What The F#*$^! Watertown Cyclist Ran Over, Multiple Witnesses, Police Find “No Crime”

Written by Boston Biker on May 31

So it would seem a cyclist in newton, who was wearing a helmet, and driving in a straight line, on the right hand side of the road, was run over by a driver who just suddenly swerved to the right for no apparent reason, and didn’t get charged with any crime? How the fuck is that not a crime?

According to police reports, a 40-year-old Watertown man was cycling east on Commonwealth Avenue in the 2300 block at about 5:20 p.m. and a car driven by a 38-year-old Watertown woman was heading east as well. According to witnesses, including an off-duty Wayland police officer, the cyclist was wearing a helmet and was traveling in a straight line in the far right portion of the road.

The car unexpectedly swerved to the right, according to witnesses, and hit the cyclist, knocking him under the car. The woman reportedly attempted to back up with the cyclist still underneath. Several drivers pulled over and lifted the car off the cyclist so he could breathe, according to police reports.

The cyclist was treated at the scene by Newton firefighters and EMTs and was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. After interviewing witnesses, police determined there was no improper operation and did not cite the driver, according to reports(via wicked local Newton)

I ask you this, how is it that witnesses say that the car suddenly swerved to the right striking this poor guy, then tries to back over him, and the police find that after talking to these witnesses that there was no crime committed? How is that not a crime, driving to endanger, reckless driving, failure to yield, deviating from the lane, running someone over, trying to back over then once you hit them…take your pick.

It’s shit like this that really pisses me off. When you have a cyclist doing everything they are supposed to, multiple credible witnesses (including an off duty police officer), and they still don’t site this person with a crime. This lady should be in jail right now.

Thanks to Nikki for the heads up.

PS. If you do ever submit a tip via the contact form, and want me to link to a website or something else when I give you credit for the tip please include that as well, I am more than happy to plug your website in return for being my eyes and ears on the street.

EDIT: Teeheehee updated with this link

Where we learn that because the cyclist was riding on the right hand side of the street it was the cyclists fault…holy crap that is so wrong. This lady just turns right into a drive way, and without signaling, and then it seems like she panicked and nearly ran him over again while he was under her car, and the police think that because the cyclist was on the right hand side of the street he “contributed to the accident”

Lt. Bruce Apotheker said the actions of Castagno and other bystanders helped save the cyclist’s life. And according to the investigating officer, Apotheker said, the driver was not at fault for the crash.

“The cyclist’s actions, which were confirmed by his own statements, contributed to the crash,” Apotheker said.

The driver told police she never saw the cyclist, and because he had not previously passed her, she had no reason to expect he would be there, Apotheker said. She was not cited for improper operation.

“The officer felt a reasonable and prudent person would not be expecting someone on their right,” he said.

No no no no no no. You have a legal duty while driving in your car to make sure you are not going to run someone over when you start a turn. You have to look in your mirror, and you have to signal, and you have to NOT RUN PEOPLE OVER.

EDIT: Seems the advocate groups are involved now, both locally in newton and elsewhere…more info when I get it.


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24 Responses to “What The F#*$^! Watertown Cyclist Ran Over, Multiple Witnesses, Police Find “No Crime””

  1. By Jay on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    So, now I’m wondering why we don’t resort to vigilante tactics now. Apparently incidents towards bicyclists aren’t deemed unlawful. What’s stopping us from taking the law into our own hands? This woman didn’t just graze the cyclist, she knocked him down and attempted to drag him!! Even if it wasn’t intentional, how the fuck is this NOT illegal?

  2. By i love espresso on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    Can the bicyclist get a lawyer (Andrew Fischer, the biking lawyer perhaps) and sue the driver for damages for his injury? I hope some justice can be served with a civil lawsuit (a la OJ).

  3. By Jazzercycle on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    We need to call on the Newton Police to make a statement about why this was not a crime or this women not ticketed. Also we need to contact the biker and get him on the news everywhere!!!!! I am sure he has a ton to say! I am glad he is ok.

  4. By 100psi on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    i’d like to hear how exactly the police officer “determined there was no improper operation”

    seems clear that not only did she lose control of the car and hit the cyclist, but then backed up over him (attempt at a hit and run?), therefore running over him TWICE.

    what facts am i missing? can’t she be held accountable for at least one of the two hits?

    i too hope there is a civil case, and she ends up losing her license or car.

