Steve Magas is Ohio's Bike Lawyer. He has written about Ohio Bike Laws, bike crashes, bicycle advocacy and court cases for some 30 years. Soon we'll be adding a series of features about your favorite Ohio bike shops.
On his last day alive on planet Earth 12 year old William Logan Morris chose to ride his bicycle along County Road 52 near New Philadelphia, Ohio on a cold, crisp sunny December afternoon. He was riding southwest along County Road 52 around 4:15pm on December 14, 2017. This road, in Tuscarawas County, is a typical Ohio country road… two- lane, asphalt – narrow lane [looks like about 10′ lanes from the crash report] – there was a centerline present but no edge lines – no real “berm” other than dirt.
The crash report says it was 25 degrees – visibility was “10 Miles” – so a nice bright sunny…er… well… the report says “95% Cloud Cover”- but let’s assume it’s bright and sunny… Sunset that day was 5pm, so the crash was well within the daylight hours…
William Morris was killed around 4:15pm that day when a huge Dodge Ram 1500 truck driven by 41 year old Troy Dalpiaz slammed into him from behind.
As young William Morris was riding on County Road 52 he was likely unaware that Mr. Dalpiaz was hurtling towards him from behind at 40-45 mph and “couldn’t see” him. Children tend to believe the best in us – they trust adults to do the right thing. I would bet that William Morris never dreamed that anyone would be stupid enough to drive a big truck down the road if they “couldn’t see” what was in front of them.
Mr. Dalpiaz was driving the 2+ ton truck down the road at, he claims, 40-45 mph… I say “he claims” because the posted speed here is 55 mph and few folks go flying down these open country roads while driving 10 mph below… but hey… let’s give him the benefit of the doubt…
Sunset on December 14, 2017 was at 5pm… so … Surprise … Surprise – the sun was setting in the west 40-45 minutes before sunset… Mr. Dalpiaz was driving “southwest” so towards the setting sun… So Surprise Surprise… there was sunshine coming into Mr. Dalpiaz’s front windshield. “Sun Glare” as the prosecutor noted… made visibility difficult, if not impossible.
wisely chose to not drive into the sun when he couldn’t see anything in front of him …er … kept on driving forward at 45 mph in a 2 ton pickup truck – even though he couldn’t see …
In fact he told the Ohio State Highway Patrol after he killed William Morris that he couldn’t see… he never saw young William Morris before he slammed into him with the right side of the truck… in fact, it appears that he never saw ANYTHING for ” FIVE TO SIX SECONDS” prior to the crash… he was just driving along on Hopes & Prayers I guess…
Sadly… the prosecutor here felt these facts were not enough to charge the driver of the truck with ANY sort of crime at all…
Here we go – Midnight on May 1- the start of Bike Month 2018.
Amazingly, in Ohio we have had Zero Fatalities in January – February -March – April 2018 so far as I can tell.
Very nice article by CO bike lawyer Megan Hottman analyzing Colorado’s version of O.R.C. Sec. 4511.55 in Ohio – the “Where in the heck are cyclists supposed to ride” statute…
A very interesting decision came out of Ohio’s First Appellate District [Cincinnati/Hamilton County] the other day.
Blue Ash, Ohio has a local “toy vehicle” ordinance that says:
“No person on roller skates or riding in or by any means of any sled, toy vehicle, skateboard or similar device shall be permitted on any street, highway or public lot unless the same is designated and marked as a ‘play street’ or ‘play lot.’ ” Blue Ash Code of Ordinances 311.03(a).
While the Ohio Department of Public Safety [ODPS] does not release its “Crash Facts” until later in the year, we can be fairly certain that all of the fatal bicycle crashes have now been reported. I try to track EVERY fatal bike crash in “real time” – meaning I set my Google Alerts to try to pick up media reports and I rely on folks around the state to send me reports that they see.
I’ve reviewed the preliminary ODPS stats, which reflect a total of 19 cyclists killed in Ohio in 2017. I’ll review each crash after we receive the full and complete report from each crash. We will obtain the report, all photos, all cruiser/body cam videos, all field sketches & measurements, all witness statements and any other data available. We will try to determine exactly what happened adn how the crash might have been avoided. We will try to determine if any criminal charges came out of the crash and what happened in the case.
