Friday, September 19, 2008

SUV Kills UAH Student On Her Bicycle

From Two Five Fix

This story has been all the talk today. While I only met Sarah a handful of times, she was a very sweet, beautiful, vibrant girl, a real pleasure to hang out with. This incident is so tragic and our hearts go out to the Chapman family and Sarah's friends. I wish there was some way we could ease your suffering. Davis, hang in there man; I don't even have words to tell you how sorry I am. If you need anything, please let me know.

Via, Ch. 48

"Huntsville police officers say the bicyclist who was struck by a Jeep Cherokee Monday morning has died. The crash happened at around 10:30 a.m. on Technology Drive near Wynn Drive in Huntsville. 20-year-old Sarah Katherine Chapman died shortly after the traffic crash. Chapman was traveling westbound on a bicycle on Technology Drive at 10:30 a.m. today. As the SUV approached from behind her, she swerved into its path and the driver was unable to avoid the collision. Sgt. Mark Roberts of the Huntsville Police Department says no charges are expected to be filed against the driver of the vehicle. This is Huntsville's 16th traffic fatality for 200"

*picture of Sarah, third from left, along with Ruth Behling, George Preussel, and Sarah Fisher) at the Berlin Wall borrowed from UAH Blog
I don't claim to understand everything and there are a few things I am confused about. One, why don't they name the motorist who struck and killed Sarah? Two, if the law says motorist are to give a cyclist a minimum of three feet clearance to pass, then how did Sarah swing across more than half a lane to hit the car as the driver claims? In order to swing that far, she would have to be turning, not swerving unless going an incredibly slow speed. Third, how does HPD investigate this sort of thing? Also, the news states how many traffic fatalities we've had this year; wouldn't it be more interesting to know how many of these were cyclists killed by motorist and whether any of those led to criminal charges? Why was this motorist passing Sarah so closely to risk her life? Was getting to Subway two minutes sooner worth rolling the dice on something that wasn't yours? Why doesn't the law do more to punish motorist who endanger cyclist? Again, not a lawyer here, but couldn't this be considered criminal negligence? Maybe if the law was harder on these people, others would think twice before buzzing a cyclist.


Marshmallow said...

I just received word from her parents that they got a new police report. Apparently the driver was reaching down to grab her cell phone off of the floor when she looked up and hit sarah.

Bello Velo said...

I am so sorry, It is Illegal to use a cell phone (unless handsfree) while driving in NY and a lot of other states.

So does that mean she lied about her swerving?

clintpatty said...

Yeah I wish that were illegal here too. I think the Arsenal is the only place where it is. I don't even like conversations with other people in the car while driving, much less operating a phone. If that is the case, then it at least makes it seem like the driver was not trying to intentionally buzz her. But how is at least a criminal negligence charge not warranted?

Bello Velo said...

I agree she should be charged but the fact remains that being distracted on a cell phone is not illegal therefore you can not prosecute it.

If it were illegal you could.

clintpatty said...

I don't remember what state it was, but there was some sober driver in another state where phone calls where not illegal that got charged with something, maybe criminal negligence, after killing a cyclist or pedestrian while texting.

Marshmallow said...

Yeah, the report about swerving was from a witness. I do believe she probably was wobbling a bit as she climbed the hill but the whole "turned in front of the car" business was garbage. She was clearly hit from the back, not the side.

Anonymous said...

The accident happened between a merge lane and a traffic lane. The merge area is used to enter and exit a building’s parking lot. The SUV would likely (rightly) not have moved over for the bike since the bike was in this merge lane. Either the bike went from this merge area into the SUV, or vice versa. Either way, the distance needed to swerve would not have been great.

The upshot is that all the roads around UAHuntsville should have bike lanes. There are a lot of student bikers in this area, many inexperienced. There are also a lot of inexperienced teenage car drivers. All mixed in with the SUV drivers late for work at the businesses in the area.

beardsarefun said...

why was the driver driving so aggressively with a cyclist so close by? right of way or not, why take the chance...and then to reach for your cell phone. that just seems reckless. The life of anguish that the drive will feel is well deserved, you did it to yourself you selfish bitch