with a reporter at the
Courthouse this morning.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)
This morning, Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Chuck Sparks (in photo) released his report on the case of Brett Jarolimek, who died on October 22 after colliding with a garbage truck on Interstate and Greeley.
After an in-depth investigation that included several trips to the scene, video footage from the top of the hill, and multiple interviews with the truck’s passenger and with witnesses who saw the entire collision take place, Sparks’ has determined that the garbage truck driver, Bryan Lowes, did not, “show conduct rising to the level of criminal negligence”.
I sat down with Sparks outside his office this morning and he explained how he arrived at this decision.
Primarily, he said, this case had to do with several unfortunate converging factors; the contours of the road (which presented visibility issues), the blind spot and functioning of the mirrors on Lowes’ truck, and how Jarolimek’s speed and lack of visibility coming into the turn would have prevented him from having time to react to the situation.
According to Sparks’ report, footage from a Kaiser Hospital video camera at the top of the hill confirms that the truck passed Jarolimek near the intersection of Interstate and Fremont (near Overlook Park, about one-quarter mile from the collision).
Lowes maintains (and Sparks believes him) that he did not notice passing Jarolimek at that time.
Using timestamps on the video, the investigating officer, Chris Johnson, estimated Lowes’ speed at the top of the hill to be 31-32 mph (the speed limit is 30) and Jarolimek’s speed at 21mph. After this point, Sparks reports that the road goes slightly left, then straight for 200 yards downhill at a “significant grade” of 7.4%.
The report notes that, “Officer Johnson noted that Mr. Jarolimek apparently gained speed as he entered the downhill grade.”
At the end of the straight downhill section is the right turn onto Greely (where the collision occurred), which Sparks describes as “deceptively abrupt, and a vehicle making this turn is not fully visible from the 200 yard straight section above.”
Following Lowes’ truck (in a Nissan Armada) were Delores and Steven Harris. They say that Jarolimek passed them at the “stop here on red” sign located just north of the collision (at the point where the road begins to veer to the right).
[In the photo below (it was included in Sparks’ report), the “stop here on red” sign is located where the people with yellow jackets stand.]
(Photo: District Attorney’s office)
According to the report, Mr. and Mrs. Harris saw the entire collision unfold. From the report:
“Mr. Harris said he knew the bike was going to hit the garbage truck when it passed them, and that “the bike passed us not slowing down enough.” Mr. Harris told Officer Johnson that there was nothing the truck driver could have done to avoid the collision.”
The report also confirms that the truck did have its turn signal on and that it slowed “to a near stop” as it approached Greeley. Lowes told an officer on the scene that, “he did not see a bicyclist in the bike lane, but knew about the bike lane and checked the lane via his mirrors before making his turn.”
Here is what the report says about the truck’s mirror:
“Investigators found that the mirrors, as positioned post-collision, did not give a good view of the area behind the truck from a normal driving position. Specifically, while sitting in the driver’s seat with hands on the wheel, Officer Johnson had to move forward up to 8 inches in order to get a proper view.
When asked about this, Mr. Lowes [the driver] said that when his passegner used the door on which the mirror is fastened, the mirror’s position would change and he would then have [his passenger] adjust the mirror back to the proper position…he said that is was in a proper position before the collision.
Officer Johnson noted that the mirror was held in position in part by a bungee cord and a wire…”
During our conversation this morning, Sparks explained that because of the way the road curves, and given the “rather narrow view” of the truck’s main mirror, it is likely that Jarolimek would not have been viewable at the moment Lowes checked before making his turn.
The report also says that Jarolimek’s tire left a 36-foot long skid mark leading up to the point of impact and that his speed was likely 22-28 mph going into the collision (that equates out to 32-42 feet per second). Those facts prompted Sparks to write:
“This rate of travel gave little time for Mr. Jarolimek to react to the situation as it unfolded before him, especially since the roadway curved into the accident scene, interfering with his view from above…”
And then Sparks made a point to emphasize to me what he wrote next:
“While the curve and some visual clutter made it hard for a cyclist to see ahead into the intersection, a driver in the curve would also lose a clear view back up the 200 yard straightaway into the bike lane since the mirror’s view changes with the vehicle’s position as it rounds the curve…making it harder, if not impossible, to see a bicyclist in the upper 200 yards, especially one traveling quickly.”
Unfortunately, in Sparks’ analysis, both the truck and Jarolimek were momentarily partially out of each other’s view and, “neither person had adequate time to perceive and react to this situation.”
