Too often, motorists are sentenced to probation when they're judged guilty in bicycle fatality cases. What happens to them?
In two cases reported this week in Indiana and New York, the drivers in two hit-and-run bicyclist deaths are being dragged back into court for violating terms of their probation.
After being too lenient the first time around, maybe the judges can dole out some meaningful justice in these cases given a second chance.
In Kingston, New York, last spring, a man struck and killed a cyclist and drove away. He was arrested two days later, and pleaded guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of an injury accident without reporting it.
The Daily Freeman reports Ulster County Judge J, Michael Bruhn sentenced him to the tragically light sentence of five years probation. One of the stipulations was that he not abuse alcohol or drugs.
Probation officers in March paid him an unannounced visit, found him intoxicated, and threw him in jail. He's waiting to hear from Judge Bruhn, who told him during sentencing that if he violated any part of his probation, he'd be sentenced to 2 1/3 to 5 years in state prison, according to the Daily Freeman.
Meanwhile, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports that a woman who served two years (she was released in 2005) of a 6- to 8-year prison term for a cyclist fatality also violated her probation.
The woman, 47, pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated — she had double the legal limit of alcohol in her system. She struck and killed a teenage boy without stopping to help. She said that she thought she'd hit a dog.
Last month she was charged with violating her probation — failing to pay $29,000 in restitution and serving 100 hours of community service.
She has since complied with a judge's order to begin paying restitution and begin performing community service (ironically be working with animals). However the prosecutor says she should return to prison because, “She's thumbing her nose at the system.” The dead boy's mother asked the prosecutor to get the probation revoked.
Judge John F. Surbeck said he didn't think her probation violations called for incarceration, but is considering recommendations on how to best proceed in her case.