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« One of a kind | Main | Don't be a Gutter Bunny »

Some measure of justice

“Some measure of justice,” you can take that statement as the family and friends of a loved one killed received some measure of justice.

Or if you say it in a facetious or sarcastic manner, it means the opposite, that justice was not served. You be your own judge.

On October the 1st. 2010 a group of 15 cyclists set out for an evening ride from Outspoken Bicycles in Augusta, Georgia.

They crossed over the South Carolina border on country roads in Aiken County, SC.

On a straight road and good visibility, a Dodge Durango truck driven by Daniel Johnson (Above left.) drove into the back of the group hitting four of the cyclists. One of the group, Dr. Matthew Burke, (Below.) later died from his injuries without waking from a coma.

Johnson said he was distracted by papers falling from his dash, and the sun was in his eyes; this was proved to be a lie as the sun was behind him. How someone can fail to see a group of 15 riders on a straight road is beyond me, and I am left to wonder if this was another case of a driver angry at cyclists who have the audacity to ride on his roads.

To give credit to the local police, they did not let this go as a tragic accident, and Johnson was charged with reckless homicide.

However, when Daniel Johnson came to trial this week he was able to take a plea bargain and plead guilty to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, followed by 5 years probation; he also lost his driver’s license for an unspecified period.

Johnson apologized to the family of Matthew Burke, and I wasn’t there in court to judge whether this was a sincere apology, or an attempt by the defendant to save his own ass.

Attitudes from the driving public have to change, and hopefully the prosecution of cases like this will bring this point home. Anger and impatience is the cause, people dying needlessly is the effect.

The problem is with so few of these cases ever being prosecuted to the full extent of the law, how many more must die in order for there to be this change in attitude?

Footnote:After writing this I opened an email of a daily cartoon I receive from one of my favorite artists, Hugh McLeod. Interesting that the drawing is in blood red.


More on the case here:

S.C. Driver convicted of a felony for killing cyclist.

A statement from the Burke family.

Sentencing in cyclist wreck ends year of heartbreak for two families



Reader Comments (11)

We don't really understand what was going on at that time (the time of the incident). I know for a fact that it is possible to be so spaced out that even an extremely obvious thing gets overlooked, even for a normal individual that is otherwise of a clear mind (and not just free of alcohol and drugs).
So yeah, I could understand that someone could run into a group of cyclists on a straight highway during perfect driving conditions. This is not an excuse, just an acknowledgement that sometimes certain conditions may happen and the unprobable and unthinkable can occur. We don't know what kind of a person Daniel Johnson is; for some people the fact that they contributed to someone's pain and grief can be worse than any punishment from a legal system.. So do we want justice or revenge? Sometimes a tough sentence can serve as a warning and a deterrent to some people. At the same time the contributors to tragedies like that happen 99% in the subconcious, and the contributing energies may not give a damn about the legal consequencies.
I speak on the authority of dealing with issues (energies) like that via neuro-emotional technique. My point is that a stiff "deterrent" sentence may have next to zero effect on possible future occurences like that.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

IMAGINE! (Beatles) Fifteen flags on bike, Imagine fifteen reflective vests, Imagine fifteen flashing red lights IMAGINE! IMAGINE LIFE IMPRISOMENT. NAW never work right. But we can hope! What a dam shame.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

I was so angry about this when I read about it in my Feed I couldn't see straight for several minutes. The sentence is so out of proportion to the crime it's almost like they took place in 2 different realities, one where the cyclist died after a long coma, the other where he was just bumped from behind and no harm done. What was the maximum sentence allowed under the law for the crime he pleaded guilty to? Just wondering.

October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOpus the Poet

That sentence is really too short.
What about the others hit, any charges for striking them?
Any civil charges to come?

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFUSO ROLLS

There is certain to be a civil suit for Matthew Burke's family and the others injured which may or may not be settled out of court.

October 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Civil suit! This murderer is not Rockerfeller, They should sue the State in Federal court for lax sentencing guidelines. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE! Just another cyclists HUH!

October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump


Another verdict, this time up here in the great white north. Will be interesting to see the sentence. Apparently, in Ontario, Dangerous Driving results in a criminal record, an automatic 1 yr license suspension, and up to 10 years in prison.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeil

Reading this report ONCE AGAIN WE SHOULD be in fear when riding our bikes. Motorist have NO respect or even thoughts about cyclist on the road. ONCE AGAIN I plead with all of you, Make yourselves as VISIBLE AS POSSIBLE (even then no guarantees) BUT IT MAY HELP, Wear BRIGHT vests, Red FLASING lights EVEN in the daytime, A Flag on a pole, suit of armour, what ever it takes. IF you do all this and even survive, Prosecuters will have a better case against the drivers (But your honour they where VERY visible). ONLY when motorists are made aware that BIG STIFF penalities await offenders, then they will start to pay attention. THINK ABOUT IT!

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

This example is possibly worse, since the driver was not even charged with a felony:

No matter how badly the driver feels afterwards, or what the extenuating circumstances were, there need to be stiffer penalties for people who kill with their car.

What keeps me from speeding while driving and running red lights? Fear of a stiff fine. What keeps me wearing a helmet, although I ride very defensively and have only had four falls off a bike in my life? $103 fine.

If a person is caught jaywalking in Seattle, they will get a ticket; a ticket that will cost them $56...Is jaywalking really a more henious crime than killing a biker with your truck?

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlyCatnat

@GRUMPY - Vision does not happen in the eyes.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkfg

Then when justice takes up is always a very pleasant moment, as it gives hope to people that necessarily everything will be fine further.

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