From Sparks’ conclusion:
“From above, his truck was not completely visible to Mr. Jarolimek as the latter came down the 200 yard straightaway toward the intersection, nor apparently was Mr. Jarolimek visible to him in his mirrors. Mr. Jarolimek entered the scene of the collision at 22-28 mph and was clearly surprised by the presence of the truck starting to turn. He immediately braked and skidded…but was unable to avoid the truck.”
You can download Sparks’ full report and memo here. (800KB, PDF)
The following are real questions, not rhetorical.
Why does this have to be criminal negligence?
What are the standards for vehicular manslaughter?
If you break a traffic law and kill someone, it seems fairly obvious, to me at least, that you\’ve done more than simply violate that traffic law.
I know from previous cases that if you break the law and a cop is chasing you, and he or she kills someone during the chase, you are held responsible for that death.
How is it that you are LESS responsible if you are the one who did the actual killing?
There is no vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide charge in Oregon.
Jonathan even brought this up a while ago:
“Criminal negligence” or “criminally negligent,” when used with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
This means that the driver\’s actions needed to be a \’gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.\’
It\’s debatable whether colliding with someone in your blindspot fits this description.
Question regarding the facts: if the garbage truck and the following (witness) vehicle were slowing for a stop at a red light, and the cyclist was unable to stop before entering the intersection (right turn lane), would the cyclist have also been unable to stop for a red light? If he were able to stop for a red light, why is it that he couldn\’t stop (even after a long skid) before striking the truck?
Sounds to me like we need a \”vehicular homicide\” charge then.
Chuck Sparks is obviously a puppet, or more importantly, a marionette, protecting and upholding the right of our judicial system to do absolutely nothing to ensure safe passage of it\’s cycling citizen\’s on our public roads.
I of course did not expect much more of a result from this, or Tracy\’s investigation.
Thank you Chuck Sparks, for letting us down again.
Based on witness response, the truck did not \”right hook\” the cyclist, the cyclist ran into the side of a truck that was already turning right at the intersection.
Sounds more like a violation of Basic Rule
\”The Basic Rule states that a motorist must drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent at all times by considering other traffic, road, and weather conditions, dangers at intersections and any other conditions that affect safety and speed.\”
See the link for complete explanation of the basic rule. http://tinyurl.com/349r5j
I was actually impressed with the level of investigation that was done. From police officers mimicking the skid on bicycles to them tracking down security cameras that showed both the motor vehicles and the cyclist just before the accident. Read the report they certainly spent some time doing a very thorough investigation. I wish we could get some of that kind of police work without having to have someone die.
The problem here does not lie with Chuck Sparks, it is that we do not have a vehicular homicide law. I believe based on reading the report that was prepared that they would probably have a hard time making the case for criminal negligence. However there is a good chance that if we had the lesser charge of vehicular homicide which required a lack of reasonable care rather than the criminal negligence standard it would be used in this case. It would also probably have been used in several other cases over the last year as well.
The police are now free to cite the driver for failure to yield to a cyclist in a bike lane, it will be interesting to see if they do so.
dabby, if you think you can loud mouth your way through the judicial system and protest this case to the judge, which is what a DA does, then why don\’t you run for DA? there are a lot more rules and laws that are having to be considered…and with evidence NOT entirely backing the other possibility up, it becomes more complicated than your simple negative mind can handle…stop hiding and come out and back up your judgements by actions…you can\’t sit there and assume…as much as i am for bikes, and have witnessed vehicular manslaughter first hand, it is more complicated in \”the system\” – especially when you have to figure what what happened with little evidence and keep the rule book in mind…
Did anyone read the PDF? While the poor maintenance of the truck is disturbing there was video evidence points to the rate of speed Brett and the truck were traveling at. Further, there is a skid mark left by Brett which would determine based upon the video footage that would show how long he had braked (with his back wheel locked) or an estimation thereof.
Looking at the facts determined by the police, I find it informative, devoid of bias. It may have been just been an acident (and I hate using that word).
Calling people puppets and marioneettes or whatever only makes you look foolish in light of the facts surrounding the crash.
woogie, the same can be said for Brett who was travelling an unsafe speed given the conditions and limited visability.
Sorry I was not clear in indicating that
I was applying the Basic Rule to the cyclist not the driver.
The driver started the turn before the the cyclist rounded the corner and either was visible to the other.
The cyclist was breaking the basic rule in that they did not take into consideration the intersection and traffic conditions ahead when choosing a speed at which to travel.
oh! then we are in agreement.
