A Manteca woman has been charged in connection with a collision that killed a cyclist, according to an official announcement by the County of Contra Costa District Attorney’s office.
The District Attorney’s office charged Ms. Alyssa Densmore, a 26-year-old driver from Manteca, with one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for a crash that killed a Danville bicycle rider last May.
According to police, Ms. Densmore was driving North on Crow Canyon Road on May 5th when she collided with Mr.George Kaufer, a 55-year-old cyclist, who died from his injuries shortly after the crash.
Although no further details about the crash itself have been provided, we can learn one clear lesson from Ms. Densmore and her collision with this cyclist. If a person fails to keep a proper lookout and fails to control their vehicle, and this negligence causes a death, the District Attorney will prosecute them for vehicular manslaughter. And the family needs to pursue their right to file a lawsuit in civil court.
There is no mention in the article about what kind of insurance the offending driver was carrying. Did you know that our own automobile insurance covers us for personal injuries sustained when we are riding a bicycle? That’s right, our Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage applies to injuries and even deaths caused when the insured is riding a bicycle on a public roadway and struck by a motorist. First and foremost, my sincerest condolences go out to the family of Mr. Kaufer. I am glad that the D. A. has decided to prosecute a driver who has negligently killed a bicyclist. Too often, the press focuses on the bad behavior of a few bicycle riders on our streets, and the press often sensationalizes the bad deeds of cyclists. The truth is that the vast majority of bicycle injuries and deaths are caused by negligent motorists and not the bicyclists themselves. Does this mean that all cyclists are innocent? Of course not. We live in the real world where some riders obey the law and some do not. But, when a bicyclist rolls through a stop sign they usually are risking only their own life and limb, and they are not likely to really harm someone else. We have exceptional circumstances in which some pedestrians have suffered serious injury and even death because of a bicycle rider’s negligence, however, that is a rare occurrence. When a bicycle rider negligently kills a pedestrian, that news travels all over the country fast. When a bicycle rider is killed by a driver’s negligence, we rarely see more than a few lines in the news-because these bicycle fatalities are happening so frequently.
We have to remember that the D.A.’s prosecuting Ms. Densmore may ultimately put her in prison, however criminal prosecution of the offender does nothing to help the family of Mr. Kaufer recover for the loss of their loved one. The Criminal Justice system does not really compensate the family for any loss of support or for the loss of a loved one. Mr. Kaufer’s family must rely on the Civil Justice System to obtain any compensation, to make Ms. Densmore financially accountable for the loss she has caused, and his family should consult with an attorney who is experienced in bicycle accident cases as well as wrongful death cases.