Tag Archive for fatality

Killer SF cyclist Chris Bucchere gets slap on wrist — should we be angry?

If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I can get almost apoplectic when a killer driver walks with a relative slap on the wrist.

So how should we respond when it’s a bike rider who gets the benefit of the court’s low valuation of a human life?

San Francisco cyclist Chris Bucchere faced a felony manslaughter charge for running into 71-year old pedestrian Sutchi Hui in a crosswalk while — allegedly — trying to beat his Strava time. Witnesses and security camera footage were unclear on whether he ran the red light, or entered on the yellow as Bucchere claimed.

Bucchere posted online shortly after the incident, defending his actions by saying the crosswalk filled before he could clear the intersection, and, unable to find a clear line, laid down his bike at the least populated area. At least some witnesses said he simply plowed through the crowded crosswalk, killing Hui.

Other witnesses reported that he had been riding recklessly prior to the collision, running at least three red lights prior to arriving at the deadly intersection.

Now the SF Gate reports that he’s accepted a plea deal that will avoid jail time, agreeing to perform 1,000 hours of community service.

Don’t get me wrong.

One thousand hours is a long time, and it gives him an opportunity to benefit society while serving as a warning to other riders.

But if a killer driver got off with just community service, we would be livid. At least, I would be.

Should we be any less so when the killer is one of us?

My first reaction was relief that Bucchere had been held accountable without suffering the heavy handed sentence that had been threatened. After all, he’s one of us, and it’s easy to imagine ourselves in that position.

Or not, on second though.

I never run red lights. As in, never.

I always ride within my capabilities; as thrilling as it can be to push beyond your limits, I’ve learned the hard way that the risks far outweigh the benefits.

And I never, ever ride recklessly around pedestrians. They have the right-of-way when crossing the street. And even when in the wrong, they are the only people on the roadway more vulnerable than we are.

They need, and deserve, our respect and consideration as much as we need that of the motorists we’re forced to share the road with.

So I find myself conflicted.

I’m angry that yet another killer has been let off the hook with a sentence that once again devalues the life of his victim and the consequences of his actions.

And relieved that one of us wasn’t held to a stricter accountability than similarly reckless drivers.

It’s just another slap on the wrist. And a sentence that is only fair in the uniformity of its unfairness.

Thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

Indio cyclist killed Wednesday afternoon; first bike fatality of the new year

A 30-year old man was killed Wednesday afternoon when his bike hit the rear of a pickup in Indio.

According to KPSP-2, the driver pulled out of a driveway at 4:30, and may not have seen the rider in the gathering dusk. MyDesert.com reports that the driver made a left turn across the northbound lanes of Monroe Street near Shadow Palm Ave before pulling onto the southbound side of the street, where he was rear-ended by the bike.

Reading between the lines, the driver must have pulled directly in front of the cyclist and cut him off; either the rider was traveling fast or the pickup must have been moving unusually slowly after pulling in front of the rider for the collision to occur the way it was described. And not seeing the rider, as the driver claimed, should be seen as an admission of guilt, not an excuse.

The unnamed victim was rushed to a medical center in Palm Springs, where he died.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Indio Police Department at (760) 391-4057.

This is the first bike fatality to make the news in Southern California this year, after a total of 70 traffic-related bicycling fatalities in 2011, including 11 in Riverside County.

Update: Cyclist killed in Agoura Hills DUI hit-and-run

It’s bad enough when someone is injured or killed on the streets because of what we euphemistically call accidents.

If everyone obeyed the law and used the roads safely, there wouldn’t be any accidents.

But worse still is when someone gets behind the wheel of motor vehicle after drinking or using drugs — or willing operates their vehicle in any other impaired or distracted manner — and takes the life of another human being as a result. And worse still, flees the scene, leaving a total stranger to die in the street.

According to the Ventura County Star, S.D. Whitmansegal did exactly that when she collided with a bike being ridden by 46-year old James Laing of West Hills; earlier reports indicated the then-unidentified victim was 30 years old.

The Star reports that Whitmansegal was followed by witnesses to a nearby parking lot where she was arrested on charges of hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

My prayers and condolences go out to James Laing’s family, friends and loved ones.

And don’t ask me what I think about someone who could do something like this. I wouldn’t like the answer I’d give right now.

Then again, she may find the real punishment will be trying to live with herself after this.

Thanks to the Ventura County Star for following up as more information became available.

Update: A few other details are slowly coming in. According to the L.A. Times, both Laing and Whitmansegal were both traveling east on Agoura Hills Road.

Meanwhile, the Star reports that Laing struck the side of Whitmansegal’s car and was thrown onto the road. When the case goes to court, the defense will undoubtedly claim it was a SWSS and that Laing swerved into the car for no apparent reason; hopefully the witnesses who tracked the driver down saw what happened.

And the Agoura Hills Patch inexplicably identifies the driver as Stephanie Segal of Woodland Hills, despite a police report identifying the driver as Whitmansegal.

Update 2: Bob points us towards a report on KCBS-2 that identifies the driver as Stephanie Segal, and says she is currently being held on $250,000 bail. The Associated Press confirms that S. D. Whitmansegal is also known as Stephanie Segal.

Laing is the 13th cyclist killed in Southern California in the last five weeks, and the 13th since the beginning of August.


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