  5. By Mike on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    Wow!! Remind me to never, ever ride in Newton. Ever! Sounds like it’s like a good old fashioned turkey shoot between cars and bikes.

  6. By teeheehee on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    I hope the cyclist recovers completely and quickly.

    Wearing helmet, staying to the right, etc. etc. so how can there not be fault of the driver? Are we missing something here? Was the cyclist seen doing something endangering that wasn’t reported, or was the driver being held hostage and under duress? What’s the deal with backing up afterwards – panic maneuver? Something’s missing, here.

    Licenses shouldn’t be given out so easily, and they should be suspended or all-out revoked after such life-endangering “mistakes”.

  7. By Dave on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    It really seems like this article is missing a couple key points:
    * why did the driver suddenly swerve?
    * was she trying to help by pulling away from the cyclist?

    Knowing the answer to those questions probably goes a long way towards explaining the decision not to cite her.

  8. By bostonbiker on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    Dave: I would be interested in hearing a single reason you can think of why it would be OK for her to swerve into a cyclist?

    What reason could there possibly be that would make it not a crime to run someone over?

  9. By mtalinm on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    can someone post a copy of the police report? this just seems too bizarre to be plausible.

  10. By teeheehee on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    Update: new statement claims cyclist admits behavior leading up to crash.

    “The cyclist’s actions, which were confirmed by his own statements, contributed to the crash,” Apotheker said.

    The driver told police she never saw the cyclist, and because he had not previously passed her, she had no reason to expect he would be there, Apotheker said. She was not cited for improper operation.

    “The officer felt a reasonable and prudent person would not be expecting someone on their right,” he said.

    Link to updated article.

    What part about checking the mirror and blind spot before turning seems optional? This had to have been preventable.

  11. By JohnO on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    If a Ped had been walking on the sidewalk or the edge of the road and the car ran over them – she’d be getting a ticket and jail time.

    If another car was in the right lane, and she came over and caused an accident – she’d be getting a ticket.

    But now, a bicycle – which in the cops own eyes is treated as a vehicle under the law – gets hit, and nothing. Stupid and ridiculous. Swinging U-Locks to the rescue.

  12. By 100psi on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    if i ride my bike with my eyes closed and crash into someone, can i use the “i didn’t see them” defense too?

  13. By Marianna on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    So wait, now we’re NOT supposed to stay to the right? Just like we’re supposed to “get on the sidewalk!” and “stay off the sidewalk!”?

  14. By Paul Schimek on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    “The cyclist told police he was traveling in the far right of the lane at about 15 mph, passing cars that were stuck or moving slowly in traffic. . . . Suddenly . . . a red Toyota Corolla swerved to the right to enter a driveway, knocking the cyclist over and pulling him under the car.” http://www.wickedlocal.com/newton/news/x1332175810/Bystanders-lift-car-off-cyclist-Newton-driver-not-charged-in-accident

    In other words, a right-hook collision with cyclist overtaking on the right.

    “If you must pass on the right in congested traffic, do so slowly and carefully, and never where a motorist can turn right.” http://www.massbike.org/resourcesnew/bike-skills/ (fortunately, Shane hasn’t yet removed all the content I wrote for the MB website).

    Sure, the cyclist should go see Andy Fischer and sue the motorist, whether she did something wrong or not. Andy made sure that the bike law change that was adopted in 2009 made it easy for cyclists overtaking on the right to sue motorists. But wouldn’t it be better to get the word out that overtaking on the right can be very dangerous, and reduce such incidents?

    The motorist (or bicyclist) turning right only needs to meet the following rules:
    1) “When turning to the right, an operator shall do so in the lane of traffic nearest to the right-hand side of the roadway and as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway.” http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/90-14.htm
    2) “give a plainly visible signal”
    http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/90-14b.htm

    There’s no requirement to check your right mirror for traffic overtaking on your right, and even if there were, it would be difficult to do or even impossible (in the case of large trucks, due to blind spots).

    The law adopted last year also added this redundant provision: “No person operating a vehicle that overtakes and passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at an intersection or driveway unless the turn can be made at a safe distance from the bicyclist at a speed that is reasonable and proper.” (Redundant because the rule on right turn position and safe passing together make it illegal to overtake and turn at the same time.)

    But in this case the cyclist was overtaking the motorist, not the other way around.

