• 10-21-2009
    cautiouschris
    Kylie Bruehler, 7, at her parents’ funeral
    Local story, not sure if this made it to MTBR yet.


    https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/lo...questions.html

    Answers sought in cyclists' deaths
    By Vianna Davila - Express-News

    A day after the Bexar County Sheriff's Office said charges would not likely be filed in a bicycle crash that killed the parents of a 7-year-old girl, it announced it would leave that decision up to the district attorney's office.

    Deputy Ino Badillo, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said investigators plan to forward all findings of Thursday morning's accident to prosecutors to determine if the truck's driver, 40-year-old Gilbert John Sullaway Jr., would be charged with any wrongdoing.

    Sullaway hasn't been charged with any crime, nor was he cited for any traffic violations.

    On Thursday, Badillo said it appeared the collision that killed Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler was a tragic accident.

    According to investigators, the Bruehlers had taken off from their home near Braun and Tezel roads in San Antonio and were cycling north of Helotes on Texas 16 when Sullaway's truck, going about 5 mph over the 65-mph speed limit, came up behind them. The pickup veered off the road and then Sullaway overcorrected, striking the cyclists, who were riding on the shoulder. The truck dragged their tandem bicycle about 200 feet.

    Badillo said investigators found no evidence that Sullaway was intoxicated or taking illegal substances. What is unknown is if Sullaway was distracted. Authorities are looking at phone records to determine if he was using his cell phone at the time.

    Still, authorities said for Sullaway to have been arrested, he would have had to intentionally strike the Bruehlers or be under the influence.

    But recklessness and negligence are trickier to determine, said Alejandro Ballesteros, an assistant district attorney with Bexar County's DWI Task Force. In simple terms, the legal definition involves “a gross deviation” from normal behavior, Ballesteros said.

    A clear example would be a driver who unbuckled his seat belt, reached into the back seat and drove with his foot — that, he said, is a gross deviation.

    Bicycle rights and safety advocate Robin Stallings said the incident was just one more reason bicycle laws need to be updated and clarified.

    “It's just called an accident. And it's not an accident,” Stallings said. “It's a crash, and somebody's responsible.”

    He decried Gov. Rick Perry's veto of Senate Bill 488 earlier this year that would have required motorists to give vulnerable road users including cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance when they pass. Commercial vehicles would have to give more, at least 6 feet of clearance.

    The law only requires that one vehicle pass another vehicle safely, a definition Stallings said is too vague. Under Texas law, a bicycle is considered a vehicle.

    This year, at least two other bicyclists have been killed on area roads. In June, 27-year-old Anthony Cruz was killed while cycling on FM 476 in Atascosa County. The driver of a pickup that clipped the rear of the bike, sending Cruz flying, was not charged. In February, Enriquez Castillo, 47, was killed when his bicycle was hit on Nacogdoches Road by a distracted motorist who looked down to change the radio. The driver was not charged.

    Department of Public Safety Trooper Travis Hall said drivers can be cited for hitting a cyclist, even if the cyclist isn't seriously injured. If a driver were to strike a cyclist riding on an improved shoulder of a road, that driver could be ticketed and face a Class C misdemeanor, he said.

    Whatever the outcome of Sullaway's case, the crash likely affected attitudes toward cycling. Tragedies like this one can mobilize advocates but also reinforce fears that the roads are unfriendly to cyclists.

    “The people who are nervous in the first place are gonna go, ‘Heck no, I'm not gonna get on a bike anytime soon,'” said Julia Diana, who deals with bicycle issues for the city of San Antonio's Office of Environmental Policies.

    The Bruehlers were known to take their safety seriously — each was wearing a helmet Thursday.

    They had experienced a brush with death in August 2007, when a truck struck the family's vehicle, killing Gregory Bruehler's mother and seriously injuring him and Alexandra.

    That crash put Alexandra Bruehler in a wheelchair temporarily, according to one neighbor. Alexandra and Gregory Bruehler had a grueling recovery and eventually returned to their active lifestyle that included swimming, running and cycling.

    Neighbor Melody Harper saw Gregory Thursday morning, washing down one of his bicycles in the driveway of their home on Wuthering Heights, a house with a front yard full of flowers as bright as the family's spirits. Halloween decorations already hung from the front door; a gingerbreadlike playhouse Bruehler built for his daughter stood empty in their shaded backyard.

    “The thing that needs to be known and put out is what beautiful people they were, what good people they were,” Tina Jorgensen, another neighbor, said.

    The day after the Bruehlers' deaths, Harper mourned the couple, but also thought of Sullaway, and all that he must be experiencing now.

    She smiled when she thought of Gregory helping daughter Kylie ride earlier this week, setting up orange traffic cones in the cul-de-sac of their street so she could practice riding between them.

    “They were a family that lived and loved life,” Harper said.

    But, like always, the Bruehlers took caution. Even pedaling in the cul-de-sac, Kylie wore a helmet.
  • 10-21-2009
    BigSharks
    Incredibly sad, my heart goes out to her.

