Monday, September 15, 2008

SUV Kills UAH Student On Her Bicycle

This story has been all the talk today. While I only met Sarah a handful of times, she was a very sweet, beautiful, vibrant girl, a real pleasure to hang out with. This incident is so tragic and our hearts go out to the Chapman family and Sarah's friends. I wish there was some way we could ease your suffering. Davis, hang in there man; I don't even have words to tell you how sorry I am. If you need anything, please let me know.

Via, Ch. 48

"Huntsville police officers say the bicyclist who was struck by a Jeep Cherokee Monday morning has died. The crash happened at around 10:30 a.m. on Technology Drive near Wynn Drive in Huntsville. 20-year-old Sarah Katherine Chapman died shortly after the traffic crash. Chapman was traveling westbound on a bicycle on Technology Drive at 10:30 a.m. today. As the SUV approached from behind her, she swerved into its path and the driver was unable to avoid the collision. Sgt. Mark Roberts of the Huntsville Police Department says no charges are expected to be filed against the driver of the vehicle. This is Huntsville's 16th traffic fatality for 200"

*picture of Sarah, third from left, along with Ruth Behling, George Preussel, and Sarah Fisher) at the Berlin Wall borrowed from UAH Blog
I don't claim to understand everything and there are a few things I am confused about. One, why don't they name the motorist who struck and killed Sarah? Two, if the law says motorist are to give a cyclist a minimum of three feet clearance to pass, then how did Sarah swing across more than half a lane to hit the car as the driver claims? In order to swing that far, she would have to be turning, not swerving unless going an incredibly slow speed. Third, how does HPD investigate this sort of thing? Also, the news states how many traffic fatalities we've had this year; wouldn't it be more interesting to know how many of these were cyclists killed by motorist and whether any of those led to criminal charges? Why was this motorist passing Sarah so closely to risk her life? Was getting to Subway two minutes sooner worth rolling the dice on something that wasn't yours? Why doesn't the law do more to punish motorist who endanger cyclist? Again, not a lawyer here, but couldn't this be considered criminal negligence? Maybe if the law was harder on these people, others would think twice before buzzing a cyclist.


This Charming Man said...

If the Huntsville police are anything like the Birmingham police then they do not care about the rights of bicyclists at all. My friend got hit a couple of weeks ago and received a broken pelvis. Hit and run. The cops told him it was his fault for being in the street, even though the vehicle strong- armed him off the road. An eyewitness got a good description of the vehicle and partial tag #, but the police have done nothing to pursue the case. Now the police cannot find the filed accident report. To serve and protect? Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

Sarah was in my Accounting class, the same class that she had just gotten out of when she was hit. I saw the scene of the accident while driving back to school from Subway, which is where I imagine she was probably headed to also. I didn't know why at the time, but as I passed by on the opposite side of the road, I just got a knot in my stomach. I didn't find out that it was Sarah until 2 days later in class when the teacher announced it, and I couldn't even bring myself to listen to the lecture. I never had the pleasure of speaking to her, but she seemed like a wonderful and friendly person. Its such a shame that people with the ability to touch others are taken from this world so early. I am sure that she is in a better place now, and I pray that I will get to meet her one day.

beardsarefun said...

Its weird. I was thinking about this earlier today. Its been almost two months since this happened. There was so much energy and emotion when this happend. I know people were trying to strike while the iron was hot and turn the tragedy into something positive. A committee was formed to develop a course of action to make Huntsville more bike-friendly. I hope something good comes from it.

I'm sure the holidays are going to be really rough for everyone who cared about Sarah. They are in my thoughts and I wish them well.

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