Memorial’s gone; case lingers on – Hasso Hering

HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Memorial’s gone; case lingers on

Written June 18th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
The scene of the fatal crash now looks as though nothing had happened there.

The scene where a bicyclist lost his life now looks again as though nothing had happened there.

The “ghost bike” is gone from the spot where Albany bicyclist Grant Keith Garner was killed four months ago, and so are the other parts of the roadside memorial that showed up a few days after his death. I noticed them missing on my ride Thursday afternoon. When I inquired, I learned that the Linn County Road Department had taken the memorial assembly away that morning.

Road Department Operations Supervisor Wayne Mink told me that first he had called Garner’s widow and learned that while she appreciated and was grateful for the memorial in her husband’s name, it had not been set up by the family. The county removed it because the collection of items around the white-painted mountain bike had faded and the stuffed animals were beginning to come apart. Also, the bike was attached to the guardrail, theoretically interfering with the rail’s function.

If there had been a tree behind the rail, Mink says the county would have moved the memorial there. Instead, the crew took the bike and other items back to the Road Department yard, and it’s available there if whoever set up the memorial wants it back.

Mink told me Linn County does not have a time limit on roadside memorials and his department is respectful of what they represent, but because of the condition this one was in, it was time to clean it up.

Garner, 60, was killed when he was hit by a car whose driver lost control coming through the right-hand curve where Oakville Road becomes Queen Avenue on the west side of Albany. It happened about 5:45 p.m. on Feb.17, 2015, when Garner was riding home after work. The Lane County district attorney — as a family friend, Linn’s recused himself to avoid the appearance of partiality —  has been reviewing the circumstances of the crash to see whether charges against the driver, 24-year-old Thanh Xuan Nguyen of Corvallis, should be filed. No word yet on the results of that review. (hh)



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