For now, here’s a brief summary of the crashes.
19 Fatal Crashes
Fault Assigned by Police?
10 – Cyclist at Fault
9 – Motorist At Fault
CYCLIST at Fault
3- Not Visible Dark-No lights
– Illegally in Roadway
– Wrong Side of Road
3 – “Other improper action”
– Failure to Yield
MOTORIST at Fault
– Failure to Yield
– Left of Center
5 – Follow too closely
– Ran Red Light
– Ran Stop Sign
-Improper Lane Change
Daylight v. Night?
11 – In the DARK
7- Cyclist at Fault
4 – Motorist At Fault
5 – Hit/Skip
4 – In the DARK
3 – Unsolved
4 – Rear-end Collisions
1- Head-On Collision
WHERE WERE THEY KILLED
16 – Communities with Population < 50,000
3 – Communities with Population > 50,000
Counties in which 2 Cyclists were killed?
WHO WAS KILLED?
|10/3/17||Nelson J. Miller||30|
|10/24/17||Jason A Baird||26|
|10/27/17||Therea Leigh Fillmon||49|
|12/14/17||William L. Morris||12|
Emmanuel Wen, the two year old listed above, probably should not be listed as a “cyclist.” Apparently he was riding on a “Big Wheel” type 3 wheeled “toy” when he left the driveway and got onto Cedar Road where he was struck by a large vehicle.
William Rust was killed by an hit/run motorist who was allegedly using heroin. He was killed near the same place on US 52 that Michael Prater was killed a year earlier… by a hit/run motorist using heroin… who is now serving a 13.5 year prison term. We are still waiting for Steve Sickle, William Rust’s killer, to come to trial. His case is set for “Pleas or Trial Setting” on January 8, 2017.
Nineteen people were killed. Nineteen families grieving… friends… relatives… trying to figure out what happened and why. Nineteen separate crashes – 19 deaths out of the … 40,000… or so … which happened due to something stupid or careless on U.S. roads… I hope we, as a country, society, can start to take traffic safety seriously some day…
“Curtilage” – that’s a funny word, eh? To lawyers dealing with fundamental constitutional rights, though, it’s a pretty important word. It’s a word that has recently made for some “strange bedfellows”… as shown in recent US Supreme Court filings.
In Collins v. Virginia the question of whether the search of a motorcycle without a warrant was lawful is the question. Collins was convicted of crimes relating to a stolen motorcycle. He challenged the search. “Amicus curiae” [“friend of the court”] Briefs SUPPORTING the criminal defendant’s claim that the search was illegal were filed by both the NRA and the American Motorcycle Association [AMA]!
The “curtilage” of one’s property is the area immediately surrounding a dwelling house which has been given the same protection under the law as was afforded the house itself. The US Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment protects the curtilage of a house and that the extent of the curtilage is determined by factors that bear upon whether an individual reasonably may expect that the area in question should be treated as the home itself. In essence, Police cannot typically search the “curtilage” of one’s home without a warrant.
Here’s one artist’s interesting view of the 4th Amendment issues surrounding property, curtilage, outbuildings, garbage and the like…
So that venerable cycling magazine – FORBES – comes out with an article written by “Data Journalist” Niall McCarthy… about “the Most Dangerous Cities” in the US for bicycling.
McCarthy concludes that little old Columbus, Ohio was NUMBER SIX – the 6th most dangerous city in the entire country for riding a bike… I was… surprised…
Ok… Well… that sounds interesting… I wonder what data he used. What other cities were in the Top 10? Since Florida is the league leader in cycling fatalities I’ll bet several Florida cities were in there too, right?
Being a math guy who studies bicycle crashes and researches EVERY fatal bicycle crash in Ohio I was very curious about the data and methodology he developed to reach this somewhat shocking conclusion.
My conclusion? The article is STOOOOOPID… the list is STOOOOPID… why? It’s based on data for cities with populations in excess of 500,000 when some of THE MOST DANGEROUS CITIES have populations less than 500,000.