    Kind of solidifies my irrational fear of riding on roads... I don't trust other drivers when I'm in the car, and I definitely don't trust them when I'm on the bike.
  • 10-21-2009
    mbmb65
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BigSharks
    Incredibly sad, my heart goes out to her.

    Kind of solidifies my irrational fear of riding on roads... I don't trust other drivers when I'm in the car, and I definitely don't trust them when I'm on the bike.

    Man, that just breaks my heart. Terrible, just focking terrible. And your fear of riding on the road is certainly not irrational.
  • 10-21-2009
    Finch Platte
    God, what a sad picture.

    Good luck, little one.
  • 10-21-2009
    Tom93R1
    That's so sad, but good to see all the cyclists there to support Kylie.
  • 10-21-2009
    Firecrackerktm
    How tragic.
  • 10-21-2009
    Dogbrain
    Yeah that story made it to the commuter forum a bit ago. I still fail to see how drifting out of your lane is an "accident." And the other fatality where the douche was tuning the radio... how is that an accident? I'll bet my next year's salary that if it had been a cop writing a ticket on the side of the road instead of a cyclist it wouldn't be an accident.
  • 10-21-2009
    N23
    Sad story all around.
  • 10-21-2009
    StumpHugger
    Awfully sad story. My heart goes out to her. It also makes me more wary than ever of riding on the road. There are no cars or reckless drivers on singletrack.
  • 10-21-2009
    ArmySlowRdr
    I've been guilty of that a time or 3---I best be careful because the coppers think it's grossly deviant behavior........:rolleyes:


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cautiouschris
    .....
    A clear example would be a driver who unbuckled his seat belt, reached into the back seat and drove with his foot — that, he said, is a gross deviation......

  • 10-21-2009
    emtnate
    It's hard saying what is going on here. I've seen plenty of fatal "accidents" where people were rightfully charged with something and others where it was finer line. This case is unfortunate, from the information presented, it would be hard to find fault. Someone lost control of their car and kills 2 cyclists, tragic yes, but criminal? I don't know...
  • 10-21-2009
    CroMoHo
    A picture is worth a thousand words
    I feel so sorry for that little girl! What an awful tragedy, and to think that it happens all the time!
  • 10-21-2009
    CroMoHo
    Yeah,no sh*t!!!!
  • 10-21-2009
    CroMoHo
    Hey, was'nt Sheldon Brown killed on a Texas highway too?
  • 10-21-2009
    ArmySlowRdr
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blumarvel
    Hey, was'nt Sheldon Brown killed on a Texas highway too?

    Not that I know.
    I thought he succummed to an illness/disease...
  • 10-21-2009
    Aust95
    Good God! Tragic! May God bless the girl.
  • 10-21-2009
    JmZ
    That poor girl. I've got a daughter that's only about a year or so older than her.

    Practically gave up riding on the road after being hit the second time, and I was lucky with nothing serious.

    Is there any foundation or anything set up? I'm hoping the little one has a loving extended family to help her over the years to come.

    JmZ
  • 10-21-2009
    Kona0197
    Wow. I hope things get better for her.
  • 10-21-2009
    cautiouschris
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JmZ
    That poor girl. I've got a daughter that's only about a year or so older than her.

    Practically gave up riding on the road after being hit the second time, and I was lucky with nothing serious.

    Is there any foundation or anything set up? I'm hoping the little one has a loving extended family to help her over the years to come.

    JmZ

    http://bostonbikelaw.blogspot.com/20...rust-fund.html

    A trust fund has been established in Kylie's name. Donations should go to the Kylie Bruehler Benefit Fund, c/o 24165 IH-10 West, Ste. 217-720, San Antonio Texas 78275-1160.
  • 10-22-2009
    RoyDean
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blumarvel
    Hey, was'nt Sheldon Brown killed on a Texas highway too?

    No, not even close. He died of a heart attack.
  • 10-22-2009
    macming
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cautiouschris
    http://bostonbikelaw.blogspot.com/20...rust-fund.html

    A trust fund has been established in Kylie's name. Donations should go to the Kylie Bruehler Benefit Fund, c/o 24165 IH-10 West, Ste. 217-720, San Antonio Texas 78275-1160.

    Do you have to go to a bank to donate? I wish they setup something via Paypal.
  • 10-22-2009
    Dogbrain
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by emtnate
    It's hard saying what is going on here. I've seen plenty of fatal "accidents" where people were rightfully charged with something and others where it was finer line. This case is unfortunate, from the information presented, it would be hard to find fault. Someone lost control of their car and kills 2 cyclists, tragic yes, but criminal? I don't know...

    I guess I just feel that when you make the conscious decision to drive a car, you are 100% responsible for the trajectory of that vehicle. We call it an accident because no one involved intended for it to happen, but that doesn't mean its not someone's responsibility. Whenever there is a crash, someone made the wrong decision. That's just how it is. If you genuinely can't focus and maintain control of your vehicle then you shouldn't be allowed to drive.

