Driver kills a cyclist and is sentenced for improper lane usage

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous's picture
David R (not verified)

"""In addition to a mere fine, we implore you to recommend community service and continued education to improve her driving.""

This is outrageous on too many levels. How with that record culminating in a fatal accident, can this woman ever be allowed to drive again? Stories like this make me want to consider a career in law and being solely dedicated to cyclists' rights."

Anonymous's picture
Joe (not verified)

I made a comment in an earlier thread that a driver's license is considered a birthright. This sentiment is clearly reflected in the rules that govern the issuance of licenses as well as the penalties for traffic offenses. Note that the driver in the article does not lose her license (apparently the license is not even temporarily suspended).

The licensing and traffic rules/penalties need to reflect the danger that an improperly operated motor vehicle presents. But for that to happen, the view that a license is a birthright needs to change.

Anonymous's picture
mcgsp (not verified)
Driver kills a cyclist

There was a period when drunk driving was consider a minor violation. There was a time when drunk driving and killing a person usually resulted in a suspended sentence.

But a few mothers who lost their children from drunk drivers, took action. They had few contacts and little money, but they started a organization called MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)

Its time to do the same to protect cyclist from dangerous, distracted, demented drivers.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
My letter to the editor of the paper that terrible story is in.

"Letter to the Editor
The News-Gazette, Inc.
P.O. Box 677
Champaign, IL 61824

""Woman is sentenced for bicyclist's death,"" (Nov. 30) reports State's Attorney Julia Rietz charged Jennifer Stark with the petty offense of improper lane useage for killing a cyclist who was riding off the side of the road while she was distracted because she was downloading ring tones to her cell phone instead of paying attention to driving. In fact, as the article notes, she was driving so far off the side of the road, she hit the cyclist with the driver's side of her car.

The article states Stark had three prior convictions since May 2005 one for disregarding a traffic light and two for speeding, the last five weeks before she killed the cyclist.

Rietz said the legal definition of recklessness did not fit Stark's actions and the driver could have 'no reasonable expectation of a bike on the side of the road' spite of the fact yet every time the family of the killed cyclist visited the accident site they saw cyclists in the area.

Stark was sentenced to the maximum sentence for the charge: six months of conditional discharge a form of probation without reporting to an officer a $1,000 fine and traffic safety school.

Stark would seem to not be the only one to commit a crime here. ...Well, no, Reitz's non-feasance may be a civil action rather than criminal conduct. Her action wasn't prosectorial discretion; it was prosecutorial indiscretion and warrants her removal from office for failure to conscientiously perform the duties of her office.

245 East 63rd Street
New York, NY 10021
T: (212) 371-4700
E: [email protected]
E: [email protected]"

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Is there any reason why the driver would not be liable to a civil suit?

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
You bet they can--and should--sue. Hell, OJ was acquitted & sued
Anonymous's picture
bill vojtech (not verified)
The ladder of law is broken.

So much for personal responsibility.

Yes, OJ was sued and, unfortunately, has not paid a dime– court says they can't touch his football pension. Let's hope this ditz is not as well protected.

The country sees driving as a birthright because, unlike NYC, they don't have a mass transit system. Even other cities close their systems in the wee hours. That's not an endorsement of that view, just an observation. Funny how many of us turn up our noses at one of the best mass transit systems in the world.

The whole thing makes me think of this:

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Funny, I thought of The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll too.

"""Now's the time for your tears."""

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
NYPD & DA will find succor in this for their non-performance

If we don't have enough cyclists death-by-driver here in NY to keep one's rage at a constant boil, we can always look at non-prosecutions elsewhere....

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
On the subject of killer-drivers....

This surely does not warrant a thread of its own and, in any event, is a real reach, but....

Politcal junkies will want to note ex-Kentucky lieutenant governor, Steve Henry, seems likely to run for governor in 2007.

And why, you ask, is this of interest to us? Because it was his wife, Heather French Henry, a former Miss America, who, while driving, killed a woman who was cycling and who, in an interview on the Today show, all but begged us to be sorry for HER, the killer-driver.

