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When the Worst Happens: Cyclist Struck and Killed by Intoxicated, Texting Driver

Occasionally, the very worst happens. In December 2014, in Baltimore, Maryland, a cyclist was struck from behind and killed by a motorist. The driver drove from the scene, even though the vehicle was heavily damaged with a windshield shattered and deformed by the cyclist's body.

The cyclist was a 41-year-old software engineer. He was married with two small children. He also built custom bike frames. His name was Tom Palermo.

The motorist was an Episcopal Bishop. She had a previous DUI in which her blood alcohol was more than 3 times the legal limit. She also admitted to smoking marijuana. She was placed on probation for that offense.

In the Palermo crash, she eventually returned to the scene. Her blood alcohol was nearly 3 times the legal limit. She was arrested. She eventually pled guilty to 4 charges: vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, DUI, and texting while driving. She was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

At this point it is worth noting a couple of differences between Maryland and Florida law.

  1. Florida does not have a texting while driving law. We are one of the few states which does not. Once again, our legislature failed to pass such a law this year.

  2. A proposed law which would enhance penalties when a cyclist or a pedestrian was struck has again failed to pass the legislature. This is the "Vulnerable Victim Law."

There is a third difference. In Maryland, vehicular manslaughter is not considered a violent crime. The significance of this is that a person imprisoned for a violent crime must serve more than 50% of her sentence before being eligible for parole. When the crime is not considered violent, the criminal is eligible for parole after serving 25% of her sentence.

Thus, the now former Bishop had a parole hearing on May 9, 2017. She was denied parole. If she serves her full sentence, she will be released in 2022. With continued good behavior in prison, she will likely be released in 2-3 years.

This is a sad case with many victims. The cycling community came together in support of the Palermo family. The importance of a supportive community is as good a lesson as there is in a situation like this.

Link Here to good article on this strory

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