So far, no charges have been filed against the truck driver who earlier this month turned right across the bike lane on Folsom Street, killing 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac. SFPD investigators are reviewing the video of the crash that SFBC staffer Marc Caswell located and handed to them — a piece of evidence that police say will be delivered the District Attorney’s office. While we await action from the city’s law enforcement agencies, a similar case out of Cleveland illustrates that the justice system can, in fact, impose real consequences for lethally negligent driving.
In September, 2009, 22-year-old Sylvia Bingham, originally of San Rafael, was run over by a truck driver who made a right turn on a street in Cleveland, where Bingham had recently moved. The driver, Herschel Roberts, was sentenced to three years in prison and lost his driver’s license for life. A memorial ride for Bingham was held in San Francisco soon after her death.
According to the Plain Dealer, Judge Daniel Gaul found Roberts guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, based on reasoning that could apply in Le Moullac’s case:
Before he announced the verdict, Gaul outlined the case and said Roberts, who was driving the truck for Leff Electric, had likely passed Bingham on her bike seconds earlier and, by law, had a duty to look in the truck’s mirrors before turning right onto East 21st Street from Prospect Avenue, where he had stopped at a red light.
Bingham had stopped behind him and was about to ride through the intersection when Roberts, who had made a wide turn onto East 21st Street, struck her with the back tires of the 26,000-pound truck.
“He had to know she was there,” Gaul said. “He should have known she was there.”
Gaul also said that Bingham, an experienced bicyclist, would not have proceeded through the intersection had she known Roberts would be turning. Witnesses said at trial that they could not recall that Roberts had used his turn signal.
In a letter addressed to Mayor Ed Lee, Sylvia Bingham’s father, Stephen Bingham, writes that the trucker who killed Le Moullac should be held to the same standard: