborhood are sorely in need of safe and efficient places to ride. Read this comment that came in Saturday night from “DisconnectedCully,” a reader who lives near the crash site (emphasis mine):

“I live near here and depend on my bike to get around. It’s impossible to find a safe route North or East of my neighborhood. I’ve spent so much time scouring online and paper maps trying to figure out how to get to 122nd, for example, and there are a depressing amount of ‘difficult connections’. To get to I205 Multi-Use Path I have to decide between Lombard and it’s barely-handlebar-width lanes next to 45mph traffic or a street devoid of bike lanes, with one lane each direction and cars impatiently whipping around me.

I am a confident rider yet I never ride on Lombard, the traffic is too close and too fast. In particular the disappearing-reappearing bike lanes, and the dicey way you’re supposed to cross over a lane of traffic merging onto I205 South when heading eastbound. Columbia is much, much worse.

This shouldn’t happen. It’s time for the city to focus on improving conditions such as these in underserved neighborhoods like mine. We’ll never realize Vision Zero until there are safer routes that serve and connect the whole city.”

Local activists agree. Both BikeLoud PDX and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance have already responded to the crash.

BikeLoud volunteers say they’re considering another “die in” event at ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters in northwest Portland.

In a phone interview this morning, BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said he’s working on a call to action or a petition that will urge ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer to prioritize a fix to the existing gap. The BTA feels that the only way to make Lombard safe is to add physical separation for the bikeway.

“Lombard is one of those streets that encourages high speed travel… That’s where protected bike lanes can really save someone’s life,” Sadowsky said. He’s also concerned about the possibility the driver was impaired by marijuana.

Sadowsky wants the City of Portland to analyze this crash “through a Vision Zero lens.” If they do that, he says, “They’d probably come to the same conclusion we have, that you need physically protected bike lanes.”

Another point of leverage for people who want to see ODOT do more to keep people safe on their roads is the major update of their Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. There’s a public open house for that plan tonight (12/14). It takes place at the APANO Multicultural space (8114 SE Division) from 4:00 to 6:30 pm. If you can’t make it in person to tonight’s open house, they just posted an online version.

UPDATE, 3:28 pm: The man who was killed has been identified as 38-year-old Martin Lee Greenough.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Community rallies after hit-and-run leaves man with severe facial injuries

Community rallies after hit-and-run leaves man with severe facial injuries


Fundraising has begun for Erik Craven.

It happened at SE 59th and Powell this past Sunday night at around 11:30 pm. 45-year-old southeast Portland resident Erik Craven was biking home from work when he was hit by a car. The person driving did not stop and has still not been found.

The driver left Erik lying on the street with severe injuries. With no one around to help and with critical injuries to his face, he dialed 911 himself. “He couldn’t even see his phone through the blood,” his friend Tanyastar Kim shared with us via email today.


59th and Powell (aka State Hwy 26).

The force of the collision, says Tanyastar, “basically broke his face.” Erik has a broken nose, broken upper and lower jaws, mulitple facial fractures (including his eye sockets and forehead) and “lots of stitches.” “He is stable,” she continued via email a few minutes ago, “but it’s not looking good.” Fortunately Erik’s parents are by his side. Unfortunately, Erik does not have health insurance.

Erik is currently at OHSU where he’s scheduled to have lengthy reconstructive surgery on his face at 3:00 pm.

Today Erik’s friends and family are rallying by his side. They are trying to support him as he recovers, raise money for what will be astronomical hospital bills, and find the person who was driving the car.

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While Erik heals, his friends are hanging flyers in the immediate neighborhood in hopes that someone witnessed the collision and can help them figure out what happened. Since no one called the police at the time of the collision (EMTs didn’t call police because they assumed he fell on his own), a report wasn’t made until today. This means the trail on the suspect is likely very cold by this point. We’ve contacted the police and will update this story when we hear any new information. Friends also say they’re in touch with nearby businesses in hopes a security camera has useful footage.

A Gofundme campaign has been started and has raised just over $2,000 toward a $50,000 funding goal.

This is a horribly sad scenario that we’re sorry to have had to cover way too many times over the years.

“Erik is a dear friend,” Tanyastar shared with us today, “whose humor and mischief has brightened many lives and contributed to sore belly laugh muscles on many occasions.”

There are already talks of a benefit event. Stay tuned as we’ll update this post with more information.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Man flees the scene after hitting a woman riding in northeast Portland – UPDATED

Man flees the scene after hitting a woman riding in northeast Portland – UPDATED


Aleah Greene receiving treatment at the scene last night.
(Photo: Brad Biddle)

Portlander Aleah Greene is recovering from her injuries after she was involved in a collision yesterday evening.

