published Friday, March 27th, 2009

Chattanooga: Truck driver not indicted in death of cyclist

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    Staff Photo by John Rawlston A white bicycle adorned with flowers and a sign is seen next to Ashland Terrace near the intersection with Norcross Road where David Meek, an avid cyclist, was killed in an accident with a truck while he was commuting to work on his bicycle on March 6.

A Hamilton County grand jury did not issue an indictment against a truck driver in connection with the recent death of a bicyclist, officials said.

David Meek, 51, died March 6 as a result of a bicycle accident on Ashland Terrace. Chattanooga police said Mr. Meek was thrown from his bike and killed when a large truck traveling on his left snagged an attached saddle bag.

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Salsa said...

I guess this is the same grand jury that didn't indict Freeman for assaulting the Walmart greeter. Sounds like we need a new grand jury. One that will follow the law.

March 27, 2009 at 12:03 p.m.
wareagleash said...

What would be the grounds? Its unfortunate what happened but accidents do happen. Was the driver drunk? Being in the trucking business myself I'm used to the blame.

March 27, 2009 at 12:07 p.m.
JHD536 said...

While it is unfortunate that the bicyclist died, the driver had supposedly made an attempt to pass and the rear bumper of his truck caught the bicyclist's backpack, so it is all just an accident.

I'm certain the driver feels horrible enough and criminal charges would solve nothing.

March 27, 2009 at 12:31 p.m.
zedster1 said...

Yeah - but what's this 3-foot rule I've been hearing about? I would assume that it means that the auto driver needs to leave 3 feet from the vehicle to the cyclist - which seems really, really close to me - probably too close for a cyclist.

March 27, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.
Tiffo said...

The truck driver should have gotten into some kind of trouble. He did ty to scare him to get the biker off the road. I think if the driver had not tried to get the biker off the road the biker would still be here. The driver did break the law. You are supposed to be 3 feet away from someone on a bike. He should get in trouble. Maybe not jail but at least community service or something. He was wrong and should face the consequences.

March 27, 2009 at 1:08 p.m.
wareagleash said...

Tiffo: where you in the cab with the driver? Did he personally tell you that he tried to scare the biker?

March 27, 2009 at 1:44 p.m.
Tnmomofmany said...

When are people going to figure out that the issue is the lack of bike/scooter lanes in Hamilton County? As alternative transportation such as biking increases why is the county not putting in shoulders that are sufficient for bikes and pedestrians? How many people need to be injured and killed before the streets are widened that little bit? I have lived in many different areas of the country and this is the ONLY place I've lived that is so shortsighted as to forgo safe travel lanes for bikers and pedestrians. Maybe, just maybe one of the reasons that there is a high obesity rate in the Chattanooga area is because there is nowhere for people to exercise outside safely.

Blaming the truckers is likely what the government officials would like you to do. It's much less expensive. Besides, going three feet around a biker would put you over the double yellow line just about everywhere you'd try to pass. That will get you a ticket faster than driving within three feet of a biker.

No, the real solution is to provide a safe place for everyone using the roads.

March 27, 2009 at 2:33 p.m.
Tiffo said...

wareagleash---he admitted in court to trying to push the biker off the road and it was on the news and talk radio. so no, he did not personally tell me that but he did publicly tell us that.

March 27, 2009 at 2:33 p.m.
moonpie said...

Tiffo,

Are you sure you're talking about the case of Mr. Meek? In every report I've seen or heard, the driver denied that he ever saw Mr. Meek. He said he only became aware of him at the point of collision.

If what you say is true about this case, I don't see a grand jury saying its not worth pursuing charges or further investigation.

Please clarify your sources.

March 27, 2009 at 2:51 p.m.
Tiffo said...

Moonpie: Yes I am talking about the story on Mr. Meek. I was listening to talk radio on my way to work, as I do every morning. They are the one who reported that the truck driver admitted to trying to push Mr. Meek off the road and when he did his mirror or bumper caught on to Mr. Meeks' bad and drug him and killed him. The truck driver never should have tried to forced Mr. Meek off the road and he would still be here. He should get in trouble just as someone who had a car accident would have to if someone was killed in it. It could be the smallest of accidents but if he would have been driving in a car and mr meeks could have been driving in a car. If they had been in an accident and it would have killed mr meek he would be facing vechilar homicide. The same rules should apply bike or car.