This is the part that reeks of negligence-
Lowes maintains (and Sparks believes him) that he did not notice passing Jarolimek at that time.\”
Who cares if you believe him or not? It is the drivers responsibility to be aware of his surroundings. If the driver had been paying attention, this tragedy would not have occurred.
It really is that simple. The driver should be banned from driving for the remainder of his life. I don\’t see how a person of conscience could ever drive again, knowing that their inability to pay attention while driving resulted in such a horrific tragedy.
We can spend 100\’s of millions of dollars on bike boxes and the like. But until drivers face some form of consequences for their actions, nothing will improve.
It really is that simple. Punish bad drivers and scare the sh!t out of all drivers. Until this is done nothing will change. Now matter how much money we piss away.
How is travelling 10 miles an hour below the speed limit unsafe?
The driver was going faster than Brett, is he even more unsafe even though he is not speeding?
I think Bjorn is right on. I do find it disturbing that the trucks mirrors where in such an unsafe state, If I was driving a 17 ton vehicle around I sure as hell wouldn\’t have one of my most important safety devices held in place by a bungee cord and a wire.
I also find it disturbing that you can kill someone with your vehicle, with that kind of driving record, and get up the next day to do it again. Looking at his past it seems that it was just a matter of time before he was involved in something like this…
I think the lesson to be learned from all of this is to TAKE THE LANE ON A LONG DOWNHILL!
Had Brett done this, he\’d still be alive today.
Which is absolve the driver of guilt…that\’s not my point. I just want to make sure we don\’t have another death at that intersection…or any other.
I get that there are many people who want someone to pay a price for Brett\’s death. I\’m sure the truck driver would likely do things differently had he had a second chance. Sounds to me like (maybe) he wasn\’t paying close enough attention to traffic around him and that (maybe) his mirror wasn\’t properly adjusted.
But, it doesn\’t appear that there is sufficient evidence to charge him with a crime with the laws we have at our disposal. Investigations that end with \”Maybes\” aren\’t sufficient.
Poor Brett…I only met him once or twice, but he was such a nice guy. 🙁
Looks like a good investigation to me as well. I don\’t see how you could prosecute someone with the evidence presented.
The jury-rigged mirror is troublesome. We need laws that require trucks to be safer. No bungied/wired mirrors, more and better mirrors, side guards etc.
I am generally in favor of bike lanes however, this looks like one of those spots that would be safer without one.
Edit to my previous post…I should have said there isn\’t sufficient evidence to charge him with Crim. Neg.
As another poster stated, he still could be charged with Failure to Yield.
If you rtfa you would understand that a previous driving record cannot determine fault. It can be used during sentencing when there is an at-fault accident. The evidence points to the driver not being at fault. That being said, do you want to open a can of worms, use some logic and reason.
Now, if Brett was out in the lane of traffic as a vechiluar cyclist, he would have had more time and visability to stop.
The real problem is that I\’m willing to wager only a MINISCULE number of collision investigations enjoy this level of painstaking attention to detail under similar circumstances but WITHOUT the glare of public attention such as this case raised.
IF EVERY COLLISION INVESTIGATION PROCEEDED LIKE THIS ONE, BUT WITH THE DRIVER\’S PRIVILEGES SUSPENDED AND THE VEHICLE IMPOUNDED PENDING THE OUTCOME, THEN YOU\’D BETTER BELIEVE ALL DRIVERS WOULD BE A LOT MORE GODDAMNED CAREFUL ON OUR ROADS, AND WE\’D HAVE A LOT FEWER DEATHS.
Read the investigation report, the definition of the Basic rule and use an unbiased viewpoint.
The truck was going less than 5 mph at the time of impact. The truck did not turn into the cyclist the cyclist ran into the truck which was already turning.
The road to the intersection has limited visibility of the intersection. The cyclist came around the corner only to see the truck already turning. The cyclist attempted to avoid a collision, based on the 36 ft skid mark.
All this points to a violation of the basic rule. The cyclist was traveling at a speed that was not safe given the the traffic conditions and intersection ahead.
Amen to #20.
Unfortunately, considering the number of daily automotive collisions, the resources of the Traffic Division and whoever else in the PPB would be overwhelmed in short order, wouldn\’t they? Realistically, consistent, aggressive enforcement of existing code would go a long way to giving all drivers religion and saving more lives.
Take the lane, yes!! *Might* have saved Brett (RIP, Brett).
What about the criminal negligence of the company that hired a driver with TWENTY FIVE MOVING VIOLATIONS? Who is their personnel director–some simian borrowed from the Oregon Zoo?
