Elderly Woman Ticketed In Crash With Hopkins Bicyclist

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— A Hopkins student is on life support after being hit riding on his bicycle. The driver gets two tickets but keeps her license.

The victim was riding his bike when he was run over by an 83-year-old driver. Now Baltimore’s state’s attorney hopes the accident will lead to big changes.

Adam May is following new developments in the case.

The elderly driver will not lose her license. Prosecutors say her conduct didn’t rise to level of gross negligence.

The investigation into a bicycle accident that left Johns Hopkins student Nathan Krasnopoler in a coma resulted in two citations for Jeanette Walke, 83.

Cited with negligent driving and failing to yield, Walke could receive a maximum penalty of $500 and three points on her driving record for each violation.

“We thoroughly investigated, worked with the police department, interviewed witnesses, did accident reconstruction, and it was our view the citations were appropriate,” said Gregg Bernstein, Baltimore City State’s Attorney.

The student’s family agrees on the outcome.

“The family is relieved that the police and state’s attorney have taken this case seriously and decided to charge Ms. Walke with a crime,” said Andrew Slutkin, attorney for victim’s family.

Krasnopoler is still hospitalized— unlikely to make a full recovery. 

“My poor son, the smart boy who was great at math and computer science now has brain damage,” said Nathan’s father Mitchell Krasnopoler. “Three seconds would have prevented all that, maybe two seconds. She just needed to wait.”

Last month, Krasnopoler’s parents joined efforts to increase bike safety awareness.

In 2009, 630 Americans died in bicycle accidents, 70 percent in urban areas. In our region, Maryland has the second highest fatality rate— only behind Delaware.

“When you prosecute a case like this with citations, at least you’re drawing attention to it so that the public and motorists are aware, and you hope they’ll [be] more conscious of bicyclists on the road,” Bernstein said.

“If you see a bicycle, you need to pay attention to where it is,” said Mitchell Krasnopoler. “If that means waiting a few seconds, just wait because our life has been turned upside down.”  

Nathan Krasnopoler’s family has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the driver.

This week, the General Assembly passed a driver negligence bill. It creates a new misdemeanor charge possible for drivers involved in a fatal bicycle accident.

  • Kimberly Blackwell


    • Bullfrog

      I feel that if each state would pass a law where when a person turns 75 years of age, they should be required by law to retake their drivers test and than every 2 years after that. It would be a win win situation, safer for the public, drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. It would also bring in more money for the DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES. May this young man’s guardian angel keep his thoughts beautiful and help his family through this horrible accident.

    • Deneen

      Learn to spell and please get grammar lessons. It’s by the time. Seriously!

  • Rick Zimmer

    This is a prime example of why there needs to be mandatory re-testing of drivers licenses for people over the age of 70.

    • j

      I do agree with that. However I have seem many young drivers make turns without even slowing down or looking for pedestrians yet alone bicyclists, especially are red lights where you are supposed to STOP before turning

      • jk

        Sandra you have no idea what you are talking about. Drivers are hardly ever held 100% responsible. Point of fact bicycle accidents are the toughest to prove in court and usually the cyclists lose. People need to know and understand bike laws PERIOD.

      • Sandra

        The bicyclists are also supposed to stop and follow the laws. They frequently do not. I see them going through red lights, up sidewalks, in between cars, all in their efforst to get through the city as fast as they can. I’m not familiar with this case, but considering most of the careless agresssive bicyclists I see on the road, I fell more empathy for drivers who are ultimately considered 100% responsible. And $10m from an 83 year old woman. Are they seeking to profit from this tragedy?

  • j

    at red lights

  • JR

    Accidents will happen unfortunately, the sad part is a young man life has changed for ever and a senior citizen will have the pain. from this unfortunate accident with her for the rest of her life. I have cycled all over the city for 35 years and all parties need to be aware of each other. the driver and the cyclist need to be a lot more of a defensive driver and rider. A lot of you may disagree but that is fine, just ask yourself how many mistakes have you made over your life and do every mistake mean that you should be punished, humiliated or sued because of it. Life is a gamble and it’s nothing you or i can do about.. Generate all the laws that you want, but if people don’t learn to pay attention we will be crossing this road again…

  • Larry

    This lady is still driving. Anyone remember the elderly (93) year old man in Florida who ran over 12 people at a bus stop. The next month he drove through a neighbors garage. (imagine your child on a skateboard in front of that garage) I am 59 and realize my reaction time is down and I compensate. When you are 83 years old there is not enough compensation in the world. Taking her license is not punishment it is MANDATORY to save someone else from getting injured or worse. We took my father in law’s license at 68 after a serious accident and he is still thanking us. Retest at 60 should be countrywide. I volunteer to be first.

