Errant driver crashes in Lents, limps away

Discover why officials say they believe that the driver of this vehicle had good reason to slink away from his outer East Portland single-car smashup …

Portland Police Bureau officers arriving at the scene in t he Lents neighborhood look for an injured driver or passenger – but only find this stalled, smashed up SUV.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When witnesses called the 9-1-1 Center, reporting a single-vehicle crash on Wednesday evening, December 22, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers were dispatched at 9:59 p.m. for a “possible injury crash” at the intersection of SE Harold Street and 97th Avenue.

A Ford Escape, a compact crossover SUV, had been traveling eastbound on Harold Street, reportedly at a high rate of speed, from SE 92nd Avenue. Near the Lents Neighborhood Market, just west of 96th Avenue, apparently the driver didn’t notice the pedestrian island – even though it was marked with a reflective sign.

The Ford popped up and over the mid-street curbing and mowed down a directional sign mounted on a steel post. This launched the SUV into in the air, where it collided with a substantial tree, planted in the traffic island.

Officers look for the Vehicle Identification Number, but find that it’s been “blacked out”.

The impact caused the vehicle to spin around about 150° and come to rest facing northwest in the eastbound lane of Harold Street.

“A witness said that the driver got out of the SUV on ‘wobbly legs’, with his cell phone in hand; and – a couple of minutes later – a BMW sped into the area and picked up the driver of the smashed vehicle,” a PPB officer told East Portland News.

The officers looking into the crash noted that with no license plates on the SUV, and with the Vehicle Identification Number “blacked out”, it was difficult to tell if it was stolen vehicle or not. But they having given up trying to track both the vehicle and its driver.

Officers stand by for a wrecker to tow away the crashed SUV.

“Judging by the impact to the windshield on the driver’s side, it’s likely that the operator of this vehicle was not wearing a seat belt,” the officer observed. “It’s a good idea to always wear your seat belt – and not be distracted while driving!”

Should you be able to provide information about this incident, send tips via email to, and reference Case No. 21-356143.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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