Friday, October 3, 2008

One cyclist dying, another injured

Jennifer Futrell, the 27-year-old woman struck by a minivan on Bardstown Road on Tuesday is close to death of her injuries. An e-mail message circulated this morning prematurely announced her death. I was with her and her father in her hospital room a few minutes ago. She never regained consciousness after the crash. Her family and the medical staff expect her to die within hours due to brain injuries sustained in the crash. She would be the third bicyclist killed by a crash with a motor vehicle in Louisville thus far in 2008. This would match Louisville's worst recent one-year bicyclist death toll. At least two of these bicyclists were killed while doing nothing wrong. I feel terribly sad, but anger will rise to the top soon.

Yesterday at about 6 PM, another driver struck another cyclist from behind, this time on East Broadway. To the extent that one can find good news in such a story, this latest incident has some. According to the Courier-Journal report, the bicyclist's injuries appear not to be life-threatening. In spite of fleeing the scene, the motorist was apprehended by police and charged with DUI, leaving the scene, and drug-related and other offenses. The involvement of alcohol, drugs, and hit-and-run make this driver easy to arrest and prosecute. Kentucky law specifically allows police officers to arrest people for DUI or hit-and-run without having witnessed the incident. This driver will not likely escape punishment.

Jennifer's family has had good legal help since immediately after the crash. They will choose whether to file charges against the driver who hit their daughter. A security camera video and numerous eyewitness accounts provided enormously more information than usually available about a traffic crash. While respecting their choice and the choices of other grieving families of crash victims, we need to reform the attitudes and legal structures that fail to hold impatient, distracted, incautious drivers accountable for their deadly actions as long as they commit them while sober. Lives are on the line, every day.

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