Driver in fatal Eugene crash “pushing to make helmets mandatory”

Posted by on July 30th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Screen shot from KVAL-TV video.
(Watch video here)

My story about Senator Floyd Prozanski’s intention to expand Oregon’s mandatory helmet law has gained steam. It was sent out on the AP newswire this morning and outlets across the state have picked it up.

I’ve done several media interviews about it today, and while doing some background reading, I came across an interesting story from Eugene.

According to KVAL (a CBS TV affiliate), the driver in the fatal bike/car crash that took the life of David Minor on June 2nd, is now “devoting her life to bike safety and is pushing to make helmets mandatory for everyone that rides a bicycle.”

KVAL reports that Williams has started a “one-woman crusade towards bike safety,” and she has already started emailing lawmakers in Congress and at the state level. KVAL also reported that:

“Williams says she feels sick every time she sees a cyclist not wearing a helmet. She said since she can’t take back the life that was lost at least she might help save another.”

That type of statement is familiar for proponents of helmet laws. I remember Vancouver Washington Mayor Royce Pollard saying something very similar before their City Council voted 5-1 in favor of an all-ages helmet law back in February.

It will be very interesting to see how this discussion moves forward. Whether you are for or against this law, rest assured that it will be a big debate for the foreseeable future.


— The Eugene Register-Guard has also reported on Ms. Williams’ feelings on this crash and on helmet laws.

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bahueh
Guest
bahueh

two sides to every tragedy…
but I\’m sure the \”anti-helmet\” fanatics on this site will continue to cry foul..

gotta wonder how much gray brain matter it would take to make them consider differently…

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

I feel sick every time I see Latasha Williams.

RyNO Dan
Guest
RyNO Dan

Thousands of deaths per year in cars. Do motor vehicle drivers wear helmets yet ?

ian
Guest

I love this logic-\”If you were wearing a helmet when I ran you over with my car, then you might be alive and I wouldn\’t feel so guilty\”

007
Guest
007

What about pedestrians? How many of them have been killed by human-controlled automobiles.

Skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders – all have been killed by head injury. Mandatory for one mandatory for all.

I always wear a helmet BTW.

must be comforting
Guest
must be comforting

It must be comforting to blame causing someone\’s death on an inanimate object that the dead person didn\’t happen to be wearing at the time. This is the equivalent of someone shooting someone to death and then becoming a \”bullet proof vest advocate\”.

Everytime I see someone walking around without kevlar I think, what if I shot them, they might die… I wrote my congressman, they should pass a law…

Val
Guest
Val

Here\’s an idea that could save a life: how about if Latasha Williams agrees never to drive a car again? That would truly be helpful, in contrast to insisting that we all be required to protect ourselves from drivers. Cars traffic is not an immutable force of nature. It is us, and we can change it. Let\’s focus on the danger, so that it can be eliminated. Focusing on those endangered allows it to go unchecked.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

bullsh!t, who cares some car driver who murdered one of ours, now thinks what\’s best? its a good thing im going on vacation for a week, i need the downtime from morons.

Paul
Guest
Paul

I know a guy who died because he was knocked over at a bar and hit his head on a stair corner. He wasn\’t wearing a helmet. Message: how the hell can you enforce such a law? People get hurt all the time doing all kinds of things. Walking, running, driving, showering, skiing, cycling, golfing, climbing ladders… Maybe we should castrate every man since some of them rape. I\’m all for wearing a helmet when one feels appropriate, but a law to enforce it? It\’s our choice.

Maculsay
Guest
Maculsay

Pretty interesting stuff. My first 25 years of cycling did not include a helmet. Had to have one for the motorcycle, and I agree with that, although living a couple of years in Maine allowed me to make a couple of isolated motorcycle rides without a helmet, and it was terrifying (but deliciously so).

A lot of my shopping and pleasure trips in outer NE never see a busy road, just nice, easy residential streets. I rarely use a bicycle helmet during these trips, and probably would miss the ability to continue that practice. All trips downtown include a helmet.

Knowing that anything can happen at anytime, regardless of the circumstances, makes me feel a bit guilty when I ride without the styro. If it becomes law, I\’ll certainly comply. It must have been dumb luck all those early years of riding down long flights of stairs, into chain link fences, and doing en-do\’s into the pool without too much trauma – or maybe enough trauma that I can\’t see the importance of always riding with a helmet…

Russell
Guest
Russell

Mandating helmets to prevent against automobile caused fatalities is akin to mandating bullet proof vests to prevent gun violence. Why not deal with the perpetrator of the violence and not those who suffer from it? I say we make all guns squirt guns and all cars out of balsa wood with a nice downy exterior.

