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#1 2015-04-07 21:45:57

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,321
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Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Reposting what Chavela started in a different thread:

chavela wrote:

We have had another likely-fatal collision, and I have not seen ANY coverage in the paper.  Last Wednesday evening, a couple was biking in Lost Creek (the woman works in my company, which is how I have heard about this).  Man was heading down a long hill, woman a good distance behind him.  Car passed him, turned right into him.  He hit the car, was seriously injured, and I heard reports this morning that he was determined brain-dead and the family is dealing with the decision to remove life support.  I was told that the driver did not have a license, and that--at the time--was ticketed.  I am very troubled this has not been covered at all in the paper, that I can tell.  And I wonder what further charges the driver will face (if any).

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#2 2015-04-07 21:51:42

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,321
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Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Thank you very much for posting this.

If everything is truly as you describe (and I have no reason to doubt it), the appropriate charge would be Criminally Negligent Homicide.  But it's extremely rare for the killers of cyclists to face strong charges.  The fact that s/he got at least a ticket is progress -- which is a pretty sad commentary on the state of justice for cyclists.

I used to wake up in the middle of the night thinking, "I'm gonna get hit on my bike tomorrow!"  Then once I got married and have adopted kids in the family who biked to school, I'd wake up thinking, "One of my kids is gonna get hit on their bikes tomorrow!"  Now that I'm driving after 27 years of not (because my wife nearly got killed on her bike too many times), I wake up thinking, "I'm gonna hit a bicyclist tomorrow!"  Somehow I liked it better when I feared only for my own safety.

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#3 2015-04-08 17:16:28

flatau
Member
Registered: 2013-03-03
Posts: 13

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

No doubt this incident refers to my friend Tom.  He passed away yesterday.  The accident was on April 1.

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#4 2015-04-08 20:37:22

chavela
Member
Registered: 2008-06-03
Posts: 46

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Yes, it was Tom W.  I am assured that "APD will track this" with an investigation...but who knows.

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#5 2015-04-08 21:00:07

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
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Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Statesman wrote:

Bicyclist in critical condition after Lost Creek collision

A bicyclist remained in the Brackenridge Hospital in critical condition April 6, as the result of an April 1 collision with a pickup truck on Lost Creek Boulevard, Department of Public Safety officials said. The bicyclist is a man in his 50s.

Around 5:30 p.m., both were heading toward each other on Lost Creek Boulevard when the pickup truck driver, who didn’t see the cyclist, turned onto Whitemarsh Valley Walk. The bicyclist hit the right rear corner of the truck because the driver failed to yield, DPS said. The truck driver stopped to help. Because the crash investigation is ongoing, DPS officials could not say whether the driver would be charged with anything.

The cyclist was unconscious when first-responders arrived, according to the Westlake Fire Department report.

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/loca … oll/nkpKZ/

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#6 2015-04-08 21:45:37

Mpfreebird
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Registered: 2015-04-08
Posts: 1

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

My husband saw the accident. He was waiting to turn onto Lost Creek and saw the rider coming down hill and the truck turned right in front of him.  He said it was horrible.  We are so sorry that Tom lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

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#7 2015-04-09 08:36:56

BRADHOUSTON
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From: Austin, Texas
Registered: 2011-01-20
Posts: 1
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Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Another tragedy for Austin and a terrible loss for Tom's family. 

Two of the issues here.  First, the failure of law enforcement to properly charge violators in traffic collisions involving bicyclists.   TCSO seems to have more officers with bias than APD.*  Hopefully, APD will charge the offending driver.   When I have a case where the officer writes a bad crash report for the cyclist, I take the officer's deposition and grill them on the Transportation Code.  Either the officer admits to the conflict or looks bad trying not to admit it.  It makes the bad report less valuable to the auto insurance company at trial.

The second issue is the fact that motor vehicle don't look for bicycles.  My personal safety campaign is to get all cyclists to use a white strobe light on their bikes in the DAYLIGHT hours.  Tom may have been using one, I don't know.  But, it makes us many time more visible to traffic.  I rode through that intersection yesterday morning and Lost Creek curves just past the intersection as you are going uphill. It is a great hill on which to ride a bike, but more dangerous than I thought.

Brad Houston

*Constable Sally Hernandez may run for Sheriff.  She has been a friend for 20 years and has helped me with special issues related to serving lawsuits on drivers who hit cyclists.  If she runs and is elected, the cycling community will have a friendly ear at the Sheriff's Office for a change.

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#8 2015-04-09 09:40:27

cycling74
Member
Registered: 2008-09-28
Posts: 61

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

BRADHOUSTON wrote:

The second issue is the fact that motor vehicle don't look for bicycles.  My personal safety campaign is to get all cyclists to use a white strobe light on their bikes in the DAYLIGHT hours.