At around 6:00 last night Greene was riding her bike at Northeast 13th and Wygant whe she was struck by a man driving a Dodge Caravan. Here’s how Greene remembers it:

“It all happened pretty quick. I was riding down 13th (helmet and lights on), when I got to the intersection of Wygant and started passing through I noticed the white van heading towards me was not stopping and was turning left into/in front of me. I don’t remember seeing a signal. We both had the right of way, no stop signs were run. He just didn’t see me is what he said.

I had split seconds to react so luckily I turned my shoulder into the car when I hit instead of my face/head. I wasn’t thrown thank god, I hit and rolled off and fell to the ground. Most of the impact was to my left outer shin/calf and right inner/top ankle, I have a slight bump on my nose. But it could’ve been much worse so I’m fortunate.”

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Brad Biddle and his wife heard the collision and arrived on the scene right after it happened. Biddle snapped a photo of the man who hit Aleah. Then, as Biddle called 911 he says, “the driver jumped in his car and raced away.”

According to Greene, the man is still on the loose. He’s driving a late 1990s white Dodge caravan with temporary Delaware plates.

Thankfully, Biddle snapped a good photo of the suspect and the police are using it in their investigation. (I’ve decided to not post the photo because the man has not been proven guilty of any crimes.)

We heard from Greene via email just a few minutes ago. She’s feeling pretty sore and has, “gnarly bumps and bruises, and some lightheadedness.” Her bike is totaled and will require $350 to get back on the road. “At that price I’m just going to buy a new bike,” she said. “It was an oldy I bought off craigslist years ago, but I put so much into it over the past 6 years it’s said to see her broken.”

If you have any information about this collision or this vehicle, please call the Portland Police non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 or contact Officer Patrick Johnson via email at

UPDATE, 6:42pm: The suspect has been caught! Here’s what I just read from Ms. Greene:

“I have such good news! We found the guy thanks to the posts you all posted. Turns out the guy lives next door to me, very very strange…. I can’t say again how much I appreciate all that you have done.

Also, I just realized this all came about because one of our readers took action after reading this post. Here’s the comment Rob posted below:

Oddest series of events I’ve ever been in. I saw the Delaware tags, so stopped to take a picture. Then I crossed the next intersection to stop and call the police non-emergency number.

While I was on hold, the Fox-12 News van pulled up. I assumed someone else had called it in, but no it turns out I was in front of the victim’s home and they were there for an interview.

Aleah (the victim) comes out and I give her the phone to talk to the police. In the mean time the drive comes out and the Fox-12 people go and confront him – not surprisingly he runs off.

Anyhow, last I saw the cops were on the their way and the driver was positively identified.

UPDATE: Fox-12 TV was on the scene when it all went down and they talked to Rob. Read their story here

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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North Portland hit-and-run victim looks to crowdfunding for medical bills

North Portland hit-and-run victim looks to crowdfunding for medical bills


Screengrab from Hannah Davison’s GoFundMe page.

Hannah Davison was riding her bicycle home from work on September 10th when she was involved in a collision. Someone driving a car collided with her at the intersection of North Skidmore and Borthwick and the impact left Davison with multiple injuries. The driver didn’t stop, and while police have impounded what they believe is the suspect’s car, they still haven’t tracked down the man who was at the wheel.

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Now Davison faces a tough recovery and steep medical bills to cover the treatment of her various injuries which include: broken facial bones, a fractured shoulder, cracked vertebrae, multiple lacerations, and so on.

She’s created a GoFundMe campaign with the hope of raising $30,000.

And that’s just the start. Davison told KATU-TV in a segment that aired last night that her bills have shot up to $65,000 and counting.

Davison’s collision was first reported on Twitter where user @blutarp posted a graphic photo of her receiving medical attention from first responders.

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Police investigating car in north Portland hit-and-run

Police investigating car in north Portland hit-and-run


Screenshot of tweet by @BluTarp.

Portland Police are investigating a hit-and-run case after a woman was struck while bicycling on North Skidmore last night.

According to the PPB, a call came in at 6:26 pm and officers and medical personnel arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. They found a 24-year-old woman who was on the ground with several injuries, including lacerations to her face. The woman told them she was hit and that the person driving the car did not stop. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

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PPB spokesman Pete Simpson said police investigators found a “blue American car” located at N Kerby and Cook Street just a few blocks from the collision. The car was towed and is part of the ongoing investigation. The person driving the car has not been found. He has been described as an elderly male.

