Sunday, February 10, 2013

Angry Astoria Mother Wants Answers From City Of Astoria On Why A Careles Driver Who Struck And Injured Her Son In A Crosswalk Was Not Cited By Astoria Police Officer!

From: "diana johnson" <gl*^#*>
Date: Feb 10, 2013 2:44 PM
Subject: Uncited vehicle/pedestrian collision - Uniontown, Jan. 19th
To: <>, <>

Mayor Van Dusen and Senator Betsy Johnson:

On a beautiful, dry Saturday afternoon, January 19 at 3:29 pm, my son, Ben Johnson:
  • Activated the amber flashing signal at W. Marine Drive located in front of 3 Cups of Tea (under the bridge in Uniontown)
  • Paused and waited for the nearest vehicle to come to a full stop
  • Proceeded to cross when the first vehicle had stopped 
  • Was struck by a Ford F250 truck in the adjoining lane 
  • Was transported to the ER at Columbia Memorial Hospital and 
  • Was diagnosed with a concussion.
The driver of the truck was not issued a citation.

Officer Robinson of the Astoria Police Department, the officer who responded to the scene of the accident, delivered Oregon Police Traffic Crash Report #A201320204.
He stated that:
  • The driver of the vehicle was a "nice guy" who was concerned about Ben's injuries and
  • He and another officer had discussed the accident and felt that bicycles should not be ridden across crosswalks.
Within minutes, via internet, I was able to check Oregon laws: 
  • 2011 ORS 814.410 ...a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk
  • 2011 ORS 811.060 (Class A misdemeanor) Committing vehicular assault of a bicycle operated by a person, a person operating a bicycle or a pedestrian and the contact caused physical injury to the person operating a bicycle or the pedestrian
  • 2011 ORS 811.028 (Class B traffic violation) Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian. A pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when any part of extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian's body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.
  • 2011 ORS 811.020 (Class B traffic violation) Passing a stopped vehicle at the crosswalk
Oregon attorneys who specialize in bicycle law, agree that a person on a bicycle in a crosswalk has every right that a person on foot has to cross safely. 

I need also to address the implication that the driver of the truck who struck my son was a "nice guy."
Does this assume, then, that my son is not deserving of "nice guy" status? 

Let me introduce you to Ben Johnson.
  • 24 year old, African-American with Downs Syndrome
  • will never drive a car and has relied on his bicycle to maintain a sense of independence. His bike was a cumbersome 3-wheel adult trike - but it was his joy
  • has an acute sense of civic duty. For the past 6 years, every Sunday from the opening of the Astoria Sunday Market in May through the final Sunday in October, Ben has gleaned fruits and vegetables for donation to the Astoria Senior Center. 
He often used his adult trike to collect the produce from the vendors. This is a remarkable contribution to the community since it supplies our low-income seniors with healthy, free produce. By the end of the     market season each October, Ben collects over 1500 pounds of fresh produce for distribution to the Senior Center. 

Over the course of 6 years, he has contributed 9600 pounds of fresh, wholesome food to the Astoria Senior Center. 

In addition, he volunteers with fresh fish butchering and delivery to the Astoria Senior Center, an activity that runs from July through November. He has undertaken this volunteerism over the past 5 years.

As the mother and guardian of Ben, I am his advocate. There is ongoing trauma resulting from this accident, including the nagging feelings that Ben was not protected under Oregon laws and that he has been relegated to a status undeserving of protection under the law. 

I have written to Chief Curzon for explanation of 1) Why the driver who struck Ben was not cited and 2) Why the witnesses to the accident were not contacted to ascertain circumstances regarding the accident?
There has been no response to my concerns.

At this time in Astoria, awareness of pedestrian safety has garnered attention from the public officials. Drivers are cited for their failure to stop at crosswalks when pedestrians intend to cross.
Why, then, was the driver not cited when the pedestrian who crossed under flashing amber lights on a marked crosswalk was struck by his vehicle and injured?

Ben's accident went unreported in the Daily Astorian. According to Patrick Webb, the Police Department would have notified the newspaper of yet another crosswalk accident involving a bicycle and/or pedestrian. Since this accident was not officially reported, I suspect that our city (Astoria) has an even greater incidence of vehicular violations involving pedestrians that go unheeded - and uncited.

Please respond.

Diana Johnson