Malicious slasher flattens all of SAFE’s tires

It wasn’t just one or two tires!  Look at all the damage done to a local company who just helps folks get around …

These are but four of the 72 tires flattened in the Gateway area, at SAFE Transportation Inc.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Unless you’ve seen their vans or cars driving clients to their destinations, most people haven’t heard of SAFE Transportation Inc., a local minority-owned company in the Hazelwood neighborhood that helps “special needs” people get around.

Starting out of a residential home garage using a couple of cars 18 years ago, SAFE isn’t a taxi company, limousine, or town car service.

Even with power equipment available, workers struggle to change dozens of slashed tires.

“We help those in need of special education, medical and mental health treatment and community assistance transportation services,” said SAFE Transportation Compliance Manager Jordan Williams. “So, why would anyone want to damage our vehicles by slashing our tires?”

The tire slashing spree actually started on Friday night, March 13, he said. “On Saturday, we found about ten tires damaged,” Williams told East Portland News. “We were able to get them fixed that day, and were out running our routes.”

Eddie Williams changes yet another tire, as SAFE’s Jordan Williams stands by to help.

That’s why coming in to work on Monday morning, March 16, and finding 72 tires on 26 different vehicles at their outer East Portland business slashed has really surprised and frustrated them, Williams said. “We saw a disaster!”

Walk down the row of cars and vans, he saw that almost every tire, on every car and van had been flattened.

“Because of this, we weren’t able to serve our special needs adults and children,” Williams declared. “This means we couldn’t provide medical transportation, such as if they needed to go to the hospital, a clinic or a doctor’s appointment.

“We also work with high-needs clients,” Williams added. “We make sure that they can safely get to work or school, without harm to themselves or others.”

Vans, used to transport wheelchair and limited-mobility medical patients sit idle, because of flat tires.

The considerable vandalism took a toll on the company’s staff as well. “Our clients are frustrated, because they can’t get to where they need to be, until the damage is repaired,” Williams pointed out. “And, our employees that are frustrated because they can’t come to work and get paid, because our vehicles are damaged. A lot of people lost out here.”

Employees pitched in, Williams said, getting some of the vehicles back in operation by swapping tires and getting new ones. “We’ve been able to get students to school – it’s really important for students to get to school to get their education.”

Another SAFE van awaits a new tire.

Later that week, the local and regional area managers of Firestone also gave SAFE a helping hand, by providing tires at cost, and providing additional tools and personnel to help restore their fleet.

“I’m sure more than one person knows who did this,” Williams remarked. “We’re hoping our video security pictures will help the police stop whoever it is, soon.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Non-Emergency Line at (503) 823-3333, reference Portland Police Bureau case number 15-20710.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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