A follow up to the Bike Down post on Saturday:
—– Original Message —–
From: Barbara LaWall
Sent: Sunday, December 07, 2008 12:36 PM
Subject: e-mail message to cycling community …
Dear Mr. Blanchard:
Your recent e-mail to the cycling community asking them to write letters in “an attempt to persuade the Pima County Attorney’s Office to take action against the driver that hit and injured so many riders in El Tour” was recently shared with me by friends.
Although your letter was not sent directly to me, I wish to respond and address your issues and concerns. First, let me express to you and the cycling community how deeply sorry I am that this incident happened, that so many El Tour riders were hurt, and that one rider in particular remains so very seriously injured. My thoughts and prayers for a full and speedy recovery are with him.
Please know that my office takes this case, as well as all other vehicular cases, including those in which cyclists are victimized, very seriously. Your statement that “so many times issues like this get swept under the rug and ultimately are ignored completely” is simply incorrect and unfounded. (If you have examples of such cases, I would appreciate it if you would share them with me and I’ll be glad to personally look into them.)
I know that the cycling community and the general public are anxious to have a final prosecution filing decision on this case from my office, and many are curious as to why there has not already been one. I can assure you that there has been nothing unusual or strange about the way in which this particular vehicular case has been handled. The Sheriff’s department just completed their investigation last week (accident investigations usually take considerable time to complete), and they brought the case to the supervisor of the vehicular unit in my office on Friday afternoon.
The Vehicular Unit Supervisor will now review the Sheriff’s investigatory case file. He will consult with law enforcement, as well as the Chief Criminal Deputy and myself, before a filing decision is made. Prosecutorial filing decisions are made only after a thorough review of the case, and with thoughtful consideration. A decision may take some time, particularly if there is any additional investigation or follow-up requested of law enforcement. Making a filing determination is a legal decision made based on the specific facts of the case under consideration together with the applicable law. This is the same procedure that occurs with all out of custody vehicular cases.
I appreciate your concerns, and invite you to feel free to contact me personally if you have any further questions and issues.
Pima County Attorney
This is Scott’s reply:
From: Pyramid Coaching Intl. LLC
To: Barbara LaWall
Date: Sun, Dec 7, 2008 at 2:33 PM
Subject: Re: e-mail message to cycling community …
Thanks for your response. I’m excited about your interest in this matter as a whole.
There have been many, many cases like this that have been swept under the rug. So many I couldn’t even begin to touch on them. I’ll give you one just because it was such a high profile person. A client of mine (I will give you the name if/when we reopen these investigations and he is interested) was hit and run on Mt Lemmon and seriously injured. There was a witness and they got the plate. Nothing was done. Soon after, I had a conversation at the BAC meetings with the Sheriff’s department and been told that they would not pursue this hit and run driver because the address traced to a “bad neighborhood” and “the car was probably stolen anyway and the driver across the border” I couldn’t make this stuff up. This is a serious problem and it is widely know that the Sheriff’s department is unfriendly to cyclists. The worst part is that this mandate comes from the top down.
Here is 1 more (I did not author it)
As a continuing public service announcement regarding our status as a potential platinum-rated bicycling city, I offer you the story of Leonard Salazar.
On August 4 of this year Mr. Salazar was lawfully riding his bike southbound on Campbell when a driver of a BMW turned in front of him and collided with him. Mr. Salazar, who fortunately was wearing a helmet, was thrown to the ground and his bike was destroyed.
Numerous witnesses rushed to his aid and made the driver pull over, which he did. Paramedics soon arrived at the scene, but Mr. Salazar declined medical treatment because, he said, he could not afford it.
This next part will sound familiar to those of you who have been following the El Tour crash: the driver got out of his vehicle and looked at the damage to his car. He then told the crowd, “that sucks,” and got in his car and drove away.
Witnesses naturally took down the license number and supplied it to the police.
The police located the address and phone number of the driver and called him, but, unfortunately, received his voicemail. The driver did not, apparently, return their call.
And with that, it appears, the case was closed.
I’ll put you in touch with an attorney who deals with many of these cases (if he approves). He is still fighting for 10’s of them and has many documented. I appreciate your willingness to personally look into them. If that is the case it will mark a new trend and begin to create some good will between the cycling community, the Sheriff’s Department, and the PCAO. Perhaps we can at least have some answers on some of the documented cases. The hundreds tossed out will never be found. Additionally, I will ask the community to submit their cases to you as well. I can assure you my statement is not “simply incorrect and unfounded”
The letter was sent as the first step of the cycling community as a whole taking an active interest in their own safety. It is not meant to be antagonistic at all but more positive motivation for all of us to be aware, take part in the legal process, and help to save lives.
If this case is/was/will be handled appropriately then we will all learn a great deal and be better off as a result. As with every member of our community we hope to ensure the people who have been elected and appointed are equitable, just, and from this point on; transparent.
I really do appreciate your help on this and we are looking forward to the decision of the Vehicular Unit Supervisor, the Chief Criminal Deputy, the Sheriff’s Office and yourself pertaining to the El Tour matter.
Pyramid Coaching Intl., LLC
Emails and other correspondence matters. It makes a difference.by