    Yes, Mass. law (unlike most states) makes it legal for bicyclists to overtake on the right in any circumstance, but that does not make it safe. Furthermore, it is not clear if the motorist in this case will be considered negligent, even if the bicyclist is also not negligent. That would plainly show the defect of the law, since normally drivers (including bicyclists) should not collide when both are fully in control of their vehicles and are following the rules of the road.

    Anyway, it’s a miracle that the bicyclist did not have life-threatening injuries (per the story), and a blessing that so many bystanders were willing and able to help.

  15. By Jazzercycle on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    I would like to know if she used her blinker, and if this was a sudden decision to turn right. I pass cars on the right all the time, carefully, and have never had an issue with a car that used a blinker and let me know they were turning. If that was the case I usually slow down and let them turn. Can we get info on if there was a blinker involved? Even if you don;t know th bike it there, who makeas a turn with out checing to see if the coast is clear no matter what? Thats negligent in itself. You sill have to check out whats around you! Geesh.

  16. By Jack on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    Classic right hook!

  17. By CYCLER on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    I’m so glad to hear that the bicyclist is going to make, it, although even non- life threatening injuries can be a long hard road.
    I’m a bit surprised to find myself in agreement with Paul Schimek that it’s a bad idea to pass on the right. I often feel like a stick in the mud dork when I just stop when traffic stops, and bikes whiz by, but I’ve made it my policy not to pass cars that are moving, or which might start to move while I’m passing them. Cars just aren’t expecting bikes or anything to be coming up on the right, and it’s not worth my life or health to put myself in their literal and “mental” blindspot. I cringe especially when someone threads the gap between a giant truck or bus and a parked car as the truck lurches into motion. There’s no way I’m going to trust my life on someone’s remembering to put their turn signal on.

  18. By chinaski on Jun 1, 2010 | Reply

    What is the officer’s name and badge number? Seems like he should be held accountable for his decision after all I’ve always checked my sides before turning. Any one who rides a car should be aware of their surroundings

  19. By Chris Piascik on Jun 2, 2010 | Reply

    This is absolutely crazy. I used it as my daily drawing: http://chrispiascik.com/daily-drawings/a-reasonable-person/

  20. By Jay on Jun 7, 2010 | Reply

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxuZXd0b25icHRmfGd4OjVlNDE4ZWU1ZWQ3OGQ0Mg&pli=1

    The police report on the incident.

  21. By Roland on Jun 7, 2010 | Reply

    Jay thanks for the police report above. “IT
    IS REASONABLE TO BELIEVE THAT A PRUDENT PERSON WOULD NOT BE EXPECTING A BICYCLIST TO ALL OF A SUDDEN APPEAR ON THEIR RIGHT SIDE.”

    Well, “all of a sudden,” I guess that settles it. What are reasonable and prudent people supposed to do when bikers are appearing out of thin air, right where they need to turn?

  22. By mahler9th on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply

    I can’t believe she wasn’t on a@%!#(@ cellphone!.
    If she turned RIGHT into a driveway, that means she had to pass him and see him

  23. By Paul Schimek on Jun 24, 2010 | Reply

    @mahler9th — no, she never saw him. He was passing her on the right in a wide shoulder, not a travel lane. Motorists in the right-most lane do not expect to be passed on the right, not does the law require them to look right before turning.

    If the motor vehicle had been a truck this crash certainly would have been fatal. There have been several like that in the Boston area over the past decade.

  24. By Evelyn on Aug 17, 2010 | Reply

    What in the WORLD!!!!????? I read the report! Im so glad this officer doesn’t work in an urban neighborhood! And Im terrified at the fact that I still could be riding my bike safely and no one would care!!! Im frustrated that this cop at a pile of evidence against the driver and he failed to make the right call! She is obviously a reckless driver. I don’t even have a license to know that you need to look at mirrors and put blinkers on! I watch for them all the time and there are tons of drivers that just dont put blinkers on! I was riding down comm. ave on my way to work and i slowed drown at the light. when i do that i make sure to look who turning and who not this grey jeep had no turn signal we were neck and neck at the light! Obviously he could not see me sitting next to him he turns an screams at me! I told him to turn on his blinker!! no argument im just glad this was not a full on colission!
    And i was paying attention!! Im glad the cyclist is ok! and i think he should sue! that woman should not have a license! ” OOh i was in a rush” you still need to flick a blinker!!!! she did not state that she put a BLINKER ON!!! SUE HER BEHIND!! FO REAL!

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