By Bruce Cohen - August 1, 2014
District Court Judge Robert C. Wilcox found Whitney Decaris at fault for fatally hitting cyclist Trish Cunningham on August 21, 2013. Prosecutors decided not to charge her criminally, and Judge Wilcox found her guilty of three out of the four traffic citations with which she had been charged. Because he believes that she made no attempt to drive around Trish Cunningham, he did not find her guilty of unsafe passing.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cunningham family. It is outrageous that a driver would hit a cyclist riding where she’s supposed to be, wearing reflective material, climbing a hill on a long stretch of straight road, on a sunny day. As Judge Wilcox put it, “The question that begs to be answered is why the defendant did not see Ms. Cunningham. She was in the roadway where she had a lawful right to be. I know: You didn’t look. I do have a duty to look when I am driving a car.”
We applaud Judge Wilcox for his unambiguous verdict and reminder that we all have the duty to look and pay attention while driving, but it is frustrating that three traffic fines constitute the punishment for killing another human being.
And please, drivers, just look. For cyclists, pedestrians, children, animals, other drivers, or anything else that could conceivably be in the roadway. Just look.
Emily Ranson, Bike Maryland Advocacy Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org