In looking at local accidents involving Bicyclists, Motorcyclists, and Pedestrians (BMPs), of which there seems to have been a lot occurring this summer, one has to wonder why few of the vehicle drivers involved and presumed be at fault after an investigation ever get any repercussions for killing or critically injuring the BMPs.
For example, no legal ramifications of these following local cases in the last two years have ever been noticed by the police or media, all involve a driver stealing the right-of-way from a BMP. These were all followed up by a seriously injured or dead person/people on the road, and someone driving away without any blame:
2016 West Michigan 3 Biker Accidents (note: last incident involved DWI arrest for driver)
2015 Ludington Vehicle Stops in front of Moped (note: motorist cited for unrelated DWLS)
A common theme by the police and media are to report that the motorcyclist wasn't wearing a helmet, the bicyclist struck from behind was somehow at fault, and a variety of other factors to deflect the blame away from the drivers who in these cases and others, were primarily at fault by doing something erroneous-- something that drivers with good judgment would not make.
Going down the list: the Hamlin driver failed to allow the cyclist to turn after he signaled it, the Emerson Lake driver failed to notice the biker coming down the highway, the Petoskey driver failed to stay on the roadway, the 3 WM Biker incidents involved drivers failing to yield the right of way, the first Riverton driver failed to yield to a pedestrian on the road side, the second failed to yield at the stop sign, the Ludington driver failed to signal and properly slow for a turn (one could say the moped driver also failed to follow at a safe distance), and the GR driver failed to stay on the roadway.
This is a pattern you will find going through BUMPS archive of local BMP accidents, with only two exceptions. The first exception was the sad case of Darius Vanbrook, the young boy killed back in February, 2012, ran into by Mason County Sheriff Corrections Officer Michael Hays. The record clearly shows that Hays was speeding when he hit the child, Hays says in his own words that he saw a car in the middle of the road as he approached, but somehow failed to see Darius walking on the side of the road that he struck with his speeding vehicle. Because of the driver's occupation, he avoided any repercussions, however, the same department he worked for had the audacity to ticket the dead.
The second involves a 'distracted moment'. In May 2012, Matt Millspaugh, a Custer teacher, struck and killed a couple of motor bikers and at the end of that year was convicted of a misdemeanor 'moving violation causing death of another person'. He allegedly had to go over the center line to avoid crashing into a motorist who had stopped in his lane on US 31 going to Manistee, right into the path of a motorcycle with a couple on it.
In Oceana County, a Ludington truck driver who wasn't able to stop in time on the highway near New Era is going to be getting the same treatment as Millspaugh. Prosecutor Joseph Bizon has indicated he will arrest and charge Jonathan Ashley with a misdemeanor for rear-ending a family of five and another motorist on US 31 near Stony Lake Road in July, leading to a critical injury of one of the child passengers.
According to the accident report, Ashley was behind two cars that were slowing down for traffic backed up on the freeway. Ashley stated he was looking to his right at a truck which went off the roadway to get to the Stony Lake Road exit ramp to avoid the traffic. When Ashley looked back in front of him, the two vehicles were slowing for traffic. Ashley’s semi-truck ran into the back of both vehicles.
“It is illegal to commit a moving violation that thereafter causes substantial injury or death,” Bizon said. “We believe there is evidence to support he committed a moving violation that caused the accident.” Why hasn't Bizon and his predecessors used this same line of reasoning for other Oceana cases involving vehicles turning in front of motorcyclists (such as this 2013 Hart Van and 2007 New Era incident)?
For some reason, prosecutors look the other way when motorists turn in front of motorcyclist, yawn when bicyclists get hit from behind on the shoulder, and are unmoved when pedestrians obeying the rules get hit on rural roads. But if you are traveling down the road and have a moment of distraction that diverts your attention from the car in front of you slowing down, and not really in the midst of a real "moving violation", they begin invoking the penalties that law allows for such instances. Can someone explain why?