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Citizen's View: Inaccurate reporting adds insult to injury

While driving from our West Linn home at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, to Zeppo’s in Lake Oswego for dinner, my wife and I were hit head-on by a driver who drove into our traffic lane just south of the McVey Bridge.

The horror of seeing two headlights approaching us in our lane with no escape (a concrete wall on our right and oncoming traffic behind the errant driver) was terrifying. The impact was devastating. The explosion of air bags, the impact that destroyed our relatively new car and my wife’s screams are sounds that we hope never to experience again.

Due to our injuries, we were transported by ambulance from the accident scene and treated at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center. Our bruised and achy bodies and frequent flashbacks in the following week and a half remind us of something that we would like to forget, but can’t. The details of reconstructing our lives, replacing a totaled new car, follow-up appointments with our physicians and insurance administrative matters have been all-consuming.

While the memory of the trauma of the accident continues, a friend and client asked this Sunday evening if it was true that I was arrested “under suspicion of DUII” following the accident, as she had read in the Police Log in the March 17 issue of The Lake Oswego Review. I, of course, thought that she had misread the report until I read The Review on Monday and confirmed that the entry did list my name as the arrested party.

Words cannot describe how I felt in reading that it was me that was arrested instead of the driver of the car who hit us head-on in our lane of traffic. After dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic accident, to have been reported as the arrested party is truly “insult to injury!”

My wife and I have lived in the West Linn area for 35 years and have been fully engaged in the greater Portland business and non-profit community. One error of wrongful reporting can raise many questions in the reader’s mind. The information in the police files is public record. Journalists have a duty to carefully check their work before listing names and arrest information in what is undoubtedly a well-read feature of the weekly paper. Drunk driving is a serious problem, resulting in property damage, injury and death. Wrongfully identifying the victim as the offender was careless work that results in another injurious impact, this time to reputation.

The paper apologized to us and has run a retraction. (See below.) We know that mistakes can occur; however, the paper’s reporters need to realize that there are real people behind these names that they print and inaccuracies like this are inconsistent with good journalism.

Pat Green is a trusts and estates attorney with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Portland. He and his wife have been involved in many charitable endeavors, including the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation.

Editor’s Note: A Police Log item in the March 17 issue of The Review incorrectly reported that Patrick J. Green was arrested for DUII following an auto accident on March 12 in Lake Oswego. In fact, it was the driver of a second car involved in the accident, 45-year-old Peter T. Pope Jr., who was lodged at Clackamas County Jail on suspicion of DUII. The Review regrets the error.