‘Some kind of ‘Fast and Furious’ thing’ on Fremont Bridge

Crime

Portland Police said no arrests have been made

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Video appearing to show cars drifting and spinning on the Fremont Bridge made the rounds Monday on Facebook, racking up more than 60,000 views.

John Mazzocco said he got stuck on the top deck of the Fremont Bridge Sunday night while numerous people blocked traffic and drifted their cars around the middle of the bridge (Skype)

In one clip, a pickup cuts through an open spot on the freeway. A couple of people stand nearby holding phones. The camera pans to show a wall of cars and spectators blocking traffic lanes. That video has since been taken down.

John Mazzocco said he and his fiance were on their way home from some socially-distant golfing at Heron Lakes Sunday night when they got stuck on the top deck of the bridge.

“Just boom. Everything stopped, completely stopped,” Mazzocco said. “For about 10 minutes, nothing moved at all.”

He saw a bunch of smoke up ahead and, for a moment, they thought maybe a car had caught fire. They had the windows up, so Mazzocco said they couldn’t really hear anything. At one point, he said cars that looked like Nissan 360z and similar models zoomed around traffic using the emergency lanes.

“I had a pretty good idea that there was some kind of ‘Fast and Furious’ thing going on,” he said. After about 10 minutes, he said the “kids” took off and traffic went on its way. He could see dozens of skidmarks in the middle of the bridge.

The Portland Police Bureau told KOIN 6 Monday morning that it was aware of street racing and two officers responded but did not make any arrests. “From what it appears the racing dispersed before officers were able to make contact,” a PPB spokesperson wrote in an email.

Mazzocco said he doesn’t really blame the bridge blockers. He remembers what it was like being young and figures they must be bored, without a better outlet.

“Everybody was pretty orderly and the kids really were pretty orderly,” he said. “They just did this disorderly thing and then took off. I think we should just give them a place to do it. They’re gonna do it anyhow. One thing I know about 20-year-old kids is they’re gonna do it, so give ‘em a place to do it.”

A line of cars and trucks stuck on the Fremont Bridge on April 12, 2020 (Tyler Gould)

Unfortunately, the places people can drive fast without bothering others are largely closed due to the COVID-19 response. Portland International Raceway has canceled all its events for the foreseeable future, including the late-night drags that were started in the early 2000s as a way to curb illegal street racing. According to racetrack manager E.C. Mueller, March rains and then the coronavirus pandemic meant this year’s drag racing season never even got started.

Mueller said they hope to be able to open again soon, but that the top priority is stopping the spread of disease.

Meanwhile, PPB asks anyone with “information or tips that could lead to the identification of people engaging in street racing” to call 503-823-0357. Police are looking for videos like the ones posted online over the weekend to help them determine who was driving irresponsibly.

Portland wasn’t the only city dealing with scofflaws this weekend. Saturday night, witnesses reported two drivers racing down Pacific Highway when one of them crashed into a utility pole near McKenzie Street, according to Tigard Police. The crash knocked out power to people living near the crash site.

The driver of the crashed car left the scene and the other driver does not appear to have stopped at all, according to Tigard Police. No arrests have been made, but police are using evidence and information collected at the scene to follow up on potential leads.

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