We’ve shared recent news stories over the last few months regarding the tragic death of cyclist Trish Cunningham, a well-known and avid bicycling enthusiast within the local bicycle community. In August 2013, Cunningham was riding her bike on a narrow road late one afternoon when she was struck from behind and killed.
In this particular incident, it was determined that the driver of the van following Cunningham was attempting to pass her on a hill when another vehicle traveling toward them suddenly appeared over the crest. As a result, the driver of the van quickly swerved back over into the right hand lane, striking Cunningham and killing her.
Members within the cycling community were shocked to hear the results of the trial, as handed down by a grand jury. It was determined that “there was no probable cause to charge the driver with criminally negligent manslaughter,” States Attorney Anne Colt Leitess stated. Instead, the driver was given $2,000 in traffic fines.
Many are questioning what kind of precedence has been set after this latest Anne Arundel County bicycling accident. After a string of cyclist fatalities, some believe that this verdict demonstrates that cyclists’ rights are minimized to those of animals on the roadway.
Some even felt that there was hesitancy behind this case due to the fact that the driver of the van, Whitney DeCesaris, is a member of a well-known family throughout Anne Arundel County and Maryland developments east of the District.
In the end, the fines that DeCesaris received were for failing to control speed, negligent driving, failing to exercise caution to avoid a collision, and crossing the center line with unsafe passing. However, the grand jury did not find her to be reckless in her actions, the factor necessary for a manslaughter charge.
At Lewis and Tompkins, we know that in many cases, motorists are at fault for causing serious, if not deadly, bicycling accidents. Motor vehicles clearly have a physical size advantage on the roadway, and will always win out in the event of a collision. We also understand that trying a bicycle accident case can also be very difficult, since there are a wide array of factors that can play into responsibility and guilt.
We are committed to seeking justice for victims of bicycling accidents throughout Maryland and the D.C. area. Even though this case ended with shocking news for members of the cycling community, we do believe that there is justice for those who have been senselessly injured or killed in bicycling accidents. Contact us today if you have questions regarding a bicycling accident and injuries. We’re here to help.