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How to Not Get
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Cyclists are frequently the victims of harassment and event assult from motorists. Worse, motorists often face no penalty for comitting these crimes. We cover several local examples of this on our No Justice for Cyclists page. We don't have the resources to cover incidents outside of Austin, but below are a few examples on non-Austin no-justice issues -- cases in which the motorist either faces little or no penalties, or the motorist fled the scene after hitting the cyclist.


Driver gets only probation for hit-and-run killing of cyclist

(Lubbock, TX)

Callie Long hit bicyclist Brett Walrath with her Lexus in 2003 and left him for dead. She was caught, tried, and convicted, but given only five years of probation. She paid no fine, and as long as she doesn't violate her probation, will face no jail time. Adding insult to injury, the newspaper article reporting the slap on the wrist shows an ad for a car right smack dab in the middle. (Lubbock Online on the conviction, and on the sentence)


Motorist gets only community service for killing cyclist in hit & run

(Garland, TX)

From KLRD and the Garland Police Department, Friday, June 16, 2006

Charges have been filed against a Garland man in a fatal hit-and-run this morning. Garland police arrested 43-year-old Nduka Kula [Kalu?] at his home and he's been charged with failure to stop and render aid, resulting in death. Officer Joe Harn tells KRLD News at about 4:30 a.m., someone hit the bicyclist on the eastbound service road of I-30 between Zion and Bobtown. A white bumper from the car was left behind. Police found the car -- a 1993 Geo Prizm -- at Kalu's home about a mile from the accident scene. A photo from the police department shows damage to the front end and both passenger-side windows are shattered. The bicyclist has been identified as 30-year-old Robert Bird of Garland.

Update, 10/15/11:  "i am amy benton and i was robert bird's girlfriend at the time of his death. i want to thank you for the attention you have shown to the cause for no justice for bicyclists and inform you that i have a memorial page for robert wayne bird on fb with a group called no justice for bicyclists in robert wayne bird aka bill bird aka superman..... after 40 resets for trial the jury was selected this month on october 11, 2011 and the following day the trial for nduka o kalu began for the charge of felony for failure to stop and render aid resulting in death of victim robert wayne bird. the trial only lasted for 3 days and even though there was testimony that shows the defendant stopped 250 feet from the accident and removed the victim's shoe lodged or thrown into his vehicle during the impact and then the defendant drove home and went to bed, leaving the scene without notifying anyone..... he still was able to beat everyone else in the courtroom to the parking lot where he was able to go home and return to his life basically with only a slap on the wrist and a guilty verdict. they found him guilty but all he will be getting for it is community service which has shattered my heart all over again. i wanted to tell you because you probably havent heard of the turnout of this case and it has been 5 1/2 years since the hit and run and this past week was the first time the man who was charged didnt reset the courtdate...... i really understand that these laws need to change because mr bird was a remarkable man and i feel he has gotten no justice even though the man responsible was found guilty. it was like they said, "yeah you are guilty, no doubt, but you can go home now, check in with us, and you can just go about your life." seeing the photos of the scene including robert birds condition at time of death taken by the investigators conducting the scene for evidence..... something i will never be able to erase form my mind even if i were to go blind. all i got out of it was seeing his extremely mutilated and distorted body is all i can say i walked away from this trial receiving and i feel like it is happening to me all over again, mourning and the tears. i wanted you to have the update because i know now that this issue is not making the process we all want and i will be here to support you in any time you need from here until the day i die. thank you for doing something about it and i thank you for robert bird and his family as well."


Motorist hit & runs cyclist, other motorists continue on rather than stopping to help

(Atlanta)

By Kevin Snedden, Sept. 4, 2004

When I started commuting through Atlanta four months ago, I found and studied your remarkable and helpful website [How to Not Get Hit by Cars]. Despite my extra caution, however, I am now typing this one-handed due to a fractured collarbone and back injuries I suffered when cut off by a driver who tried a right hook on me. His move was unique and caught me off-guard, I will describe the events here.

It was 5:30 AM and dark. I have a good headlight and blinking multi led taillight, and reflective stripe on my trunk bag and blinking yellow led on my helmet back. The accident scene was brightly lit from above with many Sodium Vapor streetlights.

