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No charges in fatal bicycle crash that led to loss of a loved one

The family of a man killed in an Anchorage, Alaska bicycle accident early this year have recently learned that the driver of the vehicle that struck and killed their loved one will not face criminal charges in the incident. The case has sparked a great deal of debate across the state, as there are a number of factors that complicate the core issues surrounding one family's loss of a loved one. However, after close to eight months of investigation into the matter, local authorities have released a statement outlining their reasons for not charging the driver involved in this bicycle crash.

The accident took place in the early afternoon, as a 65-year-old man was attempting to cross a busy roadway. Another vehicle had chosen to make a wide right turn around him, which momentarily blocked the rider from the view of oncoming traffic. The cyclist should have yielded to that driver, but did not. The driver who struck and killed the cyclist may not have seen him until seconds before the impact took place.

What complicates the case are the details surrounding the driver. The 59-year-old man is handicapped, with limited mobility. He takes multiple prescription medications, and also uses medical marijuana. When police arrived at the scene and interviewed the driver, he told them that he had not used marijuana since the evening prior; later drug testing showed that the driver had used marijuana the day of the incident. However, due to his limited mobility, the driver was not given any form of field sobriety testing in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

With all of these factors taken into consideration, the district attorney's office declined to bring charges against the driver who struck and killed the cyclist in this fatal bicycle accident. The man's family, however, could choose to bring a wrongful death suit against the driver whose actions contributed to the loss of a loved one. In a case in which there is shared blame for a fatal outcome, demonstrating that one party acted in a negligent manner that contributed to the accident can lead to a win in an Alaska civil court, even if only for partial damages.

Source: Alaska Dispatch News, "Review of fatal West Anchorage car-bike collision finds no basis for criminal charges", Craig Medred, Sept. 2, 2014

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