Driver found guilty of traffic violations in Annapolis High coach's death

Cross country coach Patricia Cunningham died in 2013 crash

July 30, 2014|By Nayana Davis, The Baltimore Sun

A driver who struck and killed a Annapolis High School cross country coach on a bicycle last August was found guilty of traffic violations in Annapolis District Court Wednesday.

Whitney DeCesaris, 38, of Calvert County was fined $1,500 --$500 each for three violations: failure to exercise care to avoid a collision with a bicyclist, negligent driving endangering property of life and failure to control speed to avoid a collision.

Trish Cunningham, 50, died after the crash, which took place on Riva Road near Beards Point Road in Davidsonville. Both she and DeCesaris were traveling southbound. Police had said DeCesaris remained at the scene following the collision.

Cunningham had been a popular coach at Annapolis High, and her death sparked discussion in the county about bike safety and road-sharing initiatives.

DeCesaris wept and struggled to speak as she testified in court. She said she didn't see Cunningham until just before the point of impact.

"She had a wedding ring on," DeCesaris said when asked by the prosecutor about the first thing she noticed about Cunningham after the crash.

In a victim impact statement, Jerry Cunningham said the couple had been planning a move to Florida. "There aren't any words to describe how I feel every day," he said. "I am hopeless without her."

DeCesaris has 30 days to appeal the ruling, but her attorney, Richard Simmons, said it is not likely she will do so.

Judge Robert Wilcox said before sentencing that the scenario could have happened to anyone. "There are no winners here today," he said.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the total fine amount. It has been corrected here.

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