Russell
Guest
Russell

Oh, disclaimer to my statement above. I wear a helmet, I\’m not anti-helmet. In fact, I\’m pretty damn pro-helmets, just not mandating them.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

i say we organize a day of protest. when you arent in the saddle, wear your helmet. when you are in the saddle, take it off.

Ian
Guest
Ian

I say we organize a protest. Lets ride our bikes without helmets into brick walls and so many of us will have brain damage that…errrrr I can\’t remember my point.

007
Guest
007

I do feel sympathy for Ms Williams. It sounds like she is really suffering. However, I don\’t think mandatory helmets are the answer. Apparently the helmet wouldn\’t have mattered in this case.

GLV
Guest
GLV

\”who cares some car driver who murdered one of ours\”

I ride and bike every day, and drive probably 4 days a week. Am I one of yours, todd, or one of theirs?

Seriously, let me know.

John Russell
Guest

Toddistic,

I did a very similar thing right around the time that helmet law was passed in Vancouver. I wore my helmet all day at school just to make a point, and then I didn\’t wear it on my bike.

It sure is a great conversation starter.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

Doesn\’t it go something like

Those who sacrafice freedom for security deserve neither.

?

I think I\’ve made my point.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Val #7,

What a cold hearted statement. Did this young woman purposely mow down a person? What if you accidentally killed someone while riding your bike would you want people attacking you? Accidents happen remeber to follow the rule of the road but above all follow the laws of physics!

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

GLV,

She is not a cyclist, yet she thinks she can justify her taking of a life by encouraging through ignorance a law that is purely unconsitutional. I wear a helmet however, its my decision. Not the state. I do not wear a helmet when I\’m on springwater or tooling around outside my house on the street.

As for you, you\’re one of mine. 🙂

Gabriel McGovern
Guest

I ride both a bicycle and a motorcycle and wear a helmet when on the saddle of either. However, I long ago came to realize that these helmets are for single-vehicle accidents only. In other words, they may save your skull if you fall down, but do very little to protect you from being run over.

Yes, there are the odd cases you can site. But, if helmets we\’re truly a shield against car accidents – then even pedestrians should be required to wear them.

Personally, I believe that helmets should be a choice. We need to educate people to the benefits, not arrest/fine them using a law. Remember when helmets weren\’t cool? Education has already done far more then this law would.

Dennis
Guest

I\’ve found a much better solution:

remove all seatbelts from cars, and place large iron spikes in the middle of the steering wheel. People would drive amazingly careful, while staring down a bunch of sharp spikes in from of their face.

Better yet, bring the speed limit down to 12.5 miles per hour in all urban, and suburban areas.

John Mulvey
Guest
John Mulvey

What is this, bizarro world? Ms. Williams has been so victimized that she wants our elected officials to protect motorists from the agony she\’s been through… Sheesh.

Here\’s an idea: how about ticketing drivers who don\’t yield to bicycles. Or educating them to do better. I\’d be happy with either or both, but unfortunately we\’ve got neither.

John

Anon
Guest
Anon

I don\’t know if this link will work, but it\’s worth looking at. It\’s from the Register Guard Newspaper and details this accident.

Might be a good read before you call Ms. Williams a murder, or before you claim the taking of a life was her doing.

http://www.registerguard.com/rg/Home/story.csp?cid=125532&sid=1&fid=1

Jonathan – Background might have been nice considering how much snark can happen.

That being said, a helmet law is ridiculous.

Ian
Guest
Ian

\”Here\’s an idea: how about ticketing drivers who don\’t yield to bicycles.\”

Just how do we enforce this one? It is the same as yielding to pedestrians. It sounds good on the outside but the laws of physics don\’t always agree.

Caroline
Guest
Caroline

As a nurse I disagree helmets are the answer. There is no \”answer.\”

Like I\’ve said, helmets won\’t necessarily save your life, but they don\’t make it that much worse.

Someone please give Latasha a big hug.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Requiring helmets to protect cyclists from cars is like requiring women to wear styrofoam chastity belts to protect against rapists, uncomfortable and ultimately useless. I wear a helmet every time I ride but I don\’t wear it to protect me from cars, I wear it in case I fall off my bike (as I have done once or twice in the past).

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

\”Here\’s an idea: how about ticketing drivers who don\’t yield to bicycles.\” (#23)

\”Just how do we enforce this one?\”(#24)

If there were an easy way for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable roadway users to issue citations to drivers, would you use it?

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Caroline…you cannot come onto this site and start logically like that..its not accepted well.

you have two choices here: 1) you either bitch and moan or 2) impersonally berrate a woman you don\’t know who simply wants to get a message of safety out to everyone… 🙂

whether she\’s the right messenger is a different issue…

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

hey, didn\’t Minor blow through a stop sign to cause this collision?

anyone else care to remember that?

