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« Do we need sidewalk cycling advocates? | Main | The positive impact of commuting by bicycle »

Just another distracted driving accident

A crumpled bike lies at the roadside along with a couple of other pieces of trash blowing by in the wind. The large dent in the front of the van and the broken windshield shows how hard the cyclist was struck.

The driver of this AT&T work van that struck and killed a cyclist on the Charleston James Island Connector Road in early July paid a $113 traffic ticket yesterday. In doing so he did not admit guilt and he does not even have to appear in court; the case is over. What kind of bullshit justice is that?

What has happened to our local Charleston Police Department’s pledge to serve and protect? There is very little serving or protecting going on as far as I can see.

This is not the first injustice; just last year two motorcyclists were stopped at a red light when an SUV rear ended them, killing them both. The two were from the same family, a man and his father-in-law. No charges were filed in that case; local motorcyclists were puzzled and outraged at the time, with good reason.

Both these are clear cases of distracted driving. Gregory Rupley the AT&T driver was charged with improper lane usage; police stated this was the closest applicable charge under state law involving a cyclist verses car accident.

The cyclist Mitchell Hollon, a much loved local anesthesiologist, was riding his bike on a wide and ample shoulder when he was struck from behind and was knocked over the side of a bridge to land in a marsh some 50 feet below.

Deemed an “Accident,” this happened on a straight stretch of highway so how could the driver fail to see the cyclist ahead of him? He was obviously distracted and not looking where he was going.

There were independent witnesses; where was the problem with bringing forth more serious charges and making them stick? Police it seems cannot be bothered.

There will likely be a civil case and the family of the deceased will no doubt receive a large settlement; however, this will not come out of driver Rupley’s pocket, but his employer AT&T and their insurance company.

Distracted driving is a huge problem and back when this incident happened I asked that people be held accountable for their actions. Treating the death of someone along the same lines as a parking ticket will not bring about accountability.

Mitchell Hollen, a fine outstanding citizen and member of our community is dead.  His death was easily avoidable; if only the AT&T driver had paid better attention to his driving.



Reader Comments (13)

In Toronto a cyclist died after getting "doored" the fine. The same as riding a bike in Ontario without a bell, $110.xx. And people are always wondering what a life is worth.


September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbrian

Wow. This is a pretty incredible outcome. Even setting aside the enormity of the collision, a traffic accident that results in the death of another individual entitled to use the road and the driver pays a $113 fine? For an improper lane usage? That's just.... words fail.

The driver may be back at work, although one wonders for how long. And, doubtless, AT&T carries insurance for these kinds of "mishaps." Still, the municipal code is such that there no admission of guilt is required and the driver pays a minor fine?

One would be inclined to assume that the outcome would have been the same had Michael Hollen been a pedestrian, or someone who had stopped in the "breakdown lane" to change a flat tire. But, I don't know that's true.

It's just a damned, and damnable, tragedy for all involved.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

Absolute BS! Typical citations to cyclists are greater than $113 for the most minor "offenses." Money, of course, is beside thoroughly missed point of JUSTICE. I gather the authorities have no interest in that.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjames

Oh how I CRINGE everytime I ride on the roads, OR see other cyclists riding. No matter how right you may be. YOU WILL LOOSE. Please cyclist dont ride the roads if there is ANY alternative. Your life is not worth giving away. Talk to your congress person if laws are changed and penalties stiffer maybe these murderers will pay the price.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crumpy

honestly, i don't understand how drivers in incidents like these aren't charged with manslaughter. i have a friend who was the driver in a single car accident with no witnesses where the passenger died, and he went to prison. but a bicyclist or motorcyclist is run down from behind and killed and there's only a minor fine?

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjhota

Seems like a civil suit is in order. Of course it will be the insurance or AT&T that ends up paying. Maybe the driver will lose his job, at least.

September 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIan

Welcome to the daily carnage on US roads. If we were to crash a 737 aircraft everyday there would be massive outrage, congressional investigations, etc, etc. Yet we kill that many people on the roads in the US everyday and the penalty is less than a bus ticket. Totally warped.

Getting a license, and keeping one in the US is a total joke, but try and tighten up the standards.


September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter2whls3spds

This has happened more than once in my city as well. Last summer a Spanish cyclist was struck by a vehicle while he was competing in RAAM. He is now paralyzed and the negligent driver did not even receive a ticket. The road he was on has a very wide shoulder (about two car widths). Even if we make the argument that the cyclist was in the lane of traffic, the passing traffic still has an obligation to pass safely. I can see no argument for the driver's innocence. In the same city, I have received a ticket for failing to use a turn signal. The message this sends is incredibly mixed up and ultimately infuriating.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJmal

More distracted than drivers is our system of justice.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Is the word that Bystander is looking for...uncivilised? insane? American? (Choose any that apply.)

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTacoma

A very similar incident occurred last summer in a Seattle suburb. A cyclist was hit from behind and killed while riding on the shoulder and the driver was given a $42 fine for improper lane usage.


December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff L

This is really a very sad incident, distracted driving of the driver is the cause of death of an innocent cyclist. Now the cause of most of the accident is distracted driving. Drivers are not serious about their driving for which such incident is happening regularly. Driver should be heavily punished for his act by which other drivers would fear to do same mistake again and again.

November 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZachory

Most of accident is happening due to distracted driving, this is only because they are not serious about their driving. A cyclist was killed due to the distracted driving of the driver, so these things should not be tolerated and proper action should be taken against him. Awareness on danger of distracted driving should be organized to warn the drivers.

December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

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