Special gravel coverage

Sadness in the South: Mississippi crash spurs anger, activism

Posted by on June 23rd, 2011 at 8:55 am

Jan Morgan

A story from Mississippi deserves everyone’s attention.

One month ago, a motor vehicle operator struck 57 year old Jan Morgan from behind as she pedaled her bike on a road south of Tupelo, Mississippi. According to the police dispatch log, Morgan was thrown up onto the windshield and then catapulted onto the ground after the driver realized what had happened.

Then, after the initial contact, the police log reads, “The driver exited the vehicle and observed the cyclist while talking on the phone. Then re-entered her vehicle and ran the cyclist over again before being forced from her vehicle by witnesses.”

Morgan sustained multiple fractures, significant head injuries, collapsed lungs and road rash over most of her body. She spent four weeks in the ICU and is just now beginning her recovery.

“…my wife’s life is only worth $500 or 6 months… If you happen to be run down by a car, it appears to me that Mississippi law says you are no different than road kill.”
— David Morgan

Morgan is a well-known bike shop owner from Starkville Mississippi. She owns the shop with her husband David.

As if the tragedy of the crash wasn’t enough, David is now struggling to comprehend how the Mississippi legal system has failed him. Writing on his “Get Well Jan” blog yesterday, David posted that the driver of the car will only face misdemeanor charges:

I was informed today that there is nothing in Mississippi law that allows for felony charges against the woman that ran over my wife with her automobile… I was also told there is no Mississippi law that allows felony charges for the woman getting back in her car and running over her again while she lay there on the ground severely traumatized…

The District Attorney tells me if anyone can produce written Mississippi law that would apply to this he would certainly use it, but his hands are otherwise tied…

According to the Sun Herald newspaper, DA Allgood says there was no felony because, “the motorist didn’t leave the scene, wasn’t impaired, and didn’t intentionally or negligently hit Morgan.” (Note that witnesses had to surround the driver and reportedly “dragged her” from her car to prevent her from fleeing.) The only state law that applies is Mississippi’s 3-foot passing law, which is a misdemeanor.

David Morgan suspects the woman that struck his wife was on the phone when the collision occurred, but Mississippi law prevents looking at cell phone records in this case because using one while driving is not against the law.

Adding insult to injury is that some local residents feel that people like Jan Morgan shouldn’t even be on the road at all.

Friends of the Morgans now hope to get more national attention on this story. Yesterday a post was made on Reddit looking for anyone with connections to national TV networks.

Morgan is understandably frustrated and angry at the legal situation. “I used to tell people all over the world that Mississippi was a good place to live…” he writes on his blog, “I no longer have any confidence in the judicial system of this state.”

“By Mississippi law,” he continues, “my wife’s life is only worth $500 or 6 months. So much for being an educated, productive, tax paying citizen in this state. Be careful out there. If you happen to be run down by a car, it appears to me that Mississippi law says you are no different than road kill.”

In an update just posted by Morgan, a Mississippi state legislator is drafting an amendment to the 3-foot passing law. “The most important thing every one must do now is flood/call their own representative and tell them to support this bill.”

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  • NW Biker June 23, 2011 at 9:05 am

    What I don’t understand is why they don’t interpret the second “running over” as the woman’s attempt to leave the scene. Witnesses had to forcibly remove her from her car. So she was either trying to leave or she deliberately ran over that poor woman a second time. That’s a pretty extreme interpretation of the three-foot rule, isn’t it?

    I can absolutely empathize with Mr. Morgan. Several years ago, an unlicensed teenager drove his mother’s SUV up over the top of my friend’s car as she sat at a red light. She died and he got a ticket for driving without a license and for careless driving.

    It makes no sense at all.

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    • BURR June 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

      what I don’t understand is how running her over the second time doesn’t count as intentionally hitting her.

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      • noah June 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

        Burr — exactly.

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      • cold worker June 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm

        i was thinking the same thing. wtf?

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      • Alayna June 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm

        She claimed she was in such a panic to move her car off the road after the initial hit she didn’t see her. A very low traffic road. No reason to have to panic to move your car out of the way even if that was true

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        • She June 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm

          If that is the explanation this driver has NO BUSINESS driving, it is a privilege not a right after all!

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          • Alayna June 25, 2011 at 5:24 am

            Yep it’s her explanation. The DA won’t do anything since it was done in a state of “panic”..some law applies so no felony all she’ll get is 500$ fine or 6 months in jail. Misdemeanor charges only.

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        • Alayna June 25, 2011 at 5:39 am

          http://getwelljan.blogspot.com/ Check this out for info/accident report, etc. I just saw where Dr. Morgan posted on FB that the DA has agreed to listen to taped testimony from a witness at the scene that may help get criminal charges filed. Let’s hope.

