Friday, January 27, 2012

On his Recumbent David Apperson Killed in Crash with Pickup

Apparently riding his bike on the way to his daughter's wedding, ODOT employee David Apperson was struck on Hopewell Road by a person driving a pickup and died.

The SJ and Oregonian are both reporting a fatal crash this morning involving a person on bike. From the Statesman:
A Salem man died today from injuries he sustained after his bike was hit by a pickup.

Polk County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Garton said the incident occurred about 10:50 a.m. on Hopewell Road near Spring Valley Lane, about 10 miles northwest of Salem.

A Dodge Ram pickup was west on Hopewell Road when it hit the bike from behind. The impact threw David Apperson, 57, of Salem from his bike, Garton said.

Apperson was killed, Garton said. The driver of the pickup, John Taylor, 26, of Salem, cooperated with the investigation, Garton said.

Hopewell Road was closed for about four hours in the investigation. No criminal charges have been filed, Garton said.
Here's a map of the area:

View Larger Map

Heartfelt condolences to family and friends.

Look for more over the weekend as additional information comes out.

Updated Sunday morning.


Anonymous said...

Here's the Polk County Sheriff release:

"On January 27th, 2012 at 1050 a.m., the Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a fatal motor vehicle crash involving a vehicle and a bicycle on Hopewell Rd near Spring Valley Ln. Hopewell Rd was closed for about 4 hours while the crash was being investigated and is now currently open.

During the investigation, it was determined that the operator of the involved vehicle, a Dodge Ram pickup, was 26 year old John Taylor of Salem. John remained on scene and was cooperating with the investigation. It was determined he had been traveling West on Hopewell Rd in the same direction as the 57 year old bicyclist David Apperson of Salem when David was struck from behind by the dodge pickup and thrown from the bike causing the fatal injury.

The Polk County Medical Examiner, the Polk County District Attorney and the Oregon State Police were called to the scene to assist with the investigation.

At this time no criminal charges will be filed."

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

I believe Apperson worked at ODOT and was participating in the Bike Commute Challenge, one of five on the team logging rides in January. (I have not been able to confirm this, however.)

The Gazette-Times suggests he may have been clipped two summers ago. In August of 2010 the paper reported:

"VAN VERSUS BIKE: 10:51 a.m., 1238 N.W. Independence Highway, Albany. Wilbur Wayne Neal, 81, of Lebanon, was driving south on Independence Highway when he came up behind David Lawrence Apperson, 56, of Salem, who was riding his recumbent bicycle. Apperson was riding on the fog line because there was no shoulder. As the van passed Apperson, the passenger-side mirror of the vehicle struck Apperson's shoulder, throwing him and his bike into a ditch. Apperson was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Neal was cited for unsafe passing of a bicycle."

A Facebook commenter, and sounds like first responder, said on the SJ:

"The bicyclist was riding a recumbent bike so he was low to the ground and hard to see to start with. It happened in the middle of a curve in the road and at the time where you would be driving directly into the sun and there is a shadow over the side of the road.

The edge of the road stops at the white line so bicyclists in the area always ride in the lane of travel and now that there is gravel and de-icer on the road they ride even further in the lane of travel. Here is a link to google streetview so you can see what I mean about hard to see[.] I was there a minute or two after it happened."

K Fraser Groves said...

Dave did work at the ODOT Traffic Systems Services Unit. I was driving to McMinville Friday and passed Dave just North of Lincoln, about three miles from where he was hit. I also worked with Dave at TSSU, and am a fellow long term bike rider. It will be hard to find a better person than Dave, and he will be greatly missed. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. On the positive side, it was a beautiful day, a beautiful place, a beautiful guy, he was doing what he loved, and he didn't suffer long. I can't imagine of a better way to leave this Earth.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the confirmation. It is a sad, sad weekend for ODOT and fans of active transportation.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Via email, a reader sends this account from the News Yamhill County site.

It is especially significant because of inconsistent reports about the direction of travel (and therefore location of sun, which may have been a factor).