If you have any information about this incident, please email

Also this week the PPB arrested a man who they say ran over a 14-year-old girl who was riding her bike in southeast Portland. According to coverage by The Oregonian, witnesses saw a man come to a stop at the I-205 off-ramp at SE Holgate and fail to look both directions before proceeding. “The witnesses said Rutledge briefly stopped, then drove away, running over Gaiovych and her bike and dragging the teen 10 or 15 feet under the pickup,” The Oregonian reported. He claimed to have blacked out during the crash and was booked into jail on assault and other charges.

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Hit-and-run in Waterfront Park shows disturbing lack of conscience

Hit-and-run in Waterfront Park shows disturbing lack of conscience

Shared path Waterfront Park-1

Paths are for slow riding.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Reader Spencer B (not that Spencer B) shared a disturbing story with us earlier this month. A man riding a bike in Waterfront Park just south of the Steel Bridge, rode his bicycle into another person and just kept on going.

Here’s what happened, via an email from Spencer:

This morning while riding to work I witnessed an accident where the cyclist hit and knocked over a pedestrian and just kept going. I stopped to check on her. She was a 70ish woman who was probably from out of town and doesn’t know the dangers of the Esplanade in the morning.

Her friend was with her so I took off after the cyclist. I followed him as blew through multiple lights, weaved through traffic, went the wrong way on one way streets. He wasn’t sprinting away, just riding a good pace.

I caught up with him and his first words were that the he had been ringing his bell. I kept asking him to go back and do the right thing but he replied that he was “late and some where to be”. I told him that she was hurt and there was a visible reaction, but then he slightly shook his head and kept riding. I implored him to be a human and go make sure she was ok and do the right thing.

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Well the last I saw this guy, he was heading up 6th Ave (the wrong way). The guy was about 6′ tall, had olive skin, was riding a black single speed decked out as a well-groomed hipster complete with messenger kit, chrome bag, slicked back hair and a sleeve of ink.


This behavior is outrageous. The man riding the bike committed a serious crime and needs to be brought to justice before he strikes again. Unfortunately, a lack of identifying information will make it almost impossible to ever find him. This is exaactly the type of incident used by some people to make the case that bicycles should have license plates.

I have heard numerous stories recently about people who witness an aggressive or dangerous road user and are able to get either video footage, a good photograph and/or a license plate. Either one of those three things can often lead directly to action by the police (like in this story from the UK where a man ran his bike into a toddler on the sidewalk and was only found later thanks to a still image pulled from a security camera).

Without a lead on the suspect or any other evidence, it’s unlikely the police will be able to do much.

For his part, Spencer won’t soon forget the incident. “For my small part in the cycling community,” he wrote via email, “I apologized to the woman.”

“I’ve commuted to work for 10 years, raced cyclocross, mountain bike and road bikes and this behavior really makes me ashamed. Now when I hear the typical car on cyclist altercation, I’ll be visualizing that old woman hitting the pavement and the unconcerned demeanor of the cyclist as he rides away.”

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In $21 million lawsuit, hit-and-run victim calls out dangerous stretch of N Interstate

In $21 million lawsuit, hit-and-run victim calls out dangerous stretch of N Interstate

Mike Cooley, shown here ready to head out on his
daily bike commute before his 2013 collision.
(Photos courtesy Lisa Cooley)

A man whose legs were paralyzed in an unsolved 2013 hit-and-run on Interstate Avenue has sued the city, state and regional transit agency for $21 million.

Mike Cooley’s wife Lori, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told us in a May interview that she’s motivated in part by the lack of changes to Interstate Avenue’s bike lanes despite years of serious collisions on the street.

“Something has to be done to make that road safer or just shut it down for bikes,” Lori Cooley said. “There’s just too many injuries there.”

Lori Cooley said their attorney, Randy Pickett, hired a private investigator to study what she said are seemingly endemic problems on Interstate near the site of Mike Cooley’s collision at Interstate and Greeley.

“I don’t understand how nobody could be doing anything to make that safer when there’s been so many injuries.”
— Lori Cooley, wife of man paralyzed by collision

“He and our attorney sat there at that spot where Mike got hit and they were just appalled at the number of close calls,” Cooley said. “They just could not believe it when they saw it with their own eyes how dangerous that is. … I don’t understand how nobody could be doing anything to make that safer when there’s been so many injuries.”