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      • sorebore June 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

        Attempted Vehicular Homicide? Is there not a law in Miss. for that?

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  • Paula F. June 23, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Wow! You mean the DA cannot see that the second running over is attempted vehicular manslaughter? Sounds like someone thinks very little of bicyclists if you ask me. Sad does not cover this injustice.

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    • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      MS & LA have been in 49th and 50th place for educational results for decades, it may also apply to the MS Bar Assc.

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  • esther c June 23, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Why isn’t getting back in the car and running over her again intentional? She knew she was there and got in the car and drove over her? If that isn’t intentional or negligent I don’t know what is.

    If she didn’t do it intentionally it was at least negligent to move the car with an injured cyclist so close to it.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 23, 2011 at 9:34 am

      If you read the latest update by David Morgan, he is being told by legal experts that the second running over was done in a state of panic so it’s not considered negligent.

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      • NW Biker June 23, 2011 at 9:41 am

        Doesn’t that “state of panic” imply at least an attempt to leave the scene, making it a hit and run? Is she going to escape hit and run charges because the witnesses stopped her?

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      • Chris I June 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

        I guess I can just murder anyone I want, as long as I’m in a “state of panic”.

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        • Justin June 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

          …and the new Twinkie defense is born!

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        • banjo June 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

          no, you can just murder anyone as long its with an automobile.

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      • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

        An action taken in panic would rule out premeditation.
        The defintion of ““negligence” at the legal section of Freedictionary.com suggests to me that almost any crimnal act can be classified as negligent.

        At what point does intent enter in to determining severity of the crime and the accompanying punishment?

        Even if the auto operator’s lawyer floats a “temporary insanity” defense there was still the complicated act of getting back in the auto, closing the door, putting the car back in to gear and finnally comitting the negligent act of vehicular assulut with INTENT to kill.

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      • JRB June 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm

        I’m a lawyer, but one who only occasionally brushes up against criminal law. Nevertheless it defies legal logic and centuries old concepts of negligence to say that a “state of panic” nullifies negligence. Especially when it was an initial act of negligence, driving while distracted by a cell phone, that led to the alleged state of panic in the first place. As another poster said, it is highly unlikely if you shot someone during the commission of a robbery because you were in a state of panic when the shopkeeper pulled a gun on you, that would be a defense to attempted muder or murder. The DA obviously thinks he will get more votes in the next election if he doesn’t procescute this case. It is some consolation that at least the Morgans should be able to get a helluva a civil judgment that should hopefully bankrupt the driver for life.

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      • passer-by June 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm

        that’s a question for the jury. charge her and let the jury decide.

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  • El Biciclero June 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

    It’s high time for some kind of “aggravated” clause on traffic violations. Maybe that’s not the right descriptor, but some kind of increased severity must be implemented for cases where severe bodily injury or death was caused during the commission of another traffic infraction/violation/misdemeanor/felony. Run a stop sign, get a $250 ticket. Run a stop sign and kill somebody as a result, get a $15,000 fine, a revoked driver’s license, and some jail time. Get caught talking on your phone while driving (ha!), get a (what is it, $190?) ticket. Run over somebody or cause an accident while talking on your cell phone while driving–hands-free or not–get a vastly increased ticket, a suspended/revoked license, and some hefty community service. Run over somebody once as a result of not paying attention, get a hefty fine, a suspended/revoked license, etc. Run over somebody TWICE, the second time in an apparent attempt to flee the scene, get a heftier fine, automatic license revocation, and jail time. How is it possible that running over someone you have obviously seen in front of your car–because you put them there by already running into them–is not considered at the very least to be assault, if not attempted manslaughter/murder?

    It seems we have these kinds of severity adjustments for other violations of the law, why not for traffic violations? Oh, that’s right, because NOBODY can get along without their car, and implementing laws like this threatens too many people who currently enjoy the privilege of driving without a care.

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  • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Auto operator observered injured & immobilized PERSON that they just hit.
    Auto operator then DECIDED that they best course of action was not: to stop and wait for authorities or flee the scene BUT to ASSUALT the VICTIM with a deadly weapon.
    This action was taken with INTENT and AWARENESS.

    The applicable charge is MURDER 1 with a plead to no less than MURDER 2 on the grounds the the auto operator may have paniced in to trying to kill the victim to destroy testimony/evidence.

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    • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

      Sorry Attempted MURDER 1

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  • eljefe June 23, 2011 at 9:33 am

    How is reentering the vehicle and hitting her a second time neither intentional nor negligent? By getting back in the drivers seat, the driver was attempting to flee the scene.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 23, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Just so everyone knows, apparently the lawyers are saying that the woman in the car was in a state of panic and that’s why she ran over Jan Morgan the second time. Being in a state of panic therefore means she wasn’t being willfully negligent. sick I know.

