PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Renee Bates was a graduate of Milwaukie High School who grew up to be a hard working wife and mother of an 11-year-old son. She overcame a rough year that saw her diagnosed with a brain tumor, battling meningitis and dealing with a fire at her apartment.
On July 9, she and her husband, Shawn, were walking to the grocery store and crossed the street on SE 148th Avenue and Division. She was hit by a West Linn school bus that was making a right turn, and died a few hours later.
She was 43.
The bus driver, Billie Jean Neel of Gladstone, was issued citations for careless driving causing death to a vulnerable road user and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
“I remember telling her, ‘Keep your eyes up and keep talking’ because I didn’t know how severe the damage was,” her husband, Shawn Bates, told KOIN 6 News. “And I just said keep talking, stay awake, stay awake, but the internal damage was so severe.”
He said he doesn’t know if the citation for careless driving is a fair punishment.
“It’s not for me to decide,” he said.
A similar case happened in April at SE 142nd and Division when Brian Kenny, 62, also was struck and killed in a crosswalk. The driver simply did not see the pedestrian and was cited for careless driving.
In that case, Neftali Cabrera-Escobar, 36, was cited for careless driving causing death to a vulnerable road user and no operator’s license.
Investigators determined Escobar was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, but his vision may have been affected by the setting sun. This sun glare is known to cause momentary “sun blindness.”
Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said there have been more deadly accidents this year than last year, and in many cases those involved did not see the victim.
“Was there intent? Was there reckless behavior? Certainly there’s negligence because there’s a crash but was it criminal negligence?” Simpson said.
Shawn Bates said his wife was the sole provider for their family. Her co-workers at IHOP organized a car wash to help the family out. The car wash was held at the IHOP restaurant on SE 82nd Avenue from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Her funeral services are set for Thursday. An account is set up for Renee Bates’ family at Key Bank.