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Friends mourn loss of cyclist, engineer

Driver cited after Aug. 1 collision in Beaverton

Longtime Intel engineer Michael J. Wilberding was a cautious and safe bicycle rider. One mistake by a driver last week cost Wilberding his life as he rode home from work on a sunny afternoon.

The 58-year-old avid Tigard bicyclist and part-time inventor died Saturday from injuries he suffered in a collision with a car Aug. 1 in Beaverton.

Friends and colleagues mourned his loss, saying their lives were better for knowing Wilberding. Word of his death swept through the local bicycle community, prompting dismay and disbelief.

'It's a very sobering situation,' said Dick Busby, a former colleague of Wilberding's at Intel for years who also rode bicycles with him around the state on the Cycle Oregon tour. 'We're all shocked and we're all devastated by this.

'Mike was one of the safest riders and he was a very competent cyclist. You know, it's just one of those things that seems like a total waste that something like this could happen.'

Wilberding was seriously injured Aug. 1 at about 6:22 p.m. when his bicycle collided with a blue 2001 Chevy Malibu driven by a 25-year-old Aaron M. Hessel of Beaverton on Southwest Fifth Street near Washington Avenue.

Wilberding died at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland, where he was being treated for severe lacerations to the left side of his head and possible broken right wrist and right leg.

Police said Wilberding was struck as he rode his bicycle east on Fifth Street. Hessel said he was driving the Malibu west on Fifth Street and attempted to turn left onto Washington Avenue when he was blinded by the sun and apparently did not see Wilberding's bicycle.

The collision threw Wilberding into the Malibu's windshield as he tumbled over the vehicle.

Police cited Hessel for failing to yield to a bicyclist in a bike lane. Information on the accident also was forwarded to the state Motor Vehicles Division for its review.

Wilberding was born July 19, 1948. He is survived by his wife, B.J., his son, Dayne, his daughter, Misha, and one grandchild.

Autumn Funerals and Cremation is handling the funeral arrangements. No information was available Wednesday on services.

For the past several months, Wilberding, who was hired at Intel in 1975, was working on his invention, a corrugated cardboard box for shipping bicycles. He started selling them on the Web through his company, Cycle-Pak. The 10-pound boxes are compatible with oversize shipping requirements for most over-night shippers.

Family friend Steve Kassel said he was stunned by Wilberding's death. The two have been friends for three decades, Kassel said.

'He was one of the best engineers (at Intel) that I worked with,' Kassel said. 'He also was a great person. I'm a better person for knowing him.'

Another friend and cyclist Dan Wynkoop said he spent time at the hospital with Wilberding and his family, keeping a vigil in hopes that he would recover.

'He was an avid cyclist and had a big heart for others, quickly assimilating me into the group of riders he was with,' Wynkoop said.