March 27, 2009 at 3:02 p.m.
wareagleash said...

If he admitted to that than he should not be walking the streets and rather walking behind razor wire. Its hard for me to believe that a jury would allow this to slide by. As biker myself I always take into account the dangers I face every time I ride. As a trucking company owner I also understand the fact that we will always be hated in the eye of the public.

March 27, 2009 at 3:27 p.m.
Tiffo said...

I agree. I was just simply repeating what I heard on talk radio this morning. I think that Chattanooga needs to make places safer for bike riders. It is a growing sport in Chattanooga and is becoming more popular. I see bikers and joggers everyday on my way in and I always worry. The roads just need to be safer.

March 27, 2009 at 3:33 p.m.
moonpie said...

Agreed. If he did see him and try to push him off the road and admitted this, then the grand jury failed.

We have a duty to protect those who are vulnerable.

I haven't seen these details reported anywhere, and I wasn't listening to talk this a.m., so I'd still like to know the source. I'll be looking forward to seeing these details covered on other media.

Thanks for catching me up to speed, Tiffo.

March 27, 2009 at 3:51 p.m.
dsuttles said...

This is a "red" state, a place where businesses can do what they like. The emphasis is on doing what is good for business, not what is right for people. Mr. Meeker is dead and we haven't even been told the name of the truck driver. But it doesn't matter because he was in the process of forcing a biker off the road so he could make money. Deny that!

March 27, 2009 at 4:18 p.m.
Tiffo said...

Moonpie: Maybe they will talk about it again or maybe someone will call in and have them clearify that comment.

March 27, 2009 at 4:18 p.m.
rolando said...

Tiffo -- Hopefully you do not believe everything you hear on talk radio -- or the New York Times either. What you heard is called "hearsay" and is not permitted at trial...the Grand Jury probably wasn't told of it.

Tnmomofmany has the most valuable input here, IMO. Bikers need a space of their own. On the other hand, they must show some common sense. All it takes is one misjudgment...

Three feet clearance is a variable distance. How, you say? I have no idea what part of Ashland Terrace Mr Meeks was riding on, but for sake of discussion presume at hilltop crest headed downhill...also assume the driver DID see him but judged Meeks' speed badly [because Meeks changed it].

So the truck passes the biker allowing sufficient room; meanwhile Mr Meeks, now running downhill, speeds up and spoils the driver's judgment of clear space. Note his BACK bumper reportedly caught Meek's pannier [saddlebag].

IMO, this would make a conviction under the 3-foot law highly unlikely...reasonable doubt is established and intent is everything. Without that probability, the Grand Jury is bound to NOT indict. That is what grand juries do...

To digress a bit [as I tend to do], Grand Juries have tremendous investigative power, well beyond that of trial juries. They are empowered to go wherever and see whatever and ask whatever they choose however tenuous the case connection. They can ask -- no, demand -- answers of the DA to most anything.

Judges and District Attorney's do not want grand juries to know that, of course, preferring them to remain pliable...like putty. Judges cannot naysay them...the most judges can do is dismiss the grand jury and try again.

So I would trust a grand jury's judgment much more than the newsmedia's or talk radio.

March 27, 2009 at 4:22 p.m.
zedster1 said...

To Tnmomofmany, that would be great to have bike lanes. However, I think most of us would just appreciate pot holes being filled and sewer drains actually draining (another old issue we all have read about). Coincidentally, they recently widened Ashland Terrace - right where the accident happened. I think a bike lane would require most roads to be widened because they are currently just not designed for that additional cyclist traffic. I think it's a matter of sharing the road and paying attention to the way we drive ... and not being distracted while we drive.

March 27, 2009 at 4:29 p.m.
zedster1 said...

