A Division Street stroll turns deadly

Discover why officials say the elderly driver might have not have even realized that she’d run down and killed a pedestrian in broad daylight …

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division Major Crash Team rolls up to SE 66th Avenue on SE Division Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Few people were on SE Division Street at 3:00 p.m. on August 18 – just moments before 84-year-old Estelle Irene Fuman lost control of her green Buick sedan near SE 67th Avenue.

Those who witnessed the aftermath were trying to figure out just why Fuman, who was westbound on SE Division, had swerved into the eastbound lane, and across the bike path – where she had struck and killed a pedestrian – before careening into a power pole.

This wrecked car drew the attention of neighbors who heard the crash when it collided with the utility pole.

“My friends and I were sitting in the apartments nearby,” said Matthew Downes. “We were just playing games. My wife heard a screech of tires and a huge crash. I thought perhaps a vehicle hit the building.”

He saw a Buick that had smashed into a utility pole at the corner near their apartment building.

“Myself and another guy went over to the car and opened the door,” Downes told East Portland News. “We cleared out the smoke; and figured that we probably shouldn’t move the driver. We stayed and made sure that she kept her airway open.”

The elderly driver seemed to drift in and out of consciousness, Downes said. “I was concerned that maybe what had happened was some type of a medical problem, based on her complete unresponsiveness, and reports of her swerving between SE 72nd and here at 66th Avenue.”

PPB Traffic Division officers examine the wrecked car, after the driver is transported to a hospital.

He and his friends were so focused on the driver, they didn’t see the pedestrian victim, Downes added. “Someone said a pedestrian was hit; I looked and saw that someone was performing CPR on the south side of the road.”

Having lived at the campus of Warner Pacific College for four years, Downes said that, even with bike lanes, SE Division Street can be a dangerous place to cross the street or drive. “There are times of day when you can walk across easily; during rush-hour it’s quite dangerous, and is packed with cars.

“But, at this time of day, it is usually quite safe,” Downes reflected.

SE Division Street was closed past the afternoon rush hour, as the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division Major Crash Team began reconstructing the accident. The officers made measurements, took photos, and used their Total Station surveying tool do make an accurate diagram of the scene.

“The man killed in this traffic crash has been identified as 55-year-old James Dalton Porter,” revealed PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

SE Division Street remains closed while the investigation continues.

The driver, 84-year-old Estelle Irene Fuman, was transported to a Portland hospital for treatment,” Simpson added. “Preliminary information indicates that Fuman may have suffered a medical event prior to the crash, which led to the erratic driving. Fuman was not impaired by drugs or alcohol. Her condition remains unknown.”
The investigation is continuing, and once completed, the results will be presented to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for review.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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