Paul Vincent
Guest
Paul Vincent

Yes, I\’m absolutely for anything that protects people from activites that make them healthier. Now we just have to require people to wear helmets in the shower and when walking, wear PDFs when swimming, and drive at speeds below 20 mph on the interstate. At or about that speed the the chance of a fatal accident must surely become statistically nil. Sure, it\’ll cost a bit, but think of all the lives we\’ll save.

joeb
Guest
joeb

The one time I haven’t worn a helmet in the last year is when I carpooled, my helmet got separated from my bike and I forgot it. With a mandatory helmet law, I would have had to drive, bus or bike hoping the police I pass on the way home are busy or just plain not interested in enforcing the clothes I am wearing on my head. I would be furious about a ticket for this one time and screw driving just to avoid it!

Maculsay
Guest
Maculsay

Minor\’s accident – Googled and found: \”An EPD press release states: \”A very preliminary review of the investigative information indicates that speed does not appear to have been a factor. It appears that both parties likely had green lights, and that the bicyclist made a left-hand turn into the vehicle’s path.\”

John Mulvey
Guest
John Mulvey

I\’m not sure what the laws of physics have to do with anything… I want some police officer in this state to issue a ticket once in a while for cars that don\’t yield to bicyclists who have the right of way. Police officers currently have all the legal authority they need to issue tickets to such drivers. They don\’t.

Bicyclists are entitled to the protection of the law and they aren\’t getting it. Instead we get nonsense \”stings\” against bikers and misguided crusaders like Ms. Williams and Mr. Prozanski.

John

Ray
Guest
Ray

Answer: 4-way stops, cameras, barbed wire atop of concrete barriers at every intersection.

RonC
Guest
RonC

I don\’t know where I come down on this issue. It seems that some posters here are being pretty hard on Ms. Williams. She did nothing wrong in this accident. The cyclist turned in front of her. Nothing she could do but watch the carnage unfold, a nightmare that could happen to any one of us that even occasionally drives a car or truck.

I can understand how she would wonder if a life could have been saved had a helmet been worn, a question who\’s answer we will never know. Certainly the primary cause was that moment of inattention when David Minor turned his bike into the path of a 3500 pound automobile. Should wearing a helmet be legally mandated? We have laws that require drivers to wear seat belts. Are helmets to bikes what seat belts are to cars?

I wear a helmet when riding out of respect for my wife, family, friends, and myself. I encourage others to wear one as well. But is a law a good idea, or just another obstacle to encouraging practical and sustainable transportation?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I\’m just wondering if anyone reading or commenting has actually heard or read what Latasha Williams beyond the brief interview contained in the KVAL story? Do any of you know details of the collision and whether Latasha or David Minor was clearly responsible for it. There seems to be a lot of presumption going on here.

By the way, there\’s another story from KVAL in addition to the one editor Jonathan Maus posted the link to:

Helmet could have saved cyclist…KVAL story

And here\’s an excerpt from it:

\”EUGENE, Ore. – Emergency medical technicians say that a Eugene bicyclist killed last week would be alive today if he had been wearing a helmet.

“He would have suffered some traumatic injuries, yes,” said Medic Amy Kline of the Eugene Fire and EMS Department. “But if he’d had a helmet on, he may very well have survived.”

Medics told reporters that wearing safety equipment is of utmost importance.

Authorities in Eugene reported 27-year-old David Minor died when his bicycle collided with a car.\”

John Peterson
Guest
John Peterson

did anyone catch that interview on fresh air about traffic saftey? the interesting thing was in the Netherlands where bike commuting is like 30% hardly anyone wears a helmet.

Roger Horner
Guest
Roger Horner

I\’m still rather new to commuting from Vancouver to PDX (I\’ve been doing it for 18 months now), and I couldn\’t imagine not wearing a helmet. A mandatory law isn\’t going to solve the issue. A law is only going to create more of a reason for people to not use a bicycle as an alternate form of transportaion.

I do believe as a community we should be modeling and supporting the use of helmets for everyone. For those who choose not to cycle I feel they should be responsible for the outcome of not using a helmet if they are injured while cycling.

jonno
Guest
jonno

Bike helmet != bike safety

Bike helmet == potential factor in reducing brain injuries

More cyclists on the road == bike safety

It\’s pretty compelling that studies show more cyclists mean safer cycling, but mandatory helmets mean fewer cyclists. It seems to me that mandatory helmets will result in less overall safety for cyclists. Will anyone pay attention or will this just be another frenzy of stupid?

I always wear a helmet when I ride — the lessons of the two recent un-helmeted bike crashes (Eric Davidson and Karl Hugo) are enough to convince me that reducing traumatic brain injury is a worthy goal.

