02

Blog

Another Iowa Hit-and-Run Results in a Bicycle Fatality

Last week another Iowa cyclist was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

At around 6:00am Dave Ryder was struck by Stephanie Kenealy on 35th Avenue.  Dave was coming home from the casinos.  He was riding a road bike with drop handlebars.  The bicycle was equipped with at least a rear light, and Ryder was wearing a white shirt.  It was still dark, but the sky was probably getting lighter as dawn was scheduled for 6:58am.  At the time of the collision it was raining.

Stephanie Kenealy was driving her Ford SUV northbound on 35th avenue.  She was on her way to work.  Kenealy reportedly works as a paraeducator and cheerleading coach and sponsor at Thomas Jefferson High School.

She came upon Ryder and struck him from behind.  Pictures of the bicycle after the collision show the typical tell-tale signs of a rear end collision.  The bicycle is basically intact other than a collapsed rear wheel.  Kenealy’s SUV had front end damage.   The media has reported that Kenealy’s driving record indicates that she spent time in jail for driving with a suspended license, speeding and other violations.

When the SUV struck the bicyclist he was thrown up onto the hood of the SUV and carried for several feet before the bicyclist fell off the car.  Police say Kenealy fled after the collision, and left the scene for 45-50 minutes.

Media reports all seem to say that the street was narrow with no sidewalks and poor lighting in the area.  They also mention that the bicyclist was not wearing a helmet.

I find it irritating when a cyclist is struck and people start pointing to things the cyclist failed to do or people start to talk about why the cyclist shouldn’t have been on the road.  The fact that the road may or may not have been narrow is no excuse for failing to see something in the path of a driver’s vehicle.  This stretch of road is lightly used and was probably almost vacant at the time of the collision.  The cyclist had all legally required equipment and contrasting clothing.  There are no reported witnesses, suggesting that the bicyclist and the driver were the only people in the area at the time of the collision.

The thing so shocking about this collision is the driver’s actions after the fact.  She did the most cowardly thing a driver can do.  She fled the scene, leaving the bicyclist to die alone on the cold rainy pavement.

My experience is that almost 20% of bicycle collisions in rural areas will result in a driver fleeing the scene.  I expect that this number will be slightly higher in urban areas.  Unfortunately, Iowa does not track these numbers, so we have no way to know for sure.

It never fails to surprise me that drivers flee so often.  When a driver flees the scene of an accident with an injury they, commit a felony.  If they stop they need not fear any criminal prosecution unless they are drunk or were in the process of some other illegal activity.  To my knowledge, no one gets locked up for simply driving a vehicle negligently.  My experience is that drivers flee for many reasons.  Drivers flee because they don’t have insurance, they are drunk, they have an outstanding warrant, they flip out after a collision, or because they think they can get away.

Even in situations where the driver successfully flees the scene, there may be a potential recovery.  We have handled cases in which the police were unable or unwilling to do the work necessary to identify a hi-and-run driver.  We have identified drivers and held them responsible for their actions.  We have even been able to secure a recovery in hit-and-run collisions in which the driver was never identified.

I expect that I will never find anything so satisfying as the experience of holding a hit-and-run driver accountable for their actions.  I’ve had hit-and-run drivers try to give me all sorts of excuses for their actions, but once a driver flees the scene they lose all credibility.  Cases like those remind me why I went to law school: to seek justice for the vulnerable.

Comments

Peter Wilborn Aug 20, 2019

A camera is necessary kit for every ride. But finding the right camera has been a challenge, until now. My rebuttable presumption: the Ricoh GR III is the best cycling camera of all time. Read on, and if you can prove there’s a better one, let me know. The Ideal Cycling Camera To find the […]

Read More
Human Shield Bike Lane
Bruce Hagen Jul 29, 2019

If you ride bikes around Atlanta, chances are that you know Niklas Vollmer and Andreas Wolfe.  They’re some of the many people in town who seem to live on their bikes and can be seen riding everywhere.  While they both have their “day jobs,” folks in the cycling world know them for their place in […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 19, 2019

This is a time when advocacy efforts are crucial to making our streets safer for everyone. Within 24 hours from the Two Wheel Tuesday gathering we suffered two more casualties.  On Wednesday morning, Marten Bijvank was on his way to work on his bicycle when he was struck and killed by an unlicensed DUI driver […]

Read More
AJ's Bicycle Shop in Iowa
Jim Freeman Jul 15, 2019

Bicycling Magazine recently published an article titled, “Hey, Bike Shops; Stop Treating Customers Like Garbage.”  The story follows a heavy-set 59 year old’s sad tale of how he was treated poorly from a number of local bike shops.   First and foremost, I would be clear that bikes are for almost everyone.  If you are big, […]

Read More
Bike accident scene
Rick Bernardi Jul 12, 2019

The big bike news out of the Oregon legislature this year was the passage of a Stop as Yield law. This was an enormous legislative victory for Oregon cyclists, the culmination of over a decade of advocacy. But it wasn’t the only legislative victory for Oregon cyclists this legislative session. A less glamorous but equally […]

Read More
Uber Biking Escort
Charlie Thomas Jul 11, 2019

I often find myself wanting to ride on a roadway corridor that doesn’t want me there. At best, I could make it across alive with some close calls and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At worst, I wouldn’t be around to write this blog post.  Of course, a safer, alternate route […]

Read More
Cycling Without Age Bike Law
Brian Weiss Jul 11, 2019

The founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team loves his life on two wheels. Gary Harty was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and raised in Colorado – Denver Metro area, and now makes bicycling in Lakewood, Colorado safe and fun.  Gary is part of the baby boomer generation. He attended Colorado State University (CSU) and […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Bike Law
Rachael Maney Jul 10, 2019

Outrage.  It is what drives action and engagement on the interwebs these days. If it’s not outrageous, it’s boring. The Election of 2018 proved that outrage increases TOS (“time on site”) more than friendship, sympathy, desire, or anything else.  Judgment. By definition it is necessary to reach any conclusion about anything. But passing it on […]

Read More
Stop as Yield for Cyclists
Rick Bernardi Jul 09, 2019

The Oregon Legislature made national news this past week, for all the wrong reasons. The State Senate, with a super-majority of Democrats in control, had been working on climate legislation which would have Oregon join a cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec. Unable to stop the legislation, Republican Senators fled the state en masse, preventing […]

Read More
Bike Law Alps
Charlie Thomas Jul 07, 2019

It’s Tour de France time. I follow the racing daily through the footage on TV feed and still photos. But I hadn’t ever considered what’s happening on the other side of the camera lens. Like, what actually goes into snapping these pictures that we see documenting the Tour’s happenings? I started to care more about […]

Read More
E Bike and insurance
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Jul 01, 2019

Prologue  Last month, I rode across the Casco Bay Bridge to talk e-bikes and insurance with Bob O’Brien, the Vice President of Noyes, Hall and Allen Insurance in South Portland, Maine.  Although I have yet to invest in an e-bike for myself, I have been captivated by e-bikes and their potential to get and keep […]

Read More
Brooke Nelson
Danny Feldman Jul 01, 2019

Brooke Nelson has been the ride director of the Cheaha Challenge (www.cheahachallange.com) since shortly after the 2014 ride and in the past 5 years, ride participation has increased 188%.  Since 2017 when it became the only UCI Qualifier, Alabama’s biggest ride has become known nationally and internationally.  The 2019 ride had participants from 31 states […]

Read More
Load More