Kill a Cyclist = Slap on the wrist: Follow-Up On Wisconsin Tandem Fatality

With a tip of the hat to our reader James O’Brien for bringing this to our attention, here is how the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office ruled on the motorist who ran down Douglas & Kris Hanson of Green Bay, Wisconsin back on August 1st, killing Kris and critically injuring Douglas.  You can find the original story that we posted to our Blog HERE.

Michael Gustman, Seymour, cited for inattentive driving in crash that killed Kris Hanson, Green Bay

ONEIDA — A 55-year-old Seymour man has been cited for inattentive driving in connection with an August crash that killed a Green Bay woman riding a tandem bicycle with her husband.

Michael Gustman was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette about 11 a.m. on Aug. 1 when he hit the back of a tandem bike on westbound Outagamie County EE just west of County C. The crash killed Kris Hanson, 56, and injured her husband Douglas Hanson, 59.

A review from the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office noted that Gustman had a zero blood-alcohol content and that data downloaded from his vehicle showed no signs of excessive speed or other reckless driving.

Because of that, the criminal elements of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle were not met, the review said. Gustman was issued a $187.90 fine and has a Nov. 9 court date set in Outagamie County.

“You’re supposed to be able to see what’s on the road in front of you and you should only proceed when it’s safe to do so,” Outagamie County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Jobe said Friday. “When you run into another vehicle or in this case, a bicycle you should have seen, then obviously it’s our view that the only reason you didn’t see it was because you weren’t paying attention.”

So, once again we find that motorists (ourselves included if we drive motor vehicles) enjoy a virtual lack of accountability when it comes to avoiding objects and people as they motor along.  While logic might suggest that the primary job of a motorist is to not hit anything or kill anyone, that’s simply not the case under the laws in many jurisdictions. So long as you don’t speed, drink or drift out of your lane while you’re texting, fiddling with your iPod, reprogramming your GPS, reading a book, doing work, admiring yourself in the mirror, sightseeing or doing anything else other than actually “driving your vehicle” the criminal courts system may give you a virtual pass if you happen to run-down and kill someone.

Now, there is of course a civil legal system where folks can try to extract a price for egregious behavior by motorists where the real winner is always the attorney’s given how those cases play out while the family has to keep reliving their painful loss over and over and over again.

By the way, still no updates have hit the web on the motorist J.B. Gore who ran down the Pangburns in Casa Grande, Arizona, leaving Pam Pangburn dead that we also reported on back in August.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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