I had a green light and was making a left turn from the left turn only lane of a four lane intersection. Two cars idled at red lights to my right. As I entered the intersection, I heard a car approach me from behind. Since I was in a left only lane, I was surprised that as the car overtook me on my left, it also veered suddenly to the right. The action was so surprising and close that I had no choice but to lock the brakes and end-over the trunk as the car passed in front of me. (This maneuver definitely kept from under the front of the car which did not stop.) After a particularly violent landing in the middle of the intersection, I recall using my good arm to unclip my right foot and watching the car stop at the other side of the intersection then speed away. A hit and run. The two witnesses to this accident wasted no time driving around me in the middle of intersection when their light turned green so they could continue their trips uninterrupted.

I guess that the moral of this story is to be prepared for a car driver to go way out of the lane in order to hit you. Make an assumption that a car passing you from behind is going to turn at you. What will you do?


Law professor intentionally hits cyclist; her conviction is overturned

(Dallas, TX)

A law professor admitted hitting and injuring a cyclist with her car in May 2004, saying after her arrest, "I only meant to tap him." Of course she later claimed that she never meant to hit him. She was convicted in June 2005 and the jury sentenced to the lightest possible punishment: two years in prison with a recommendation that she be given probation and fined $1,000. The judge hearing the case sentenced her to five years' probation. But even that didn't stick: she got her conviction overturned on a technicality. (Dallas Morning News, Aug. 1, 2006)

So as of this writing, this bicyclist-attacking law professor has paid no penalty for her crime.


Motorist who kills child gets only traffic tickets

(Maryland)

My name is Doreen Tremper. I lost my son Billy Tyler Tscheschlog on June 16, 2003 to a reckless driver who received only simple traffic tickets as a result. Tyler was riding his bike home from a neighbor's house and was almost home when a Toyota Tacoma was heading down the road at an estimated 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. This road is straight so the driver (Robert Sloan) had a clear view of my son. From what a witness said my son's hand went to his head (we don't know why) he lost control of his bike and Robert Sloan apparently saw this since he honked his horn but continued to plow through my son anyway. I know Robert Sloan did not try to stop because I was home at the time and I heard a thump and then screeching of tires. My son was thrown approximately 30 feet to where he landed by my yard. All this person received from the courts were three payable tickets, one for speeding, one for negligent driving, and one for speeding on a highway. [In the law, a highway means any road. I'm not sure how they came up with two speeding tickets.] I am so filled with HATE against our judicial system. All I get from them is a run around.... I feel as if they are protecting Robert Sloan and not my son! I have an appointment with the States Attorney in December don't know what good this will do. I am going to try and get other charges against him. I am willing to fight however I can for my son!

The appropriate charge in this case seems to be Criminally Negligent Homicide.

There's a memorial tribute web page for Tyler, including a photo of flowers and signs left at the scene of the collision. -- Ed.


Police going easy on murdering hit-and-run driver

(Garland, TX)

Lorenzo Saavedra ran over a cyclist Carlos Suarez and fled the scene. He actually aimed for the cyclist, according to witnesses. A judge lowered his bail from $50,000 to only $1,500, and a cyclist investigating the issue can find no evidence of the existence of the magistrate who supposedly signed for his release. (full article) 9-02


Motorist intentionally hits 10-year old

(Houston, TX)

A motorist intentionally hit a 10-year-old boy for allegedly throwing trash in the man's yard in Houston. The boy suffered a head injury and was in serious condition. (full article) 4-02


No charge against speeding driver who killed cyclist (Norridgewock, ME)

I saw your web page about bike safety and I felt I had to write. My son, Brendan Batson, was killed on May 26 when a car hauling a stock car hit him in Norridgewock, Maine. Your web page is SO right on. My son took all the precautions you wrote, yet because of the carelessness of the driver, he was killed. The driver was inches from him and honked his horn. We still do not have the details, but it looks like it was harassment. They still have not even made a decision if they are going to charge the man who hit and killed my son, even though he admitted at the scene to speeding and to having "a few beers" earlier in the day.