The eyewitness and responder who had commented (cited in comment 2 here) on the SJ gave a google streetview with an east-bound view, consistent with the observation about "driving into the sun."

This Yamhill County piece also says that both Taylor and Apperson were eastbound instead of westbound, as the initial Sheriff's release (and the SJ piece) suggested:

"Polk County Sheriff’s Deputies report that a Salem man, riding his low-to-the-ground “sit down” style recumbent bicycle along Hopewell Road, was hit from behind by a big pick-up,Thursday morning. The impact killed him.

Deputies say David Epperson, 57, of Salem, was headed eastbound on Hopewell near Spring Valley Lane, when a local resident, John Taylor, 26 came up from behind driving his Dodge Ram pickup. Taylor said the sun was blindingly bright for a moment and then he heard and felt the impact. Bike rider Epperson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputies say “sit down” recumbent bikes are very low profile and therefore can be a lot harder to see on the side of the road, and with a blinding sun, conditions would have been very hazardous for the bicyclist. Deputies also said Hopewell Road has a lot of de-icing pea gravel on the shoulder so it would not have been rideable by a bicyclist. So, they said, Epperson would likely have been riding partially in the travel lane.

For that, deputies did not charge Taylor with a crime."

Ray Thomas said...

Oregon has lost a great guy and excellent bike rider and advocate. There seem to be so many contradictions in the police report. While the police may have decided not to issue this case as a crime one cannot help but think a violation of the Vulnerable User Law, ORS 811.135 would fit here, along with several other violations. I dont' see how sun in the eyes is an excuse. IF you can't see, pull over and stop until you can see, don't assume the road in front of your big pickup is clear of other road users.

Anonymous said...

I am confused about the direction John was traveling. My wife and I passed a man riding a recumbent going up the first big hill out of Hopewell. He appeared to be about Johns age, and was going towards Salem. This was Friday at about 10:45 a.m.. I would call that east bound, but maybe my directions are turned around.

The rider we passed was as far over to the right side of the road as possible, and though we passed almost at the crest of that hill with two cars coming in the opposite direct It was not a difficult maneuver. Just need to back out of the speed a little.

At any rate very sad.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ray. As you and others have pointed out, the inconsistencies and uncertainties are troubling, and I hope more complete information comes out.

Additionally, as I have brooded on this, I hope that ODOT will think more deeply and more completely about funding, design, and implementation of complete streets and roads that work safely for all road users, not just large trucks and folks in cars on drive-alone trips.

(I think Hopewell is a county road here, but I'm thinking of state design standards and, even more importantly, changing the prevailing culture and sensibility behind road engineering and design and enforcement so complete facilities become an unthinking and automatic reflex rather than a chore.)

Michael R pdx said...

Sun in eyes? At 10:50AM? Go outside tomorrow morning at 11:00. How is the sun in anyone's eyes?

bob said...

In the past two years, I have frequently ridden on this stretch of road. It's a beautiful area to ride but most of the roads have little or no paved shoulder beyond the fog line and usually a drainage ditch is within a few feet of the road edge.
It has been my experience that most drivers will give a cyclist a wide berth when passing unless an approaching car makes that move unsafe. However, for me one memorable incident involved a Polk County deputy sheriff passing me within an arm's length. When I called the Polk County Sheriff to report the incident, the Sheriff had the deputy return my call. The deputy's response was more of an explanation than an apology, but at least he made the effort.
In Mr. Apperson's incident, I am puzzled as to why the investigating officer would provide an excuse for the driver's actions based on what was probably the driver's description of the accident.

Will Stewart said...

"It makes you wonder," the officer said, "Was he cheating into the lane more than he should be?"

This is absolutely heinous! The officer is supposed to uphold the law, not turn into a defense attorney. This incident should be investigated, perhaps by Internal Affairs.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

New post with a photo of the crash site and crash investigation markings.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

During conversation at B on B this morning, we heard the Salem Bicycle Club has learned that apparently in April, Taylor was cited for unsafe passing and violating the basic rule.

Among other things, Taylor could indeed not see far enough ahead and was traveling too fast given the conditions of compromised visibility at that location.