In the third bicycling tragedy this month, a former Vancouver man died early Friday morning when the driver of an SUV crashed into him and another bicyclist in Portland and fled in the vehicle, police say.
Dustin Finney, 28, was pronounced dead when paramedics arrived shortly after 1 a.m. on Southeast Division Street near 85th Avenue, according to Portland police and the Oregon Medical Examiner’s Office.
Finney grew up in Vancouver and was studying environmental science at Portland Community College, said his mother, Kristi Finney of Vancouver, and his Facebook page.
Later Friday, Ashawntae Rosemon, 18, the alleged driver of the SUV, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, failing to perform the duties of a driver, vehicle assault of a pedestrian and reckless driving. Rosemon was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center.
The case surfaced when a Portland police officer was flagged down by a motorist. Officers discovered the suspect vehicle dumped near Southeast Powell Boulevard.
Finney had attended Skyview and Fort Vancouver high schools, but decided not to continue as a sophomore, Kristi Finney said. He later achieved his GED and taught himself German.
“He was very independent and felt the schools were trying to teach him to be materialistic and commercial,” she added.
She described him as “extremely athletic and outdoorsy” and the owner of four bicycles.
“He rode his bike everywhere,” she said. “He rode his bike 13 miles to school and back every day.” He’d lived in Portland for a few months and remained “very close to his family.”
Her son didn’t like wearing bicycle helmets, she said. He was not wearing one when he was killed Friday.
He did have lights and mirrors on all his bikes, she said.
A friend of Dustin Finney’s, Mitch Swan of Beaverton, Ore., described him as “tireless in the fight for equality for all people. All minorities, men, women, children to be treated with equal rights and respect.”
On Aug. 6, 2011, just less than a week before he was killed, Finney posted an angry comment on his Facebook page with a link to a KGW-TV story about another bicyclist, Michael Vu, 18, of Clackamas, Ore., who was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
“I hope they prosecute the negligent (driver) to the fullest extent of the law,” he wrote.
James Taylor of Ridgefield was fighting tears when he called The Columbian late Friday night.
He said Finney would ride his bike many miles to the Taylor home, on five acres, to do yardwork and gardening there.
“He helped us fence the place,” Taylor said. “He chopped trees, he mowed. He poured concrete for my walkways. I’d be the one who would quit first.”
Taylor said his family had known Finney for about eight years and, in the past year, he seemed to grow up.
“He was confident and he walked with poise,” Taylor said. “He talked about being a forest ranger. The man had some real determination.”
“He was such a good guy. He wasn’t a kid anymore. He was a man. We loved Dusty.”
Taylor’s wife, Elvina, said Finney became “very well read, really politically astute. He was just all muscle because of all the work he did, and he had a great brain too.”
Finney’s refusal to wear a helmet was “just a 28-year-old man’s invincibility,” she said.
The other cyclist hit Friday morning, a 17-year-old, was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Two other Vancouver bicyclists were killed this month while riding bicycles in Oregon: Diego Reyes, 23, and Dale Beacock, 81.
Anyone with information about Friday’s collision can email Officer Eric Koppang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 503-823-2216.