Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Police Report Details Savoy Crash

The police report detailing the events of Camille Savoy's crash says that both the rider and the motorist were traveling close to the white line that separates the shoulder from the main lane of 9W.

According to a witness, the placement of the vehicle and Savoy's bicycle on the roadway near The Esplanade in Alpine, NJ were about the same, when the car driven by 71-year-old Wha S. Kim from Englewood, NJ, struck Savoy from behind. The car is registered under the name of Hae Jong Kim, also of Englewood, NJ.

The report is one of the first indications of what took place that day, though it warns that a final determination of the cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office. 

Such as procedure is necessary in a crash that results in a critical injury, to determine among other things, if the driver was driving in full competence, such as with prescription lenses or drugs, or if the motor vehicle was fully operational at the time of the crash.  Past driver records can also be reviewed in such a case.

A witness who spoke off the record to BBB said that Savoy first was hit by the front of the car, a Subaru Forester, then went into it's windshield, over the top of the car, and onto the ground. Savoy's head injuries are critical and constitute the most significant of his multiple injuries.

One witness to the crash, Michael Passow, who was traveling behind Kim's vehicle, told police that both Kim and Savoy were traveling close to the white fog line when the cyclist was suddenly struck.  Kim also made a statement, and said that she was traveling north on 9W when the cyclist "came into her lane of travel and she struck the said cyclist with the front of her vehicle," said the report.

The report notes, "Cyclist was unable to give statement."

Passow's statement is sure to be one of the most significant in the event of a legal action against the driver by Savoy or his family, because he is the only observer of the accident who is ostensibly not biased. 

Savoy's black Lemond bicycle was crushed beyond recognition.

New Jersey state law says that motorists must be mindful of cyclists on all roads, and traveling on the shoulder by a cyclist is not a given, particularly since there are no bike lane markings there. The shoulder is a multi-use space, allowing cars to stop there. Therefore both cyclists and motorists must coexist on both spaces--the roadway, and the shoulder.

The crash is still being investigated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office, and a final determination of the cause of the crash may not be announced for a few more weeks, warned the report.


Derek said...

Thanks for keeping us updated. Hopefully Camille will come out of the coma soon. Our prayers and thoughts are with Camille, family and friends.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts from a frequent 9W rider on choices for safer riding. First and foremost my thoughts are with the injured cyclists for a speedy and full recovery. Unfortunately, I see riders on 9W coming close to or over the white line into the lane of travel without looking fairly often (I’m NOT saying this is what happened). Irrespective of their right to do so, it is dangerous conduct as this crash may demonstrate. It is amazing that some car drivers “don’t see” a cyclist (which may not have been the case here) especially on 9W where there are so many cyclists. I read that Greg Lemond said he likes to ride on the left of the shoulder to avoid flats from accumulating debris on the right. I suggest that keeping as far right on the shoulder as possible, risking a flat, is the safer course. I also see a fair number of cyclists without helmets. While certainly a matter of personal choice, I also think this accident shows that you may not stand a chance without one. Since reading an article in Bicycling Magazine a while back about accidents, I started riding with a 3rd Eye Bar End Mirror. I really find it helpful to see the “attitude” of the car behind you, and you become accustomed to checking frequently. By “attitude” I mean when a driver sees you, they normally begin moving away from you from fairly far behind. You then pretty much know they have seen you and will likely avoid you. If they are still approaching strait, you know to move over or prepare for evasive action. I also think bright colored clothing is necessary, although potentially not so nice looking. Just take a car ride on 9W and see for yourself the difference between when you see the riders in dark clothing versus the bright clothing. It’s significant. Finally, as a cyclist, I notice what other cyclists do. I recently noticed that a few ride with day time rear lights, which makes them stand out more. I’ve investigated the Cateye Ld-1100 Tail Light which apparently can be seen during the day, which I will add to my bike. I know some may view this as overboard and not for everyone, but I also remember when no one wore seatbelts, there were no headrests and almost everyone smoked. Just sharing my thoughts on safer riding.

Anonymous said...

I rode on 9w that day and saw the aftermath of the accident. Much of the shoulder in the area where the crash occurred was covered with a thick layer of leaves. It would have been dangerous if not impossible to ride far to the right of the white line.

There is no reason for a motorist to cross over the white line onto the shoulder when coming upon a cyclist other than poor driving and neglect. The bicyclist has a right to ride on the road and is not required to ride on the shoulder, but from all indication was riding to the right of the white line and was therefore off the road when the accident occurred. The motorist should have slowed down and given the cyclist a wide berth when trying to pass. If the motorist did not see the cyclist, the motorist should no longer be driving a car. There is no excuse.

I also wonder whether or not the woman is capable of driving anymore. She is 71 years old and while I know many drivers this age who are fine behind the wheel, I also know others who are dangerous.

This woman was obviously dangerous.

Anonymous said...

When receiving a ticket from the state of NJ, we are all told driving is a privilege not a right. when operating such powerful machines, a person must drive with respect to everything around them. regardless if someone is close to a line or not, why are you driving so close to them at such high speeds? when i see small children playing or people walking, i usually slow my car down, and depending on the traffic in the other lane, try to go as far left as possible to avoid any potential accident. is this just me? this isnt a case where someone went past an intersection or around a bend or had cars obstructing their view or even poor lighting. a person can not drive so carelessly without being aware of everything around them. this whole situation is just so sad.