The released report is silent on:
– if the truck driver was fatigued/ negatively effected by his recent shift changes and working longer that day (and company\’s past comments on providing drivers as much overtime as they want)?
– helping out a co-worker on a new route and familiarity with the short comings of the approach to the intersection/ traffic conditions
– if the driver was distracted (conversation/ cell phone) or busy on the radio before or during the crash
– how long did the truck driver engage the turn signal before his turn (did it meet the OR law for distance prior to a turn?)
– did the truck\’s coachwork modifications for recycling service meet all standards/ allow good view of turn signals/ trafficators when viewed from an oblique if approaching from a rear angle similar to what was?
– what professional obligation does the truck operator and company have to operate on city streets with mirrors that are \”loose\” and perhaps poorly working (need of continual readjustment when doors are opened, road bumps, etc.)?
– should there be a more formal review of CDL certification based on driver\’s records?
Sigh – Another bloodhunt on BikePortland. Let\’s all agree that:
A. Oregon law is inadequate for the changing population and mix of road users
B. Kvetching endlessly about this topic will change the legal landscape? I just see a bunch of bike riders adding, \”Yeah, I\’m pissed too!\” rather than writing or calling those that can create change. I hate to inform folks that BikePortland has very limited influence or reach beyond the two wheeled choir. Use your energies to influence those that can help.
C. It takes two to tango. The driver should have had better skills, attention, and equipment. Bret should have used more caution. The first rule of driving and riding are the same: Do it DEFENSIVELY! You have to anticipate that drivers can and will do something stupid and be ready for it. That\’s how you stay alive. Just because you can bomb down a bike lane fast doesn\’t mean that you should – especially when you can get right hooked.
Honestly, some people here are beginning to sound like right-wing nutjobs advocating everything short of a public lynching for drivers involved in accidents with bikes. How about the PPB starts impounding bikes until you pay the $242 for running a stop sign or pending the outcome of the trial should you wish to fight it? Or would that create hardships for those that need their bikes to make a living?
\”I didn\’t see him\”
Now an acceptable legal defense!
36 feet is about ten feet longer than the truck itself.
To me it is still conceivable that the truck came down the hill, passed Brett and turned right in front of him.
People in cars and trucks play this game all the time: race you to the corner and then turn in front of you, cutting you off. This it resulted in a death.
Read the investigation report, both the truck and another vehicle passed the cyclist and were both at the intersection before the cyclist came around the corner.
This was not a \”right hook\”.
It\’s one thing to second guess the situation when there is no information available, it is another to completely ignore a very detailed report that includes evidence from witnesses as well as a video camera.
This is an incredibly detailed accident investigation and reconstruction. Even private insurers with plenty of money to investigation fatalities do not go to the lengths that the city/DA did here. The report is thorough and well reasoned. Clearly the DA rose to the requisite level in this matter.
Comment 21: \”The road to the intersection has limited visibility of the intersection. The cyclist came around the corner only to see the truck already turning. The cyclist attempted to avoid a collision, based on the 36 ft skid mark.\”
This to me is a major aspect of this collision that I hadn\’t appreciated before. With that right turn in a basically blind location, for both the rider and the driver, the road design combination of a fast descent for cyclists and a sharp right turn for the truck requiring a near-stop beforehand created a VERY dangerous situation.
I\’m not addressing the duty to yield issue, I\’m simply saying that the road design at that location was almost certain to result in this tragedy. Closing that right turn was a very important response and we should all have a heightened awareness of other dangerous road design locations so we can get word back to PDOT or whatever other controlling agency (without an open-ended diatribe about bike lanes).
Skidmark, did you read the report? \”To me it is still conceivable that the truck came down the hill, passed Brett and turned right in front of him.\”
You\’re directly contradicting the video evidence.
It\’s a tragedy that so many cyclists had to die this year before some of us finally got it.
It is safer to ride like traffic. Take the lane when you are travelling at or near the speed of autos. Take the lane when you are to the right of possibly right turning traffic. Take the lane when you are in the door zone. ORS allows it. Smart biking requires it.
Brett was a smart rider, but if he had been in the lane he likely would have seen the truck sooner, been able to stop or being farther left, been able to maneuver behind the truck as it turned.
Monday morning quarterbacking, hindsight is 20-20, etc. But after all these tragedies, you won\’t find me in a bike lane in those situations.
rest in peace to those killed this year, and thank you for the lessons.
