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Letter to the editor

Article about accidental death leaves reader with questions

June 01, 2011 - Dear Editor,

Recently, I read the article regarding the death of bicyclist and artist, Eric Shanley ("Local man killed in bike accident," May 11, 2011). I have  strong feelings resulting from my review of this article.

The article stated, a "fully marked" police car struck Mr. Shanley, resulting in his death.  Does this fact mean that Mr. Shanley should have seen the police vehicle simply because it was "fully marked?"   Would an "unmarked" vehicle make it more devastating?  Last I checked, pedestrians always have the right-of-way, regardless of the type or make of vehicle, and regardless of WHO is inside the vehicle.

The article also stated, "It is still not known if alcohol was a factor in the incident".  What a remark to add to the devastation of the friends and family affected by Mr. Shanley's death.  Even if alcohol had been a factor, and Mr. Shanley was not aware of his surroundings, fact remains: 1.  He was a pedestrian, and 2.  It is our duty as motor vehicle drivers to be on the look out for any pedestrians while we drive, especially through the downtown area.  This could just have easily been a child, and then the excuse "maybe they were drinking" would be less applicable.  I am appalled as this statement gave me the impression that perhaps it was the victim's fault.  What the article failed to mention was whether or not SPEED of the motor vehicle was a factor.

Fact of the matter is, it was late at night, dark and most pedestrians do not wear reflective clothing due to how costly this type of clothing is.  I do not know the exact details of the vehicular collision, but I do know that many police officers are the worst offenders when it comes to speeding, thinking they are above the law.  In fact, I have seen more police officers pass me at astounding rates, and get away with it.  Does the badge mean speed limit: endless?  I have been pulled over for less than what the officer passing me was doing.  In cases of emergency, sure.  But without lights and sirens putting innocent citizens at risk? I think not.  High speed chases often result in the lives of many innocent victims. 

I also am a medical professional and take care of hit and run victims frequently.  For Mr. Shanley to have died from impact on site, he must have been hit at a high rate of speed.  If you are going too fast near a downtown area to stop for a pedestrian after you see him, something is wrong.

Actions cannot be reversed.  A good man died on impact from a motor vehicle, driven by a police officer.  Just as the police officer will have to cope with this terrible loss, so will the family of Mr. Shanley.  Demeaning his memory by trying to place blame with the victim is immoral and unethical. My heart goes out to all involved. Regardless, if "alcohol was a factor" this death could have been prevented, unless Mr. Shanley decided to play chicken and run directly in front of a moving vehicle. To state, "perhaps alcohol was a factor" downplays all of our roles' as citizens and as motor vehicle operators, the role to place pedestrian safety over our time frames and urgent tasks.

Thank you for listening to my views, and I hope that Mr. Shanley's family and friends get the peace they need and deserve, as do all parties involved.

Amy Kuechen

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