Judicial System Failure in Bicyclist Death

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My precious sister, Debra, was killed by a motorist last Aug. 27, 2013 while riding her bicycle in Newport Beach.

The Orange County DA filed charges vehicular manslaughter and the trial began Sept. 8, 2014. The DA presented evidence that my sister was properly making a right turn when she was hit from behind. The defense argued that this was just a ‘tragic accident’.  The jury decided 7-5 and being a criminal trial the decision needed to be unanimous. Thus the judge declared them hopelessly deadlocked (a ‘hung jury’) and the charges were dismissed. The driver received no penalty, no fine, no suspension of his driver’s license, and nothing will reflect on his record.

“There is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault,” wrote Daniel Duane in a NY Times op-ed piece, “as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene.”

Is this justice? I am at a loss as to how our judicial system allows a person to kill another human being and that person is free to go on as if nothing ever happened.

Driving too fast and/or too close to get you to your destination two seconds sooner is not worth it. I know there is a new 3-ft. rule in place but drivers need to know the consequences of their actions.

Clearly our laws must be changed and the public must be reminded that our roads must be shared.


Nancy A. Zeff

Golden, CO



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