Ashland High grad's death now called a homicide

PORTLAND — The death of Portland musician Kipp Crawford, initially considered the result of a bizarre traffic accident, is now a homicide investigation, police said Thursday.

Crawford, 31, the drummer for the alt-country band Celilo, died early Nov. 4 after being hit by two vehicles while bicycling toward his home from a bar. Crawford had been pedaling in an eastbound bike lane near the University of Portland but somehow ended up lying in the westbound traffic lane, where he and his bike were struck by a car and sport utility vehicle.

Detective Bryan Steed said it appears Crawford was attacked shortly before the crash, and that's how he ended up in the middle of the road.

"There was physical evidence at the scene that led us to believe there was some sort of assault that took place, and there were some items that were missing that led us to believe a robbery took place," he said.

A witness saw a young man standing over Crawford, and heard what sounded like a confrontation about 15 seconds before the collision, Steed said. The witness could only provide a vague description of the suspect. At a press conference, Crawford's parents, Vern and Jean Crawford of Ashland, implored anyone with information to come forward.

"He was an incredibly kind, gentle soul," Jean Crawford said. "He was not into altercations of any sort, ever in his life. Just a very creative young man, a very talented musician."

Crawford's father could barely speak through his tears.

"It hurts a lot," Vern Crawford said. "And if anyone has anything to offer, clues or leads or anything, it would help. Not just for us — it's for his sister and his big circle of friends he had here."

The drivers who hit Crawford, Carlos T. McCall, 42, and Felisa Washington-Berry, 44, were suspected of drunken driving. A grand jury is reviewing whether to file charges against them, said Heidi Moawad, a Multnomah County prosecutor.

Steed declined to say whether Crawford had been legally drunk at the time of his death.

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