Biker Down – Driver sentenced to probation

A driver whose van struck and killed a bicyclist in Pittsfield Township in July was sentenced today to two years of probation.

Nicholas Wahl, 20, of Clinton, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in a sentencing agreement that allowed him to avoid jail time in the death of Tim Pincikowski, 45, of Saline.

Judge Melinda Morris sentenced Wahl under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which means he won’t have a criminal record if he successfully completes probation.

My first impression when first reading this was along the lines of WTF?

But, as in many things, there is more to the story.

Mike Pincikowski, Tim Pincikowski’s son, said after the sentencing that the punishment is what his family was looking for, and jail time would only have served to hurt Wahl’s family and take more out of his life.

“We didn’t want anything negative to come out of it for anybody,” Mike Pincikowski said. “And what was given as a sentence to Nicholas is something that myself and my family believes is beneficial to himself and the community in a way that a jail sentence never could be.”

I’m not sure how much I can agree with that position. But, on the other hand, it was not decision to make. The Pincikowski will heal in the manner they themselves find appropriate.

There is a whole lot going on in the comment section ( & scroll down) following that article. As you may imagine, people are all over the map.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

13 thoughts on “Biker Down – Driver sentenced to probation

  1. when i read you post bj, my first reaction was anger.

    then i read both articles, the 1st when the accident occurred, and then when the driver was sentenced. the driver did pay 8k for funeral costs. that tells me right now he has remorse. obviously, it was an accident and one he will pay for for the rest of his life. a very unfortunate situation for all involved. especially the guy who lost his life.

    plus the driver had big bucks for a lawyer, obviously.

  2. Dunno, I think folks who are all frothed up about it are looking at it from the wrong end of the gun. I don’t claim to understand why it wasn’t accidental death, I’m guessing there’s some legalese wrangling involved there. If I were to mistakenly cause an accident that ended in a fatality, I think I’d be my own worst prison. I’d have to live with the fact that I’d killed someone, for the rest of my life. I commend the family for having the foresight to realize this. Sending a local kid to prison for a horrid mistake won’t bring the guy back, and it’s not as though he left the house that day figuring he’d take out a few pedestrians along the way….. I’ve certainly pulled out of a driveway just as a car was coming, or a motorcycle, they weren’t there a second ago, honest…. Just a bit less reaction time, and I’d be the killer, you know? Peace all.

  3. – “we don’t want anything negative to come out of this.”

    Fuck, someone got killed, are you forgetting that??

  4. Note to my nonexistent son who may or may not enter this world in the future:

    “If someone runs over me on my bike and kills me, and it was their fault, please make sure that they spend some time in jail to think about their actions. I loved life and shouldn’t have had mine end so soon due to someone else’s inattention while behind the steering wheel of an automobile.”

    Somewhat vindictive, but fair.

  5. This was considered one of the safest roads in the area, wide shoulders, good sightlines.

    I rode past the accident scene the day after this happened. The accident investigation marks and outlines were still painted on the road.

    The driver had a good 7 seconds to react after first being able to see the cyclist, had he been looking, or even on the road. Eye witnesses said the driver was a couple of feet over the fog line, and hit the cyclist square on, put him through the windshield, actually.

    I don’t think jail time serves any purpose, but I hope the Pincikowski’s sue the living beejeebus out of Nicolas Wahl in civil court.

    I’m from Ann Arbor, and the animosity of drivers towards cyclists is scary, and getting scarier.

    FWIW, this particular judge is notoriously lenient, and I don’t understand how the Holmes Youthful Offender Act can even be used in this case.

    I’m also really put off by the ‘christian’ aspect that has been touted by supporters of Wahl throughout this whole thing (I’ve followed it closely from the beginning). Makes you wonder if he would be in jail for life if he had been a devout Muslim instead of some ‘born again’.

    Wahl destroyed a family, civil court will hopefully replace at least the monetary loss, the companionship and emotional suffering will never be replaced.

  6. I commend the Pincikowskis for taking a healthy and not purely vindictive point of view of the situation, although yeah, 2 years probation does seem a little wanting. Similarly, I think taking a healthy point of view in forming our responses to this might be a good idea as well. For me that means that were my wife ever put in a similar situation (having to face a driver who killed someone she loves), I’d want three things:
    1) As I’d never be able to ride my bike again, they shouldn’t ever be able to drive a car.
    2) So they’d have some time to sit around and do nothing else but think about what they did, bail should be denied until they’re convicted or acquitted.
    3) As I’d not be around to care for my wife physically, emotionally, or financially, I think $100,000 x the number of years I could have been expected to live would be a nice fair fine.

  7. Wow, a tough one. I think that zMud is correct: jail time is not going to benefit anyone involved. Suing for big $$ will at least send a message to careless drivers. And, as Saupak says, loss of license would be appropriate. We’ve all done stupid things, and learn from them. This case presents an opportunity to make an example of someone who has made a big, stupid mistake.

  8. I’d just like to add, that this is one of my Summer routes (AZ in Winter), and this was a place that, when I got there, I breathed a sigh of relief for having survived.

    Most of the roads in MI have no paved shoulder. This road has a wide paved shoulder. If you don’t ride on the white line, you are in the road. This is, of course, legal, but dangerous.

    That a cyclist would be struck and killed on this stretch of road is unfathomable.

    This kid should be working for the victim’s family until he dies, and he should NEVER be allowed to drive a motor vehicle legally again.

  9. Agreed, we aren’t perhaps the best to pass judgement on this one.

    I do like the idea of the guilty being a servent to the family/community vs. jail time. Make them work their ass off to benefit others rather than sitting in some cell. Time=freedom to some degree. Take that away and let them think about what they did and how they ended up washing police cars or doing some other shit job with their free time. Just make sure it is some serious time. We all do make mistakes, taking a life carelessly is the ultimate extreme and should be treated as such.

  10. I have to say when I first read the story I was really angry ( like most cyclists). But I was also moved by the family’s ability to distance themselves from the all to familiar tone of punishment that seems to permeate our body politic.

    I think that the role of punishment should be that of rehabilitation (something that is no longer on the books with the DOJ, another matter in itself). There have been many studies dating back to the 60s showing that increasing the amount of jail time, or harsher punishment therein, do not have any effect on deterring one from crime. But I do not get the feeling with the sentence that was handed down that there really is any rehabilitation encompassed in the judgment.

    At the same time, I feel uneasy with the idea that one is able to basically kill someone and only get two years of probation and have to give talks to students. I am in line with Bob Mionske in that the whole law surrounding cyclists needs to change in America. He often talks about the Netherlands and the presumption that the motorist is always guiltily.

    Maybe I am just drunk… but I do not think the issue should only surround what the family wants but also how are we going to deter people driving like assholes…

  11. To: ColonelSandersRetired Says:
    February 24th, 2010 at 5:48 pm
    Eh. If the family of the deceased is ok with this, who are we to say shit ?

    As a parent, and cyclist, I am to say shit. The was not an “accident”. The kid saw the biker, looked down and swerved off the road, and killed him. I do NOT want him driving ever again and do not want him talking to my kids at school to tell them the “dangers” of distracted driving seeing as how he got almost no punishment. What kind of message will that send?
    This may set a terrible precident and I am totally opposed to any lax laws regarding killing of a cyclist.

  12. Get busted with a little pot, a possible 10 yr sentence, end up with probation but you have a criminal record forever, kill a bicyclist with a car, do your probation and your freeeeeeee, no record, something doesn’t seem right!!!