Man on bike dies, run down by raging driver

It’s hard to believe, but a witness to the aftermath of this outer East Portland road-rage fatality says it started when a guy tried to bum a smoke  …

Just west of the Lents neighborhood, SE Flavel Street is closed down after a driver allegedly runs down a bicyclist – just because he asks for a cigarette.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton

After the Checkered Flag Tavern, on SE 82nd Avenue of Roses at Flavel Street, closed down in the wee hours of Sunday morning, June 23, a scuffle across the street is what led to a murderous road rage incident, according to a man who was there.

Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers responded to a call at 3:32 a.m. regarding “a person injured in a crash involving a sedan”, near the intersection of SE Flavel Street and 79th Avenue.

“Portland Fire & Rescue paramedics and determined the injured adult male was deceased at the scene,” said PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Tina Jones.

The PPB Traffic Division Major Crash Team then came to the location and took charge of the investigation, Jones reported.

The PPB Traffic Division Major Crash Team’s van rolls into the area as investigators look into the fatal smashup.

Later that morning, just after police investigators cleared the scene, neighbor Taud Coffman looked at paint outlines at the end of his driveway. “This is where they found the bike rider’s shoes,” he remarked.

“I’d just gotten up to use the facility when I saw all of these units coming into the area with their [flashing emergency] lights on,” Coffman told East Portland News.

“When I went outside to take a look, a guy, who said he was a friend [of the bicyclist], said somehow they ended up across the street from the tavern, at the 7-Eleven store, to get some smokes.

“For some reason, they couldn’t get the cigarettes,” Coffman said he was told. “When [the bicyclist] couldn’t get them, he asked the girlfriend of another guy standing there for a cigarette – and apparently, that guy got real mad, and there was a little scuffle.”

Police find a bicycle jammed under the front of this vehicle. Courtesy of Fox 12 Oregon

“The guy got on his bike and took off [westbound] on Flavel Street. The couple started fighting, and when the driver got into his car, the girl stayed behind, at the 7-Eleven,” related Coffman.

The driver then took off after the bicyclist at a high rate of speed, caught up with him – and allegedly intentionally smashed into him.

With the crash investigation markings still fresh on the pavement, a new “Ghost Bike” appears at the intersection.

“The guy on the bike was hit so hard, it knocked his body from here, in front of my house, to nearly the third house west, down the street,” Coffman observed. “I thought I heard officers here say the car must have been doing 65 mph or better.”

Police later identified the victim of the crash as 32-year-old Lance T. Hart.

“The PPB Major Crash Team investigators arrested 21 year-old Nicholas Pena Martinez, the driver of the involved sedan,” reported Lt. Jones.

Martinez was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 10:37 a.m. that morning, on a Felony charge of Manslaughter II, and Misdemeanors of Reckless Driving, and DUII (alcohol).

Facing a count of Felony Second Degree Manslaughter and other charges is 21 year-old Nicholas Pena Martinez.

At his arraignment in Multnomah County District Court, Martinez learned he’d face all three charges; he is now in custody at Inverness Jail in lieu of $255,000 combined bail.

Anyone else who witnessed, or has information regarding this crash, is asked to contact Traffic Investigator Phillip Maynard at 503-823-2216.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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