Cycling is a common hobby as well as a means of commuting to and from work in much of Oregon. Unfortunately, bicycle car accidents happen too often. Recently, one man was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to fatally striking a cyclist with his vehicle.
The 18-year-old man had been driving his girlfriend's Acura MDX when the accident happened shortly before 1 a.m. late this summer. While he was driving near the intersection of Southeast 87th Avenue and Division Street, his vehicle struck two cyclists who were in the bicycle lane. A 17-year-old cyclist, luckily, suffered only bruises and scrapes. The other cyclist, a 28-year-old man, was dragged for at least 50 years before he died.
Police later found the 18-year-old driver walking with cuts and glass dust on him just after 2 a.m. The young man claimed that someone had jumped him and stolen his car, although this later proved to be false. A blood alcohol test conducted three hours after the crash showed that he had a blood alcohol content of .16 percent.
In his court trial, he pleaded guilty to felony hit and run, criminally negligent homicide and the vehicular assault of a bicyclist, in addition to driving under the influence of intoxicants. At the request of the victim's mother, the man was granted leniency and sentenced to only 5 years in prison. She said she wanted to give him a second chance. Nonetheless, the victim's mother may still consider the possibility of a wrongful death suit.
A wrongful death refers to a death caused by the negligent or willful conduct of another. By filing such civil litigation, the victim's family may be able to collect compensatory and punitive damages that would help with the financial costs related to this tragic accident.
Source: The Oregonian, "Teen driver was a .16 three hours after crash, gets five years in prison for killing cyclist," Aimee Green, Dec. 21, 2011