Mom, disabled son killed by MAX; son 'infatuated' with wheelchair

GRESHAM -- A 66-year-old mother and her 48-year-old disabled son died in a MAX train incident in Gresham Saturday morning.

Bertha Nellie Kelly was riding in a motorized wheelchair, accompanied by her son, John Paul Kelly, when they were struck by a MAX train at the Gresham City Hall MAX station just before 11:30 a.m., according to officer Adam Baker of Gresham police.

Bertha Kelly was declared dead at the scene and John Kelly was hospitalized, Baker said.

Around 1 p.m., John was declared dead. Both victims lived in Multnomah County, sources confirmed.

According to witnesses, John jumped into his mother's wheelchair and accidentally hit the power controls, which pushed them into the gap between two eastbound MAX trains as they were leaving the station.

Angela Murphy, spokeswoman for TriMet, said the MAX train operator didn't see the incident happen, and didn't even know it happened until a short time later.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and loved ones of those affected and to our operator," Murphy said.

James Kelly, the grandson of Bertha and nephew of John, said both victims were "good-hearted people, loved by all."

By Monday morning, a growing memorial outside the victims' home had been removed. But another impromptu memorial appeared at the MAX platform where the accident happened.

James said his uncle, who had severe developmental disabilities, loved mechanical objects.

"He loved things that moved. He was infatuated with her wheelchair," he said.

James said his uncle never realized the dangers he could put himself or his mother in, and reminded everyone to cherish their family and friends.

"You can't love your loved ones for tomorrow, you have to love them for today," he said.

Gresham police are investigating the incident. Autopsies were scheduled for Sunday.

Shuttle buses were serving stations between East 197th Avenue and Cleveland Avenue Saturday afternoon. Around 4:30 p.m., MAX service was restored.

KGW reporter Katherine Cook contributed to this report.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment