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More details emerge on driver in fatal crash

Posted by on July 10th, 2007 at 10:43 am

Willamette Week reporter Nick Deshais has been digging into the Timothy O’Donnell case to find out more about the driver, Jennifer Knight.

In a story posted late last night on the Willamette Week blog Deshais notes that he tracked down an accident report from Idaho involving Knight just six days before she hit O’Donnell on a rural road in Washington County.

From his story:

“Just six days prior, on June 3, Jennifer Knight failed to yield onto US95 in Hayden, Idaho, and collided with another vehicle. The accident, which authorities attributed to Knight’s inattentiveness, caused an estimated $5,300 worth of damage to both cars.”

Deshais also reports on whether or not this would have any bearing on the O’Donnell case:

“According to Chris Quinn in the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, no previous infractions would count against Knight because under Oregon law, “prior bad acts are not admissible” in a case against her.

“The question is whether or not it rises to a criminal level,” Quinn says of fatal accidents. “Based on the information we have, we’re not pressing criminal charges.””

Read the full article on the Willamette Week blog.

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brian
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brian

Killing somebody due to OBVIOUS negligence. Yea that’s not criminal.

Lawyers…

Matthew
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Matthew

Let me guess, she probably owes $5300, (in payments as well,) in Idaho too?

So to put that in perspective:
Banging up two cars: $5,300
Killing a cyclist: $1,142

SKiDmark
Guest
SKiDmark

I don\’t see why driving after suspension doesn\’t doesn\’t increase the crimality of it either. Apparently, you can drive around, smash into another car, get your license suspended, drive around, kill a cyclist in another state, and it will only cost you a little over a thousand bucks.

Paul
Guest
Paul

The $5300 would be civil – not criminal as the $1,142 is.

The family of the victim here could go after her for much more – but likely she does not have it to give.

bicycledave
Guest

It\’s just too damn easy to get and keep a drivers license in this country. As well as too easy to drive around without one.

peejay
Guest
peejay

bicycledave:

That was the point I made in an earlier thread. I think this is the #1 priority for traffic enforcement: the elimination of dangerous drivers from the road. But any law that defines who gets licenses and who gets them taken away unless there\’s a possibility of serious jail time if you\’re driving without a valid license. This lady should have been put away for three years for just getting caught driving while suspended, regardless of the crash. Of course, I believe we should also tack on more jail time for the outcome of the crash, as well.

Where in our overcrowded prison system do we fit all those illegal drivers? One could argue that there\’s a lot of space to be had with the release of the hundreds of thousands locked up for victimless drug crimes.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Killing somebody due to OBVIOUS negligence. Yea that’s not criminal.

Lawyers…Some negligent acts are criminal, some aren\’t. That has nothing to do with lawyers, and everything to do with both the statutes on the books, and whether the negligent act violates one of those statutes.

If you don\’t like the current lack of appropriate laws, do something to change that, instead of blaming lawyers for the problem.

bicycledave
Guest

peejay:

Then the question is where to send our troops. Should our priority be the war on drugs or are we ignoring a much more devastating traffic war with 40,000 deaths per year. Not to mention all the deaths from wars fought to protect oil company profits.

Matt Picio
Guest

I know this won\’t be popular with some people, but here\’s my solution to the ease of driving while suspended, et. al.

If you\’re caught driving without a license (or on a suspended license), the car you are driving is impounded and not returned until your suspension is up (or you get your license), regardless of who owns the car.

Two exceptions: If the car is stolen, the owner can reclaim the car. If the owner is not the driver, the owner can reclaim the car on the day of the driver\’s court date.

That should give people a disincentive to let non-licensed drivers borrow their car.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Rixtir said: \”If you don\’t like the current lack of appropriate laws, do something to change that, instead of blaming lawyers for the problem.\”

Indeed, I would go so far as to suggest that one of the reasons many of our laws (and many of those of other states) are so messed up is because we don\’t have enough legislators with a legal education (whether practicing as attorneys or not) so as to comprehend the ramifications of the laws they consider and enact . . .

MaTa
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MaTa

I keep seeing comments about Knight that \”she probably doesn\’t have the money\” etc. (for any suits or additional fines or whatever) and that she is allowed to make payments on the $1000 fine.

I just wanted to point out that she was driving a 2008 Dodge Avenger – a brand new full sized 4-door sedan that STARTS at $18,895.

It is an aggressively styled semi-performance car that is NOT an economy car by any stretch of the imagination and one wonders how she was able to afford it if she \’has no money\’.

See: \”http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/avenger.html\” for more details.

Just some applicable info from someone that sells automotive literature (manuals, etc.) for a living and has turned a wrench for many moons . . . (though I only ride a bicycle or motorcycle now 😉

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Assuming that the Dodge was hers, she probably made a small down payment, with monthly payments after that. It would be very easy to sue her for a very large amount of money. Getting her to pay is a different matter. If she doesn\’t have a home or other assets to attach, the only other possibility that comes to mind is to garnish her wages.

On the other hand, Ray Thomas makes a good argument for suing deadbeat drivers anyway:

http://www.stc-law.com/deadbeat.html

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Of course, if she\’s adequately insured for liability, the insurance company will pay…

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

\”Of course, if she\’s adequately insured for liability, the insurance company will pay\”

Unless, of course, driving with a suspended license was a violation of the terms of her insurance policy.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Back to square one then…

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Unless, of course, driving with a suspended license was a violation of the terms of her insurance policy.

So Cecil, that makes me wonder…If driving with a suspended license is a violation of her insurance policy, then effectively her vehicle is uninsured. And if that\’s the case, then that would likely be a violation of any loan terms, which means at a minimum that the finance company would want their car back– right?

