A deadly accident in Santa Clara County, California involving a deputy that fell asleep at the wheel has left two bicyclists dead and a third with a broken leg and arm. On Tuesday, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith cried and said that her department accepts responsibility for the tragedy.
Deputy James Council was driving his police car down Stevens Canyon Road on Sunday when he crossed a double-yellow line, striking the three cyclists. 20-year-old Christopher Knapp survived the crash with broken bones. Matt Peterson, 29, died at the accident scene. Kristy Gough, 30, was declared dead several hours later at Stanford University Medical Center.
Council says he struck the three bicyclists after falling asleep at the wheel. The California Highway Patrol reportedly did not ask Council to take a blood-alcohol test at the scene. Council’s attorney says that drugs and alcohol were not involved.
Questions have risen as to whether Council, a second generation deputy, received special treatment. His attorney has denied this also.
In 2001, Council was convicted in Los Angeles County for taking part in a speed contest. As part of his plea agreement, charges for DWI and having blood alcohol content over 0.08% were dropped. He served 24 months probation.
Sheriff’s officials in Santa Clara were aware of the conviction and plea agreement when they hired Council 18 months ago. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Don Morrissey says that the department doesn’t disqualify potential candidates because of one mistake made in the past.
Unfortunately, getting hit by a motor vehicle is one of the risks that bicyclists face when cycling on the roads. There are steps that bicyclists can take to avoid getting hit by a car, truck, bus, or motorcycle.
However, there are accidents that occur because a driver or another party behaved negligently or carelessly. In Maryland and Washington D.C., the best way to determine and prove negligence is to ask one of our experienced bicycle crash lawyers to examine your case. In some cases, there may even be more than one liable party.
Proving negligence in your bicycle accident claim or lawsuit may be able to provide you with the financial compensation you need to cover medical costs and other expenses.
Sheriff ‘sorry’ for fatal collision, Mercury News, March 12, 2008
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