On Monday, May 23, 2011 around 7:35 pm Judge Charles “Chip” Henry was riding his bicycle north on Rapids Road in Geauga County, Ohio – east of Cleveland. The Judge was known to his colleagues as an avid cyclist. It was a nice evening – clear, dry. Sunset in the area that night was 8:44 pm, so light wasn’t a problem.
Rapids Road is shown below. According to the crash report the crash occurred 0.4 mile south of Greystone Drive.
Here’s another view from Google Earth:
The motorist who killed Judge Henry was also northbound on Rapids. Kelly Cox was driving a 2008 Chrysler Pacifica – a big, SUV-ish type of vehicle, which is 5,700 pounds and almost 80 inches wide.
The first apparent impact on the police report is a “bike scuff mark” roughly 2 feet, 11 inches off the side of the road. The Judge’s body is marked almost 160 feet north of this point.
After smashing into Judge Henry, the motorist… just drove away.
She went home, dropped off her kids, and returned with her husband.
So what happened? What did the motorist say? Well, below you can read her own statement…
Ummm… OK.. a raccoon… you swerve and you HIT A MAN ON A BIKE… and you keep going. Later in the statement Mrs. Cox told Troopers she THOUGHT SHE HIT A MAILBOX… so she kept going… when the Trooper asked what her step-daughte thought WHEN THE WINDOW EXPLODED, she admitted that her step-daughter said “I think you hit someone…”
So, Kelly Cox is being prosecuted, right?
Ummm… no… not so far as I can tell.
Well… at least Kelly Cox got a TICKET, right?
Ummm… no… not so far as I can tell.
So WHAT’S GOING ON IN GEAUGA COUNTY? Is the investigation “ongoing?” I haven’t read anything in the media about any tickets – or any prosecution…maybe a sharp reader can help me out… I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering why a death CLEARLY CAUSED BY HORRIFIC DRIVING isn’t being prosecuted at this point… even OSHP apparently came out and said Judge Henry was “BLAMELESS“…
I just don’t get it…
8/20/2011 Follow Up – KELLY COX INDICTED
As many of you know by know, Kelly Cox was indicted this past week on seven separate criminal charges. The key claim is that she had a blood alcohol level in excess of .28% and was driving drunk, with two kids in the car, at the time she smashed into Judge Henry and killed him. You can read my about the indictment here.
7/18/2011 — FollowUp
I ordered the complete crash report and OSHP photos. The photos are, in a word, shocking.
The front of car that the motorist thought “hit a mailbox” is shown below.
The road, straight and narrow, is shown here:
After the crash, the officer tried to see where the damage to the back of the Judge’s bicycle lined up with damage to the SUV.
I understand that this woman had children in the car… but how do you smash into a human being and drive away… THAT I will NEVER understand…
UPDATE 2 – Weather
One alert reader took me to task and pointed out that the photos clearly show some rain, so, she argues, the weather was not “clear and dry” as I wrote. In reviewing the police report again, I found this under weather at the time of the crash.
As I indicated, it was clear and dry AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH. The rain came – but not until after the crash.
What about the witnesses, what did THEY see?
Well, here’s what one wrote:
Here’s what another witness said:
So while the reader’s observations about the rain in the photos are correct, clearly they were taken after the, not before. The crash, however, occurred before the storm hit. It was cloudy but not “dark.” It was clear and dry at the time Judge Henry was killed. He was was “visible” to anyone who was paying attention – like the guys cutting the grass – and should have been seen by every motorist on the road.
Who else said “clear and dry?” What would I write that? Well, if you read the motorist’s statement to the trooper you find this exchange:
The reader also claims that the road is “like an extreme rollercoaster, hilly and curvy.” Yet, from what I can tell from the google map, and the OSHP photos, the section of road where this crash occurred was straight, flat and narrow. The word “rollercoaster” does not pop into my mind when I look at this photo:
Judge Henry was my brother. Your comments are uninformed, and you really shouldn’t blog with such ignorance. This blog is all about this horrific crash that killed my brother. Please in the future, when you consider commenting publicly on any person’s horrible situation, try to practice some empathy. This instrument that Steve Magas has created for informing the public is not an opinion piece. Please, Jackie, don’t comment with such ignorance.
Thank you for sharing the toxicology reports from my brother, Scottie. Chip drank some coffee.
“Joyce (the prosecutor) said Henry’s (‘the judge’ who was killed) test showed that he had consumed caffeine.”
