Driver hits 3 women on sidewalk near PSU; ‘person of interest’ t - KPTV - FOX 12

Driver hits 3 women on sidewalk near PSU; ‘person of interest’ taken into custody in NE Portland

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A man described by police as a "person of interest" was taken into custody after a driver drove onto the sidewalk near Portland State University and seriously injured three women Friday morning.

Emergency crews responded to the scene near Southwest 6th Avenue and Montgomery Street at around 10 a.m.

Portland Fire & Rescue asked people to keep the area clear for ambulances responding to the scene. Firefighters said there were “multiple patients.”

Police later confirmed that three women had been taken to the hospital with serious injuries. One of the women was in the hospital in critical condition Friday afternoon, one was in serious condition and the third woman's family asked that her condition not be released to the public. 

John Strong, a witness, says he saw the SUV drive onto the sidewalk on Southwest Sixth Avenue and Montgomery and hit two of the three women.

"It was surreal," Strong said. "It happened so fast, the vehicle was moving in excess of 30-40 miles an hour."

Before paramedics arrived on the scene, Erin Merz, another witness who was working at PSU, says she sprang into action. 

"I heard a very loud bang, looked out the window and I saw two of the victims on the ground and the car driving away," Merz said. 

She says she remembers grabbing first aid kits and running out of the PSU recreation center with her co-workers.

"They were on their side, it didn't really look like they had moved," Merz said. "Seconds had passed since the car struck them."

Police said the driver left the scene after the collision. At around 12:30 p.m., Air 12 was over the scene of multiple police officers surrounding a blue SUV with front-end damage near Northeast 16th Avenue and Glisan Street. The driver was taken into custody and called a "person of interest" by police. 

The SUV matched the description of a possible suspect vehicle, a blue Mazda Tribute, according to police. Police then reported the bureau, "does not believe there is a danger to the community connected with this incident."

A Portland Police Bureau spokesman said the driver was taken to a police station to be interviewed and a search warrant would be served on the SUV. No additional suspects or vehicles were being sought in the case. 

A 911 caller reported seeing the SUV parked where it was found. Police said a chase was not involved in taking the person into custody. 

Roads were expected to be closed near the crash scene into the evening hours Friday. 

MAX Green, Orange and Yellow lines were disrupted due to the incident.

PSU remained open with classes and events continuing as scheduled. 

PSU released a statement saying, in part, “PSU's Dean of Student Life's office and Center for Student Health and Counseling will provide assistance and support to any members of the PSU community who may have been impacted by this incident.”

Multnomah County officials also said their mental health call center is available at 503-988-488, toll-free at 800-716-9769 and for the hearing impaired dial 711.

Police said a fourth person may have also been injured in this incident, but left the scene before officers arrived. 

Anyone with additional information or video, including surveillance video, is asked to call the Portland Police Bureau non-emergency line at 503-823-3333. Detectives are also seeking additional details about the vehicle in this case, a 2005 Mazda Tribute with Oregon plates 491JHT. 

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