Woman Arrested in Fatal Hit-and-Run Involving a Cyclist
A woman was arrested on Wednesday on a hit and run charge that resulted in the death of a cyclist. The accident occurred in early December at around 10:20 p.m. and authorities say it was due to a night full of drinking and driving.
The incident has caused the city's bike riding community to call for justice and answers.
Details abouth the Track Bicycle Accident
This past December a 24-year-old woman was found severely injured but alive on a curve along Waugh Street, by a bike lane sign. She died a few days later at a Houston hospital.
According to Mayor Annise Parker, a suspect was identified early on, and the detectives worked hard to nail down all the evidence to properly handle the case. In a document filed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the driver has been accused of intentionally not stopping her car after hitting the victim.
According to authorities, the driver did not break the law by hitting the victim, but by failing to stop afterward and render aid. The woman arrested for the crime has a prior conviction in 2002 for drunk driving.
Her latest charge is a felony and carries a penalty of potentially 20 years in prison.
Cyclists Rally for Change and Awareness
The community of cyclists has used this situation to call for more awareness to their needs. Michael Payne, executive director of Bike Houston, expressed his discontent with her not being charged for failure to comply with the safe passing ordinance and manslaughter.
The authorities have stated that cases such as this bring difficulty into the courtroom as there are no witnesses, and typically both the motorists and cyclist are partially at fault. Cyclists believe that penalties and enforcement need to be clear in order to ensure more safety.
In Houston it is rare that a motorist is charged with crimes involving cyclists, leading the community to feel as if their issues are of low priority. A Houston Chronicle review from 2009 shows that in the past, only four motorists were charged out of the 23 car crashes that occurred involving the death of a cyclist.
Lack of Enforcement
“Penalties need to be tougher for collisions with cyclists and pedestrians. We don't have a culture of respect for these users.” – Michael Payne, executive director of Bike Houston as published by the Houston Chronical
Many blame the lack of enforcement as the main reason why such a high number of bicycle accidents persist. Another issue is safety laws and poor street design often leave riders in harm's way.
However, drivers and some cyclists counter that riders should also drive more safely as well, with one resident claiming that many riders disobey many traffic rules without hesitation, endangering all parties involved.
The city is currently taking strides towards improving the situation. Police are working on educational classes for motorists and cyclists, and many riders are taking precautions with safety equipment and even organized group rides.
Council members continue to debate the various challenges associated with the issue, while the city continues to spend millions on new trails and bayou improvements. While this improves off-street routes, the real problem seems to be the streets themselves – many of which are in desperate need of improvement.
AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT RESULT
$1.8 MillionExpenses: $20,000.00 | Attorneys Fees: $765,000.00 | Net to Client: $1 Million
AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT RESULTS
$2 MillionExpenses: $78,475.96 | Attorneys Fees: $850,087.96 | Net to Client: $1,071,436.00
AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT RESULT
$2.3 MillionExpenses: $200,000.00 | Attorneys Fees: $900,000.00 | Net to Client: $1.2 Million