Court date coming for suspect in Southwest 45th hit and run that killed 85 year old
Nolan Harris, 30, the man charged with in the March 19 death of Ortrud Vatheuer at the intersection of Southwest Carson Street and 45th Avenue, where he allegedly ran her over in his van, is being held at Multnomah County's Inverness medium security jail.
He is scheduled to appear in court in late September to face charges of criminally negligent homicide and failure to perform the duties of a driver to an injured person. Both are felonies.
Vatheuer, an active and involved 85-year-old, was out for her usual morning walk on the western edge of the Multnomah neighborhood when the driver of a van hit her and kept moving. She died at the scene of her injuries. Harris was the man driving that van as it sped away from the scene of the crash, according to police reports and court documents. He was arrested a month later after breaking into a Northeast Portland bike shop.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed on April 25, the red Econoline van Harris was driving belonged to his girlfriend. Witnesses told police they saw the driver of the van speeding northbound on Southwest 45th. They say he swerved to avoid hitting Vatheuer but hit her anyhow.
A Portland police officer had seen Harris six hours before the crash driving the van and had taken down the license plate, which he passed on to crash investigators.
When Harris was questioned after his capture at the bike shop, "He did admit that he was the driver of the van and that he was not supposed to be driving and that he fled because he was scared," according to the court document.
Although senior pedestrians like Vatheuer are more likely to be killed by a vehicle while walking than those younger than 65 in Portland, she was the first older walker killed in Southwest Portland in a long time, according to Portland Bureau of Transportation records going back as far as 2014.
"She loved to go on these power walks, she liked to move quick and walk with determination and go through her neighborhood," Vatheuer's nephew Martin Vatheuer told KGW.
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