That’s it. It’s all they found in his blood. In fact, my brother was getting ready to pick up our 80 year old mother at the airport, but her flight was delayed. (She was just returning from Greece – the six of us kids gave her this trip to Greece with her sister for her 80th birthday present. My dad died in 1999, and it was his wish that we “get our mom to Greece”.) Chip and my other brother learned that mom’s flight had been delayed, so Chip went for a bike ride. He didn’t come home. He was killed by a motorist who was found to have a BAC that is alarming.
My other brother and my cousin went to the airport to get my mom, and they had to tell my mom that her son was dead. My sister-in-law had to call her two grown children and tell them that their dad is gone. She had to call Chip’s 5 siblings and tell each of them, one at a time, that their brother went for a bike ride, had an accident, and he ‘didn’t make it.” I will NEVER forget that phone call, Jackie. And then she had to inform Chip’s 17 cousins, who are like a second tier of siblings in our family, that Chip had been hit while riding his bicycle, and he was killed. Can you even imagine?
I know that you have said “my thoughts are with the family”, but are they really, Jackie? Just please stop with your uninformed and thoughtless comments.
Thank you Mr. Magas for your well informed commentary.
Polly – Thank you for writing from the family’s perspective – people who post things online tend to forget when they type anonymously from their computers that these are not “cases” but real life dramas in which a human being was killed due to the behavior of another. People looking in from the outside view these “cases” impersonally, forgetting that the loss of a man in the prime of his life has a huge impact on all the “connections” he had in his life – his family, his career, his community and beyond. I appreciate your reaching out to provide this very important and poignant statement…
I am writing as a scared sh!tless cyclist who has no intentions of curtailing any bicycling. I have been following this case with horror. Rapids Road is a beautiful road on which to ride and I have ridden there many times from Cleveland Heights and back.
Steve, what you are doing is the work of a hero. When people such as Jackie vote, comment, drive, your continued work is assured. But my safety is seriously jeopardized. Her attitude and comments are almost as horrifying as Kelly Cox’s actions. This was assuredly NOT an accident, this was completely preventable. Kelly is obviously in desperate need of help, but that does not change the outcome. She could have prevented this at any time.
I am also commenting to offer sincere condolences to Polly. As a cyclist, I am constantly mindful that there could be any number of Kelly Cox types behind the wheel at any time. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of your brother and his needless, violent but hopefully fast death. I think about how he must have been enjoying his ride, how he must have been tickled to sneak a last-minute ride into his schedule, how he must have been enjoying trying to outrun the thunderstorm. I hope this is of some minor condolence to you; that it is easy to imagine that he was completely enjoying himself. This is why I ride and will continue to do so and think of your brother. And I am not the only one. And please do not think of bicycling as unsafe- it is ignorant, impaired motorists and the system and people (like Jackie) that often supports them that makes it treacherous.
Bicycling is one of my true joys in life and I can well imagine it was for your brother also.
Thank you for writing. I’m very happy to hear that the roads and cagers aren’t keeping you off road!
No hero here. My “Bike Law” practice is just a nice confluence of passion and work… as a long time road rider I think I understand the needs of riders better than some – why riders ride particular roads, or why they behave in particular ways. I’ve worked on cases from mild to wild and $50 to $3.5 million… some of the most satisfying cases have been the “smaller” ones where I’ve been able to make a difference and get a good result when others have turned the case down…
A human being was killed in a tragic accident on a road well traveled by both parties. One person was riding a bike enjoying a beautiful May evening, while the other individual was taking her kids home from a sporting event. The events that happened that evening have change the lives of many people.
For a person to understand the denial of Cox, they should read the first step of AA: I am powerless over Alcohol and my life is unmanageable! Cox apparently is in denial that it happened, (accident or no accident) she hit “Chip” and is in denial even though the pictures of the car say differently. How was it that the window was so smashed (not COX) she could not see that it was a body. Make the call on the way home to 911, drop her kids off (the kids already saw the body through the window or even had the body in their lap.
Someone that has their head up #$% has been making some crazy insane comments, without real proof. Step two in AA; deals with insanity! A simple definition of insanity is unsound thinking. We can also imagine the other extreme of total irrationality: A NUT IN A STATE JACKET! Try getting your head out of your #$%^ and realize just what has been done to the many lives involved.
For a person that has their head up their @#$%, it must be difficult to go through life. Open your eyes and ears and understand that being stupid is no requirement for driving drunk. However, getting behind the wheel of a car does constitute insanity, especially if one has done it before.
News Flash for Jackie:
IT DOES NOT MATTER IF IT WERE BUGS BUNNY, DAFFY DUCK OR JACK THE RIPPER THAT GOT KILLED! A LIFE WAS LOST AND THE PERSON THAT DID THE HARM NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!
News Flash for Jackie:
DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! THAT IS THE LAW!