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    • Duncan Watson June 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

      This is at the DAs discretion. It isn’t a point of fact.

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      • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        THIS is the other half of the equation of America’s dangerous driver problem: the goverment is all too willing to ignore it despite more than suffient laws on the books to effectively procescute.

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      • Stig June 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm

        He’s either incompetent or malicious and dragging his feet.

        I’d say incompetent people can’t become DAs, but you have to consider our last ‘president’.

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        • Al June 24, 2011 at 8:24 am

          I live in this county, and can tell you that the DA is an excellent, intelligent man. It seems his hands are tied by the idiotic state laws. I’m sure that, were he able to justifiably punish this motorist, he would certainly have done so.

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  • Dave June 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

    In the 1960’s there was a spate of lurid motorcycle gang movies that portrayed bikers as violent sociopaths who would burn down your house as your kids slept if you ran down someone in their club colors. I was told by non-outlaw motorcyclists that drivers started treating them much better after these flicks became popular–the average driver was perhaps starting to fear motorcycle riders rather than viewing them as an annoyance. Any filmmakers out there? Can’t we get some outlaw bicyclist movies made, even if that kind of cyclist doesn’t really exist?
    We might fare better on the road if we, as a group, were feared rather than ridiculed–let’s have that movie with the slo-mo shots of a cell phoning driver being U-lock-whipped across the face and the blood flying.

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    • sorebore June 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      Dave… As a person who can remember the early 60’s to mid 70’s ,and has known three close motorcycling friends once killed or attacked by automobile drivers, I would have to say that that idea, along with the myth that those films dissuaded peoples fears of motorcyclists is a bit off.

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  • Ely June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Does the family have civil recourse at least? This person should be paying somehow.

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    • JA June 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

      From what I read from Mississippi cyclists posting on reddit last night, the driver/assailant seems to be someone of ehhh… limited financial means. (Much more derogatory terms are being used by the locals) Those posts indicate that, even if a civil case was won, there is little expectation that the victims family would ever actually see much compensation.

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      • A.K. June 23, 2011 at 10:43 am

        Yeah if the person who committed the crime has no money, suing them will do little good.

        When my mother was pregnant with my sister, a lady ran a stop sign and t-boned my mom, who then had to have an emergency c-section to save my sister who was born premature as a result.

        While the auto insurance company covered much of the hospital bills, I understand that no legal actions were taken against the women because she was of “limited means” and would not have been able to pay any damages, if they were awarded.

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  • Duncan Watson June 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I waill make sure that when I want someone dead to make sure I am flustered and in a “state of panic” when I run them over the second time.

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  • Ross Williams June 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Isn’t the real problem that apparently hitting a cyclist, or presumably a pedestrian, isn’t negligence to begin with? If there is no legal difference between running into a cyclist and missing by only two feet, there is a problem.

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  • Duncan Watson June 23, 2011 at 10:02 am

    The funny thing is that if she hit a car from behind it would be worse for her. And no-one would tolerate her hitting the driver of the first vehicle while trying to escape.

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  • Tacoma June 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Sending best wishes for Jan’s recovery.

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  • k. June 23, 2011 at 10:13 am

    It IS Mississippi after all.

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    • HJ June 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Please do not confuse one person’s ignorance and lack of responsibility for the entire state.

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      • Chris I June 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

        This is the fault of more than one person. Did you not read the part about the failures of the state’s legal system?

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    • Gunnar June 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      No doubt. That says it all.

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  • Gunnar June 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I live in Starkville where Jan and David live and know them personally. Being an active cyclist/triathlete myself, the situation here is disturbing. Although (and rightly so) a LOT of people are disturbed by what happened, a good majority of “natives” here feel that it’s her fault because she shouldn’t have been on the road on a bicycle (even though it’s the law that cyclist are allowed on the road!). Mississippi is a third world country, and I’m glad to say that I’m not from here. Just happen to be stuck here for the time being. This state is an embarrassment to the country.

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  • Greg June 23, 2011 at 10:22 am

    There are any number of examples where the police use deadly force against a driver who panics and attempts to leave the scene by driving towards the officer or police car. The fact that the driver is in a panic is not considered relevant when the safety of an officer is on the line. Too bad the justice system doesn’t feel that civilian lives have the same value. I guess some animals are more equal than others.

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  • Psyfalcon June 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Maybe panic will be a convincing defense, especially in MS, but let the jury (Grand, or otherwise) hear the case first.

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  • Dan F June 23, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Shameful. A quick search of DA Allgood turns up some unflattering news, such as disregarding the results of a DNA test. As in the Colorado hit and run case, this DA seems to view the law as his to define and rewrite.

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    • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      Was he elected or did he have to show any skill to get the job?