Anonymous's picture
Jonathan (not verified)

*sigh* nmmn (no more message needed)

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)
Heather French Henry

She killed a 44 year old mother of four. Her rational...the cyclist crossed the street outside of the crosswalk.

What a winner.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
An astonishing interview of the killer-driver with Matt Lauer

"Peter called to my attention, below, my likely transgressing NBC's © by reproducing here the entire transcript of Matt Lauer's interview with Henry on The Today Show, November 17, 2003 in the course of which he spoon fed her lines and she covered herself with self-pity aided and abetted by him.

So here I've edited the transcript and make only what is called ""fair use"" of it here. This is probably somewhat less self-pitying for my deletions.


MATT LAUER: Give me an idea of what these last couple of months have been like for you.

Ms. HEATHER FRENCH HENRY (Former Miss America): It was almost impossible to talk about, especially the first couple of weeks. ... (G)etting to come out now, is more to help others who've been through it, and more so to say thank you. Thousands of letters and e-mails from peo--all around the world....


LAUER: And you're in your SUV. And you're at a light waiting to make a turn. The light turns green. Take me from there.

Ms. HENRY: (T)he hardest thing to live with is seeing her face, her hand in the air and her screaming, `No,' and trying everything you can to avoid an unavoidable accident. (I)t replays through your mind all the time. (Y)ou swerve the car to the right, because...there were cars to the left.... (T)here was just no way to get around it.

LAUER: So you made--you made this turn. She was on a bicycle.

Ms. HENRY: She--it darted out from...


LAUER: And from what I understand, there was a lot of sun glare on the road.

Ms. HENRY: There was a lot, and not blinding sun I will say. But it made me concentrate really hard. It's a very busy intersection. There are six lanes of traffic going in and out of that area. And you're always very aware of how much room you're taking in that turn, especially in a truck [sic] with other cars there.

(I)t's just like when a child darts out in traffic to get a ball.

LAUER: You hit her with the center of the grill, basically. What did you do immediately after?

Ms. HENRY: ... We all convened over at--at Karola side. And then my husband--we live literally less that a half mile from that scene, so he ran down within 30

LAUER: He is a doctor....

Ms. HENRY: A trauma doctor, so he's very used to these situations.

LAUER: What was your reaction when you got the word later that night that she had died?

Ms. HENRY: Oh, I didn't hear that she had until I saw it on the news. ... (T)hat was like one of the hardest parts was not having that connection and then having to deal with the second-hand information that just--just totally devastated my life, and still does today, knowing that, you know, I will have to move on. ...

LAUER: You've released a statement through your husband's office saying, expressing your deep condolences to her family. Have you reached out in any other way to her family? .... (S)he has four children, is that right...

Ms. HENRY: She does. She did have four children.

LAUER: ...that sometimes her children are being told is--is, `Your mom was killed by that beauty queen?'

Ms. HENRY: Right. That's what I have feared the most, and that people--I mean people who know me and the work that I've done know that I'm a very compassionate person towards humans. I mean, I value human life so much.

LAUER: Why not just call? Why not--why not get in contact with her family personally? ....

Ms. HENRY: We've been very...interested in that. And I just don't think that either party we are really ready yet for that. I mean, it's a struggle enough for me to get out of bed. ...(I)t's just--it's--it's devastating.

LAUER: ... Do you think...being somewhat high profile, the fact that you're a power couple in Kentucky, has i"

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Astonishing violation of coypright

That is copyrighted material; it has one of those circled C symols like found on your club jersey design and at the bottom of this web page. Is there any reason why you cannot post the link instead to the site that contains the content and is paid for with their advertisement revenue?

In the past, I've taking the time to look up the information, edit out the user's post and post the link. That's not much incentive for folks to stop doing such activity, now, is it?

Maybe instead such posts now should be deleted outright....

