Portland Police Bureau Cracks Down on Hit and Run Drivers

There are crimes of passion, petty crimes, crimes of negligence and neglect, white collar crimes born of greed and corruption…it’s true to say there are almost as many types of crime as there are criminals. But then there is the crime that in many ways is worse than most others. Portland bicycle accident lawyers and Portland police officers take an equally dim view of the crime that is known simply as hit-and-run.

Even though we’re only one month into the new year, two Portland drivers have already been arrested and charged with hit-and-run. In both of these cases, the victim of the hit-and-run was a bicyclist. If the drivers didn’t know before, they certainly have been told at this stage that hit-and-run is a felony that can land them in prison, not a misdemeanor that will get them not much more than a slap on the wrist.

The fact is Portland has an outstanding police force, one that is dedicated and determined to follow up any crime and catch the person or people responsible. It’s also true to say that the Portland Police Department takes hit-and-run cases very seriously.

Sergeant Todd Davis recently expressed his own view in a clear and concise manner when he said, “To me, driving off and leaving a bicyclist or pedestrian lying on the side of the road is one of the most cold-hearted things a driver can do.” He concluded with a stark warning to any driver who might consider leaving the scene after an accident. “We follow up every one of these cases that we can. We’ll go after them every chance we get,” Sgt. Davis said.

 Story #1: Nicholas Smith and William Prosser

While the police department’s actions will never satisfy everyone, it seems fair to say that based on the evidence at hand, if they get a lead on a hit-and-run driver, it will be followed up, an arrest will be made, and a prosecution will follow.

On December 31, 2011, Nicholas Smith, 28, was cycling on NE Sumner. As he reached the intersection with NE 28th, his bike was struck by a car. Smith was thrown from his bike and received a number of relatively minor injuries. But when he looked up to see what had happened, Smith saw the car that had struck him driving away. Fortunately, the alert cyclist was able to get the license number, and police were able to trace the vehicle to 18-year-old William Prosser.

Once police contacted Prosser, he decided to turn himself in…more than three weeks after he’d knocked Smith to the ground and fled the scene. This kind of action is maddening to Portland bicycle accident lawyers. Prosser had no way of knowing what condition Smith was in after the accident. For all Prosser knew, Smith could have been very seriously injured. In more than a dozen cases last year, cyclists were killed in traffic accidents, and for Prosser to leave the scene was completely inexcusable.

Story #2: Brian Reiter and Kealli Kai Torres

Less than two weeks after Smith had been knocked off his bike by Prosser, a similar incident occurred. On January 11, 2012, Brian Reiter, 27, was cycling into the intersection of NE Multnomah and Wheeler, in the Rose Quarter. Without warning, he was struck by a motorist who immediately drove off, leaving Reiter with a broken foot and multiple cuts, scratches and abrasions.

Reiter wasn’t able to get the license number, but an alert taxi driver, Aaron Duff, witnessed the accident and was both astonished and angered when he saw the car driver fleeing the scene. Duff followed the car for several blocks. When he got the chance, he jumped out of his Broadway Cab and confronted the hit-and-run driver, 25-year-old Kealli Kai Torres.

Duff, who deserves great credit for his quick thinking and response, confronted Torres and gave her limited options. He said if she didn’t return to the scene of the accident he would continue to follow her. Torres decided to go back to where she had hit Reiter, who ended up being taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Torres was arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run. Both Reiter and Smith would do well to contact Portland bicycle accident lawyers regarding their options in these cases.

Hit-and-run is a serious crime—a felony offense—and Portland police will not tolerate this kind of driver behavior, no matter what the excuse. In an accident between a bicycle or pedestrian and a car, the likelihood is that the cyclist or pedestrian will be seriously injured and in need of immediate medical attention.

To drive off and leave someone lying in the road is a repulsive and vile act, and Portland police and Portland bicycle accident lawyers are determined to punish hit-and-run drivers to the fullest extent of the law in civil court. Not only should they pay for their crimes with whatever punishment a court of law deems appropriate, they must also be made to pay restitution and compensation to their victims, and a good personal injury attorney will make sure that happens.