[Blogger's Note: This piece has been updated to incorporate some information received after the initial publication…]
On September 5, 2013, around 11:45 am, 57 year old Martha Shaw was riding her bike westbound on County Road 132. CR 132 is one those typical idyllic country roads in rural Ohio – two lane, 55 mph, but very little traffic. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding Ms. Shaw’s decision to ride that day, other than the fact that it was a gorgeous bright sunny day – perfect for a nice ride. From what I have read about Ms. Shaw, she was doing something she truly enjoyed at the moment she lost her life.
I don’t know the circumstances behind Cynthia Troyer’s driving that day either. The 57 year old Troyer was driving a big old 2003 Mercury Sable wagon westbound along CR 132 as well. Why did she smash into the rear of Martha Shaw’s bicycle? Why didn’t she “see” Ms. Shaw – who was clearly there to be seen? Why hasn’t she been charged with any sort of crime?
The crash report and investigation is very clear here. Martha Shaw was simply run down, at speed, by Cynthia Troyer. However, like many fatal crashes, there’s a lot more to investigating the crash than simply looking at the scene!
While the crash report shows us what physically happened it certainly doesn’t explain it. Cynthia Troyer was just driving along on a nice sunny day and ran over Martha Shaw, who was happily riding her bicycle on CR 132. Why? We’re still waiting for answers to that one – perhaps the forensic evidence will tell us…or maybe we’ll just never know.
Ms. Troyer was interviewed by police. She was on her way home from a doctor’s appointment at the time of the crash. He speed was in the “50′s.” She saw Ms. Shaw riding ahead and claims that Ms. Shaw turned at one point and saw her coming. She then says “..at the last moment she must have checked on me and swerved and I hit her solid…” Troyer claimed that she “moved towards the orange line” but didn’t “come out” because of oncoming traffic… and said “I should have stopped…”
Witnesses, including a cyclist who was riding towards the crash, told OSHP that traffic was very light and that there was nothing coming towards Ms. Troyer at the time of the crash. From my reading of those statements, no traffic was so close that Troyer could not have pulled out and passed the slower moving bicycle rider. There is nothing in the crash report from which any conclusion can be drawn other than that the crash occurred in the westbound lane, with a point of impact a couple feet off the white line – just where a cyclist SHOULD be riding on a road like this.
Troyer admitted taking Skelaxin, a muscle relaxer, and Diazepam, 1 or 2 a day. Police sent off a urine sample to be processed. However, there is nothing in the report about any results.
That was in September – it’s now the end of February. No charges have been filed yet. I have seen [and written about] other criminal cases in which it takes several months for forensic evidence, like blood or urine tests, or phone forensics, to be processed – particularly when smaller counties send the data away to be processed. Today I sent a note seeking an update on the case from the Prosecutor’s office and was able to confirm that yes, indeed, forensics work was slowly being completed on a variety of issues in this crash, and that these investigative reports were taking time.
[In the first publication of this piece I indicated that I would amend it if I heard from the prosecutor -so if you are re-reading this and wondering what happened…well… THAT's what happened.]
The Prosecutor in a case like this wants to make sure she/he gets the charge right. You don’t want to over-charge and get into a trial where you can’t make your case. You also don’t want to under-charge, which allows a guilty party to plead out to the lower charge, only to discover evidence that would have supported a more significant charge. In this case, as in the case involving the death of Judge Chip Henry outside of Cleveland, the Prosecutor wants to get it right. I understand that they ARE working hard on moving the investigation to a point where charges will be considered and, if appropriate, filed. You can be sure that I will keep folks posted when something happens.
So yes,it has been five months since the crash and Cynthia Troyer remains free to drive around without the burden of fighting criminal or traffic charges… I would fully expect that to change at some point in the relatively near future… we’ll see…
However, we will ALWAYS that remember Martha Shaw, the victim here, died doing something she truly loved … riding along on her bicycle…