BRECKSVILLE, OH (WOIO) - After a few hours of deliberations, a jury said a Brecksville man is not guilty of killing two cyclists and hitting three others.
Timothy Wolf, 42 was found not guilty on charges of vehicular homicide and wanton disregard of public safety. His acquittal came down around 5 p.m. Thursday.
Wolf was turning left at the intersection of Snowville and Dewey roads on Sept. 17, 2015 when he hit five bicyclists.
Matthew Billings, 33, of North Canton, died at the scene. James Lambert, 52, of Cuyahoga Falls, passed away a week later. Catherine Hilston of Cuyahoga Falls, William Kotich of Solon, and Brian Kincaid of Stow, were treated and released from MetroHealth Medical Center.
Wednesday in court it was revealed that that Wolf may have been texting around the time he hit the cyclists at the intersection of Snowville and Dewey roads.
Wolf had said he was going 15 mph when he crashed into the cyclists.
Upset with Thursday's verdict, Bike Cleveland released the following statement:
It has been a sobering experience sitting in on the trial over Timothy Wolf, the driver charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, and one count of wanton disregard of public safety over the deaths of Matthew Billings and Jim Lambert in Brecksville last September. Today, the Jury returned a not guilty verdict on the case. Throughout proceedings the defense attempted to complicate and distort a simple truth: two people are dead because of the reckless actions of another.
They achieved this by citing mitigating circumstances such as sun glare and repeatedly calling the crash an "accident."
More insidious arguments were put forth that not only alleviated blame from Wolf, but shifted it to the deceased victims themselves. Were they wearing brightly colored clothes? Did they have lights? How fast were they going? These subversive tactics successfully undermined the fact that Wolf made an illegal left turn by failing to yield to oncoming traffic, and had he not made that turn, Billings and Lambert would still be alive, a fact Mr. Wolf admitted to during his testimony in the trial.
We vehemently disagree with the defense's tactics because if we were to follow them to their logical conclusion, there would be a mandate that says all cars be painted a bright color and have daytime running lights to improve their visibility. The cyclists were riding within their rights and within the law when they were struck by Mr. Wolf. Mr. Wolf broke the law, not the cyclists. Wolf made an error in judgment when he made an illegal left turn, not the cyclists.
All too often the dangerous actions of people in cars are diminished, both through passive cultural means inherited over generations of car culture, and actively by those who attempt to shift the blame to the victims of crashes that could have been avoided if only people took the act of driving a 4000lbs vehicle capable of great destruction more seriously.
Throughout the proceedings, Mr. Wolf appeared visibly remorseful, and the narrative of "punishing a remorseful man doesn't do anyone any good" will surely ensue. We disagree. While we wish Mr. Wolf no ill-will, being sorry for your actions does not excuse you from being accountable to them. By failing to acknowledge Mr. Wolf's guilt, we have once more reinforced the culture of blamelessness that exacerbates a serious problem our society faces: thousands of people die every year on our roads. In fact in 2015 twenty-six people on bikes lost their lives, this is the highest number in 20 years.
We thank the Brecksville Police and Brecksville City Prosecutor Sergio DiGeronimo for their professionalism and diligence with this case, and again express our condolences to the friends and family of Matt, Jim, and all the others who were impacted by this tragedy.
It is seriously regrettable that justice was not served in a way that the people we know would have liked, and we can only hope that although the verdict was "not-guilty", that Mr. Wolf, and anyone aware of this case has been fundamentally altered by it. You carry a serious burden of responsibility when you get behind the wheel. You must take it seriously.
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