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Woman guilty in car accident that killed bicyclist

While summer isn't officially here, we'll take all the pre-summer warm days we can in Wisconsin. When it's warm, many of us spend time outside camping, hiking, fishing, biking and more.

Unfortunately, too many motorists believe that they're entitled to drive as fast as they can in order get where they're going. Reckless driving obviously makes riding a bicycle dramatically more dangerous and the chances of a car accident dramatically more likely.

A family far from us in La Crosse is trying to recover from their loss when a SUV hit a bicyclist and drove off, leaving the 30-year-old law student to die of her injuries.

The Maryland crash resulted in criminal charges; the 43-year-old driver was recently convicted of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death. She faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.

The dead woman's mother was in the courtroom as the verdict was read. She "closed her eyes and shook" as the verdict was read, the Washington Post reports.

"I needed to hear it. I needed to hear 'guilty,' " the mother said later. "On the other side, nobody comes out a winner here. It's just a tragedy all the way around."

Prosecutors said the driver hit the bicyclist at about 5:30 on a September, 2010 morning. The law student was training for a triathlon.

Prosecutors said the sequence of events that tragic day were obvious: the driver hit the biker, who was thrown onto the hood of the vehicle, before driving off. The bicyclist had on reflective wear and her bike was equipped with a flashing light.

As the driver sped off, the vehicle showered sparks: the SUV was dragging the bicycle down the road.

The defense argued that the driver had assumed she'd hit a deer, so she drove off.

The jury took a mere 90 minutes to deliver its verdict.

In these kinds of cases, it often makes sense for loved ones to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit that can compensate them for loss of future wages, medical costs and other damages.

Source: Washington Post, "Maryland driver guilty in crash that killed bicyclist," May 24, 2012

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