Had he been directly BEHIND the truck instead of in the bike lane, he would have been compelled to slow down very soon after he saw it because he could have had no expectations of being able to pass it, obviously.
To nuovorecord, kevin and Antonio – congratulations, you three are apparently the only other readers here to appreciate the role that the bike lane played in this tragedy; yet the city\’s response to this tragedy is to reinforce the poorly placed and substandard width bike lane, rather than removing it and replacing it with sharrows or modifying it in some other way that actually improves safety for cyclists.
This is all too bad. Just finished reading the report, and I think that the correct decision has been made. If a large garbage truck passed me downhill, I would slow and keep my distance, especially after the previous right hook in front of the Crystal Ballroom.
You have to bike defensively.
The driver could have been more cautious, but he had his signal on.
With the evidence in the situation it is tough to put much blame on the driver. Obviously he was not intending to hit the cyclist, and took preventative measures to avoid any collision.
He may have been able to avoid the collision by double-checking the cyclists position after he passed him at the intersection at the top of the hill…but that may be asking quite a bit, as he still had another quarter-mile before turning.
You can fault the road design more than the driver. It would be very tough to slap the driver with a felony in this sad situation. Closing that turn after the collision was appropriate, and it should be permanently closed off, as this has proven to be a fatal design error.
I read the report.
\”Mr. Lowes in his truck passed Mr. Jarolimek as they approached the downhill, left-curving section of Interstate…\”
\”estimate Mr. Lowes speed at 31-32 mph and Mr. Jarolimek speed at 21mph\”
The truck passes him, going 10 mph faster.
\”He said he DID NOT SEE A BICYCLIST in the bike lane\”
Not negligence, in the eyes of the law.
Investigators found the mirrors, as positioned post-collision, did not give a good view…Officer Johnson noted that the mirror was held in position in part by a BUNGEE CORD and a WIRE, and the lower half of the convex mirror was OBSCURED by the door\”
Having a vehicle in a state of disrepair is not negligence either. It\’s not even an equipment violation, apparently.
\”He was looking down at a clipboard before the collision, and heard it but did not see it.\”
Inattention to the road?
Thorough investigation, but the conclusion is complete BS.
The truck passed the cyclist at N Fremont and Interstate, well away from the Greeley intersection and \”quickly left him behind\”. The report states Interstate ave runs straight and flat until 1/4 mile before Greeley when it curves to the left. This curve starts at N Fremont. So the pass occurred 1/4 mile before the intersection.
If is negligence to not remember passing a vehicle, then it must also be negligence not to know that the vehicle that just passed you is ahead of you past the blind curve in the road.
The witnesses in the car said they had slowed at the intersection for a red light, behind the truck that had its signal light on, but did not stop because the light had changed. As the car, second in line, passed the \”stop here on red\” sign, the cyclist passed them and collided with the turning truck.
The collision was based on too much speed for the road conditions (blind corner, intersection, traffic lights), a bad law allowing passing on the right, and a poorly laid out bike lane.
This is not a \”right hook\”, the cyclist ran into the side of the truck, fell underneath and was run over by the rear wheels.
I ride enough to worry about being hit by a car, but I am not naive enough to think that every incident like this is the fault of the driver.
woogie – good points, still sketched out on the passing though
skidmark – Good arguments. The whole wire bungee cord thing is pretty sketch.
Regardless of fault, I would still have descended slower.
You seem intent on putting all the blame on the cyclist. Among other things, you state in posting 21 \”All this points to a violation of the basic rule. The cyclist was traveling at a speed that was not safe given the the traffic conditions and intersection ahead.\”
The fact that a vehicle which is required by law to yield seems unimportant to you.
What about this scenario: You are driving eastbound with the green light. I\’m in my truck heading westbound with my turn signal on indicating a left turn. I\’m stopped, but then, I pull out right in front of you. Realizing you\’re coming toward me, I stop abruptly, but you (driving cautiously toward me at less than the speed limit) crash into the front of my truck. Let\’s review: I had my turn signal on before you arrived at the intersection. I was stopped when you hit me. I am obligated to yield to on-coming traffic when making a left turn. Applying your logic from the Jarolimek case, I am not guilty of anything, but you violated the basic speed rule. After all, you couldn\’t stop and crashed into the front of my truck.
My only question is: why do they let Lowes even drive a garbage truck when they say he has a \”significant and negative traffic record\”?
Thanks Woogie for your rational thought on this sad topic.