You've convinced me. If daytime running lights are mandatory for motorcycles and standard on more and more new cars and trucks then why not use them on a bicycle?

I'm going to start running my front strobe during the day starting today and see if I can notice a difference. Too many times a driver does not see me and will almost turn left in front of me and sometimes actually do it.

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#9 2015-04-09 10:27:49

Darron
Member
Registered: 2014-05-22
Posts: 108

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

What a terrible accident.  It's stories like this that made my wife make me stop commuting to work by bike.  These right hook accidents are always my worst fear b/c the recommended defense against them is to ride to the left or even take the full lane which can be an unpleasant and dangerous experience depending on the situation.

When I did commute I kept my super bright front and rear strobes on at all times.  I know they kept me safer b/c on more than one occasion I had someone pull up next to me at a light or stop sign and tell me how annoying they were during the day to which I replied "Thank you for noticing".

D

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#10 2015-04-09 11:57:32

htmusick
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Registered: 2015-04-09
Posts: 1

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

I am saddened by such tragic news.  I wish Tom eternal tailwinds, peaceful descents, and puncture-proof tires.  My condolences to his family and friends.

Let me be perfectly clear - I AM NOT IMPLYING the cyclist in this case was at fault in any way.  I am not - period.  However, given the location of the crash and my personal experience, the intent of my comments below is simply to raise awareness and encourage everyone to ride predictably with impeccable conduct.  Doing so gives everyone a better chance of returning home to their loved ones.

Nevertheless, in addition to Brad's point about using daytime strobe lights, I believe we - as cyclists - can do one more thing to increase our safety on the road - control our speed.  The descent on Lost Creek Blvd. is pleasantly long and potentially very fast.  I myself have "bombed" down it too many times with top speeds well in excess of the posted speed limit.  Whatever fun that may be, it is extremely dangerous.  Because a cyclist is so small (compared to a motor vehicle), it is very difficult to gauge his/her speed even when he/she IS seen by a driver.  The difficulty is only exacerbated when a cyclist is travelling faster than expected (e.g., descending at high speeds).  Thus, in addition to using BOTH front and rear flashing/strobe lights during daylight hours, I also encourage ALL cyclists to obey the posted speed limits on our roads - especially on steep, fast residential roads (e.g., Lost Creek Blvd., Barton Creek Blvd., Far West Blvd., Ladera Norte, Mesa Dr., Adirondack Trail, River Hills Rd, Cuernavaca Dr., etc.).

Again, I am NOT blaming the victim and I have no idea whether he was travelling at 5 or 45 mph.  His actions are not at issue here.  I merely ask all cyclists to pause for a moment and consider the possible consequences before screaming down a hill - especially in a neighborhood where there is a high concentration of motor vehicles, children, pets, wildlife, etc.  I know I have had my fair share of close-calls from both cars and deer crossing in front of me while riding way too fast to be able to slow or stop had it been absolutely necessary.  I will use this tragedy to remind myself to ride predictably with impeccable conduct - even if no one is watching.

RIP, Tom.

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#11 2015-04-09 12:42:47

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 583

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Does anybody know who the victim is more precisely than "Tom W" ?

Tom Wald, one of Austin's strongest cycling advocates. is still around.  (Though I was a bit concerned when I looked at his facebook and twitter and there were no updates in April, but somebody contacted him and he confirmed that it wasn't him.)

It looks like this happened in Westlake/Rollingwood rather than within Austin city limits, so it probably wouldn't be APD that investigates it.

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#12 2015-04-09 15:50:50

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

The latest Statesman article names him as "Thomas Wilkinson, 53".   Lost Creek is unincorporated county; it's due to be annexed by Austin this year.  I don't know why they quote DPS rather than the Sheriff's Office, maybe DPS happened to be on the scene.

I ride that road sometimes for commuting. When I saw the headline I thought it was for sure on the narrow and winding part of Lost Creek Blvd south of the creek. Where he was hit the road is wide with wide bike lanes, though I admit at speed it can be a blind intersection in a bike or car.  Very sad. Stay safe y'all.

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#13 2015-04-15 18:05:47

brycehendrix
Newbie
Registered: 2015-04-15
Posts: 1

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Please Be Kind To Cyclists would like to reach out to the family of Tom Wilkinson, if anyone knows the family we'd appreciate their contact info. You can fill out the form at http://www.bekindtocyclists.org/contact-us.html or email me at bryce at bekindtocyclists.org

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#14 2015-08-25 17:07:55

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Per the crash report:

"Driver stated he did not see [the bicycle] approaching when he made the left turn."  The reporting officer noted the curve in the road, low-hanging tree branches, and a stone mailbox as possible causes of restricted visibility.

