02

Blog

Faulty Police Report Fixed In Biker’s Death

The parents of 23-year-old Canadian bicyclist Iain Gerrard heard the words no parents ever want to hear: “Your son is dead.”

On July 14, 2014, the Gerrards learned their son had been killed in Mississippi on a bike tour of the Deep South. Iain’s parents were devastated by the news. Their grief quickly turned to anger over what one newspaper described as a “shoddy investigation” into Iain’s death.

The Mississippi State Trooper who filed the crash report initially said Iain was riding his bike on the wrong side of the road just before the fatal crash. That crash report was based on a statement by the truck driver. In one of the worst ever cases of blaming the victim, the truck driver later suggested Iain had intentionally ridden into the truck’s path.

The crash report was wrong, according to an investigation by Bike Law attorney Charlie Thomas of New Orleans, Louisiana. Thanks to Charlie’s investigation, the police report has since been amended.

Iain’s case is the latest instance where a bicyclist is wrongly blamed for a fatal crash. Bicycle journalist Alan Snel details a long list of similar blame-the-cyclist  reports.

A Bike Trip Tracing America’s Roots Music

Iain was on a 4,000-kilometer bicycle tour from his home in Toronto to New Orleans and back. Iain was fascinated by American roots music, such as the Blues, and he dreamed of visiting the birthplaces of that art form, including Memphis and New Orleans.

Iain had toured Graceland and the famed Sun Studio in Memphis before heading south on July 14, 2014, into Mississippi on Highway 61, known as “The Blues Highway.”

About a half hour before his stopping point for the day, Iain was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer. Iain’s parents received the fateful call from the coroner that evening.

Initial Police Report Blamed Ian For Fatal Crash

Law enforcement officials, relying on a statement from the truck driver, concluded in the official accident report that Iain was bicycling in the wrong direction on the highway — something Iain’s parents said their safety conscious son would never do. The truck driver even told an insurance investigator that Iain might have attempted suicide by intentionally riding in front of his truck, according to one news report. When it comes to blaming the victim, it doesn’t get any more outrageous than that.

In fact, another motorist who witnessed the accident said Ian was riding in the same direction as traffic and had been hit from behind.

Bike Walk Tennessee, a statewide advocacy group, contacted Iain’s parents and said “it was concerned that statements made by the Mississippi Highway Patrol appeared to illustrate a misunderstanding of cycling laws,” according to a Jan. 18 article in the thestar.com. The article’s headline: “A haphazard investigation of Iain’s Gerrard’s death in America’s Deep South.”

At the suggestion of Bike Walk Tennessee, Iain’s parents hired Louisiana Bike Law attorney Charlie Thomas to handle their civil claim. Using a private investigator and an accident reconstruction expert, Thomas determined Iain had been hit from behind, contradicting the truck driver’s version of events. The bike itself was a crucial piece of evidence, retrieved from the Department of Transportation. The major damage was to the bike’s rear triangle. The front wheel and fork were largely intact.

Thomas said the officer who wrote the initial accident report tracked the bike down and examined it again.

“When he did, he finally called us and said that he was wrong in his opinion and that it indeed was a rear strike,” Thomas said in an interview with a video reporter from thestar.com.

The report from thestar.com indicates the officer declined to give the truck driver a ticket or label the fatality as anything other than an accident because he did not witness it.

Confidential Settlement Reached

The Gerrards recently reached a confidential settlement with the trucker driver’s insurer. But their grief over their son’s tragic death remains.

According to the article in thestar.com, “They are still angry with how their son’s death was handled by authorities and continue to question why the investigation was conducted so haphazardly.”

Please take a few moments to honor Iain’s memory by reading the heartbreaking article about his bike tour and by watching the video about him at the top of this post.

