Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

Felony Manslaughter Charge in Bicyclist’s Death

Justice may finally be here for the family and friends of a bike rider who was killed in 2015 by an Oklahoma driver.

Patrick Wanninkhof, 25, was a popular New York City school teacher who took part last summer in a cross-country ride with Bike & Build, a nonprofit group that raises money for affordable housing projects.

On July 30, 2015, as Patrick and his fellow riders passed through Washita County in Oklahoma, Patrick and another cyclist were struck by a motorist who was allegedly distracted by her cell phone. Patrick died at the scene of the crash, about 2,390 miles into his planned 3,987-mile journey.

Manslaughter Charge For Motorist

Bike Law has been closely following Patrick’s case, and Bike Law attorney Peter Wilborn is representing his family.  We have just learned that the motorist, Sarah K. Morris, has been charged with first degree manslaughter – a felony. That crime is punishable by imprisonment for not less than four years. Ms. Morris also faces a misdemeanor charge for failing to leave a safe distance while overtaking a bicycle.

The criminal case, State of Oklahoma v. Sarah K. Morris (Case No. CF-2016-18), was filed Jan. 14 in Washita County District Court.

patrick-wanninkhof

Our hearts go out to Patrick’s family and friends. By all accounts, Patrick was a caring and compassionate teacher who went the extra mile for his students in the Bronx. Patrick believed stable housing for students was an important part of their education, Patrick’s father said in one news report.

Reacting to news of the criminal charges, Peter stated, “Too many times, we’ve heard that a cycling fatality is just an ‘accident,’ but they rarely are.  Too many times, prosecutors have refused to file criminal charges when a reckless driver kills one of us, as in a recent bike-car fatality in Maryland. But not in this case here. We hope this is a sign of a turning tide, a sign of justice for cyclists across the country who are hit and killed by distracted or reckless drivers.”

Latest Update

We received this information from the District Attorney’s Office in the afternoon of Jan. 14:

Sarah Morris surrendered herself on the warrant this afternoon.  Bond was originally set on the warrant in the amount of $100,000 but the judge reduced her bond to $10,000 over the State’s objection.

Her next court date is March 8 at 9:00 a.m.

 

Comments

Ebike crash
Bruce Hagen Apr 26, 2022

DRIVER ON METH KILLS 17 YEAR OLD BICYCLIST, BARROW COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY REFUSES TO CHARGE DRIVER WITH FELONY.   On August 23, 2020, at approximately 8:40pm, 17-year old Obianuju Osuegbu was on her way home from her summer job working at a grocery store. She had earned enough money that summer to buy herself a […]

Read More
Stop as Yield
Brian Weiss Apr 25, 2022

Finally, “Stop As Yield” (the much sought after common sense traffic law for bicyclists) is coming to Colorado in 2022, likely July 1st.   Stop as Yield, aka the “Safety Stop” After the Governor Polis signs the law and the Safety Stop becomes effective, anyone who rides a bicycle or scooter on public roads will […]

Read More
Contributory Negligence
Ann Groninger Apr 25, 2022

It took losing at trial and a long appellate process, but it ended in a blow to contributory negligence in North Carolina. We just won an appeal on a bicycle crash case that happened in 2016 and came to us in 2018. The case went to trial during the spring of 2021. Our client was […]

Read More
WALLER CRASH
Rachael Maney Nov 08, 2021

WALLER 6 UPDATE: November 20, 2021 The teenage son of Jason and Jennifer Arnold, who, with their permission, was operating his parents’ F-250 diesel truck when he plowed into our 6 clients while they were riding their bicycles on September 25th, 2021 in Waller, Texas, was released to his parents on Thursday afternoon (11/18/21) after […]

Read More
Atlanta Bike Crash
Peter Wilborn Oct 25, 2021

Many of you have heard about the horrific multi-victim crash from October 7, 2021, in which a Chattanooga driver brutally plowed her car into a group of 5 pedestrians as they were crossing a street, causing catastrophic and life changing injuries. In the chaotic aftermath of running a red light and almost killing an entire […]

Read More
Waller Bike Crash Carnage
Rachael Maney Oct 02, 2021

PRESS RELEASE FROM BIKE LAW’S NATIONAL DIRECTOR RACHAEL MANEY In light of the recent Waller Bike Crash in Texas, and in an effort to help untangle and unpack some of the emotionally-charged comments, questions, and inaccurate assumptions being made, we want to update you on the parts that we can share. I hope that this […]

Read More
Brother James
Peter Wilborn Sep 29, 2021

23 years ago today, the world lost my brother Jim. He was killed on his bike by an under-aged driver who blew through a red light. While the years don’t really blunt the loss, they foster gratitude for the gifts left behind. My brother blessed me with so much, but 3 things stand out:   […]

Read More
Family bicycle charity
Bike Law Aug 17, 2021

GUEST POST BY BIKE LAW AMBASSADOR KURT AREHART The bike charity Raleigh Community Kickstand, or just Kickstand for short, is a four year-old project organized under Oaks & Spokes, a 501(c)(3) engaged in fostering cycling in Raleigh. Kickstand channels donated bicycles to low-income and homeless members of our community whose lives can be improved with […]

Read More
Contributory negligence Bike crash
Ann Groninger May 08, 2021

If you’ve met me, you’ve heard talk about contributory negligence many times, including here and here and here. My vocation and my passion as a bike crash attorney is representing injured bicyclists and families of bicyclists who have been killed by careless drivers. Contributory negligence severely impairs the right of these individuals and bicyclists to […]

Read More
Load More