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  • Spiffy June 23, 2011 at 11:06 am

    seems like an easy case for attempted murder…

    if it was me it’d be vigilante justice and I’d simply kill the driver myself…

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  • justin June 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Couple things here from someone who spent a large part of their life in MS, and Starkville specifically:

    1. I wish Jan a speedy recovery. I did not know her personally, but the opening of their shop (the 2nd in town, and the 1st had a reputation for being incredibly rude to its customers) helped get a lot more folks on bikes there. I hated to hear about this. I hope this doesn’t undo all the great things they did for cycling in that area.

    2. The fact that witnesses had the wherewithal to stop the driver shows that this is not the typical thought process of a citizen of that state. As terrible as the situation is, saying that a majority of natives agree with the actions of this driver is complete bull. Blanket statements get us nowhere. I have gotten similar reactions from drivers while riding on busy streets in SW Portland as i did when i was riding in and around Starkville. Earlier this year, a car struck a cyclist, a parked car, and a house within the city limits of Portland, and got no criminal charges. MS has a long way to go, but so does the rest of the world.

    3. I am incredibly upset with the DA on this one. Taking a second run at a downed person should be considered attempted murder. I think there is definitely more that can be done on that front. I hope that this at least spurs the citizens of MS to push for stronger laws regarding street safety.

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    • Gunnar June 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Read all the comments to a recent article on the Clarion Ledger online and then tell me it’s complete bull.

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      • justin June 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm

        the comments section on the clarion ledger is not a good place to get your info on the outlook of the majority. the comments on any Oregonian article on biking would make you believe the same about Portland.

        I know there are a lot of people that think bikes don’t belong on the road there, but the majority of people don’t want to hurt anyone.

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      • She June 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm

        Comments on the Oregonian website do not represent all of Oregon residents sentiments, I would suspect the same of the CL.

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    • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      #3: as incompetent as this DA is for not being able to do his job he at least isn’t filling random charges that will get dropped thus insuring double jeopardy immunity for the driver when a concrete offensive lawsuit is formulated.

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  • Lisa Parker June 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Running her over the second time, per the police report, is attempted murder. Any rational person can see that. It’s shameful and unbelievable if the law or a D.A. cannot.

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  • Mark June 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

    The second worst case nightmare for me is after being hit by a car is not getting justice. This can happen to any of us, anywhere.

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    • Chris I June 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      You can always get your own justice.

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  • RRRoubaix June 23, 2011 at 11:36 am

    So… no kids have ever been run over in Mississippi? No little old ladies?
    Seems kinda hard to believe they have zero legal recourse for something like this… Why is this different?

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  • S brockway June 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Seems to me any time this has happened to an officer, the assaulting driver gets a windshield full of
    police rounds, and the cop gets “Cleared” by the grand jury by weeks end, defending there self from…… A Deadly Threat .

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    • Stig June 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Applies to a great many things:
      Who you are
      Who you know
      How much money you have

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    • Joe Rowe June 24, 2011 at 10:10 am

      99.9% of the public would agree the officer acted in self defense if the driver too a 2nd shot at the police victim. Thanks to the propaganda of bike hate spread by newspapers, we have little reporting of this driver taking a 2nd shot at her victim.

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  • Jocey June 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    My thoughts are with Jan, her husband, family and supportive community during this unbelievably difficult time. Wishing you all peace in the knowledge that positive change must come from this horrific event. May the Mississippi judicial system adjust it’s laws to protect and respect cyclists as fully recognized road users.

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  • Joe June 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    We wonder why some ppl don’t want to bike.
    R.I.P bike friend. “positive change” yes Jocey

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  • Joe June 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    The second worst case nightmare for me is after being hit by a car is not getting justice. This can happen to any of us, anywhere.

    almost did yesterday as a huge SUV rolled up on me with force, and made eye contact.. I kiss my wife and kids everyday before I leave, and say I love you guys.

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    • Dan June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Ugh, I hate to think about it, but I always call my wife before I leave work for the same reason — and so she’ll know to call the cops/hospital/morgue if I’m not home in an hour or so. If you think about it, it’s infuriating that we have to do that.

      In this case, while the driver sounds like an irresponsible fool, the newspaper accounts do seem to indicate there was no intent…not that that helps the victim any. If the victim’s husband runs down the perp in a parking lot as she walks to her car, can he then claim it was an accident and escape prosecution?

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      • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

        Google Latitude is good for this too.

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        • Dan June 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

          Thanks for pointing that out — it looks like it would be perfect, and I didn’t know about it. Unfortunately, I’m still a dumbphone owner, but when I upgrade, I will definitely make use of that service.

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  • reneeautumn June 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you for posting this, BikePortland. We cyclists in Mississippi want more attention to this outrageous event and don’t want this crime swept under the rug.