His story is supposed to be in the New York Times this weekend or next. Brendan left a sister and baby brother who will never know him. He was training for a 200 mile bike run for Make a Wish (a trip he organized all on his own). My husband and I do not want his death to mean nothing, and if getting the word out can help another parent from losing their child, then that is what I want. Brendan died needlessly and the word has to be out to bikers and motorist about the need to Share the Road and to respect one another. I hope you continue to get the word out. -- Yvonne Batson, Norridgewock, ME, 7-01


DPS blames cyclists for getting hit by intoxicated driver, DPS fails to investigate properly (Tomball, TX)

A reader reports: On May 7, 2000, Conrad Anderson was bicycling on the paved shoulder of FM 2920 in Tomball, TX when he was struck and killed by a 16-year-old motorist with drugs and alcohol in his system. Despite the fact that the driver was intoxicated, the cyclist was on the shoulder, and that signs along the route indicated that the shoulder was a bicycle lane/route, DPS told to the victim's daughter that the cyclist should not have been riding on the road. Also, DPS failed to do a proper investigation; their report does not indicate measurements, the driver's speed, where the victim landed, or where the vehicle finally rested. (Read the full story.)

No charges for driver (Tennessee)

Vince Vinson, 6-5-00:

I was riding my bike out of the city on a two-lane road in the country at 1:30 in the afternoon on a sunny day. A car struck me from the rear, and I was thrown onto the hood, then windshield, over the top, then into a ditch. The man stopped, had a cell phone, and called 911. I was air-lifted to a hospital in Nashville, TN. Died once in helicopter, then given blood, head degloved, compound fractures in arm. He told the newspaper that he was going to pass, when a car came over the hill he pulled back in and hit me. He was trying to pass on a double yellow line, but got no ticket and had no insurance. I am 40yrs old and have a business, I was hospitalized for 1 month then lost my left leg below the knee due to compartment syndrome that the hospital missed because they had the leg in cast. I am concerned that the man was never punished. What can be done? I will find out, I'm going to talk to D.A. Any ideas, please email me.

Ed. note: If it was easy to get justice, we wouldn't have several web pages devoted to the lack of justice. We advised Mr. Vinson that if his talks with the D.A. are fruitless, he should contact an attorney.


Cyclists Assaulted in Grand Prairie

Slick4slim [at] aol.com
Tue, 18 Apr 2000

On April 27, 1996, Gene Genet and Mark Metcalfe were cycling together on the quiet country roads near Joe Pool Lake south of Grand Prairie [Texas], when they became the victims of a violent crime. A group of youths approached them in a pickup truck, and hurled a one-gallon plastic jug that had been filled with water and frozen into a solid block of ice directly at them, collapsing Gene's front wheel and causing both men to crash heavily. Mark suffered a broken hip, requiring two surgeries and months off work to heal; Gene landed on his head and was knocked unconscious, suffering head, neck and back injuries. Both men still suffer pain daily as a result of their injuries.

Over four years later, on May 1, 2000, the trial of the young man responsible for their assault will finally begin. It has taken tremendous effort and perseverance on the part of Mark and Gene, as well as the Tarrant County District Attorney's office, to bring this case to trial. Testimony will likely begin on Tuesday, May 2, and the trial is expected to take 2-3 days. The prosecuting attorneys have requested our help in securing a favorable verdict and an equitable sentence by filling the courtroom with as many friends, relatives and cyclists as possible, especially during the sentencing phase of the trial. I will issue updates as the date draws closer, and daily during the trial, to let you know the most advantageous times to be present. If at all possible, please make every effort to attend all or part of the trial. We feel that the outcome of this trial is vital to cyclists who use Texas roads, and we need your help.

Tue, 2 May 2000

Jury selection began yesterday in this trial, and was expected to continue today (Tuesday). However, late in the day the prosecuting attorneys announced that they had decided to make an offer (a four-year prison sentence for a plea of "guilty" to assault with a deadly weapon), and that the defendant is expected to accept the offer. This would guarantee at least two years in prison before he would be eligible for parole. Mark & Gene are meeting with the prosecutors this morning -- I'll update you as soon as I hear the outcome of that meeting.

May 4, 2000

Yesterday the defendant pled "guilty" to two counts of second degree assault with a deadly weapon, and was sentenced to three years in prison, with two years mandatory before he's eligible for parole. Mark & Gene expressed relief that they can now begin to put this long ordeal behind them.


Drunk motorist gets lesser charge for killing cyclist (Illinois)

In DuPage County, IL, drunk motorists who kill others are often charged with reckless homicide. But in a recent case in which a drunk motorist killed an African immigrant cycling at night, the grand jury indicted the motorist on a lesser offense. The Aurora motorist, whose blood alcohol level was more than 50% over the legal limit, was convicted only of drunk driving and causing great bodily harm. (Chicago Tribune article, 1-25-00)


 




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