The accident and the death of cyclist Nikki Catsouras has become a symbol of hope for many who believe that automobile crashes can be avoided and that bicycles and other modes of transport are not the cause of most road fatalities. The headline news stories from the States following the accident have been about the tragic loss of the cyclist, with reports that she was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. However, there has been much commentary in the press and in various online sources decrying the lack of liability and drunk driving in the case. The photos on the road crash scene have been widely shared, with opinions ranging from the seriousness of the situation to the ethics of some in driving while intoxicated. While there may be valid anger towards those involved, it is important to remember that the accident was not due to drunk driving or even reckless driving but a collision between two vehicles.
This accident took place at approximately midday on May 16th in Honolulu, Hawaii. Catsouras was a bicycle courier for Trek Bikes, a prominent bicycle company in the Pacific Northwest. At the time she was riding along approaching a busy street when a white sport utility vehicle (or SUV) drove out of a green light and struck her, causing her to fall and hit her head on the ground. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she later died.
The driver of the SUV has been charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence, but the case is currently being delayed pending the results of a paternity test. In the meantime, a photo of the crash and its aftermath was taken by a bystander and given to the Honolulu Police Department. The photo has led to many conversations about the responsibilities of drivers, including the responsibility to look in a mirror before passing on the road.
In addition to the windshield, the photo shows that Catsouras had significant injuries, including a broken jaw bone, a cut ear, a bruised back, a lacerated liver and hemorrhoids. According to witnesses, the driver of the SUV may have been speeding at the time of the accident. He has since been charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence, reckless driving and hit and run. A graphic image of the injured cyclist was also taken by the bystander and given to the police.
In the photo, you can see the extent of Catsouras’ injuries, which included multiple internal concussions and brain damage. Although it is not clear from the photo how she sustained these injuries, her friends said she fell several stories while cycling and was carried away unconscious when the crash occurred. It also does not appear that she had any seat belt on, which is a significant safety factor for cyclists, since many serious bicycle accidents do not involve seat belts. The photo also shows that she was not wearing a helmet, as is required.
According to the attorney who handled the case, Nikki Catsouras suffered from a large gash in her head. Catsouras was unconscious at the time of the accident, and it is unclear whether or not she suffered a concussion as a result of the impact. Doctors have also reported that Catsouras suffered from internal bleeding and brain bruising. Pictures of her injury are also shown in the photo album.
This photo appears to be a positive sign for cyclists everywhere. However, it is important to remember that even positive photos of serious road accidents may not necessarily mean that the incident was less severe than other possibilities. Even if the photo does indicate that the severity of the injuries was less than average, this does not mean that the victim may fare better than other drivers on the road. In fact, the victim may not survive the collision at all.
There is a lot to be learned from this photo and the initial glimpse it provides. This photo may encourage drivers to pay more attention when passing cyclists, especially when other motorists are driving by. Drivers should always look both ways before making a turn, and they should also always give pedestrians a space to cross before pulling into a parking spot. If you are riding in a car with someone who is injured, it is very important to take their condition into consideration.
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