Cyclist Killed in Hit-and-Run Overnight in OKC

BicycleCrashFeb658-year-old Joseph Edward Helmka was struck by a vehicle around 3:00 AM last night near the corner of NW 10th and MacArthur.  He was spotted by a passing motorist and was rushed to the hospital but he expired before arriving at the hospital.  Police are asking anyone with information regarding this crash to contact them at 405-235-7300.

News Sources:

NewsOK: http://okbik.es/15c

KOCO: http://okbik.es/15d

News 9: http://okbik.es/15e

KFOR: http://okbik.es/15f


Spencer Family Continues Search for Hit-and-Run Driver

It’s been two years since the Oklahoma cycling community was shocked by two bicycle fatalities in less than 48 hours both involving long time cyclists.  One of those incidents involved the hit-and-run killing of Alan Spencer.  The driver in that crash has never been identified and police now consider the case a cold one.  As the anniversary of the crash approaches, the Spencer family repeats their plea for information in the case and for the driver of the car to come forward:

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

The family believes that a black or dark truck or SUV with a black guard may have hit and killed Alan Spencer.  If you have any information involving this incident, you should call CrimeStoppers at (405)-235-7300.  You can remain anonymous.


Cyclist Hurt in Yesterday's Hefner Crash Succumbs to Injuries – UPDATED

One of the three cyclists injured in yesterday’s bicycle collision at Lake Hefner has died as a result of his injuries.  The rider, Bernard Monty Maughan, 68, was travelling westbound when he collided with two cyclists (of a group of four) travelling east.  From NewsOK:

Updated 5/2/2012 5:12 PM:

Many have asked me both in comments and emails about the cause of the accident to which I have had no information.  However, this was just posted to News9.com:

Police say 68-year-old Bernard Monty Maughan veered into oncoming cyclists on the dam. Maughan was an avid cyclist and ranked as one of the best in his age group in the state.

His friends tell News 9 he suffered a medical emergency moments before the crash which caused him to lose control of his bicycle.

“He died doing what he loved to do and that was riding and racing bicycles,” says Peter Erdoes, who was in Maughan’s cycling club.

“He was always willing to lend a hand to lesser experienced riders,” adds Erdoes.

via Beloved Cyclist Dies After Crashing Into Other Cyclists In OKC – News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |.

It is a sad thing to lose such a prominent member of the cycling community and our thoughts are with his friends and family.


Three Injured in Lake Hefner Bike Collision

Updated 5/2/2012: It has now been reported that one cyclist has died from his injuries.  Details here.

The Oklahoman is reporting that three cyclists were injured tonight at around 7:00 PM on Lake Hefner dam:

About 7 p.m., four bicyclists were traveling east at the Lake Hefner Dam when a 70-year-old man bicycling west collided with two of them, Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman Lara O’Leary said.

via Three bicyclists hurt at Lake Hefner | NewsOK.com

The 70 year old man was taken to the hospital in critical condition while the other two cyclists suffered more minor injuries but were also taken to the hospital.

KOCO states that the accident happened on the north side of the lake on the dam, but I am having a hard time picturing how such a head on collision could happen in that spot.  I do know that most of my close calls happen on the trails so please be careful out there.


Prison Sentence Reduced for Tausha Borland

The Tulsa World is reporting that Tausha Borland, who killed two cyclists in 2009 while driving under the influence, will now serve twenty years instead of the original 24 year sentence:

At a one-year judicial review conducted Tuesday, Kellough modified that sentence to 20 years in prison plus four years of probation.

Kellough indicated that punishment, rehabilitation and protection of the public were factors he considered in reaching his decision.

On the prison term, Borland must serve 85 percent – 17 years – before being eligible for parole or release. She has been in jail or prison since September 2010 and gets credit on her new sentence for time already served.

She also pleaded guilty in 2010 to a misdemeanor DUI and pleaded no contest to a felony count of leaving the scene of the fatal collision.

Kellough originally sentenced Borland to a five-year suspended sentence for the leaving-the-scene offense and imposed a consecutive one-year suspended sentence for the DUI misdemeanor. Kellough did not modify the sentences on those two counts. The new, four-year suspended part of the manslaughter sentence runs consecutively with the six years of probation imposed in 2010.

Defense attorney Allen Smallwood, who requested the judicial review, said Borland has “performed extraordinarily well” while in the Department of Corrections.

Her DOC review report – which recommended that no modification be granted – indicates that Borland has completed various programs, got outstanding job-performance evaluations and been free of negative incidents and misconduct.

In a sentencing memorandum, Assistant District Attorney Erik Grayless wrote that Borland should not be rewarded for “doing what she is supposed to be doing.”

“Just because this defendant is doing what we expect she should do is not cause by itself for a sentencing modification,” Grayless wrote.

via Prison term lessened for woman convicted in bicyclists’ deaths | Tulsa World.

Borland swerved into Christa Voss and Matt Edmonds while driving through Sand Springs in 2009.

Borland will now serve 10 years on probation once she is released in 2030 instead of the original six years.