Also, wouldn\’t their be issues raised as to who the actual owner of the vehicle is (for liability) if she was never actually licensed/insured? In other words, could the car dealer and/or finance company bear some liability for delivering a car to a driver with no license and/or insurance?

wsbob
Guest

MaTa, comment #11, re; ownership of the \’08 Dodge Avenger: I seem to recall that the car was a relatives; aunt, grandmother or some such thing.

Peter W
Guest

I wonder if a civil suit could ask for a large amount of money in addition to a large amount of volunteer community service. Not everyone has money, but everyone has time to spend.

If so, I wonder what kind of community service would be best?

Martha S.
Guest
Martha S.

Goddamit…. guys? STAY ANGRY about this. put it on the back burner perhaps… but DO NOT FORGET it. This kind of bullshit is why we need to fight for laws to protect us and help us to earn the respect we deserve on the road.

Cecil
Guest
Cecil

Rixtir (Post #19) – whether someone has failed to comply with a term of an insurance policy is a contractual issue between the insurer and the insured. Whether that would affect a separate contract is entirely dependent upon the terms of the other contract. As for a dealer\’s liability, I assume you mean civil – any criminal liability would have to be by statute and I don\’t know (and don\’t have the time to research) if there is one. Civil liability would be dependent on the application of Oregon\’s negligence law, which as discussed in a separate thread, is, to put it mildly, a morass . . .

a.O
Guest
a.O

It seems as though the scenario rixter contemplates with regard to the dealer\’s civil liability would really test the odd foreseeability quirk in the Oregon N law…

a.O
Guest
a.O

Cecil (or others), if you\’re still paying attention here, what do you think about the possibility of setting up a cyclist\’s legal defense fund, possibly with the BTA?

Jessy
Guest

Why are we all talking about bringing a law suit & how much money would come out of it, anyhow? No amount of money is worth the loss of a life. His family can\’t have him back. Money won\’t change that. It\’s sad no matter which way you look at it.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Of course you\’re right, Jessy. Would you rather have Tim\’s kids be able to do the things they would have been able to do with him helping them, like go to college, or not?

brian
Guest
brian

I agree with Jessy.

Stay focused on the problem and fixing it. Dealing with the aftermath of tragedy is another issue.

Bottom line is when you kill someone because of your OBVIOUS negligence there should be very stiff unavoidable penalties. That would begin to help fix the problem.

I\’m really sick of the \’the poor driver will have to live with the fact that they killed someone\’. That is bunk. This drivers actions have shown that she does not care about much.

Part of the problem is lawyers will parse away the blame (sorry Rix, thats how I see it). Nobody accepts responsibility for the actions, and the courts and law enforcement just are not effective.

Dat Nguyen
Guest
Dat Nguyen

Hi,

I am starting a legal defense for bike and Peds. It\’s still in the early stages. I hope to more details at the end of august.

dat

Martha S.
Guest
Martha S.

That you Dat. It\’s good to have another lawyer on our side.

Martha S.
Guest
Martha S.

*Thank

(sorry)

wsbob
Guest

\”Bottom line is when you kill someone because of your OBVIOUS negligence there should be very stiff unavoidable penalties. That would begin to help fix the problem.\” Brian

Of course, penalties would reasonably be the last resort in a heightened awareness setting that vigorously encourages all users of the road to do whatever is required to prevent any possible occurrence of negligence on their part from happening.

Preventing the consequences of negligence beforehand would be the most satisfactory outcome of an increased awareness, acceptance, and mutual respect between cyclists and motor vehicle operators.

wsbob
Guest

I think part of my comment above is a bit unrealistically extreme. It should read as follows: (second paragraph from the bottom)

\”Of course, penalties would reasonably be the last resort in a heightened awareness setting that vigorously encourages all users of the road to do whatever is necessary to prevent occurrences of negligence on their part from happening.\”

Jack
Guest
Jack

Sad thing is she\’s probably driving around still.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Anyone in the St.Helens area able to do a little detective work? Photos of Ms. Knight driving now would be of value to prosecutors and the media.

Bike parade / protest ride / show of force past her abode? Let her know we sure as hell have not forgotten.

Dat Nguyen
Guest
Dat Nguyen

whoops.

I meant I am starting a legal defense fund for bike and ped.

dat

woogie
Guest
woogie

Dat,

I would prefer it be called a legal assistance fund. Calling it a defense fund sounds like the cyclist/pedestrian is the one being charged.

I know it sounds like semantics, but there is a big difference between providing legal defense and providing legal assistance to ensure the aggrieved party is suitably represented in the halls of justice.

Too often the victim is forgotten.

Net Detective
Guest
Net Detective

Just out of curiousity I did a net search and easily found the name, phone number, and address of the relatives of a 26 year old Jennifer Knight from Hayden, ID who live in Scappoose. I assume these are the people she is living with. The thought did cross my mind that it would be interesting to stake the place out and see if she is driving currently. I don\’t know what she looks like for identification purposes, but I am curious if having a tape of her driving would really be usable in any way.

Do any of the lawyer types around here know if she can be further prosecuted if it is shown that she is still driving on a suspended license? If so then maybe it would be worth setting up a watch program, although the location of their home would make it a bit difficult from what I could tell on googlmaps.

Ken
Guest
Ken

I don\’t know if a tape is proof enough to get her in any trouble (not a lawyer type), but it does bug me that she is probably driving around still. We already know that a suspended license doesn\’t mean anything to her. Does anyone know if we can read what the judge in the case said to her, or was there even a judge? I\’m also curious as to if she made any statement regarding her actions that day.