A Portland man on Friday accidentally ran over and killed a homeless woman who was sleeping in front on a garage in his apartment complex, police said.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, the unnamed man had backed into the garage. When he pulled out to go to work around 6:25 a.m., they said, he “felt a bump.”
“He stopped but did not see what he had struck. He continued (to) pull out and felt another bump,” police said. “That’s when he realized that he had run over someone. He immediately called 911 for help.”
Officers arrived at the scene to find an injured woman, identified as 47-year-old Trecell R. Stinson, conscious and talking. Police said Stinson was homeless and had laid down to sleep in front of the garage door.
Stinson was taken to an area hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening. But her condition quickly took “a turn for the worse” and she died “a short time later,” police said.
The Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team was investigating the incident. Police said no charges or citations have been issued.
Homeless people getting hit by cars in Portland is a relatively routine occurrence.
In December, a garbage truck drove over the legs of a homeless man who was sleeping under a tarp in Portland.
Portland Police Sgt. Brad Yakots at the time advised both drivers and homeless people to be aware of their surroundings, saying “we do not want drivers to disregard a tarp.”
“We want to remind drivers, community members, that a tarp on a sidewalk nowadays means that somebody could be living underneath it,” he said. “We have community members that are houseless that use the tarps to stay warm at night and we do not want drivers to disregard a tarp.”
Yakots warned that even accidents could lead to criminal charges.
“Unfortunately, yes, given the circumstances of any type of incident, and what the investigation finds, even if it’s an accident, there’s no mal-intent, you could still be looking at a criminal citation or a violation,” Yakots said.
Trecell R. Stinson is one of thousands of homeless people in Portland
On any given night, thousands of people can be found sleeping on the streets of Portland, Oregon’s biggest city with a metropolitan-area population of about 2.4 million people.
In 2018, an estimated 14,000 people were homeless in the state on any given day, the vast majority of them Portland, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Multnomah County, where Portland is located, found in August that more people were sleeping outside than at any time in the past decade. Of the 2,037 unsheltered people, nearly 80 percent reported having one or more disabilities.
While federal statistics show homelessness trending downward nationwide, Portland is among a number of American cities that have struggled with vagrancy ― and the attendant toll of human waste.
Bloomberg Businessweek reported last November that at least 10 West Coast cities, from Los Angeles to Seattle, have in recent years declared states of emergency because of out-of-control homelessness.
Portland police told Pluralist in September that they’re powerless to stop homeless people from relieving themselves in public. The complication is that an Oregon court last year barred authorities from using a state law in cases of public urination and defecation.
Sgt. Kevin Allen, a public information officer, said: “It is a topic officers that work downtown hear about somewhat regularly.”
In the last fiscal year, Portland reported that it cleaned up 3,122 homeless campsites and removed 8,4000 gallons of human waste, 1,300 tons of garbage and 28,909 hypodermic syringes.