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Tragedy and outrage in Texas

I don’t usually share news from other cities, but a story out of Helotes, Texas (22 miles northwest of San Antonio) has grabbed my attention and won’t let go.

Via the Tucson Lawyer Bike blog with photo credit to Tom Reel of San Antonio Express News.

(Photo: Tom Reel/San Antonio Express News)

Folks, that is a photograph of seven year old Kylie Bruehler. She is at a funeral service to bury her parents, both of whom were killed last week when a driver veered onto the shoulder and drove his pickup truck into them.

They were riding together on a tandem.

The local news reports that “investigators say there are no charges on the driver. They believe this was an accident and that somehow the driver lost control of his truck.”

Texas’s governor recently vetoed a law that would mandate a safe passing distance for cyclists, saying it was unnecessary.

A local news outlet has more from the police and the community outrage this incident has triggered.

On how it happened:

“”He looked off, he was looking at something else and realized the curve in the road came a lot faster than what he anticipated,” explained Deputy Chief Dale Bennett”

And the outrage:

“…the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office is also dealing with a lot of angry e-mails and phone calls.”

And the legal situation (emphasis mine):

Deputy Chief Bennett told News 4 WOAI the office’s hands are tied. He said under current law, unless a driver is drunk or high, it is difficult to prove recklessness. And legally, charges can not be filed for “an unfortunate accident.”

“Was he texting? Was he on the phone? What was the issue? Why was he distracted? Why did he go off the road? Driver inattention…is basically what it amounts to,” Deputy Chief Bennett said. “And there’s nothing we can do about drivers not paying attention.”

An amazing, tragic and frustrating story on many levels. I hope this story sparks a new urgency in reform of vehicle laws not just in Texas, but in all states (despite progress, Oregon’s aren’t nearly as strong as they should be).

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