Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Driver Arrested for Death of Bicyclist

In Los Gatos, 28-year-old bicyclist Joshua West has just taken his 7-year old daughter to school and was on his way to his physical therapy class for his back pain when he was struck and killed by an out-of-control Chevrolet Blazer.

According to police, the SUV jumped onto the pedestrian curb where West was hit and struck a steel pedestrian barricade past the intersection of Garden Hill Drive before it rolled over after it hit a traffic signal pole.

Witnesses told the police that the driver, Kevin Derr of San Jose, appeared to be driving at least 50 mph and trying to beat slow-moving traffic on Lark Avenue. The speed limit is 30 mph.

Sgt. Kerry Harris said West was pronounced dead at the scene despite the attempts of witnesses to revive him. The police also noted that there were no skid marks at the scene which indicated that Derr did not try to stop or hit his brakes.

Derr was injured in the rollover crash accident and was taken to the Valley Medical Center. He was later arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.

Bicycle collision fatalities account for about 2 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths – in 2008, there was a total of 714 bicyclists killed. Nearly 91 percent of all bicyclists killed were reportedly not wearing helmets.

Roads are meant to be shared by all drivers, riders and pedestrians but road safety goes flying out the window when either one of these parties become impatient and start to violate traffic rules and regulations.

Failure to yield is one of the most common road violations committed which often leads to collisions but in West’s case, Derr’s blatant disregard of the traffic laws (re: posted speed limit) was the proximate cause of the accident.

Rules and traffic signs and signals are meant to be obeyed at all times as these have been installed to protect the people from hurting each other and themselves.

Derr’s gross negligence in observing traffic rules and irresponsible driving does not only merit criminal charges – West’s family can rightfully file a civil case of wrongful death against him and recover monetary damages.

A wrongful death claim usually arises when a person is killed as a result of negligence or improper conduct and may be filed by the surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents of the victim.