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  • bumblebee June 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    It’s stories like this one, and the countless number of close calls we’ve experienced that I say “to hell” with all forms of motor vehicles. They are a cancer on the environment and society.

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  • q`Tzal June 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Not suing a driver because they are too poor has the same outcome as not calling animal control after years of maulings: you are just waiting for a messy death scene that you could have prevented.

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    • A.K. June 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Why would you spend possibly thousands of dollars on a lawyer when the probability of getting any money to even pay back your legal fees, let alone pain and suffering compensation is minimal at best?

      If you can get a pro-bono lawyer, then great. But that isn’t an option for everyone.

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      • q`Tzal June 25, 2011 at 8:08 pm

        The point is not to get money but to have publicly accessible record of hazardous actions and tendencies.

        If a person commits an act of vehicular mischief once it is commonly passed off as a one time occurrence: “it could happen to any one” as if the party responsible for the crime was the true victim of the crime. The person injured or killed was just a bothersome decimal point to be rounded off.
        If that same driver has done this before, however, it would be safe to assume that, unchecked, they will continue to kill indiscriminately with their auto. For that reason there needs to be a record of conviction even if the judge/jury awards no damages due to financial insolvency.

        In other words: the dirt poor should be no more exempt from the consequences of breaking the law than the obscenely rich.

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  • Dav June 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    “here’s to the land you’ve torn out the heart of, Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of”
    Phil Ochs

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  • Alan 1.0 June 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Get dangerous drivers off the roads of all states, by federal mandate. It’s too important and too urgent to leave it up to each individual state. Ordinary, lawful drivers would benefit at least as much as vulnerable road users.

    Sheesh, Mississippi even has a law prohibiting local jurisdictions from banning cell phones while driving!

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  • Andrew Kent June 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    until people are held responsible for what they do in their vehicle, this will continue. why are people not held responsible? someone somewhere will rationalize the driver not being held responsible, because they don’t want to be in an accident. if people can’t be responsible for driving a car, should anyone be driving a car?

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  • dmc June 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Glad I don’t live down there…

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  • Belinda June 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    This is attempted murder. Maybe the first hit was violation of the 3 foot law, but how’s this for a charge for the second one… Assault with a deadly weapon?

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  • Ryam June 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Couldn’t the second time she ran her over be viewed as attempted murder? that sure is hell is a felony.

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  • Al June 24, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Please remember that a news article is not going to give the entire legal story about what can and cannot be done. Allgood is an intelligent and responsible man who I am sure will do everything in his power within the law to make sure justice is served. He should not be put at fault for the idiotic laws of our state.

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    • John Landolfe June 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      Al, “disbar” might be a bit jumping the gun (bar complaint, perhaps?) but if half this story is true there must be at least an assault or attempted manslaughter law in the state. On the one hand, armchair quaterbacking could certainly get the story wrong, but on the other hand this family doesn’t really have much in its arsenal right now besides whipping up a public outcry.

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  • Sally June 24, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I’ve been living in Starkville for 5 years and I bike to work. I really hate it when I go to conferences out of state and “educated” people tell me that “Mississippi can just fall into the ocean for all I care.” All of us, everything and everyone here is worthless, no? Well, there are some fine things about MS, but the prevailing attitude among drivers is not one of them. I think the comments in the Clarion Ledger article are reflective–a few people defending bicyclists and a majority who believe bicyclists “deserve what they get.” We need a massive education campaign in a state resistant to education overall. If I’m not mistaken, driver’s ed is not required here. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what my students tell me. It would make sense, given what I have observed. My students also tell me that they have no problems texting while driving. (They don’t say that they are 10 feet tall and made of Teflon, but that can be inferred.) I would not bike out in the country here. Now I know I’m probably crazy for biking in town. I think this issue needs national exposure. Many Mississippians do not like that, but it’s good for them. MS is actually part of the US. Portland, sing it loud!

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  • Joe Rowe June 24, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Does anyone have a written statement from the DA? If this quote is correct, the DA should be the target of a lawsuit. If the victim was Rep Gabrielle Giffords on a bike you know the whole country would be outraged by the DA and the person who took a 2nd shot at the victim.

    is this a quote? –> if anyone can produce written Mississippi law that would apply to this he would certainly use it, but his hands are otherwise tied

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  • Joe Rowe June 24, 2011 at 10:07 am

    The bike community is just waking up to the fact that rural high poverty communities are lacking in many basic human rights. There’s no such thing as the choice of abortion for most poor and rural people, no such thing as a fair education, no such thing as fair treatment police. Back country cops read the law in their own way. If Ms. Morgan was dead, she would be facing a small minded coroner. It happened to Michael Jordan’s dad.


