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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Always crashing

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 5:03 PM

In July, off-duty Terrebonne narcotics agent Lt. Derek Collins killed Jacob Bollingham, a 20-year-old mall employee on his way home from work. But this week, Louisiana state police determined Collins wouldn't be charged — even though he was speeding in his SUV that hit Bollingham, who was crossing the street on foot. He was less than half a mile from his apartment. The Terrebonne District Attorney’s Office is still out determining action.

Whether the state decides to pursue the case, Louisiana still needs some serious, serious pedestrian safety reform.

In 2008, a truck driver crashed into the back of 29-year-old bicyclist Colin Goodier, who was later pronounced dead at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. The driver, Allen Ketelsen, happened to look away for just a split second. He wasn't intoxicated — probably one of those (seemingly) innocent stares out the window. Ketelsen was booked in Iberville Parish Jail on counts of negligent homicide and careless operation, with a suspended license.

Goodier's death helped create the Colin Goodier Bicycle Protection Act, which Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law last August. It protects cyclists from harassment and guarantees all cyclists at least three feet of space from a passing car.

But what about Collins? State police said he was driving sober. He said he even saw Bollingham but couldn't dodge him in time — but he was breaking the law. A speed limit is a speed limit. He was 9 miles over it. What happens then? Are the rules really that different for cops? It'll be determined, eventually, who was at fault, and whose breaking of the law was more at fault: Speeding, or jaywalking (if that's the case).

Author Darin Strauss wrote Half A Life, which chronicles his lifelong struggle to cope with a high school car accident in which he hit and killed a classmate on a bicycle. It was a total freak accident. No charges were filed in one of those "There's nothing anyone could have done" scenarios. It's a devastatingly heartbreaking story — he told a condensed version of it on NPR's This American Life in July 2008. In it, he remembers how he frequently thought of what the victim's father told him — that he's living for two now.

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