‘Rocketing’ bike rider still in critical condition

There wasn’t much the driver could do, cops say, when a youngster shot out into the street right in front of the car on NE Halsey St. There are lessons about helmets and stop signs to be learned from this tragic story‚

An investigator from the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division uses a GPS measuring device, while determining the facts of this car-versus-bicycle accident that left a boy in very critical condition.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Along outer NE Halsey St., east of Glendoveer, the terrain rises steeply as one travels south‚ and away from the Columbia River basin.

It’s a difficult climb on foot up SE 157th Avenue‚ riding up the hill would be nearly impossible. Yet, neighbors say, the kids love the thrill of approaching this hill from the top, via SE Glisan Street, and “rocketing” down the steep grade of “thrill hill”, where the joy ride can abruptly end at SE Halsey Street.

Thrill ride ends in serious injury
Moments before 5 pm on May 22, Janet Gomez is driving her Kia on NE Halsey Street. Police say the evidence shows she isn’t speeding, nor impaired, as she heads east from the light at NE 142nd Avenue.

“A 14-year-old young man was on his BMX bicycle,” Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Sgt. Dan Costello tells us on-scene. “From what we can tell, he was going lickety-split down the steep hill on SE 157th, didn’t stop at the stop sign at Halsey St., and rode right in front of the Kia.”

Skid marks before the impact indicate the driver was going the speed limit and tried to avoid the accident, police say.

Costello points out the skid marks left when the driver tried to avoid the bicyclist. “Even though she wasn’t speeding, the impact threw the boy about thirty feet through the air, and his bicycle about fifty feet.”

We learn that the injured boy, with ID in his pocket indicating he’s a student at Barlow High School, was rushed Emanuel Hospital in critical condition.

When we follow up, the police spokesman, Sgt. Brian Schmautz, reports the young man remains in very critical condition. “He wasn’t wearing a helmet.”

No citations have been issued.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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