The truck was already turning, Brett layed down thirty-six feet of skid mark and he still wasn\’t able to stop in time. Had the truck not been there do we really think that Brett would have stopped at the intersection? He couldn\’t have stopped if he wanted to.
We want to beleive that the people driving vehicles are always at fault in collisions with cyclists. Many times they are, but many times they\’re not. We can point to all kinds of what-ifs on both Mr. Lowes part and on Brett\’s part, but in the end, Brett was the one that had to pay the price for the laws of physics.
As cyclists, we have the ultimate responsibilty for our own safety. If we obey the rules, ride predictably and do all we can to be safe, we may still get killed by a bad driver, but at least there won\’t be any doubt who was at fault.
May God comfort Brett\’s family.
Why isn\’t it their responsiblity to watch out for us? How come it is okay for car/truck drivers to \”not see\” us?
\”I didn\’t see him\” is an admission of negligence and should be treated as such. If your license was suspended for \”not seeing\” a bicyclist or a motorcyclist do you think car/truck drivers would be more likely to look for them?
\”Why isn\’t it their responsibility to watch out for us?\”
Because the automobile is the most important equal form of transportation available to all and is the primary source of transportation for most people. Although useful to some, bicycles are still the anomaly on the roads.
\”Why isn\’t it their responsiblity to watch out for us? How come it is okay for car/truck drivers to \”not see \”us\” ?
You can turn that around, too. If the truck passed Brett, then didn\’t he also take note of the fact that it was now ahead of him, and that he should respond accordingly by anticipating and riding defensively?
I understand negligence, but I also understand the possibility that sometimes things are really just accidents.
Tell me, do you remember the color of every car that you passed today? What was the color of the last car that passed you tonight before you got home? Had you been paying attention, you would remember. If you don\’t know or can\’t remember, then by your own definition, you are guilty of negligence.
People give it a rest. It is what it is a tragic accident. Brett died , please let him rest in peace.
Because the garbage truck\’s mirror was broken, and it seems that that was one of the biggest contributing factors to this situation, I would hope that the garbage truck company changes its policy that all truck malfunctions, no matter how minor, need to be repaired. The $100 repair for the mirror is a lot cheaper than the cost of a life. Nonetheless, as it has been presented by Jonathan, it seems like no one is at fault in this situation. It was a poorly engineered intersection. It wouldn\’t be fare to blame the collision on a broken mirror. Though as I said, the broken mirror issue should be taken more seriously, and should be mandated by the courts that the mirror be fixed.
Unfortunately it is clear that the cyclist hit the truck, not the other way around. I think almost all of the fault falls on the shoulders of the cyclist.
I\’m a cyclist. If I run into a truck and it squashes me, you can say without hesitation that it was my fault – not the truck drivers. Generally I think truck drivers are piss-poor drivers but in this case the driving technique of the cyclist resulted in his death.
The standard that I personally would like to see applied for triggering criminal charges in a lethal accident is the following: Did the vehicle operator, by omission or commission, fail to take actions as required by law or that a reasonable person could have been expected to take, which failure contributed directly to the fatal accident (meaning that, but for the failure in question, a fatality may not have resulted).
As evidenced by the death of Tim O\’Donnell, this is a MUCH harsher burden than prosecutors typically impose on motorists in such cases. Very surprisingly, though, it appears to have actually been the standard applied by the DA in this case. And based on what appears to have been a fairly comprehensive forensic examination, certainly far beyond what we routinely hear of in such cases, he decided that this standard wasn\’t met in this case.
Until someone demonstrates clear substantive and factual errors in the investigation, I\’m inclined to believe it to be accurate.
I also remain convinced that, were investigations of this caliber routine and were such a strong standard routinely applied for triggering criminal charges, there would be a lot more motorists in a whole world of trouble.
The lesson that I take home from this is that, despite this horrible tragedy, there IS something to be shown for the outrage and community pressure generated by this case. It also shows us what our next duty is:
Force the authorities to make this standard of investigation routine! Since it happened in this case, there is no reason it cannot become the rule. But the key to this will be further organizing and unrelenting political pressure.
This sucks. Everyone can play the blame game and no matter what, it won\’t undo what was done. We need to be more proactive of our own rights and ride and drive defensively. This driver took a beautiful life. Living with that I am sure is not slept on lightly. Let\’s see how we can change our streets for the future.
How is it failure to yield when as the truck started to turn there was no one to yield to in the bike lane?
Once the truck started the turn across the bike lane, in absence of a visible bike in the bike lane, the truck had the right of way.
The blind corner, continuation of the bike lane and violation of the basic rule caused the collision.