A misdemeanor for killing a bicyclist.

All I can say to start this pit is FUCK!

The victim here was well known on more than a few bicycle forums, he went (typically) by the name of Sydney. He was a very well-informed, very knowledgable bike mechanic and was full of helpful advice. He could also be grumpy, especially with blingbling-bikers, but who isn’t?

Sydney was killed while riding because some complete and utter worthless waste of carbon molecules decided that text messaging was a cool thing to do while driving. That, alone is enough to result in a massive pitting.

But now he’s basiclly going to get away with it, almost scott free, because the sniveling and cowardly DA lacks the guts to try for a harder charge, since they don’t want to protect their precious conviction rate.


FUCK YOU: DA with your cowardice and protectionism. I half expected you to say that Sydney should not have been riding a bike! If you used a bit of work you could easily find laws that apply to the actions taken by this scumbag. For example, while there may be no law specifically covering giving a loaded gun to a two-year old, there are ‘risking a catastrophe’ laws that cover it in almost all states. Do you not consider text messaging while driving just a tad risky?

FUCK YOU WITH A RUSTY, SLIME COVERED AND SPIKED BOAT ANCHOR: You snot-nosed shitball who couldn’t keep your hands off your cell phone for even a handful of seconds. Its nice to know you consider a human life to be less worthy than being sure to get that ever-critical “OMG! WTF!” message to your equally insipid friends.

FUCK YOU: Society that set up laws so that you can easily get away with killing anyone with your car (as long as you are sober while you do it). Its nice to know that you consider anyone outside of a car to be a legitimate target for running down. After all, anyone could make a mistake while text messaging, putting on makup, or whatever. You can’t be expect to actually pay attention to your dirving, now can you?

i do not disagree that his actions were very irresponsible, but i do agree with the punishment at charge. Accidents happen and this person is going to have to live with his actions for the rest of his life.

I think what you should be more angry with is the driver’s training system. At least in the US, if you have proper parts and a decent pair of eyes, people more than welcome you into the driving world. The test- both written and physical were a complete waste of time. I learned nothing of the “real world” rules of driving except by years of experience (and getting into accidents).

The punishment is generally fair- because I feel that 95% of people are truly “good” at heart and would never do something like this on purpose- I think this is where our governments are coming from as well. I am hoping this kid is too. What if you had a heart attack in your vehicle and struck someone? I would not call you a murderer- and self punishment is far worse than any other.

Examples like this show how immature our society still is. We are far more interested in development of technology and are willing to clean up the messes we create by them later. Don’t you know, we are doomed?

So, you think the driver displayed felonious intent? That he drove around while text messaging in the hopes (or with the intention) of killing someone?

The difference, in case you don’t understand it, is that having a heart attack is something that is beyond a person’s immediate control. Text messaging while driving, on the other hand, is not only well within a person’s control, but is also something that any reasonable person should realize might lead to exactly the sort of thing that occurred.

I’m also getting a bit tired of the “this person is going to have to live with his actions for the rest of his life” argument. Yes, he is. Good. I hope it haunts him with nightmares for the next twenty years. Doesn’t mean he shouldn’t also pay for his recklessness in the here and now.

Well, every time i see an incident like this, where someone dies as a result of some other person’s stupidity behind the wheel, i’m more and more convinced that we need harsher punishments for this sort of thing.

A car is, in the wrong hands, a deadly device, and the level of attention required to operate one safely is much higher than many people are willing to put in. Add in the sheer idiocy of trying to text message while driving, and i think the level of negligence here should be considered enough for a felony charge. Unfortunately, so many Americans conceive of driving as some sort of right that they appear unwilling to countenance stronger penalties for killing someone through stupidity behind the wheel.

I don’t believe that he drove around with the hope or intention of killing someone, but considering that this is exactly what can happen when you do stupid things behind the wheel, i think that it deserves more than a misdemeanor charge of careless driving.

I used to do quite a bit of cycling on the road; I even raced in college. I share your anger over a pointless death.

All the same–accidents happen. What he did was irresponsible, but not to a degree that I think he’s a “waste of carbon” who deserves to have his life ruined. Provided he’s genuinely remorseful, the misdemeanor doesn’t seem particularly outrageous.

If this had happened to a child and not an adult would people still say that “accidents happen”?

This is ridiculous. An accident is something that can not be prevented. This was 100% preventable. What about Vehicular Manslaughter, Involuntary Manslaughter? It seems to qualify for those IMO.

Yes, it sounds like a straight-up case of manslaughter. The Judge might be lenient, since it is a common, if not exactly acceptable, mistake.

I can’t speak for “people,” but I would still say that.

If I got liquored up, blindfolded myself, and waved around a loaded pistol in a crowded bar, what would my punishment be when the gun went off and killed somebody? “Unsafe handling of weapons?”