Anonymous's picture
Anon (not verified)
This will be an unpopular post

I hate to defend this, given we're dealing with such a horrific tragedy, but I'm glad that this woman at least seems to feel truly sorry for what happened and is not trying to let the memory of this episode die. This, as opposed to the callous a**holes who often write the biased news reports. Based on my reading of her comments, we have no basis to conclude that she wants us to feel more sorry for her than for the victim. Nor do we have any basis to put this anywhere in the same category as some of the more recent killings where the drivers were clearly, unequivocally, egregiously at fault (re NYU student, Dr. Carl Nacht, Illinois rider). We obviously all believe in the right of cyclists to ride the streets safely and be treated with equal respect as pedestrians and motorists, and obviously our emotions are running high given the repeated abuses and shows of disrespect, but you *still* need to treat each case individually and not sacrifice everyone on the same altar. If you rush to indict each and every person involved in a cycling death no matter what the evidence, you can't also complain about non-cyclists habitually rushing to their own judgments about the victims of cycling accidents and automatically assuming that cyclists killed in motor collisions are somehow responsible for their own deaths.

Anonymous's picture
mike p (not verified)

maybe we can teach drivers to aim their vehicle at another vehicle or object rather than a bicyclist or pedestrian. the vehicles have seat belts and protection, most have airbags . the 86 year old driver that killed 10 people and injured 70 in Los Angeles made a conscious decision to drive around other all the other cars and parked vehicles in the farmers market. this woman admits that there was a vehicle on her left,she had airbags, seat belts and was accelerating from a red light however she chose to run into the bicyclist.

Anonymous's picture
Joe (not verified)

"The interview makes it seem like the accident is entirely the cyclist's fault - ""it's just like when a child darts out in traffic to get a ball"". From what I've seen, cyclists don't tend to launch themselves in front of moving SUVs, especially when that cyclist is a mother with four children at home. The fact that she hasn't contacted the victim's family suggests that she is fearful of a lawsuit (granted, a lawsuit can be filed against someone even if they were not in the slightest bit at fault).

I found the fact that she spent most of the interview talking about her suffering rather distasteful. I don't doubt that this has taken a toll on her and her family, but what about the victim's family?"

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

"""LAUER: You hit her with the center of the grill, basically.""

Unless you assume the cyclist was a complete fool, she wouldn't have crossed in front of the 6 lanes if she didn't think she was visible. Do you get the inkling there was multitasking going on on the part of the driver?

Put another way. If a routine procedure yields extraordinary results something else in in the mix.

Perhaps she was actually on the cellphone with her husband when the accident happened. She said she called her husband and he came right over. In this case tracing her cellphone activity, the timing would have been too close to call if she was on the phone at the time of the accident or had called moments after the accident. The interview is vague on when he was called."

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Deconstructing the Lauer-Henry interview.

Some things in the Lauer-Henry interview don't make sense.

The accident was at an intersection with a six-lane road. French-Henry and her husband lived “less than a half mile” from the accident. I gather far less. She said her husband ran to the scene of the accident in “less than thirty seconds.” A man of his supposed age and shape, not running on a track surface or with running shoes is likely not going to run 100 yards in that time. Rich people’s homes are a scant 100 yards from a busy intersection with a six-lane highway?

The cyclist had to be going perpendicular to French-Henry to be hit by her, not to mention in the center of the grille. Since French-Henry was turning, the cyclist was going straight. Vehicles going straight have the right-of-way over turning vehicles.

French-Henry was going from a, you should excuse the expression, dead stop at a traffic light. Is it plausible—perhaps it is—that in those few yards, with all the care she describes having driven, she could and would have accelerated so fast and reached a speed as to put such a dent in her car, not to mention into the cyclist?