Going by where the cops were that day, the puddle of "something" on the pavement under where the bike laid on the ground, where the truck came to stop, it was right at the entrance to the Food Lion ... right where the expansion portion of the road ended. I drove by the spot apparently after the ambulance had left, but before the incident had been cleaned up. Look at http://maps.google.com/maps?q=ashland+terrace+chattanooga&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&hl=en&ll=35.115091,-85.261559&spn=0.001143,0.001663&t=h&z=19&iwloc=addr&layer=c&cbll=35.115153,-85.26163&panoid=h2Qze4y0pUK7KEWOZBaY1A&cbp=12,252.00000000000026,,0,16.1774193548387

March 27, 2009 at 4:48 p.m.
thelight said...

I got an answer why don't drivers slow down? I live in North Chatt and it amazes me the speed that people go on Barton avenue and on Frazier. the traffic cameras can only do so much as well as the cops it takes us the people to slow down! I see many bikers, runners, walkers, strollers on a daily basis and I am one of them as well and it sometimes scares me to death to walk down the street on Barton. Funny that everyone thinks that Barton is some 4 lane highway with a median, do you not realize this is a residential area? I pray that no one gets hurt including me! Oh well you got to speed to get home I know time is valuable, but here is a word of advise if you want to drive fast to and from work get on the intersate or get on Hwy 27 stay off Barton cause you just might get a ticket from the cameras

March 27, 2009 at 5:10 p.m.
monaccomel said...

that is how our justice system is..It's sad. I was struck by a teenager from Signal Mountaint on the 'W' road whom admitting to looking at her cell phone when she crossed the yellow line and hit us head on, we were on a motorcyle. I am in a wheelchair after 11 surgeries..the teenager got a small fine and court costs from what I understand. Such a careless, senseless MVA...such as this one is..At least I am alive...so tragic of biker's death as a result of another careless, senseless MVA..

March 27, 2009 at 5:12 p.m.
woodlase said...

I've been riding bicycles for decades as a primary mode of transportation and I can attest to the fact, WITHOUT BIKE LANES, white line fever can be DEADLY. In Chattanooga, many major throughfares do not meet code for lane width. Brainerd Rd. for instance is virtually three SIDEWALK lanes. In most every other place nationally I've driven Brainerd road would only be a TWO lane road for traffic in each directions.Many other major throughfares in Chattanooga DON'T have Paved shoulders. You only have about 16" of road along the white line (if there is one). Chattanooga is a DANGEROUS community to drive and ride in period.

March 27, 2009 at 6:11 p.m.
SignalSays said...

While the loss of this bicyclists life is one of the worst things that can happen, there are a few things wrong here. No where, at no time, in any courtroom, or on any radio talk show, did the driver of this truck say he admitted to trying to force Mr. Meek off the road, He'd still be in jail. People, do not take any or everything you hear on talk radio as gospel. IT DIDN'T HAPPEN!. This driver is very upset over this loss, and if you read the grandjury report, the police re-enacted the accident, at the same time of day, at the same place, and concluded the driver "could have seen him but also it was likely he could NOT have seen him. Folks, that's why they call them accidents. I don't know why this person wants to rile folks in an already heated debate on bikes on the road, but the man NEVER admitted to trying to force the bike off the road. That's the craziest thing I have ever seen anyone write, especially in a tragedy like this, and to use their reliable source, " a talk radio station" is ludicrous. And not trying to make light of this situation, but I drive by this site almost every morning. Besides the white bike as a memorial for this man, the other thing I noticed is there are new sidewalks all the way down this new road. Why wasn't he riding on the sidewalk and safely out of the way of traffic on a 4 lane road? I still think bike riders have NO business on busy thoroughfares, but if your going to take the chance, be ready to accept the consequences.

March 27, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Tiffo said...

Okay guys, I'm sorry about the earlier posts. I should not have brought something into the message boards that was not absolutely verified by multiple sources. That is how rumors get started and that is how lives are ruined. So once again, I do apologize. Is there a way to delete posts? I will delete them so that no one else gets misinformation.

March 28, 2009 at 10:37 a.m.
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