Would people here say that I was already punished enough? That I don’t deserve to have my life ruined?

I can understand the desire to be angry here. Someone makes a mistake, and someone dies as a result of said mistake.

But in our society in general I don’t think we should be putting people away in prison for an accdident. If the person was behaving in a reckless manner, such that it met the requirements to be considered a felony, then yeah, they should be charged with a felony.

But I think it could (and would) be argued that while indeed text messaging was a distraction, the driver probably felt he could text message without causing an accident. And that in the grand scheme of things it is probably not anymore irresponsible than fiddling with the radio, the car lighter, or dialing a phone number on a cell phone. Given, when you do one of those things you are at fault in an accident you cause, but I still don’t think it amounts to recklessness in the degree that would justify involuntary manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter or whatever relevant law is on the books in that jurisdiction.

Criminally negligent homicide or even murder in the second degree, depending on the State. Just out of curiosity I was browsing through the Colorado criminal code looking for stuff relevant to this particular case. And in Colorado at least you can be convicted of second degree murder if you cause the death someone out of criminal indifference, and the court views extreme indifference as tantamount to “intent.”

I think your ire is more properly directed towards your third “Fuck You”, society. We regularly give licenses to people without fully teaching them about how dangerous a car is, and how important it is to maintain concentration. Our society accepts that people will do things like eat, or talk on the phone, or fiddle with a CD while driving. We consider that business as usual, and if something happens, it is a tragic accident.

I think it is unfair to direct so much anger and desire for vengence against the driver. He’s barely begun driving, has little real world experience with it, and was not taught properly. He’s just operating within our societal framework, it’s “OK” to use the phone, drink a soda, eat a Big Mac or just fuck around in general. The DA’s decision reflects society’s lax attitude about distracted driving.

Not that long ago, drunken driving was not the terrible crime it is today. Sure, it was exactly the same thing as it is today, but society has hardened its stance towards it over time. If this driver was drunk instead of distracted, there would absolutely be serious charges. We have not become serious about distracted driving, that is why there are no serious charges.

It should be treated the same way driving while talking on a cellphone is treated. I think it should be illegal to drive and talk on a cellphone (or text), with the possible exception of a headset on a cellphone, and then only if the conditions aren’t hazardous/challenging. I don’t think the driver should have gotten such a light slap either.

Actually Cheesesteak, several states are adopting laws regarding talking on cellphones while driving. There are movements trying to get it regulated. IIRC, some say you have to pull over entirely (like you do in the U.K.) others say a headset is ok, but not otherwise.

I don’t know much about law, so I forget the difference between negligence and depraved indifference and gross negligence and all those yummy things, but the idea that someone chose to drive while text messaging just astonishes me. In my opinion, if you’re driving and you do something so obviously dangerous, it reflects either stupidity so profound that the person shouldn’t be left to care for themself, or else utter self-centeredness. No one is unaware how dangerous it is to gab on your cell-phone while driving. Squinting at the little screen and punching buttons is obviously even more distracting, since it means taking your eyes off the road. It’s ridiculous to suggest that he “might not have known” how dangerous it was. Sure, he might have thought, “Odds are I’ll get away with it this time” (like many a drunk has thought at one time or another), but I don’t think playing the odds with other people’s lives is appropriate. I’m utterly disgusted that he would think it was alright to take that risk with other people’s lives just so he could send text messages.

The problem here is not the accidental nature of the death, but the non-accidental nature of the SMSing the driver was engaging in. This was an accident and a non-accident at the same time. What I’m trying to get at here is what if there was no guy on a bicycle (say he’d left home five minutes later)? What if the driver was caught texting behind the wheel by a passing police cruiser? He’d have just gotten a ticket. In that sense, I feel sorry for the driver as I do in all cases of death through negligence.

That said, whilst it’s not right to lock him up and throw away the key, the cyclist’s death must count for something, of course. The difficulty is in applying an appropriate punishment. You can’t just give the guy a ticket for a traffic violation, just as you can’t charge him with murder. It’s one of those unfortunate cases where no punishment is going to be truly fitting. You can be either too harsh or too lenient, or if you go for a middling one, neither the offender nor the victim’s family will think it fair. But a middling one is probably the best option. Suspended prison term? I’ve no answer to this one.

I’d go with a charge of involuntary manslaughter on this one. “Careless driving” just doesn’t cut it. There was a death, it needs to be recognised, regardless of the driver’s age, experience or what have you.

Actually, I think here in NZ, we’d call it “Careless driving causing death”. Even that sounds more descriptive and just than “careless driving”.

Yes. Even if the child were related to me. Next question?


And I don’t see how it matters that the dead person was riding a bike, why it this even a factor in your OP Mr. Miskatonic? Would it be better if it were a mom pushing a stroller (with no baby in the stroller at the time)? How about a chearleader teen rollerblading? what about grandma crossing the street using her walker?