Comments

Kathryn Doornbos
Danny Feldman May 20, 2019

Kathryn Doornbos is the executive director of Redemptive Cycles, a non-profit organization in Birmingham, Alabama operating since 2013.  Redemptive’s mission is to “redeem the streets” by getting more people on bicycles to make Birmingham a “more connected, comfortable and livable city.” Redemptive works to achieve its goal by selling many refurbished and some new bicycles, […]

Read More
Charlotte Ride of Silence
Ann Groninger May 16, 2019

This year was my 10th Ride of Silence and the 10th one Bike Law North Carolina has co-sponsored in Charlotte. Hearing the poem read and seeing the throng of bicyclists roll silently out, is always chilling, no matter how often I see it. And rolling back in, knowing that music, refreshment and followship await, is […]

Read More
Michigan Ride of Silence
Bryan Waldman May 15, 2019

Tonight, multiple communities in Michigan will join in the Ride of Silence, an annual ride that happens around the world to honor people who have been killed or injured while riding a bicycle on a public highway or road.  Additionally, the Ride of Silence is intended to serve as a reminder, or raise awareness, of […]

Read More
Ride of Silence
Bob Mionske May 14, 2019

This year marks the 17th anniversary of the Ride of Silence, which honors cyclists who have been killed by a motor vehicle collision. In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in Dallas, Texas after Larry Schwartz was killed by a bus while riding. Larry’s death was horribly tragic for the Dallas cycling community. […]

Read More
Ann Groninger May 09, 2019

Earlier this year, I began working with Ann Groninger, representing bicyclists in North Carolina. I have worked as a personal injury attorney for more than five years. For many years, I’ve been an avid runner, completing my second Boston Marathon two weeks ago. Working with Bike Law North Carolina has inspired me to ride my […]

Read More
Brendan Kevenides May 09, 2019

As the train crossed from Belgium into the Netherlands my excitement grew.  I sat forward to get a better look out of the window at the country side. Then I saw them, beautiful, clean, pale red ribbons stretching through the low lying land.    They were bicycle paths; actually not so much paths as bicycle highways, […]

Read More
Rick Bernardi May 08, 2019

May 4, 2019. The team showed up with engines revved in close-to-full attendance for the Montinore Road Race, blessed with near-perfect racing conditions as temps pushed up into the 70’s. The race was 10 laps of 10 kilometers with a 3-minute climb to the finish each lap. We got to work immediately with the slick-easy-rider […]

Read More
Bicycle Death
Charlie Thomas May 07, 2019

I’m going to the Ride of Silence on the evening of Wednesday, May 15, 2019. This ride honors those who have been injured or killed while riding and raises awareness about sharing our roadways. If you’re in favor of this, come ride with us.   The Ride of Silence happens worldwide and is now in […]

Read More
Bike riding in Mesa
Brian Weiss May 06, 2019

When there is snow in the mountains and in the front range, I love to head west to Mesa County to ride bikes, visit friends, and hang out.  It goes without saying that Mesa County is a beautiful place with scenic views that can be seen from spectacular roads and trails. My favorite places to […]

Read More
Danny Feldman May 06, 2019

Alabama is considering 2 new laws which, if passed, will have a positive effect not only on bicyclists, but the public at large. The first of these is the “dead red” law.  Under this proposed legislation, a cyclist or motorcyclist, neither of whom have enough steel and/or weight to trip a sensor thereby changing a […]

Read More
Winston Salem Bike Ride
Ann Groninger May 06, 2019

I always say that my favorite thing about bicycling is getting to meet other people that are super passionate about bicycling. One of those people is Amy Easter. I’ve met Amy a number of times over the years at various advocacy events and was so excited to connect with her to talk about all the […]

Read More
Colorado Bike Law Enforcement
Brian Weiss May 06, 2019

Recently, I/Brian spoke at the Mesa County Bicycling Alliance Meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado.  At the meeting, I had a chance to talk with Colorado State Patrol (CSP) Captain Matthew Ozanic.  Captain Ozanic was very friendly, down to earth, and also practical about the enforcement of cycling laws in Colorado.   I had some time before […]

Read More
Load More