On September 22, Thomas Lynch, driving a pickup truck, is alleged to have caused a 16-bike crash in Lake County, Illinois causing injury to several of the riders and sending at least one rider to the local hospital for emergency treatment. Based on the information available through third-party eye witnesses, statements made by members of the cycling group and confirmed by the Lake County Sheriff’s office, the driver first drove alongside the riders, who were lawfully riding single-file, then drove in front of them and suddenly hit the brakes causing the pileup. He fled the scene, but then returned to the crash site where he was questioned by a county deputy sheriff.
In explaining how he caused the collision, he first said that he thought that that a bicyclist had punched his truck. He later explained that he braked suddenly in front of the bikers to avoid hitting a squirrel.
The driver of the truck has been charged with improper lane usage and failure to provide aid and information, both misdemeanors, and was initially ordered to appear in Lake County court on October 29. I’ve been in communication with one of the cyclists who was involved in the collision, and he tells me that Lynch’s court appearance date has been pushed back to December, but that the Lake County Sheriff has called back several of the people who were involved for more detailed statements. We are grateful for the work of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for thoroughly investigating the facts of this incident, and particularly Deputy Sheriff Alan Burns, the deputy on the scene who took this matter very seriously and professionally as he investigated and recorded everyone’s statements.
This was not an “accident.” This was an act of violence by a driver forcing himself against law-abiding bicyclists with the weight of a pickup truck weighing thousands of pounds. He fled the scene. His account to the authorities of what happened is ridiculous and shows blatant disregard for the safety of others on the road.
The League of American Bicyclists is watching this case with great concern. League executive director Andy Clarke has written to Mr. Michael J. Waller, the Lake County State’s Attorney, urging him to vigorously investigate the case and where appropriate press charges to the fullest extent of the law. A copy of Andy Clarke’s letter to the State’s Attorney Michael Waller can be viewed here.
I encourage you to contact the Lake County State’s Attorney and let him know that cyclists locally, regionally, and nationwide are watching this case, and that a message needs to be sent to drivers like Thomas Lynch that they do not own the road and they are not at liberty to commit acts of physical violence to others on the road, motorized or not.
State’s Attorney Michael Waller’s contact information:
Michael J. Waller
State’s Attorney Office
18 North County St., 4th Floor
Waukegan, IL 60085