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Keith Vick

("The Slave")

Keith Vick, 36, who went by the moniker "The Slave", was killed by a truck while riding his bicycle on Dec. 3, 2002. According to APD's accident report, Vick was riding southbound on the right-hand sidewalk on Guadalupe, and when he came off the sidewalk to cross 10th Street, a truck turning right onto 10th street struck and killed him.

It's for this reason that we've insisted that you should not ride on the sidewalk. When you come off the sidewalk to cross the street you're invisible to turning vehicles, and are just begging to be hit. Statistics show that you're nineteen times more likely to suffer a collision from riding on the sidewalk rather than riding in the street, and Keith's tragedy is a prime example of why. (For more on how to not get hit by cars, please see BicycleSafe.com.)

Vick was a well-known activist, working primarily on issues involving economic justice and micro-radio. We'd corresponded briefly with him a few years ago when he wrote to us asking about the controversy at a community radio station where we had a program about bicycling issues.

There are some serious unanswered questions about Vick's death. First, APD's accident report says that Vick struck the truck. However, the broken signal lights presumably from the truck found at the accident scene suggest that the truck hit Vick. More serious is the question of whether the truck had enough speed to break its lights from the collision with Vick if it had truly stopped at the red light on 10th Street before turning right. Some suspect that the truck did not stop.

Of course, if the truck had a red light, then so did Vick (or at least a Don't Walk sign), and so even if the truck did not stop then they were both at fault.

Our coverage of this case and other resources includes:


Statesman articles

Bicyclist in accident identified

(Austin American Statesman, Fri. Dec. 6)
 
A bicyclist killed in a collision with a truck at Guadalupe and West 10th streets Tuesday has been identified as Keith Allen Vick, 36, of Austin.
 
Bicyclist dies in traffic accident
(Austin American Statesman, Wed. Dec. 4)
 
A bicyclist was struck by a truck and killed Tuesday in downtown Austin. The 36-year-old man's name was not released because relatives had not been notified. The truck was traveling south on Guadalupe Street and turning west onto 10th Street. Investigators think the bicyclist tried to stop while crossing 10th Street at 5:24 p.m. and was thrown into the path of the truck. The man died on arrival at Brackenridge Hospital.

Commentary by Keith's friend, Stefan

By , Dec. 6, 2002

I called Brackenridge and then the County Medical Examiner to learn that Keith's body had been released to his family yesterday, to his brother John and her wife Edna, who are from Conroe, Texas (40 miles north of Houston).


By , Dec. 12, 2002

Today I went to APD to get a copy of Keith's accident report and I went to get a copy of the County Medical Examiner's report.
 
Here is a synopsis of the accident report.
 
The stated time of the accident was 5:24 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The report was filed by APD's C. Carlisle (ID NO. 3368), who arrived at the scene at 5:31 p.m. EMS, Austin Medic 7, arrived at the scene at 5:26.
 
Clarence Ray Rivers, a 38-year-old man, an Austin resident, was driving a white Ford cargo truck, owned and operated by Conway Transportation, a company located at 8101 Bagby Dr.
 
The report says the truck was south bound in the 1000 block of Guadalupe (at 10th St.) and stopped at a red light and that Keith was also south bound in the same block of Guadalupe riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.
 
It says that the truck made a right turn on red, and that Keith failed to yield right of way to "Pedestrian Crossing Device" and rode his bike into the side of the truck. Keith fell under the truck and the truck drove over him.
 
On the report in the section called "Factors And Conditions Listed Are The Investigator's Opinion" it listed as a factor for the truck "Defective or no turn signal lamps." And it listed for Keith "Pedestrian failed to yield right of way to vehicle."
 
The accident supplement has spaces for Witness Description of What Happened, and Driver's Description of What Happened. But these spaces were blank in the report. There were no witnesses listed.
 
The Medical Examiner's report says something slightly different about how Keith hit the truck. It says he was thrown from the bike. Here is what it says:
 
"On 12-03-02, the decedent was riding his bicycle when reportedly a truck turned in front of him. The decedent attempted to brake to avoid the truck and ended up being thrown from the bike. EMS arrived and transported the decedent to Brackenridge Hospital with CPR in progress. All lifesaving measures were attempted but failed. The decedent was pronounced dead at 5:56 p.m. by Dr. Cottey of Brackenridge Hospital."
 
