The driver that hit and killed Camille Savoy last November has been cleared of careless driving charges.
The decision by Judge Robert Ritter of the Alpine, NJ municipal court, once again proves that there are two courts of justice in the United States: one for regular people, and one for cyclists.
Wha S. Kim, 72, the driver with an alleged string of careless driving accidents behind her (as reported by an Alpine police officer who did not want to be identified for this article,) was set free once again, this time after striking
and killing Savoy from behind.
Amazingly, a man whose case was heard immediately before Kim's in the same court who had been caught by police tailgating the car in front of him was found guilty of careless driving. But Kim, Camille-Killer, was not.
Even the offense of careless driving is merely a slap in the hand, and bears no criminal intent or finding, though it affects your driving record.
Eugene Sonn, reporter for WBGO 88.3 FM Newark, who has written a larger piece on the increase in cyclist deaths in New Jersey, was at the hearing held June 12.
The Alpine, NJ prosecutor Sam Braverman had three witnesses speak, including the first officer who responded, Officer A. White, Michael Passow, the driver who was following Kim on Rte. 9W, and Sgt. Robert Ryan, a special investigator from the Rivervale Police Dept. who works on the Accident Investigation Squad for the Alpine area.
Sgt. Ryan who is a forensic expert in bicycle-motor vehicle accidents testified that he measured Kim's auto tracks as well as those of Savoy's bike wheels and based on his findings, Kim had traveled an incredible one foot six inches over the fog lane into the lane where Savoy was riding.
Her action caused her to hit Savoy from behind sending him flying over the top of her SUV,damaging his helmeted head beyond repair, and splintering his bike into two parts. Savoy died two weeks later.
Passow--the one witness-- said he had been driving behind Kim for about one mile, and that he could not actually see her car at the point of contact with Savoy from his vantage point.
Kim's only testimony was the first documented words she told reporting officers at the scene, that Savoy swerved in front of her, a claim that was not substantiated by Passow's testimony. At the memorial held for Savoy last year on Dec. 7, Savoy's friends said publicly that Savoy was a very careful rider, and for that reason, did not even go out on his bike when there was even a drop of rain. Savoy had had some 30 years of experience riding his bike, they said.
But Judge Ritter, instead of going with Sgt. Ryan's testimony, said that he was ruling on the basis that Passow's testimony did not contradict Kim's, and he let her off.
Sonn, who has followed the case, said that Kim did not testify at the hearing and that "both the investigator and the prosecutor both very much thought this was a case of careless driving," with dry conditions, not a lot of traffic, and in the course of passing Savoy, did not give him enough room.
There was no physical evidence that the cyclist might have swerved, said Braverman.
As a case in point, the clothing in the picture (left) taken the day of Savoy's accident, Savoy's jersey that was cut off his body by paramedics while they tried to treat him on the scene of the accident, is all quite visibly right--not left--of the white line.
Previously we reported that Kim was supposed to be re-tested for her license. But when we checked with the Bergen County Prosecutor's office they said the new test had been requested by the Alpine Police Dept. We called them, and they said the Bergen County prosecutor's office had requested the re-testing, and neither party knew if it had been done.