[Update: Tuesday, Dec. 30 — The driver of the first car turned herself into police Monday night, accompanied by family members and her pastor. Her story to police is that she thought she hit a bicycle in the road, not a person. She was booked on of hit and run, vehicular manslaughter and driving with a suspended license. The driver of the second car hasn't come forward.]
Does anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area take responsibility for their actions while driving?
Authorities in Conta Costa County are trying to solve another hit and run bicyclist fatality, this one on Saturday evening involving two motorists, neither of whom stopped. It follows by a month the hit and run death of bicyclist Mark Pendleton in a rural part of the county.
The latest fatality occurred about 6 p.m. in urban Richmond. Police say Laura Casey was riding her bicycle south on a sparsely populated portion of Carson Boulevard when she was struck from behind and knocked to the ground. Reports the Chronicle:
As Casey screamed for help, several people ran to her aid, officials said, but before they could reach her, a second vehicle hit her and dragged her about 25 feet.
Witnesses gave a description of the first car: a mid-size, white, four-door sedan. They were too “traumatized” to give a description of the second car.
Police said the drivers of both cars slowed, as if preparing to stop, then sped off.
Peter Smith over the San Francisco Bike Blog suggests the motorists, if caught, should be charged with murder.
In the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, the default charge should be ‘Murder’. If they can convince a jury that they didn’t mean it, then they might get off with Vehicular Manslaughter or some lesser charge.
Legally, leaving the scene of a vehicle accident in which someone is injured is felony hit and run. The two drivers could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
If the first motorist had stopped to help, as required, Laura Casey might be alive today.
Meanwhile, the search for Pendleton's killer goes on. There's a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrest of that motorist.
Even though I asked whether Bay Area motorists take responsibility for their driving, the problem of hit and run is certainly not unique to that area. While there are stories about bicycle fatalities on a daily basis nationwide, too many of those involve drivers who didn't stick around.
Just today, there are stories about the recovery of an 11-year-old girl struck on her bicycle by an unknown motorist in Baltimore, and a Long Island bicyclist who was struck in a hit-and-run on Christmas day and later died.
In Florida, police are searching for a motorist who hit a 17-year-old on his bike but did not stop (the boy is hospitalized).
The capper comes from Bluffton, South Carolina, where a Savannah firefighter is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter in a Christmas hit-and-run. The man riding his bicycle home from a party died at the scene. The firefighter turned himself in after police started searching his subdivision. They received a tip that a pickup truck in the area matched the description of the hit-and-run vehicle.
Also, see KTVU.com about the Richmond case.