After completing the autopsy, the Deputy Medical Examiner, concluded that Keith "came to his death as a result of multiple traumatic injuries." These included a crushed head, crushed chest, and crushed abdomen.
 
STEFAN'S ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
 
What's clear is that Keith was killed because he was run over by the truck. But we only have one short paragraph in the accident report describing where Keith had been before colliding with the truck or before it collided with him. It says he was on the sidewalk. It's probable that he was on the sidewalk. But the accident report also indicates no witnesses and no statement from the driver. So it could be the description of him being on the sidewalk is the investigators interpretation of what happened. We don't know for sure.
 
Having no witnesses listed on the accident supplement either means that the investigating officer found no witnesses, or failed to complete that part of the report. Either way it makes it hard to get a second opinion.
 
I don't know for sure whether this case is closed or still open, because I haven't talked to Detective Gish who on Friday I found out was supposed to be in charge of the case.
 

Letter to APD

By , Dec. 13, 2002

 
Dear Detective Terry Gish,

 

I am writing to you regarding a traffic fatality which occurred on Dec. 3, 2002, at the corner of 10th and Guadalupe in Austin, in which a cyclist Keith Vick was killed in a collision with a Conway Transportation truck driven by Clarence Rivers. (Incident No. 02-3371240)
 
The reason that I'm writing is because I've noticed a discrepancy between the accident description found in the APD accident report [page 1, page 2] and evidence that I found at the scene of the accident. This discrepancy may have an important bearing on how the accident happened.
 
The accident report, written by APD's C. Carlisle, states that Keith Vick "rode his bike into the side of the truck."
 
But I believe that the point of impact between the cyclist and the vehicle was the right front, not the side.
 
The reason I say this is because I found pieces of broken clear glass and orange plastic at the accident scene. I first noticed this debris when I went to the scene last Friday to video record it. These pieces were in the sand that had been put down to soak up the blood.
 
Today I went back to the accident scene. These pieces were still there. I gathered them and examined them more closely. The clear thick glass definitely appears to be headlight glass.
 
The only logical explanation for broken headlight glass is that the point of collision was the right front, which means that the truck hit Keith Vick.
 
The accident report states that the truck driver was stopped at the red light and then made a right on red. If that is true, I'm wondering how the cargo truck could have built up enough speed - from a complete stop - and had enough impact - in about 20 feet - to cause the headlight glass to shatter (it's heavy duty glass). These big trucks aren't known for their fast acceleration.
 
An alternate explanation is that the truck did not stop at the light, and made a quick, sharp right turn, coming very close to the curb, and smashed into Keith with the right front of his truck, breaking the headlight glass, knocking Keith over, and running over him with the front tire, and then possibly the rear tire.
 
I urge you to consider this alternate explanation as one that is plausible.
 
If you don't think it is, I'm wondering how we account for the broken headlight glass amidst the debris from the accident? That wouldn't have been there if Keith had ridden his bike into the side of the truck.
 
Sincerely,
 

Stefan Wray


Response from APD

By Detective Terry Gish, Dec. 13, 2002

Mr. Wray: I was the Detective on the scene the night of the collision. We make all fatality scenes in the city when they occur. I can not, and will not discuss this case with you, since you are not a family member. All I will state to you is that you are not correct with your assumptions. Leave the investigation to me. Thank you.


The truck that killed Keith

By , Dec. 16, 2002

This afternoon we drove out to Conway Southern Express at 8101 Bagby and found the truck that ran over and killed Slave (Keith Vick) last week.

We know it's the truck because it matches the description and the license plate number in the accident report.

Slave was killed by this truck when it ran over him at the northwest corner of 10th and Guadalupe on Dec. 3.

It's hard to believe that Slave did not see this truck coming, and, as the police report says, he ran into it.

[Ed. note: That fact that Keith probably saw the truck doesn't mean he could have avoided the collision. If the truck turned right in front of Keith as Keith came off the sidewalk, he might have had only a foot or two to try to stop. Given the height of the truck, it's very easy to see how Keith could have struck it and then slid under the wheels.

We don't know whether Keith hit the truck or the truck hit Keith, but we're also not sure it matters.]

 




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