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  • Sally June 24, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Here’s the note posted on Jan’s FB page by her husband, David: https://www.facebook.com/notes/jan-morgan/no-protection-by-mississippi-law/2142057157895
    The quote above comes from his description of his talk with the DA, when the DA told him that no felony charges apply. In the comments below Carol Vagner Livingston posted notes from an email to her from a friend who had spoken to the DA, Forrest Allgood, on the phone and received more info from him as to his reasoning. The DA’s number is 662-329-5911.

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  • Sally June 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Allgood kept a mentally disabled man in prison for six years after the actual murderer confessed and the DNA evidence proved it. He does not actually have a stellar record.Here’s that article:

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  • deborah June 24, 2011 at 10:39 am

    This is so terrible for Jan and her husband, for Mississippi, and honestly for the state of our nation’s judicial system when it comes to bike/car accidents.

    How could it be that this woman’s punishment for hitting a human – then running her over AGAIN with intent – be no greater than what someone would get for stealing an apple from a grocery store?

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  • Ross Williams June 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

    As far as I can tell the reason people are more outraged by the second incident is that they can imagine themselves having the first accident. They can’t imagine themselves accidentally running over the victim a second time. But in both cases a “deadly weapon” was involved and, apparently, in both cases it is was an “accident”.

    The problem here is not that there isn’t a penalty for the second hit, its not even that there isn’t a suitable penalty for accidentally hitting a bicyclist in the first place. Its that there is no expectation that motor vehicles will be operated safely. We accept thousands of deaths and millions of injuries every year as normal.

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  • One Less :( June 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Feel free to give DA Forrest Allgood a call or shoot him an email (yes that have that in Mississippi) to let him know that the cycling community at large will not stand for this nonsense!


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  • Tom Byrne June 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I wonder what the outcome would have been if Morgan was driving a car and was knocked out during the initial accident. Then the driver after getting a good look at where she lay on the road, runs her over just to make sure. There must be laws against that. Hopefully from travesty comes change and bad judgment may be prosecuted appropriately.

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  • Tabb June 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I don’t get it. You can’t charge the driver with attempted murder? I would assume that is not a misdemeanor.

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  • Atbman June 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I live in this county, and can tell you that the DA is an excellent, intelligent man. It seems his hands are tied by the idiotic state laws. I’m sure that, were he able to justifiably punish this motorist, he would certainly have done so.

    Sorry, very long post which arises out of the assault with a deadly camera site below and which puts another viewpoint of this “excellent, intelligent man”:
    One name that keeps coming up over and over again in this Hayne saga is that of Mississippi District Attorney Forrest Allgood, whose district covers Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, and Oktibbeha counties
    Allgood was the prosecutor who put Dr. Hayne on the stand in the Tyler Edmonds case, where Hayne offered up his outrageous testimony supporting the “two shooter theory.”
    Allgood was also the prosecutor in the Kennedy Brewer case. Actually, Hayne performed the autopsy in the Brewer case. He then, as he often does, called in his pal Dr. Michael West to offer up some bite mark quackery. If what I’ve learned about other cases in Mississippi applies in this one, West “found” his bite marks on the little girl only after consulting with Allgood, and ascertaining his theory about how the crime occurred.
    Allgood then ran with West’s bite mark testimony, and got his conviction. If it weren’t for the prescience of one of Kennedy Brewer’s attorneys in getting a court order preserving the DNA from the rape kit, the state of Mississippi may well have already executed Kennedy Brewer. But she did manage to get it preserved, and in 2002, more advanced DNA testing revealed the semen of two men in the little girl Brewer was convicted of killing. Neither sample belonged to Kennedy Brewer.
    Now here, I’d like to think an honest prosecutor would be rather alarmed. Here it is, 15 years after the murder, and not only do the two semen samples taken from the victim not match the man Allgood has put on death row for more than a decade, two other men who almost certainly did rape this little girl have yet to be identified, and could well still be free.
    Moreover, in the years between the conviction and the DNA test, Allgood’s star witness in the case, Dr. West, has been discredited by several professional organizations, and exposed as a fraud by several national media outlets.
    None of this seemed to faze Allgood. He simply went about protecting his conviction. After the state supreme court ordered Brewer a new trial, Allgood announced that he planned to try Brewer again. The Innocence Project’s Peter Neufeld says it’s the only time he can remember that a prosecutor has actually retried a defendant after DNA tests revealed semen on the victim that matched someone other than the accused.
    Allgood also announced he planned to again use the discredited Dr. West in the new trial, making him one of a very, very select few prosecutors left in the state who still have the temerity to use the disreputable dentist. I’ve been told by defense attorneys that Allgood still occasionally uses Dr. West in other cases, too.
    It gets worse. Allgood still believed Kennedy Brewer was guilty of the little girl’s murder, even if he didn’t rape her. So he ran DNA tests on two men who visited Brewer the night of the murder, on the theory that Brewer helped them with the rape and murder. Neither of those men matched the semen samples, either.
    One thing Allgood didn’t do was run the semen samples against the state database of convicted felons. According to the New York Times, Allgood says that’s because the state has no such database. This apparently came as a surprise to the state official who has been running said database for several years. Which raises a important question: Was Allgood lying, or is he really ignorant of the fact that the state of Mississippi has has a DNA database of convicted felons, and has had one for a number of years?
    It’s one or the other. And both prospects are rather frightening.
    The same article says that while Allgood notified the local sheriff of the DNA result, the local sheriff also says Allgood has made no request to reopen the case, stating definitively and (somewhat colloquially) that, “The case is already solved, far as the murder.”
    All of which suggests that Forrest Allgood doesn’t care much about the fact that the identity of the two men who raped and likely murdered the little girl in the Brewer case is still unknown. He’s got his man, and he’s sticking to his story.
    Allgood was finally taken off the Brewer case, and it was assigned to a different DA (who still plans to retry Brewer, and still plans to use Dr. West). But in one last weird attempt to preserve his conviction, Allgood actually objected to Brewers’ attorneys’ request that the semen samples be tested against the DNA of a man convicted of a very similar rape and murder 18 months prior to and very near where the murder Brewer is accused of took place. By that time, Allgood had been removed from the case, and no longer had standing to object. But that he would try to object anyway is awfully telling. What possible harm could such a test do, other than to raise legitimate doubts about Kennedy Brewer’s guilt and possibly catch the actual killer?

