Driver, 83, ticketed in collision with bicycle
The 83-year-old driver of a car that struck and gravely injured a 20-year-old Johns Hopkins student who was bicycling near the university has been ticketed for two alleged traffic violations, the Baltimore State's Attorney and Police Department said Tuesday.
The decision to charge Jeanette Marie Walke in the crash with Nathan Krasnopoler on Feb. 26 comes despite an initial announcement by police that charges were not expected. That statement brought a flurry of criticism from advocates for Maryland bicyclists, who have long contended that city police are too quick to excuse drivers involved in crashes with bikes.
Walke received two traffic citations -- for negligent driving and failure to yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist in a designated bike lane. However, State' Attorney Gregg Bernstein said an investigation found no evidence of gross negligence, which would be required to justify a felony prosecution for vehicular manslaughter if the victim were to die.
The crash left Krasnopoler in a coma as a result of catastrophic brain injuries. Last week his family said doctors had told them he is not expected to make a meaningful recovery or regain cognitive function.
The state's attorney's office said the charges each carry a potential penalty of $500 and three points on the driver's license. However, in traffic ticket cases, the driver can resolve the charges by paying a lesser fine without appearing in court.
In a news release, the state's attorney's office and the police stressed that they rake cases involving motorists and bicyclists seriously. "We will prosecute drivers who harm cyclists to the fullest extent of the law," he said.