Grand jury hears charges against suspected drunken driver in crash
In coming weeks, nearly all of the Portland Police Bureau's 32 motorcycle officers will be wearing new $700 helmets that are vastly safer than the current helmet Ñ the one that officer Christopher Guzman was wearing when he was involved in a crash Sunday.
Guzman, a 4 1Ú2-year bureau veteran, was upgraded to serious condition from critical since his police motorcycle collided with a car driven by 21-year-old Linda Abeles at 1:30 a.m.
Abeles was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and assault. A Multnomah County grand jury will hear the charges today.
Guzman, 34, had been on a routine patrol, riding his bureau-issued motorcycle through an intersection at Southeast Oak Street and Sandy Boulevard.
Police have said it appeared that Abeles did not stop at the stop sign or did not stop long enough to see the motorcycle approach.
Although one-third of the motorcycle officers are currently wearing newly issued 'full face flip-up' helmets that have a protective face shield, Guzman's was among those in the shop. It was getting painted and having its radio communication devices installed.
Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker authorized ordering the new helmets in September at the request of Sgt. Dan Parks of the motorcycle division. Funding was found in a bureau forfeiture account.
The Portland Police Bureau's motorcycle unit has a very low accident and death rate, officials said, due to intensive training, which they review on at least a monthly basis. Two motorcycle officers have been killed on duty in the division's 92-year history. Those fatalities occurred in 1961 and 1962.
Since the crash, Guzman has undergone at least seven surgeries for head injuries including a fractured skull, jaw and cheekbones and crushed sinus cavities.
His jaw is wired shut, and he won't be able to speak or eat normally for months, said Dr. Noel Guzman, the officer's brother and a family practitioner in Vancouver, Wash. He had not been conscious and remains in a medically sedated state. He also has a broken leg.
Noel Guzman said he is 'cautiously optimistic' about his brother's recovery.
Hundreds of police officers and other well-wishers have maintained a steady stream of visits to Legacy Emanuel Hospital to give their support to the Guzmans, including Michelle, his wife of nearly 10 years, and two young children, ages 6 and 19 months.
Well-wishers include the Abeles family. 'Our prayers and hopes are with their family,' said Linda Abeles' father, Robert Abeles of Lake Oswego. 'We're just trying to find out (how he is) every day and hope that he improves. It is terribly agonizing.'
Abeles, a junior and an education major at the University of Oregon in Eugene, was released from the Justice Center Jail this week on bail and is at home, her father said.
'It's horrible' for her, said Robert Abeles. 'She's extraordinarily depressed, as we all are by these horrible circumstances. É We're trying to encourage her to get back to somewhat normal activity to the extent that it is possible.'
He said his daughter is a 'fine person. She's never been in any trouble. It's just totally regrettable that an accident of this sort could ever happen.'