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  • erik June 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    anyone else bother by the comment Johnathan linked to by Annette Loe … that it was her own fault for being out riding?

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    • erik June 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Adding insult to injury is that some local residents feel that people like Jan Morgan shouldn’t even be on the road at all.

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      • erik June 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

        Could let her know how uninformed her opion is…
        Annette Loe
        117 Kings Ridge Dr, Brandon, MS 39047
        (601) 992-1310
        Thank you Google

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  • Sally June 24, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Erik, here in Starkville, MS, we watched the PBS documentary on the Freedom Riders the other day–“black and white” people riding a bus together across state lines. The law of the land was that that was legal. States put up barriers. People here said, “They are agitators, they are asking for it.” And they set the bus on fire and beat the people. The violence had sanction on the part of the police. Then we read the comments in the Clarion Ledger about the assault on Jan, and we heard the same thing, bicyclists are “just asking for it.” We both ride bikes here. We are not “asking for it.” Biking is legal. Yes, we are upset about it.

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  • Sally June 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I should say I wasn’t responding to Loe’s comment specifically. Hers is representative. What is shocking is the number of people who feel that they are justified in killing someone with their car in response to a few minutes delay in their daily routine. As Ross and others say above, there is no expectation of responsible driving. http://www.clarionledger.com/comments/article/20110612/NEWS/106120335/Danger-every-turn-cyclists-take-roadways

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  • Kevin Wagoner June 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I don’t understand is how running her over the second time doesn’t count as attempted murder?

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  • Kevin Wagoner June 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I kept reading the post and see that it is mentioned that if you are in a state of panic then it is not attempted murder. That is BS.

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  • Sally June 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

    David Morgan has a blog where he writes every day about his wife’s recovery. Today he mentioned Bike Walk Mississippi, if any one is interested in helping out, they are his advocates. Here’s the link to his blog and other info: http://getwelljan.blogspot.com/

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  • Paul Tay June 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Cyclists the new nigegrs in the GREAT State of Mississippi? Naaaaaaaaaaaaah. Cain’t possibly be true. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2QApwtE8zQ

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  • Paul Tay June 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Meanwhile in the GREAT State of Oklahoma…

    Posted by Jason Kearney, http://www.facebook.com/jasonk5322

    Cycling is Tough Enough, as it appeared on 31 March 2011

    I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it is tough to be a bicyclist in a car-centric world.

    I’ve never been outwardly afraid to ride my bike, even in traffic. Maybe that is because I am an optimist. Or because I cut my cycling teeth riding to OU football games back in the early 90s, when Sooner fans were filled with despair, and as it turns out, a good deal of angst against cocky cyclists parking directly underneath Owen Field, and skipping all the traffic jams on the way home.

    I’ve never been outwardly afraid to ride in traffic. But there are times when my heart skips a beat at the thought of riding in traffic. This fear picks up a bit when I see the response of readers to any article related to cycling or cyclists. There is such anger and hatred toward riders, and the comments section and letters to the editor bear that out. Recently, the Tulsa World did a story on bike commuting in Tulsa, and they profiled my ride to and from work in the article. The comments section in the online version of the story were insane! There were 127 comments on the story. Two years ago, the World did a similar story on my commute, and only about 30 readers left comments. A couple of weeks later, a lady wrote into the paper, and they published her letter. To this letter, 35 online comments were left. Most of these comments reflect anger, or more accurately, hatred toward anyone that chooses to get around in anything other than a car.

