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Comments about ‘Family of USU cyclist killed in slackline accident files lawsuit’

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Published: Thursday, May 1 2014 4:45 p.m. MDT

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Prodicus
Provo, UT

Everyone here seems to think it's perfectly OK to leave unattended death traps around as long as the only things killed are cyclists, because cyclists aren't people. The reaction is the same every time someone else's irresponsible actions- usually a driver's - kill a cyclist. The prejudice around here makes me sick.

dtday2003, it's pretty absurd to say that every time someone's negligent action kills somebody they should not face any consequences because being "haunted by the death" absolves them of any other responsibility.

DanO, he could not have "just as easily have hurt someone else." He was going fast but by all accounts not so fast that he had no control over his bike. He would have been capable of avoiding hitting any people or obstacles he was capable of seeing. But a slackline at only a few inches from eye level presents a less than 1/16 inch profile that is functionally invisible.

Kristy
Puyallup, WA

TO: Red Corvette SACRAMENTO, CA
The bike rider was also negligent in that he was riding at a high speed off the designated bike path. I'm sorry for the loss to the family of the biker but the biker was at fault for riding his bike in an area not designated or safe for biking... both were not thinking of the consequences!

Prodicus
Provo, UT

Slackliners should know a few basic things they can do to avoid endangering people. Neglecting those is negligent. USU allowing slacklining in a public space without basic precautions might also be negligent.

Mostly these rules go unwritten. But when slackliners form organizations they write them.

UK Slackline Association:

8. Slacklines should be attended at all times. DO NOT leave any line unattended without the land owners permission and take reasonable precautions to protect the slacklines from use from the general public.
9. The area in which you are slacklining and the equipment you are using should be clearly visible to people. We would recommend the use of wind dampeners/visual markers on slacklines, in particular when using longer lines.

Swiss Slackline Federation:

b. Longlines and jumplines should be clearly marked to ensure their visibility to every person in the surrounding (the marks can also serve as wind-stoppers).
c. In case someone is walking on the line or if longlines are setup at low heights, they must be attended at all time by a second slackliner. When no one is walking it, if the longline is setup high enough it is not of danger for pedestrians and cyclists.

DanO
Mission Viejo, CA

Prodicus, how do we know he had control over his bike? In 2012, a cyclist going down a hill killed a pedestrian in San Francisco. Facts are, as others had pointed out, he was riding his bike where he shouldn't have been.

JOANOFARC
SAN LUIS OBISPO , CA

Why would a person be cycling at a high rate of speed where people are congregated? fast enough to sever your windpipe?

smokejumper
SLC, UT

Slackliners only put the lines up in high-traffic areas where they can be seen. If they had to do it off in a corner they wouldn't do it. When you put up a hazard in a high-traffic area you have a responsibility to warn others. Would a reasonable person walking or riding a bike assume that a rope/strap would be stretched between two trees at chest height and not have any warning? No. Should a reasonable person who stretches a rope/strap between two trees in a high-traffic area assume that someone might walk, run or ride into it? Yes. Accidents are preventable.

bushkid
Parowan, UT

The way these things work, there will almost always be a negotiated settlement between the parties. This may have not been a bike path, but it can be determined if it was an area where bikes were commonly ridden. The trend is to teach that no one is responsible for his/her actions.. that society or some corporation is to blame.. but taking personal responsibility is what produces considerate citizens and actually produces changes in behavior.

TripleCrown
Santa Ana, CA

I find it noteworthy that the Slackline Assoc. Code of Conduct quoted by Prodicus, nor the rest of the guidelines available online, make mention of any recommended height for slacklines nor recommendations about bright colors to increase visibility. If slacklines were florescent green or orange they would be easier to see. The stock photo accompanying this article shows a slackline a few inches off the ground. What is the purpose or advantage to installing one at chest height? Wouldn't this subject those using the slackline to a higher risk of injury when (not if) they fall? I realize that even if the slackline had been only been a foot or so off the ground, it would still have probably thrown Eric from the bike, perhaps causing different injuries, but it may have been easier to see, especially if it were brightly colored. My heart goes out to the Anderson, Bladen, Burger, and Bell families.

ImpartialObserver
Logan, UT

Before jumping to any conclusions, everyone should go to Google maps and take a look at a street view of "Old Main Hill, Logan UT." Also, do a search for "USU Bike Plan" on Google. You should be able to find a PDF that was produced in 2011 that talks about a variety of biking-related issues. On page 7 you will see a campus bike map that shows bike paths and other biking information. Pages 8-12 also provide relevant information. The key determinant of who is at fault will depend the signage that is around Old Main Hill.

Scenario 1: No signage that clearly stated that Old Main Hill was a no biking zone (or a "dismount zone"). USU will likely/potentially be at fault.

Scenario 2: Old Main Hill had signage that clearly stated that Old Main Hill was a "slow zone." USU will potentially be at fault.