    Traffic crashes are the leading cause of trauma related fatalities in the US, all because people can't be bothered to pay attention, drive a bit slower, and stop and the goddamn stop signs. Take a good look at that picture... then multiply it by 40,000 and let that sink in. Then understand that on January 1st it'll start all over again. More deaths... more "accidents."
  • 10-22-2009
    xmangox
    This is incredibly sad, that picture kills me. :( I'm an elementary school teacher and my students are her age. The support from the biking community is amazing.

    I am donating to her fund.
  • 10-22-2009
    emtnate
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dogbrain
    I guess I just feel that when you make the conscious decision to drive a car, you are 100% responsible for the trajectory of that vehicle. We call it an accident because no one involved intended for it to happen, but that doesn't mean its not someone's responsibility. Whenever there is a crash, someone made the wrong decision. That's just how it is. If you genuinely can't focus and maintain control of your vehicle then you shouldn't be allowed to drive.

    Traffic crashes are the leading cause of trauma related fatalities in the US, all because people can't be bothered to pay attention, drive a bit slower, and stop and the goddamn stop signs. Take a good look at that picture... then multiply it by 40,000 and let that sink in. Then understand that on January 1st it'll start all over again. More deaths... more "accidents."


    I'm fully aware of this... someone is at fault, that is obvious, but is it criminal?
  • 10-22-2009
    JPark
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blumarvel
    Hey, was'nt Sheldon Brown killed on a Texas highway too?

    Maybe you're thinking of Ken Kifer ? Not in Texas, but was killed by a drunk driver in Alabama.
  • 10-22-2009
    Dogbrain
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by emtnate
    I'm fully aware of this... someone is at fault, that is obvious, but is it criminal?

    From a legal standpoint in Texas apparently not.

    From my personal logic-based opinion yes. If there is a law that says you are required to keep your vehicle in your lane and you violate that law and kill someone then a person died as a direct result of you breaking the law. Under any other set of circumstances you are responsible for the death. Its certainly not legal to drive down the shoulder of the road.

    Citing the article directly, if you unbuckle your seat belt, turn around and drive with your foot you are being negligent. But if you are just staring at your radio instead of the road its perfectly permissible to kill someone. Like I said before, if it was a cop instead of a cyclist he'd be facing charges.

    I'm not saying we should execute the driver, but he should have to answer for this unless it was illegal for the cyclists to be riding there or the cyclists swerved into his lane.
  • 10-22-2009
    emtnate
    I would hope the driver feels terrrible, I assume he will answer for his actions in Civil Court. And he should, I'm not arguing that he should not be held accountable for his actions. Jail might not be appropriate and a citation does not seem like enough given that he caused a fatal accident.

    Hitting a police officer is a little different in the laws eyes. At least in Indiana, you have to pull over and slow down for an emergency vehicle. When approaching a slow moving vehicle, you are supposed to give ample room. I don't think anyone knows what "ample" means.

    It's a grey area in a tragic event, this article doesn't give much detail either. I just hope for the best for that poor little girl. That picture is hard to look at.
  • 10-22-2009
    Pedalphile
    The truck driver will not win a civil suit if one is brought. It's not law enforcement's job to bring the lawsuit.

    The driver should be working for the poor girl who lost her parents for the rest of his life.

    -Pete
  • 10-22-2009
    Tom93R1
    Failure to maintain control of a vehicle is something I am pretty sure most states would have on the books as a vehicular traffic violation. It even states he was speeding so even without failure to control he should get that! A death while committing this infraction should be some form of manslaughter charge I would think. But who knows, it's just a couple cyclists and they shouldn't be using roads that were made for cars any way... at least that's how it seems we think here in the USA.

    If it was 2 automobiles involved the NHTSA would have recorded this as a "speed related" traffic fatality because of the 5mph over the posted limit.
  • 10-22-2009
    emtnate
    ^^ That is true, but it is very unlikely a manslaughter charge would be considered unless, drugs, alcohol, road rage, or something similar were involved.
  • 10-22-2009
    carrot_top
    This really is tragic.....i cant even begin to comprehend the loss she is feeling

    there really should be a little more done to help keep cyclists safe around traffic.....bike lanes are ok, but there should be something more like a sidewalk (seperated by traffic with a curb or something that atleast prevents the car from drifting onto it)....i think ive seen this before on another thread...its like a different lane of the road seperated by a median so cars cant cross onto it...the obstacles i see,though,are high costs of widening the roads, and even having it approved in area less frequented by bicycles....
  • 10-23-2009
    solara
    Soo soooo sad. Somebody better file a civil lawsuit and punish that driver.
    To lose both parents at such an age - that's why in some families, both parents would never do a high-risk activity together in case of this exact thing - both parents being killed.

    If I had kids, I really really would be hesistant to bike on a road where cars are going 60 mph!!
  • 10-23-2009
    AlexJK
    the department handling this needs to pull their heads out of their asses.

    this is so damn sad... i can't even look at the picture... too much pain in her face...


    i have to ride on the roads and we have idiots galore... my road riding motto: Ride agressively defensive.

    ya can't see it but i'm pissed beyond belief ATM... America is really turning