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

Rachael Maney Nov 28, 2018

I asked my 7 year old son, Will, to draw me a picture of each of these things: life with cars; life with electric cars; life with autonomous cars; they all looked the same. But the fourth picture- life in a modern, forward thinking, and environmentally, economically, and socially responsible place- looked very different. Even […]

Read More
Matt Johnson Nov 06, 2018

We were somewhere around Denison on the edge of the corn fields when the Eurostyle Chamois Butter began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded, maybe we should stop at a watering station…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us, and the road was full of […]

Read More
Peter Wilborn Oct 02, 2018

October is a big month in the triathlon world, with the Kona Ironman World Championships on the 13th. So it is good news that Triathlete Magazine chose its October issue to focus on bicycle safety and advocacy. Bike Law Director (and our resident triathlete) Rachael Maney was featured and interviewed in the piece. She shared […]

Read More
Peter Wilborn Sep 28, 2018

Chicago has become one of the nation’s top cycling cities, but along with more has come an increase in dooring crashes. A Chicago news channel has covered the issue and interviewed attorney Brendan Kevenides, Bike Law’s legal resource in Illinois. Brendan explained the growing risk to cyclists and how the “Dutch Reach” can help.  The […]

Read More
Amy Benner Johnson Sep 21, 2018

Drivers are coming within less than 1.5 feet of cyclists on the road in Knoxville with alarming regularity. Drivers are coming within less than two feet of cyclists on the road in Knoxville with alarming regularity. It’s not your imagination. It’s not all in your head. Your combined senses of touch, sound, and sight all […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Sep 12, 2018

You may have already seen the video below. If you haven’t, please watch. On Tuesday, August 24th just before 7PM, Jeff McCord and approximately 20 other cyclists were stopped at the intersection of Karl Daly and Grants Mill Road in Irondale, Alabama, a town outside the city of Birmingham. As McCord waited for an ambulance […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Aug 30, 2018

In 2010, Richmond, California got lucky when Brooklyn born Najari Smith planted roots in the Bay Area city, quickly claiming a very important role in his new community. Having given more than 1,100 bikes to Richmond’s youth and community members in the last 6 years, Najari’s vision and mission to promote a bike-centric lifestyle has […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 17, 2018

On July 11, 2018, a very experienced rider and friend to many in the Rockdale County area, Albert “Ab” Roesel, was killed while out on a rural road doing a ride that he no doubt had done many times before.  Ab was 75 years old.   The police investigation concluded that Ab had been headed Southbound, […]

Read More
Brendan Kevenides Jun 04, 2018

At sea a boat under power must give way to a more vulnerable craft.  The law requires that a power driven vessel give way to a sailing vessel.  A sail boat must give way to a craft engaged in fishing. These simple rules are consistent with the maxim that with greater power comes greater responsibility. […]

Read More
Commuter Bike
Bruce Hagen May 29, 2018

Recently, my wife and I moved into a new home that’s closer to my office, which has allowed me to start commuting by bike.  I rode my bike to and from my office 4 consecutive days before my schedule forced me back into the car. My hope and plan is to commute by bike at […]

Read More
Pat Brown May 10, 2018

Strength, ambition, and courage are just a few words that come to mind when we think of Anthony Lue.  Growing up, Anthony enjoyed playing competitive sports such as baseball, volleyball, basketball and mountain biking, but his true passion was discovered on his high school track.    After winning gold for 100m hurdles at the provincial championships […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Apr 30, 2018

Following a horrific bicycle crash in 2016, Dr. Michael Rifkin has become a new type of bicycling advocate — one who is deeply committed to ending distracted driving. Read his op-ed on Making Distracted Driving in Maine Taboo here. Dr. Rifkin’s piece reminds us that we can be distracted by our phones and other electronic devices even […]

Read More
Load More