A Benton County (WA) Superior Court judge sentenced a man to 5 years and 3 months in prison for vehicular assault after he struck a woman on a charity bike ride last year.
The 32-year-old man apologized to the victim, who was not in court, then told the judge that he believed the crash “was an accident” and “I feel bad about this whole situation.”
Although the judge agreed with the word “accident” in terms that the man didn't intend to run into the cyclist, he pointed out on Friday that the driver was under the influence of a stimulant and the crash shouldn't have happened.
The collision occurred in May 2009 when Cindy Easterday Goulet was in a four-person paceline on the Columbia Park Trail. She was struck from behind by the driver of the Pontiac and was rushed to the hospital with two broken ribs and other injuries.
The TriCityHerald.com reports that at the time of the May 2009 crash, the driver, Troy Hamilton Trusley, was on a Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative. His jail time for a previous conviction had been reduced as long as he underwent drug treatment.
For violating that alternative sentence, Trusley will have to serve 30 months in jail. Then he'll begin his 5-year, 3-month prison sentence for the crash. He'll also lose his driver's license because the felony occurred while he was driving a vehicle.
Too many times, people — like the motorist in this story — use the term “accident” to describe a crash. I'm glad the judge defined the term as meaning “not intentional” instead of the connotation “unavoidable.”
True, the motorists may not have intentionally set out to knock down someone on a bicycle. But most accidents are unavoidable. If a motorist is drunk, or high, or just absent-mindedly flipping through his CDs or texting on a cellphone while driving, I don't see how that can be described as an accident.
Motorists need to take responsibility for their actions. In this case, the judge put the responsibility for the injury to a bicyclist squaring on the shoulders of the motorist.