According to the Cooleys’ lawsuit, whose filing was first reported Thursday by The Oregonian, the one-mile stretch of Interstate between NE Going and NE Russell has seen nine other serious bike-related collisions from 2003 to 2014, including one fatality: Brett Jarolimek, who died at the Interstate/Greeley intersection in 2007.

After Jarolimek’s death, the city redesigned the intersection to prohibit right turns off Interstate onto Greeley. However, that didn’t stop the driver of a pickup truck from making an illegal 135-degree right turn into the path of Curtis Crothers in 2013. Crothers survived eight broken ribs, a punctured lung and other injuries.

The City of Portland’s Vision Zero collision map shows 19 bike-related injuries on that stretch from 2004 to 2013, including Jerolimek’s death.

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Unlike Jarolimek and Crothers, Cooley was biking north, uphill, on Interstate at Greeley. He wasn’t hit by a turning vehicle, but by one that police said had been “driving erratically before the crash.” The bike lane there, which is uphill on a slight curve, is only about four feet wide and its paint is often worn down because tires cross it so frequently.

Approximate location of collision.

(Graphic: BikePortland reader Joshua Cohen)

The most recent major redesign of Interstate Avenue was in 2003, when TriMet constructed the Yellow Line on what had previously been a state-run urban highway. As part of this work, the project added a nearly continuous, but sometimes unusually narrow, bike lane. In this narrow stretch of the road, which gets regular truck traffic and where Interstate is situated partway up a slope in many locations, the bike lanes are particularly harrowing to ride in.

Lori and Mike Cooley, also before the collision.

The Cooleys’ lawsuit has this to say:

In designing the roadway on North Interstate Avenue, just north of Greeley Avenue, in a dangerous condition for bicyclists and motor vehicle operators, at a time when defendants knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that the roadway was too narrow to safely accommodate both motor vehicles and bicyclists.

When Lori Cooley and I spoke last month, it was clear that her feelings about the collision are dominated by despair over her husband’s injury and its aftermath. Cooley (whose email address, both before the collision and after, starts with “cheerfulheart”) also has a serious medical condition; Mike Cooley was her caregiver before his collision. These days, she cares for both of them.

“He still has a ventilator at night and he has a lot of breathing machines and breathing therapy that we need to do,” Lori said. “He’s still a parapalegic, still in a wheelchair, and probably always will be. … We’ve gone through lots of caregivers where they just quit. They just quit coming.”

“Mike’s life, my life, are just completely ruined, really,” she said. “It’s been really, really hard.”

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Hit-and-run bike rider leaves one duck dead – UPDATED

Hit-and-run bike rider leaves one duck dead – UPDATED


R.I.P. little guy.

UPDATE: The man who ran over the duck has left a comment explaining his side of the story.

On the many paved, off-street trails that wind through the subdivisions of Washington County, there are some path users who are truly vulnerable. On Saturday we learned about a disturbing incident that involved one such user, a mallard duck, that tried to cross the path adjacent to Bethany Lake (near NW 185th and West Union).

According to a tipster named Steve C., just before noon a man wearing a red and white lycra jersey came rolling down the path near the lake, struck the duck and left it dead, then failed to stop.

Steve said several people pleaded with the man to stop and report the incident to the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District; but to no avail.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

Now a report has been filed with the THPRD and they want to find the rider and ask him a few questions. According to Steve (who also supplied us with photos), the man on the bike is middle-aged, has white hair, a beard and a mustache. He was wearing a black and red jersey and shorts.

Steve last saw the man riding north on 185th toward West Union.

If you know anything about this incident or can identify the rider in the photo above please contact THPRD at (503) 645-6433.

We’ve contacted THPRD and will update this story as needed.

UPDATE, 12:53pm: THPRD Director of Communications Bob Wayt has confirmed the incident. Wayt told us via telephone a few minutes ago that the incident falls into something of a “grey area” and that the THPRD has no specific penalty for killing ducks. However, he did say that this duck is covered under the Federal Migratory Bird Act. “So,” he added, “if we had an ID of the person who killed it, and the Federal Government wanted to pursue it, they could.” Wayt added that his agency would like to hear the rider’s side of the story.

Wayt said that proper thing for the rider to do would have been to call the THPRD Park Patrol (971) 246-0169 to report the incident.

NOTE: This post was originally published with a blurry, grainy photo of the man who ran over the duck. After hearing from readers concerned that the person was being publicly shamed and the subject of a witch-hunt, I removed that photo.

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