The Fritz family, on a vacation in Hawaii.
  • Re-elect Amanda Fritz
  • The Fritz family, on a vacation in Hawaii.
City hall sources have confirmed reports of a tragedy in Commissioner Amanda Fritz's office: Fritz's husband, Steve Fritz, died in a multi-vehicle crash earlier this morning on Interstate 5 in Salem.

Dana Haynes, a spokesman in Mayor Charlie Hales' office, sent an alert earlier that something awful had happened "involving city hall" and promising further information. The city clerk's office confirmed that this morning's city council meeting had been cancelled.

There is news today of a tragedy that involves Portland City Hall. We ask for patience and privacy for family and staff, as we work through today’s situation. A media release will be forthcoming as more details are available.

Update 10:40 AM: Haynes has sent a short release formally announcing what happened. Commissioner Fritz is with Chief Mike Reese and Commissioner Nick Fish, who drove her down to Salem this morning. Haynes also said Fritz's staff is reworking her schedule but that city business will go on. "The public is going to get its work."

Dr. Steven Fritz, husband of Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, died today in an auto accident on Interstate 5. No other details are available at this time.

Today’s City Council meeting has been cancelled. More details will be forthcoming as they are available.

We ask for privacy for the family and staff as they work through this difficult time.

Some sources told the Mercury what had happened soon after the initial release, but insisted the information remain confidential, out of respect for Fritz's privacy and grief. But details quickly became public anyway—with BikePortland's Jonathan Maus tweeting that he recognized Steve Fritz's zebra-striped Nissan in a Statesman-Journal photograph that had accompanied a report on the crash.

And then KGW's Pat Dooris reported that it was being kept from Fritz's office, which was locked. It's since reported, citing Haynes, that Fritz's office is in mourning. Willamette Week also followed Maus and Dooris, but with a report that Steve Fritz was killed.

Commissioner Fritz wrote, during her 2012 campaign, about meeting her husband, who was a staunch and devoted supporter of her self-financed run for a second term. “I met Steve, my soul-mate and the love-of-my-life, while we were both working at a Salvation Army children's camp in New Jersey in 1977."

Steve Fritz, a doctor at the Oregon State Hospital, is survived by Commissioner Fritz and three children. In 2007, Fritz posted part of an essay that her son Luke Maxwell wrote about his father and his infamous zebra-striped car.

My father drives a car painted in zebra stripes. The inside is crammed full of stuffed animals, seat covers, and air fresheners devoted to his favorite animal. He even has the zebra edition of Zoobooks magazine prominently displayed in the back window. On weekends, he frequents a counterculture group that plays croquet using bowling balls hit with sledgehammers, has "nuclear family picnics" on the lawns of power plants, and launches pumpkins out of cannons. He also wakes up early every weekday, straightens his tie, and happily drives in that twelve year old Nissan Sentra to his work as a psychiatrist at the Oregon State Hospital.

He has a simplicity in the logic behind his decisions that makes many of the worries in my life seem silly. He painted his car because he was bored with it. He set up a stand along a marathon route offering runners free doughnuts and beer because he thought it would be entertaining. He constantly teaches me that even in the real world, being content is not contingent on adhering to the expectations of others.

I often wonder what my life will be like decades from now, but if it is anything like my father's, I will know I did well. I expect many of the details will be different. I do not plan to become a doctor, turn vegetables into projectiles, or remodel my automobile into a work of art. However, if I follow his lead, I will be able to open my eyes on a Monday morning and smile about both the weekend in the past and the week ahead in the future.

The Mercury staff extends its condolences to Commissioner Fritz and her family.

—Dirk VanderHart contributed to this report.