It seems to me the cyclist may have been on the sidewalk. Otherwise, if she were riding in the street, why even mention she was outside of the crosswalk? She would have been in the road. So coming to the curb at the end of the walk in order to cross the street, how far outside of the crosswalk could she have been that French-Henry hangs her defense/exculpation on that? And if she was outside of the crosswalk, does French-Henry contend she wouldn’t have hit her? Hmm, let’s see: if she were on the side of the crosswalk closer to French-Henry’s approach, French-Henry would have had even less time to slow down and stop for her. If she were on the far side of French-Henry’s approach, is French-Henry saying she would have stopped her SUV in time to not hit the crossing cyclist, but that she accelerated her SUV enough to kill her in the distance between the crosswalk and where the cyclist was crossing outside the crosswalk? Not likely.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Heather French Henry, spokeswoman for AAA Kentucky!

"How ironic: Heather French Henry ""tapped as spokeswoman for AAA Kentucky,"" 15 months after she killed the cyclist.

And by the way, in order to exculpate herself, Miss America appeared on Oprah, of course:

The Oprah Winfrey Show seemed like the best way to tell her story, Henry said, because it gave her more time to talk and explain what she went through. The show also reaches several countries, including Germany, she said.

""I'm hoping Karola's family will see it,"" she said.

Hmmm... why not contact her family directly?

Mordecai ""trying to avoid getting run over by beauty queens"" Silver"

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Mordecai, that is a GREAT bit of sleuthing! Bravo to you!

That news in that article is nothing less than astonishing, flabbergasting, appalling. And no mention is even made of you know what!

How appalling!

(And your Gilbert citation is further reason to offer you a tip of my helmet. I hadn't even heard of that work.)

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
A must-read article by Charlie Komanoff on Ng's death-by-driver.
Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

I suppose Charlie Komanoff cannot be falted for thinking big. Sure, I would like to see twice the carrying capacity of the Hudson River Bike Path. Even among only users at peak periods the path is a zoo. If it were enlarged and safety issues thoroughly addressed perhaps more commuters would use it. No doubt recreational users will increase as more New Yorkers become aware of it.

Perhaps I see the path in persective. I used to run around Washington Square Park. And I was grateful for it. To me the HRBP is a gift which I have not yet gotten over. The dangers are there. My heart goes out to those who get nailed lulled on by a false sense of security. I see opportunites to improve safety and all the nooks where danger can strike. Like Carl Nacht, I sometimes think of myself as a big fish who has mastered the game. But I still have close calls that come out of the blue like a kid who ran out across the path without looking by the flag pole near 72nd Street or almost getting hit by a cyclist from behind when I turned around after looking back, while runnning. I misjudged the speed of the bike and waited too long after looking back before I turned around. Every crossing is Russian Roulette as right hand turning cars and trucks southbound on West Street do not have to stop before the turn. If you come out behind a hedge and they are still moving quickly, you might not make it home.

Yes, I want more improvements but I am grateful that we have this path.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Shoe on the other foot

To Hank (who I think is one of the most considerate cyclist /ride leader):

snip>close calls that come out of the blue like a kid who ran out across the path without looking by the flagpole near 72nd Street.

I think this is the root of the problem of how drivers see cyclist. We don’t belong where they are. I am amazed at the speed that some cyclists carry when they round the turn at the little league field and oval track. I don’t know if anything else can be done to slow people down at that corner, but a lot of people don’t. The environment changes for 10 blocks along the narrow waterfront and cyclists become the aggressors and bullies.

Anonymous's picture
Colleen (not verified)
so true

"I took my kids out for a ride last summer on the bike path in my on-going effort to cultivate a love for cycling in them. At one unfortunate point, one of my kids took a curve on the northern end of the path a bit wide. Before we knew what happened, we heard ""Get the f-k out of the way"" and were buzzed by cyclists in a paceline going much too fast for that place and time of day. Scared him a lot. As I write this, I realize that I don't think he's been back on his bike since then. So much for cultivating a love of cycling."

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

To be functioning members of the community, we as cyclists must understand there are times when we are predators and times we are prey.

We need to be aware of danger to ourselves at all times. However, we must also be as conscience of the damage we can inflict on others.

To paraphrase a line from the movie Shane. A bicycle is only a tool, it is no better or worse than the person using it.

cycling trips