The driver, 31-year-old Efren Beltran-Muniz, was cited for "FAILED TO YIELD RIGHT OF WAY- TURNING LEFT" and "NO DRIVER LICENSE".  He stopped & the vehicle was insured.  I did not find his name on court dockets or anything so I assume no additional charges were brought and that's the end of that.

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#15 2016-01-04 15:51:55

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,321
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Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

This is what the area looks like from the driver's perspective, before he made the deadly left turn.  Thoughts?

LostCreekAtWhiteMarsh.jpg

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#16 2016-01-05 11:48:35

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 325

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

It seems to me that "I didn't see the cyclist" should be viewed more as an admission of negligence than an excuse in most cases, including this one.  The view is clear enough.

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#17 2016-01-05 14:31:11

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 142

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Well, the view is kind of obstructed.  It's plausible the driver could not see a rider in the bike lane beyond the mailbox, which is about 120ft away. If the driver started his turn while the bike was actually hidden, a bike going 30mph downhill there might not have enough room to stop.

Then again the deputy issued a failure to yield ticket so he apparently didn't buy the driver's excuse.

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#18 2016-01-06 10:53:33

Darron
Member
Registered: 2014-05-22
Posts: 108

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

I agree the driver was ticketed correctly but this image is not what the driver experienced.  This would have been 5:30pm in April so the sun would have been low shading the side the cyclist was on plus the trees would have had more foliage making them hang lower and harder to see through.  Couple that with the fact there is a long down hill for the cyclist making it easy for him to be going the speed limit of 30mph (there is actually a caution sign for this corner recommending 25mph for cars) makes for a dangerous intersection for all involved. 

Could the driver have seen the cyclist?  Absolutely but I would imagine he was preoccupied with looking for cars barreling down the hill and around the corner and just didn't register the bike in his vision.  Is there visibility issues with this intersection?  Yes, the fact there is warning sign for traffic headed south bound on Lost Creek (the only intersection warning sign between 360 and the creek for SB traffic in fact) tell me the county recognized this danger and thus put up the sign.  Had this been a traffic accident between two cars where someone had died I'd wager he would have gotten the same failure to yield ticket.

The question now is what good can come to this?  If I lived in the area I'd ask the county to trim the trees for better visibility for both cars an cyclist citing this accident as proof there is a problem.

Darron

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#19 2016-01-22 13:59:08

Ken Wilke
Newbie
Registered: 2016-01-22
Posts: 1

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

Hi everyone, I may be misinformed, but I am pretty sure many here are discussing the wrong point.  Tom was moving one direction, the truck was moving in the same direction, passed him, and made a right hand turn in front of him.  As I understand it, the truck didn't make a left, it made a right after it passed him.  This indicates that the motorist almost certainly saw him, just didn't give a rats ass and risked Tom's life by trying to beat him to the intersection.  Further, Tom wasn't riding alone.  Another rider was behind him a ways.  1 bike is easy to miss.  Two are still easy to miss, but harder than just one.  This happens all the time and many of us have been spared.  Unfortunately, our friend Tom wasn't.

Bottom line is that drivers must be held accountable for their actions.  Roads were not originally meant for cars because they didn't exist when roads began being built!  Roads are for everyone trying to get from one place to another, whether for fun, exercise, work, shopping, whatever, should make no difference.  Drivers must be held accountable.  That means hefty, painful, even excruciating consequences should befall anyone guilty of a traffic violation that endangers another person, regardless of what type of vehicle they may, or may not be, operating.

I will vote for anyone in a law enforcement capacity that will make the commitment to punish to the full extent of the law.  Let's start a movement and send a message!!!!  If someone solicits your vote, please reply by asking for their written or recorded commitment that they will punish those who kill.

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#20 2016-01-22 15:02:04

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,321
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Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

The illustration in the crash report links above makes it pretty clear that they were traveling in opposite directions.  Also, the article I quoted above said, "...both were heading toward each other on Lost Creek Boulevard...."

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#21 2016-01-22 22:30:56

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 228

Re: Car kills cyclist Tom Wilkinson, 53, in Lost Creek, 4/1/15

"Roads are for everyone trying to get from one place to another, whether for fun, exercise, work, shopping, whatever, should make no difference.  Drivers must be held accountable.  That means hefty, painful, even excruciating consequences should befall anyone guilty of a traffic violation that endangers another person, regardless of what type of vehicle they may, or may not be, operating."


YES. Please put this in the form of a tattoo and I will get it inked on me asap.

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