 


Christmas Time Plea for Information in Alan Spencer Hit-and-Run Case

I’m a little late on this one, but News 9 has a well made Christmas time story on the Alan Spencer Hit-and-Run case and a continued plea for any information regarding the driver in this case:

As a reminder, there is a $6,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in this case. If anyone knows anything about this tragic event, they should contact Crimestoppers at: 405-236-7300.


Driver Who Killed Stillwater Cyclist to Pay $20,000 in Resititution

James Michael Hazzard, 20, who hit and killed Debra Miller last August, has pleaded no contest to negligent homicide and has been ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to the family:

A driver accused of hitting and killing a bicycle rider on State Highway 51 west of Stillwater earlier this year has pleaded no contest to negligent homicide.

. . .

Special Judge Michael Stano deferred sentencing and judgment for one year, but required Hazzard to pay $20,000 in restitution by Jan. 3. The restitution will go to Miller’s family.

Hazzard must also pay $1,300 in court fines and complete an accident avoidance course, a life skills class and 100 community service hours.

via Driver who hit Stillwater bicyclist must pay $20,000 restitution » Local News » Stillwater NewsPress.

While certainly not even close to being as egregious as the recent Vail, Colorado case, this sentence is disappointingly light. Mr. Hazzard did not flee the scene so, I can understand maybe not sentencing him to lengthy jail time but some would have seemed to be appropriate.  Then  you’ve got the 2 1/2 weeks of community service which is just a joke.  However, what really has me incensed is that it appears, according to the last line of the story, that Mr. Hazzard will be able to drive again.

Shouldn’t killing another human being due to admitted inattention (Mr. Hazzard claimed that the sun was in his eyes which caused him to drift onto the shoulder and strike Ms. Miller) be a clear-cut sign that you should not be allowed the privilege of operating a motor vehicle? How many bodies does it take to have your license revoked?


14 Year Old Killed in Oklahoma City Crash

Another cycling fatality occurred yesterday near the corner of Northwest Expressway and MacArthur:

Anthony Guzman, 14, was riding a 20-inch BMX bicycle in the 5700 block of Northwest Expressway when he tried to cross from south to north and was hit by an eastbound car.

Guzman was dead at the scene, said police Maj. Hugh Osborn. He lived in the area, Osborn said.

via Name of boy killed on bicycle in Warr Acres released | NewsOK.com.

The incident occurred at 8:15 PM but there is no information about whether the cyclist had lights on his bike.   However, the driver was not cited for any traffic violations, so there is ancillary evidence that the bicyclist was found to be at fault.

As most urban cyclists know, Northwest Expressway is particularly difficult to cross.  This is the second cyclist fatality in two years on Northwest Expressway. With very few safe lights and constant traffic it is hard to find a gap.  The intersection that I am forced to use for my commute (Independence and Northwest Expressway) is impossible to trigger by bicycle and has no crosswalk buttons to push on either side of the street.  So I’m often forced to wait for long periods for the light to be triggered.  Unfortunately, I consider it one of the best places to cross the road.

Without any information about how this accident occurred, I won’t blame the road for the accident, but it is certainly a dividing line for the city with no good means for crossing it.  If Mayor Cornett really wants to make OKC cyclist friendly, providing good crossings across this dangerous bit of roadway would go a long way towards that goal and hopefully could help prevent tragedies such as this one.


Tausha Borland Sentenced to 24 Years For Hit-and-Run

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Tausha Borland

Tausha Borland, who earlier plead guilty to last year’s Hit-and-Run crash in Sand Springs that left two cyclists dead and one injured has been sentenced to 24 years in prison:

A Sand Springs woman was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in prison in a manslaughter case linked to the deaths of two bicyclists.

Tausha Borland, 39, pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to two counts of first-degree manslaughter. She waived her right to a trial, and she had no plea agreement with prosecutors regarding her punishment.

Prosecutors asserted that Borland, while under the influence of alcohol, drove a sport utility vehicle into three people who were riding bicycles on Oklahoma 51 near 161st West Avenue west of Sand Springs on June 9, 2009.

Christa Voss, 33, of Owasso and Matthew Edmonds, 34, of Tulsa were killed.

via Sand Springs woman sentenced to 24 years in bicyclist fatalities | Tulsa World.

 

I’m glad to see a strong sentence being handed out in this case.  It delivers a good message not only about the consequences of drinking and driving, but of endangering cyclists as well.


Charges Filed in Debra Miller Death

I know I tweeted about this possibility awhile back, but I’m just now getting the story published.  In any case, charges have been filed against James Hazzard in the death of Debra Miller:

A negligent homicide charge was filed Thursday against a man who drove off state highway 51 and killed a Stillwater bicyclist riding on the shoulder, District Attorney Rob Hudson said.

Edmond resident James Michael Hazzard, 20, could spend up to one year in a county jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charge.

via Charge filed against pickup driver in crash that killed Stillwater bicyclist » Local News » Stillwater NewsPress.

I still find it shocking that a negligent homicide charge is only a misdemeanor and that the maximum punishment is only one year in jail, but at least this is not being treated as an “accident”.