Police Say Cyclist At Fault In Fatal City Accident

August 22, 2009|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,liz.kay@baltsun.com

Baltimore police found a tanker truck they believe was involved in an accident this month that killed a 67-year-old bicyclist at a downtown intersection and have determined that John R. "Jack" Yates, who got caught in the rear wheels of the truck, was at fault in the incident.

Yates, a Charles Village resident, was riding southbound behind the truck about 11:30 a.m. Aug. 4 on Maryland Avenue at West Lafayette Avenue, police said. He struck the back of the vehicle and became entangled in its rear wheels as the truck made a right turn onto Lafayette, according to police.

Although a police spokesman said as recently as Aug. 12 that the department was still looking for the truck, a traffic investigator said police located the vehicle a few days after the accident. In an e-mail posted Thursday on the cycling Web site baltimorespokes.org, Lt. Leslie Bank, commander of the department's traffic section, also indicated that Yates was responsible for the fatal collision.

"I will tell you that the video clearly shows the cyclist to be at fault," she wrote in the message, in response to an e-mail sent to Mayor Sheila Dixon's office asking for more information about the crash investigation.

However, according to Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, investigators are still awaiting results of forensic testing to confirm that the suspected truck was involved in the crash.

Guglielmi said police believe that the driver, who left the scene of the incident, was not aware of the collision.

Neither the driver's name nor his employer has been released because the investigation is continuing and no charges have been filed.

"This tanker truck was filled with fuel, making the back very, very heavy," Guglielmi said. "It would have been impossible for him to realize he would have done this."

The spokesman also said Friday that surveillance video capturing the crash shows the cyclist was at fault, but Guglielmi declined to comment further until the report on the accident is complete. Results of the forensic testing should take three to six weeks, he said.

Steven D. Silverman, an attorney representing the Yates family, said they were awaiting disclosure of the driver and the vehicle. Although the driver might not face criminal charges, he could be found civilly liable for Yates' death, the lawyer said.

Based on the video, Silverman said the driver did not signal he was making the right turn and did so when the path was not clear.

"Whether Mr. Yates was in the blind spot is something that needs to be determined," Silverman said. However, "that doesn't absolve [the driver] of civil liability," he said.

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