A Marin County bicyclist was killed late last month by a suspected drunken driver in unincorporated Marin County, according to local authorities.
The crash occurred on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in rural west Marin, near the town of Woodacre, where I have ridden myself many times over the years. Like many roads in Marin County, the road at this location is a bit frightening because of the speeds at which motorists pass, although generally there are good sight lines and plenty of opportunity for a motorist to drive safely and to avoid bicycle riders if they are not impaired.
Officers arrived at the scene to find a cyclist in a ditch near the right shoulder of the road, where the bicycle rider was later pronounced dead at Marin General Hospital.
The California Highway Patrol noted the crash appeared to have occurred on the shoulder of the road, not in the traffic lanes, and that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
The driver of the car that struck the cyclist, Paula Elizabeth Drake, a 24 year old Fairfax woman, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter, and booked into Marin County Jail.
Authorities are encouraging anyone with additional information to call the Marin CHP office at 415-924-1100.
My partner George Choulos and I routinely answer questions for potential clients and also people who just don’t know where to start or what to do. Most often, we don’t end up filing a lawsuit but we always try to help by asking details about the facts, explaining the law, and explaining the potential client’s options. If the details about the crash are not immediately available, we know how to investigate and how to uncover the truth.
Off the bat, I myself have several questions about this Marin County fatal bicycle crash. Here are a few:
Did it matter that the bicycle rider was not wearing a bicycle helmet at the time of the collision? Maybe this was a factor, but truthfully, bicycle helmets can only do so much, and on that road motorists drive at high speeds. If a bicyclist is struck by a car at high speed, a helmet is not likely to make any difference at all.
What was the actual point or area of impact? Was the bicycle rider struck while maintaining the furthest practicable position to the right of the lane? If the impact happened on the shoulder, what was the alleged DUI driver doing on the shoulder?
How long was the injured bicycle rider left in the ditch before authorities arrived? Was this a hit and run, initially?
What was the speed of the impact? This question may be answered through accident reconstruction or witness statements.
The above are just some of the questions that come to mind as a bicycle accident attorney who handles serious and catastrophic bicycle accidents, and sometimes fatal bicycle accidents. As they say, “the devil is in the details” and our firm just settled a fatal bicycle collision case where the police report was initially completely against our decedent bicycle rider. When we were hired on our case, it looked pretty bleak at first, but we learned, through a thorough investigation and the interview of witnesses that the reporting police officer had missed, that the truth about how that deadly bicycle accident happened was very different from the story told by a negligent truck driver. After a year of litigation, we had learned so much more, and we were able to make the trucking company accountable for running over our bicyclist client.
The family of this bicycle rider, fatally run down by a possibly DUI motorist needs to immediately call a bicycle accident lawyer who will know what questions to ask, and how to find the answers. Sometimes the truth is only revealed the hard way, and that is why an experienced bicycle accident attorney who knows the dynamics of bicycle accidents is a crucial place to start.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.