2015 – The Latest Fatal Crash In Ohio …makes NO Sense

We’ve had remarkably few fatal bike/car crashes so far in 2015. The crash which occurred in Muskingum County on April 23, 2015 seems, at first blush, like another stupid one – car goes off the road to the right and hits a two cyclists, killing one… riders who were using a paved berm to the right of the white line… makes NO sense…

For now, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Brenda Hoffman and Bradley Hollingsworth.

Brenda Hoffman Killed while Cycling on State Route 60 in Ohio - 4/23/15

Brenda Hoffman Killed while Cycling on State Route 60 in Ohio – 4/23/15

 

I have been able to obtain a copy of the preliminary crash report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The Troopers indicate that 42 year old Brenda Hoffman of Cambridge, Ohio was killed when a 66 year old woman, Marjeane Hammer,  went off the right side of northbound State Route 60 slamming into  two cyclists who were also heading northbound

Ms. Brenda Hoffman was killed and a 2nd rider, Bradley Hollingsworth, was Air Cared to OSU Hospital in Columbus.

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.

“Distraction”  or “Something Else” certainly pops immediately into your head.  “Distraction” would be the lesser of two evils – “Something Else” would mean something more criminal…  OSHP isn’t saying much at this point and there’s a LOT of forensics to do… alcohol testing, checking out phone usage – possibly the “black box” to determine speeds… any data from such a forensic investigation could be used to take a “negligence” case [misdemeanor] into an “aggravated” case [felony] under Ohio’s Vehicular Homicide laws.

Some interesting points from the crash report. I have ordered the photos and expect to have those in a few days.

1. The driver, Marjeane Hammer, apparently provided OSHP with a statement – her attorney later called OSHP and advised that she would not be giving any further statements. Her statement was not part of the report I obtained.
2. OSHP indicates both cyclists were riding northbound off the roadway, to the right of the white line, along a an almost 6 foot wide berm.
3. There were two 12′ northbound lanes and two 12′ southbound lanes.
4. Ms. Hammer was also driving northbound.
5. The initial “skid” points for the bicycle, probably at or near the point at which the car contacted the bicycles, were 2.9′ and 5.0′ off the edge of the pavement, to the right of the white lane line.  My suspicion would be 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.
6. The front tire was 250′ away when the car stopped. 

OSHP Field Sketch -

It seems clear to me from reviewing the crash report, field sketch, measurements and the debris field that the point of impact was to the right of the white line. This was a straight stretch of roadway with no obstructions, no adverse weather, no reason to run off the road.

OSHP Field Measurements

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” –

Stay Safe Out There!

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