But mandatory helmets? They\’re \”bike safety\” for people who have no clue what the phrase means.

Paul Tay
Guest

Mandatory helmet law is a great way for cops to shake down some black kid for BWB, biking while BLACK. Probable cause and all that crap.

But, I HEART the BRAIN bucket I nabbed at MCBF for 10 clams!

jb
Guest
jb

I really think a helmet law will present the message that bicycling is a sport, a dangerous one at that. Not one of \”bicycling is transit, fun, and something for everyone.\”

Turn it in to a \”dangerous sport,\” and suddenly fewer people will be willing to move to bicycling to and from work, around their neighborhood, or even to the park.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Wow, I\’m a bit disconcerted by some of these posts. How can you lay fault on this person just because she was less vulnerable? Not every accident where a cyclist is hit by a car is caused by driver negligence! And some of you publish posts literally saying \”us\” and \”them\” then wonder why the media latches onto it?

Personally I think her efforts would be better spent educating drivers and cyclists on being aware of each other and the laws meant to provide mutual safety. I don\’t think requiring helmets for adults is useful and am thankful there isn\’t a law the rare times I forget to grab it, and I know damn well it won\’t prevent me from being hit. I too think she\’s misguided, but it doesn\’t warrant a personal attack.

RyNO Dan (#3): bike riders may have to contend with regulations pushed by \’safety advocates\’, but motor vehicles are regulated by lawmakers influenced by the insurance industry, so cars get bumpers, roll cages, seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and the latest push for electronic suspension. Let\’s hope the people in that paradigm don\’t start trying to regulate bikes!

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

As my out of state family has commented to me, Oregon is such an intersting state, we can\’t pump our own gas, we can have a DR prescribe a lethal dose for assisted suicide and now mandatory helmet laws?

I wear my helmet, I\’ve taken headers and they hurt.

KWW
Guest
KWW

Latasha may be in Eugene, but I smell her bullshit all the way up here in Portland.

Some problems I have with this whole episode:

One of the most common accidents for bicycles and motorcycles are when they make a legal, safe left hand turn into traffic and someone one in a speeding cage mows them down. It is also one of the most common car-car accidents.

Now the Eugene police in their wisdom cleared Latasha of all wrong doing. I have to wonder how deep the police dug into the investigation. Did they go through her cell phone records to see if she was on the phone (this should be mandatory for anyone who is involved in a traffic death while on or in a vehicle). Did they measure skid marks? I can\’t find any information on the web about this case.

In all likelihood, they could not measure skid marks, because Latasha probably never applied her brakes because she never saw David Minor (even though he was right in front of her).

Now here\’s the slippery slope: in police logic, they follow the vehicle code, barring any evidence of skid marks – and the vehicle code states that anyone making a lane change (Mr. Minor) is responsible for their own safety and others around them.

Which translated by the Eugene Police it states: Since David Minor was making the left hand turn into traffic, he is responsible for his own death.

Which translated to car drivers who hate bicylclists: Don\’t bother locking up the brakes for a bicycle making a left hand turn, you\’ll just leave incriminating evidence.

I really want to believe that the Eugene Police have some hard evidence that rightfully clears Latasha in the case, but until I read or see something that changes my mind, I\’ll mark this one down to typical Police aversion to costly investigations.

Less you think I have a beef against the Eugene Police, let me emphatically state, I have never been to Eugene in my life and have no grudge against Police in general. But I read about the same police conclusion too many times to count in similar circumstances.

My second beef is with Latasha going on the news. I feel this is a pro-active tactic to mitigate any future civil suit at worst (prompted by laywers); and misguided logic at best….

To paraphrase a recent Yuhuda Moon strip linked here recently:

It\’s a car problem, why make bicyclists try to fix it with a (fucking) styrofoam hat?

Adam
Guest
Adam

I strongly support wearing a helmet but I\’m not in favor of forcing them to.

Pete
Guest
Pete

jonno (#39): very well put.

Anon (#24): I think this is a really well-written article. Thank you! Though some may tell Jack Moran that a bicycle is a vehicle…

The latest OregonLive article has a poll some may want vote in, and no comments from the haters… yet.

Joe
Guest
Joe

well well, so a helmet would have saved his life, I really think some drivers need to change habits, I was wearing my helmet today, but the car that was going to right turn t-bone me would have got me good. cell
phone in a hurry driver. same old story!

I say drivers need to be punished! simple. get behind the wheel and force yourself all over the road.. come on!

mele
Guest
mele

what about devoting your life to educating drivers about sharing the road ??

Joe
Guest
Joe

mele i do everyday by riding a bike! be nice and all that! what does it get me?
well near misses!