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  • 29 May 2015

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Taverns face $9.8 million lawsuit after fatal collision

COURTESY OF KOIN 6 NEWS - A 2002 Ford Winstar was lodged in a Southeast Portland building after a horrific May 2013 collision that killed a 28-year-old Portland man. The man's mother is suing two taverns for negligence in her son's death.The mother of a 28-year-old Portland man killed two years ago in a horrific crash is suing two taverns, claiming they negligently served a visibly intoxicated man who later bashed into a van carrying her son after an early morning road rage chase through rain-slicked Southeast Portland streets.

Patricia Forbes of Goldendale, Wash., has asked Multnomah County Circuit Court to award her $9.89 million for her son’s death in the May 26, 2013, collision at Southeast 20th Avenue and Madison Street. Forbes is suing Sassy’s Bar & Grill, the Triple Nickel Pub and 28-year-old Nathan W. Wisbeck of Portland, the drunk driver of a blue 1996 GMC Sierra that slammed into the side of a silver 2002 Ford Winstar van in which 28-year-old Stephen A. Person was a passenger.

Person, who was in the front passenger seat, was seriously injured in the early morning crash when the force of the collision threw the van onto its left side, caused it sheer off a fire hydrant and slam into a stationery shop on the southeast corner of the intersection. He died about 44 hours later at Oregon Health and Science University Hospital.

Also named as a defendant in Forbes’ May 8 lawsuit is 28-year-old Sapearya D. Sao of Gresham, who was chasing Wisbeck through Southeast Portland after a hit-and-run collision damaged Sao’s white 1998 Toyota Corolla.

No court date has been set for the case. None of the defendants has commented on the lawsuit. Attempts to reach owners of Sassy’s Bar & Grill and the Triple Nickel Pub for comment were unsuccessful.

COURTESY OF MCSO - Nathan W. Wisbeck is serving 7 1/2 years in prison for the May 2013 collision that killed Stephen A. Person.Wisbeck is serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in mid-December 2013 to second-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, assault and failure to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person.

Sao was convicted in July 2013 of driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance, charges filed in connection with the May 26 collision.

Forbes’ lawsuit is one of three linked to the 2013 collision. Julie Nguyen of Portland, a passenger in Sao’s Corolla, is suing Wisbeck and his insurance company for more than $619,409 in damages after she as injured in the hit-and-run collision. Michael T. Yourn, also a passenger in Sao’s car, is suing Wisbeck for more than $50,000 in damages for injuries he suffered in the collision.

High-speed chase

COURTESY OF FACEBOOK - Stephen A. Person was killed in a May 2013 road-rage collision. His mother is suing two taverns for $9.8 million for wrongful death.In a seven-page complaint filed by Eugene attorney Clinton J. Jones, Forbes claimed that Sassy’s Bar & Grill on Southeast Morrison Street and the Triple Nickel Pub on Southeast Belmont Street were both negligent when employees served alcohol to a very intoxicated Wisbeck during the evening of May 25 and early morning hours of May 26.

According to Forbes’ complaint, Wisbeck was so drunk that at one point that he passed out at Sassy’s, before regaining consciousness and driving his pickup to the Triple Nickel Pub, where he was served more alcohol.

Wisbeck, formerly of Boring, had been convicted in Clackamas County in December 2008 of driving while intoxicated.

Under Oregon law, taverns and restaurants can be liable in some cases when their employees serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who later is involved in an accident.

According to police reports, the incident began after Wisbeck left the Triple Nickel Pub sometime before 2 a.m. and drove through Southeast Portland in a steady rain until he crashed into the side of Sao’s Toyota at Southeast 11th Avenue and Alder Street, sending the Corolla careening into a parked black 2010 Mazda 3. The collision damaged both the Corolla and the Mazda.

Wisbeck’s GMC then sped through Southeast Portland with Sao’s Corolla close behind, horn honking and passengers shouting for Wisbeck to stop. Wisbeck apparently was making several turns through the neighborhoods, trying to elude Sao’s Toyota, according to police reports.

The high-speed chase turned east on Madison Street, where police said Wisbeck was driving nearly twice as fast than the posted 25 mph limit, with the Corolla tailgating.

At about the same time, Sarah G. Anderson of Northeast Portland, now 31, was driving her parents’ 2002 Winstar south on 20th Avenue, with Person in the front passenger seat. As she approached the intersection with Madison Street at about 2:19 a.m., Wisbeck’s GMC blew past a stop sign at an estimated 50 mph, slammed into the passenger side of the van and then spun onto the sidewalk.

The van rolled to its left side, skidded across the intersection and blasted through the front doors of a small paper crafting shop. Anderson was seriously injured in the collision, and was screaming for help as Person’s limp body fell on her.

Police cited Anderson for driving while intoxicated.

Police said that after the crash, the four occupants of Sao’s Toyota ran to the GMC and began screaming and punching Wisbeck, who was dazed but not seriously hurt.

Police reported that the collision would not have happened if the GMC and the Toyota were not racing through the neighborhoods.


Kevin L. Harden is digital media editor for Pamplin Media Group. 503-546-5167. email: kharden@portlandtribune.com
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