Scenario 3: Old Main Hill had signage that clearly stated that Old Main Hill was a "dismount zone." USU will not (and should not) be at fault.

Determining what the "slack liners" should/should not have done is hard. It really depends on what Old Main Hill was typically used for.

environmental idiot
Sanpete, UT

I feel sorry for the family's loss... but that doesn't justify making someone else's life miserable over an accident that was just as much their fault as the others involved.

Linus
Bountiful, UT

I knew a family who lost a daughter in a tragic traffic accident. They sued and won a large sum of money. Then they tragically lost the rest of their family to the influence and consequence of having that money. There is no good that can come from vengeance; from harm inflicted on others; from extravagance purchased at such a price; from reducing the priceless memory of a lost loved to a worldly "value."

We collected a modest sum of life insurance when our son was killed in an accident. We just couldn't bring ourselves to spend that money, brought to us at such a price. Instead, we reserved it for the support of several sibling missionaries in their missionary service.

My advice is "let it go." You will eventually see the blessing of doing so. You have a choice: your grieving process will result in peace or guilt. Choose wisely.

Tumbleweed
Centerville, UT

@dtday2003

"What good will suing the other students do? They don't have any insurance that would cover their portion of $2 million. I understand the grief of the family, but if they win then these 3 students' financial lives are ruined."

Actually, DT, your assumption about insurance may be wrong. Most people don't realize it, but homeowners' insurance may cover students temporarily living away from home for their acts of liability. Of course, policy language may differ, but assuming these college kids were not insured could be a big mistake for the attorney handling the claim of the deceased biker.

DanO
Mission Viejo, CA

ImpartialObserver, you missed the scenario where the cyclist wasn't riding on the designated path shown in the document you referred to. It clearly shows the bicycle path as being the paved walk running diagonally. According to the USUPD Chief the student was riding down the grass through the trees.

Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY

I learned years ago when, as a bishop, I watched a family go after another family in hopes of destroying them after they felt that they had been wronged. The wronged family lost their friends because of the incessant talking badly about the wrong-doers. They could not see how it was affecting the loving Christ-like character they cherished until one day they woke up to what they had done to themselves. After moving away, forgiving, and making a new start, they came full circle and are well again. Forgiveness and moving ahead with firmness in Christ will heal all wounds. Nothing will bring bad the loss of a loved one, but Christ can bring peace, which is what they lack in this case. Chrst is the Way.

ImpartialObserver
Logan, UT

DanO- There is a big difference between specifically prohibiting bikes and having a designated bike lane, so liability will depend on whether or not biking was clearly prohibited. If it was clearly prohibited on Old Main Hill, then it is unlikely that USU will be liable. If it wasn't clearly prohibited, then there is a chance that they will be liable (no guarantee, but there is definitely a chance). That is why each scenario focused on whether or not there was signage and did not focus on the fact that he wasn't riding on the designated bike path (which is on the south side of Old Main Hill).

ulvegaard
Medical Lake, Washington

I would always tend to avoid a law suit of this type. I don't think that money can ever compensate for such a loss. I think that money can lessen the burden of incurred expenses - such as hospital; or unfortunately, burial expenses. Beyond that, I think the money becomes a reminder that something happened that was tragic.

I am not aware of local codes, but it would seem common sense that some sort of flags should have been attached to the line -- something that made it more visible. When hauling loads that extend behind my vehicle more than four feet, I am required to attach a flag, if nothing more, than as a courtesy to those who are traveling behind me. I'm surprised something like that was not done in this situation.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

DanO

No, the bike rider was most likely watching where he was going. It wasn't reasonable that he would expect that someone would have put a non visible wire where it could cut into him.

DanO
Mission Viejo, CA

ImpartialObserver, cjb.. It's pretty common practice to not ride your bike on the grass. What is so hard about this concept for you guys to understand?

Dante
Salt Lake City, UT

If you tie up a tightrope/slackline somewhere on public property, you have at least a duty to stay nearby and warn off others who might be injured by your stunt, rather than wandering away to indulge in other activities. Maybe the cyclist is at fault for failing to obey campus rules concerning where to ride a bicycle. It is not necessarily foreseeable that riding one's bike off the path across a grassy area with trees should lead to death.

All these are facts that everyone is surmising, but which will need to be ascertained and proven through the litigation process. The likelihood is that both sides share come degree of fault, and that the University will propose a settlement far less than the amount requested, and the family will accept it. The family is not trying to ruin the lives of anyone, nor impose guilt on them. All involved parties need to come before the court to present their evidence. I've seen enough news stories that got the facts wrong that I'm in no rush to pass judgment based on assumed, yet to be proven, facts.

earthquakejake
Logan, UT

He was riding his bike down a big grass hill weaving through trees. That was his own negligence.

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