Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - After a car thief stole it and chose to destroy it by running it over the cliff into Oaks Bottom, this BMW now seems destined for the scrap yard.Neighbors near S.E. Sellwood Boulevard and 11th Avenue heard a commotion outside their homes in the early morning hours of August 7 – but didn’t see anything to account for it, as dawn broke over Oaks Bottom.

The ruckus did cause at least one neighbor to call the 9-1-1 Center and report tire tracks leading over the edge of the bluff, and down into the wetland below.

At 5:05 am, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Central Precinct officers came to the area to investigate an “injury accident” – but found nothing but a scraped curb, and tire tracks that disappeared over the edge of the overlook.

Portland Fire & Rescue’s “High Angle Rescue Team” was called out at 5:08 am and began looking for victims in, or near, the car that crashed some 200 feet down to the floor of Oaks Bottom from the ridge above.

According to PF&R spokesman Lt. Damon Simmons, the rescue team found no victims, just a badly wrecked car.

It took two Speed’s Towing crews and several hours to recover the silver BMW 325i four-door sedan that had landed upside down on the bluff trail, smashing a small footbridge. “They told us it was about 100 feet down; but it turns out that it was closer to 200 feet,” remarked one of the drivers.

The tow driver said police told them the car was stolen. But, oddly, the car’s ignition was not punched out – and the vehicle’s ignition key, on a consumer-type key ring, was still in the ignition switch when the smashed car was hauled back up onto Sellwood Boulevard. Perhaps the thief found the key in the ignition.

“The vehicle was running when it went over the ridge, because airbags deployed,” one of the tow truck drivers reflected. “Airbags don’t deploy unless the vehicle is ‘on’.”

Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson later confirmed that it was, indeed, a stolen car, but he didn’t have the name of the owner or the circumstances of the theft. “The 2001 BMW 325i was reported stolen the night before, on August 6 at 9:08 pm.”

At this writing, no suspects have been identified, and no arrests have been made, Simpson said.

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