The young married couple were both killed while riding a tandem on Texas Route. 16 on October 1st, 2009; they were run down from behind by Gilbert John Sullaway driving his F150 Pickup Truck.
The picture above shows the damage caused by the impact, and also shows the width of the shoulder the cyclists were on. I wrote about this case almost three years ago when it happened; I was outraged because at the time the local Bexar County Sherriff’s Office were not planning to prosecute the driver, because they ruled it an accident.
Local cyclists from the San Antonio area were also outraged; they showed up in their hundreds for a memorial service. It was probably due to this cry for justice from area cyclists that the driver was eventually charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide and was brought to trial.
There were witnesses to testify that Sullaway was speeding and wandering onto the shoulder prior to the impact; there were expert witnesses on both sides. But in the end the only argument the defense lawyers had to present to the jury was this:
“Have you ever drifted? Have you ever looked off the roadway? That's what people do. It doesn't mean they're criminals when they do it.”
It took the jury just two hours to find Sullaway not guilty and he walked away with no consequences for his actions; no jail time, not even probation or a suspension of his license. Shame on that jury.
Here is a young couple (Left.) struck dead in the prime of their life.
They leave behind a daughter, age 7 at the time of her parent’s death, now 10, and their death did not have to happen.
They were there to be seen, riding on a wide shoulder; all this driver needed to do was look where he was going and steer his vehicle within his lane.
Failure to do that is Criminal Negligence, how else would you describe it?
If I fire a gun in the air to celebrate New Year’s or just to make noise; I might not intend to harm anyone, but if the bullet falls to earth and kills someone, it is criminal negligence pure and simple.
The sad thing is these jurors represent the man or woman in the street, the regular drivers cyclists encounter every day. They don’t look at the dead couple, they look at the driver and say, “That could have been me; I drive all the time and don’t pay attention.”
This case is not about vengeance, it is about holding people responsible for their actions. Making people aware that they are in control of a machine that has the potential to kill other people.
Slow down and pay attention. Really…. Is that too much to ask?