    Knowing that these people are out there, and that the authorities actually give them a drivers license, is enough to cause great fear and trepidation in even the most hard-core bike commuter.

    I deal with it by telling myself that these people are either trolls (people who just want to stir up the pot, and have no intention of causing harm to bike riders), or they are just stupid rednecks who talk a good game, but fold like a house of cards when in a real-life predicament.

    Recently, however, I had a frightening and sobering encounter with an individual, and the tenor of his conversation made me shudder. His language was peppered with profanity as we talked about how he felt about bicyclists. “If I see you guys out on my road, I’ll knock your *** in the ditch.” When I suggested that there is a $1000 fine for killing a cyclist with a car, his response was, “they gotta catch me first.”

    He went on to say that he planned on taking spray paint in his car this summer, so that when the organizers of the Tulsa Tough ride and race mark the route, he could re-route the riders. It was his way of causing harm and confusion, because he so adamantly disliked cyclists. He also said that during the ride and race, held in June of this year, he would put oil in the road, in an attempt to cause crashes, and inflict harm.

    What shocked me about his words had little to do with what he said–I’ve heard all that before. No, what shocked me about his words is that they were being spoken by a member of the Tulsa Police Department, while he was on duty. It angers me that anyone would have such blatant disregard for the law, and for the citizens he is being paid to protect. But for him to express his feelings while on duty made it even worse.

    And now, I find myself in a bit of a moral dilemma. I’m writing about this, because writing about it is not a big deal. Words can be powerful, but not as powerful as actually being there. Since there were only two or three of us there, this officer could dispute his words, and turn it into a “your word against mine” situation.

    Also, I was riding that night at the invitation of a friend who is a member of the Tulsa Police Department bike squad. I was his guest, and he introduced me to this officer. So I feel bad about telling this story publicly, because I don’t want this to be a breach of our friendship.

    But this is a story that needs to be told. If there are officers who have such blatant disregard for the law, and they are going around spouting off about it, it needs to come out. I personally don’t think that a guy who thinks like this should be on the city payroll. If there are police officers who do not respect the cyclists’ right to the road, how do we expect the ordinary citizen to respect it?

    The other thing that makes this story interesting is that I got the whole thing on video. Yep, the GoPro was front and center, red light blinking, the entire time. So, you can see that now I have an even greater dilemma. Do I edit the video, and post it on YouTube, letting the chips fall where they may? Or do I just drop it?

    What do you think?

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    • Gunnar June 28, 2011 at 7:35 am


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  • owlice June 26, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Surely looks to me like someone (read: the DA) is not trying very hard to charge the driver. His hands are tied? Yeah, right — tied because he wants them to be.

    Would make a good story for Dateline (“Idiot DA refuses to look for justice”) or 20/20; time to contact a few of my west coast buds.

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  • Forseti June 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

    David, I left Mississippi the first chance I got. You should too. It’s a terrible state filled with hate and ignorance. It doesn’t deserve you or any other thinking person.

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  • John Landolfe June 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I agree with the commenters describing this as attempted murder. You could reasonably argue that the woman was trying to kill the victim to cover up her crime. She just happened to be using a very large blunt object. It’s the same as if you push someone off a building or attack them with a baseball bat. The idea that the lawyer isn’t making a case seems breathtaking in its functional fixedness. He oughta be disbarred.

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  • obinja July 7, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I’m sorry to hear about the cyclist in this case. I hope she makes a full recovery and is able to ride again. I was hit myself a few years back. My bike was totaled but I limped away from the scene with superficial dents and scratches. I was very lucky. It was an excellant reminder for me of how vulnerable we are as cyclists. I get sloppy, I get lazy, I look for shortcuts, I jump traffic lights, I get yelled at, I leave my helmet at home on short rides, I’ve been deliberately smoked with black smoke from pick up trucks on steroids (only in America).
    This is systemic. It’s not just the south or poor people or ignorant people. This is the culture we have created. “Gotta go, go, go…”! We are all responsible. All I can do is NOT be sloppy, lazy, look for short cuts or jump traffic lights. It is true that there should be legal recourse, if we do get hit and run over a second time (that’s just bizzarre)…Can we not also lobby for mandatory cyclist eduction? How about licensing for cyclists? How about you cannot ride a public thoroughfare before age 16?
    I live where there are probably more bicycles than people and I see incredible stupidity. Especially in regards to folks cycling with their children. If people drove the way they ride around here, it would truly be terrifyfing…
    I agree we need protection under the law and that law makers and upholders of the law need to be accountable. I am also reminded that I could do a better job of protecting myself.

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