As of this writing, August 23, 2015,there have been 683 bike crashes listed in the ODPS data base. In those crashes there have been 12 reported fatal crashes, 88 crashes involving “incapacitating injuries” and 303 non-capacitating injuries.
The fatal crashes have included 2 kids 10 and under, 2 kids aged 11-15 and 3 more under the age of 25. That’s a bit unusual. In the past several years, the vast majority of riders killed on Ohio roads have been older.
Half of the fatalities occurred in daylight, 4 were on dark, unlit roads and 2 were on dark, lit roads. This is fairly common. The percentage of nighttime fatal crashes far exceeds the percentage of nighttime cycling miles.
As many readers know, I have an ongoing project in which I try to look closely at EVERY fatal bicycle crash in Ohio. I try to search these out in “real time” by reviewing media reports through Google alerts and following up on reports sent to me by alert readers. From my Bike Lawyer Facebook page I post regular updates on the crashes.
I do my own analysis of what happened who, in my view, was at fault. I try to step back and look at the big picture – does the particular crash fit into any pattern or theme? Are there any lessons for cyclists, or cycling advocates, which we can take away from a crash.
Most of all, though, I ALWAYS remember that “crashes” are not just “events” or “incidents” or “numbers” – they are, in every case, a horrific, tragic life event which creates chaos and misery in the lives of the family and friends of the cyclist whose life was lost…
In 2015, as of today anyway, the Ohio Department of Public Safety statistics reflect that there have been 12 fatal bike crashes in Ohio. We have found, and requested data from, 11 of them. They include:
Walter Hamrick – 2/11/15
Brenda Hoffman – 4/23/15
Kaleb Cook – 5/11/15
Joshua Stewart – 5/19/15
John Clay – 5/20/15
Leyden Guenther – 6/10/15
Derek J. Hawes – 6/22/15
Jacob Bedard – 7/11/15
Nathan Yoder – 7/24/15
Stanley Richards – 8/4/13
Mattew Goodwin – 8/13/15
Logan Snedeker – 8/22/15
AN INEXPLICABLE DEATH – Brenda Hoffman
Brenda Hoffman was a very active woman. On April 23, 2015 she and a friend, Bradley Hollingsworth, were riding along right side of State Route 60. They were on a training ride, apparently, and were actually riding OFF the road, to the right of the white line.
The crash occurred around 5:20pm on a clear, dry Thursday evening. OSHP notes that the weather was “mostly cloudy with 89% cloud cover, 48 degrees…” State Route 60 is a 4 lane 55 mph asphalt country road that meanders along next to the Muskingum River for a good spell. The road was dry.
Marjeane B. Hammer, a 66 year old woman, came up from behind the two riders in a 2011 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. She went off the road and smashed into the two riders from behind, killing Brenda Hoffman and maiming Mr. Hollingsworth.
What happened? Well, that’s what OSHP wanted to know, so they asked Marjeane, who was taken to the hospital after the crash. Marjeane gave them a statement. She claimed she was just moseying down the road with the Cruise control set. They asked “how fast” and she said “55 or 60 – about 58 I think” – so cruise was set to “Speeding”… Marjeane said she passed a truck that was ahead of her and when she returned to her lane the bicycle riders just magically appeared… OK, maybe that’s my interpretation…
Q: “When did you first see the bikes?”
A: “When I hit them.”
Marjeane then “lawyered up” and her attorney advised OSHP that no more statements would be forthcoming…
How does that happen? It’s not dark – or foggy. It’s a nice morning. You are driving along a long straight stretch of road. Surely you would have seen them BEFORE you passed the truck?
Several witness statements were taken. All confirmed that the motorist was speeding and seemed to never “see” the two cyclists ahead of her. One fellow says the motorist “drifted off to the right” – another indicates that Marjeane passed her and two vehicles in front of her and she then saw two people flying up in the air…
Some interesting points from the crash report.
• OSHP indicates both cyclists were riding northbound off the roadway, to the right of the white line, along an almost 6 foot wide berm.
• There were two 12′ northbound lanes and two 12′ southbound lanes.
• Ms. Hammer was also driving northbound.
• The initial “skid” points for the bicycle were 2.9′ and 5.0′ to the right of the white lane line. I suspect an accident reconstructionist would conclude that these “skid” marks were left when the car struck the bikes and forced the bikes forward such that the rubber tires were scraping the pavement and leaving behind “skid” marks of burnt rubber. These point probably reflect the initial Point of Impact.
• The front tire was 250′ away when the car stopped.
It seems clear to me from reviewing the crash report, field sketch, measurements and the debris field that the point of impact was WELL to the right of the white line. This was a straight stretch of roadway with no obstructions. There was no adverse weather and absolutely no reason to run off the road
The report notes that while alcohol tests were given to the motorist, alcohol was “not suspected” – so we’ll wait and see what the forensics show. My guess is they probably asked, she probably consented – but then got counsel who advised her to clam up. If there was a cell phone in the car, my guess would be that OSHP will want to do forensics on the phone as well.
Whatever the explanation… “A deer jumped in front of me” – “An oncoming car came into my lane” – I’m sure it won’t make sense – driving off the road and slamming into two cyclists will never “make sense” –
As of today, August 31, 2015, it does not appear that any charges have been brought against Marjeane Hammer. We continute to watch. I’m going to reach out to the prosecutor and OSHP to see if we can find out if anything is brewing…
If YOU have any information about ANY of these horrific crashes, please let me know! You can review more details at my [New and Improved] website – www.OhioBikeLawyer.com – or send me an email at BikeLawyer@me.com or just give me a buzz at 513-484-BIKE 
Good Luck and Good Riding!