MassBike wants charges filed against both drivers in fatal Cambridge crash

Cambridge, MA - 6/23/2016 - Police pick up a bicycle that was involved in an accident that sent a woman to the hospital at the scene of the accident on Cambridge Street in the Inman Square section Cambridge, MA June 23, 2016. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
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Police pick up the bicycle that was involved in the crash. –Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

A bicycling education and advocacy group is calling for serious charges to be filed against the drivers of a truck and Jeep involved in last week’s Inman Square crash that killed a Cambridge woman on her bicycle.

MassBike’s executive director, Richard Fries, sent an open letter to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office Monday. He wrote that both drivers should face either vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide charges for the death of 27-year-old Amanda Phillips.

Opening a car door into a cyclist without first looking is negligent and a violation of law. [See MGL c. 90 sec. 14, near the end of the very long first paragraph] When a driver does so and the victim dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter. Likewise, when a driver runs into a cyclist and hits her from behind, if the cyclist dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter. These are the facts that lead to the death of Amanda Phillips.

Fries told The Boston Globe that he is not saying the drivers are guilty, but that he believes the case should be taken to court.

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As of Monday, no charges had been filed against either driver, and state police spokesman David Procopio said the crash remains under investigation to determine whether any charges are warranted.

“As in all cases, we will base that decision solely on the evidence,” he said.

The full investigation could take months, according to a statement from the DA’s office:

Tragically, in the past month we have had two fatal collisions involving motor vehicles and bicyclists in Middlesex County. While we understand the concerning nature of these incidents as it pertains to the safety of both bicyclists and motor vehicle operators who share our roadways, we must conduct a complete and thorough investigation before making charging decisions in these cases. As with all fatal motor vehicle collisions, this investigation could take several months to conclude.

The preliminary investigation into the fatal collision that resulted in the death of Amanda Phillips indicates that Phillips was riding on the sidewalk in Inman Square when she traveled over the curb to merge with traffic on Cambridge Street. According to preliminary witness statements it appears that she struck the driver’s side door of a parked car in the roadway, that was open before Phillips entered the roadway, that contact caused Phillips to be thrown from her bicycle into the path of a landscaping truck that was also traveling down Cambridge Street.

This investigation is being conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, State Police Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Section and the Cambridge Police Department.

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