  • Larry

    Sorry guys I got the wrong side of the country, same solution – you know when your elder family should not be driving, you do nothing you are as guilty as they are—- L.A. an old man whose car hurtled through a farmers market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70, was convicted Friday of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence – the harshest verdict possible.

    George Russell Weller, 89 and in poor health, could spend the rest of his life in prison for the 2003 crash, which set off a national debate over whether elderly people should be barred from driving or required to pass additional tests when renewing their licenses.

    George Russell Weller appears in Los Angeles Superior Court, Dec. 8, 2004. Weller was convicted Friday Oct. 20, 2006 of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence _ the harshest verdict possible. In 2003, Weller’s car hurtled through a farmers market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70 (AP
    George Russell Weller appears in Los Angeles Superior Court, Dec. 8, 2004. Weller was convicted Friday Oct. 20, 2006 of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence _ the harshest verdict possible. In 2003, Weller’s car hurtled through a farmers market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70. [AP]

    He faces a maximum of 18 years in prison, but the judge also could sentence him to probation. Prosecutors declined to say what penalty they would request.

    Weller was not in court to hear the verdict, reached by a jury after eight days of deliberation.

    His attorneys argued that he mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake and panicked when the vehicle raced into the open-air market. But prosecutors said he was careless to the point of criminal negligence and lacked remorse.

    “He looked at what he had done, essentially shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Oops,'” prosecutor Ann Ambrose told the jury.

    Weller was 86 when his 1992 Buick Le Sabre traveled about 300 yards, reaching 60 mph or more as it crashed into food stalls. It finally came to a stop after hitting a ditch, with one victim’s body tangled underneath and another’s draped across the hood. The victims ranged in age from 7 months to 78 years.

    Weller did not testify, but jurors heard a taped interview with police immediately after the crash in which he said he tried everything he could think of to stop the car.

    “I tried to take the control knob and jam it into park. Everything. Anything that I thought would stop the action of the car,” he said.

    Prosecutors also called one witness who claimed Weller said: “You saw me coming; why didn’t you get out of my way?”

    Juror Yolanda Hernandez, 54, of Montebello, said after the verdict that the jury was influenced by that testimony and by Weller’s statement to police, which the panel did not believe showed remorse.

    She also indicated jurors didn’t buy the argument that Weller couldn’t figure out how to stop his car.

    “He had 240 feet before he came to the barricade for the farmer’s market. That’s a long way, and he went 1,000 feet before he stopped,” she said. “He still had plenty of time to react.”

    Hernandez said jurors agreed from the first day of deliberations that Weller was guilty of vehicular manslaughter but had trouble deciding whether he had committed gross negligence, a felony, or misdemeanor simple negligence.

    Asked Wednesday by the panel to provide the legal definition of gross negligence, Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson wrote that it meant “more than ordinary carelessness, inattention or mistake in judgment.”

    Ambrose said Weller’s age wasn’t key to the prosecution’s case.

    “It has been our position from the beginning that no matter if you’re 16 or 86, if you make the decision to get behind the wheel of a car, you have a duty of care,” she said.

    A survivor who is suing over injuries he suffered in the crash said he didn’t want Weller locked up.

    “There’s nothing pleasing about this whole event,” said Mark Miller, adding he had empathy for Weller as well as his fellow victims.

    At Weller’s Santa Monica home Friday, the blinds were drawn and nobody answered the door. A neighbor, Fran Peskoff, said she was stunned by the verdict, adding there was “no way” Weller could have run over people on purpose.

    Since the accident, Peskoff said, Weller has become a recluse.

    “He’s not the warm, friendly man he used to be before the accident. He’s been through an emotional upheaval,” she said.

    Weller was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance until sentencing; a date for that hearing was to be set late next week. Meanwhile, he is prohibited from driving.

  • Atim Ant

    South Park did an episode on elderly drivers… same scenario, but with comedy.

  • RavenLude

    i love old people, except when they are driving.
    way to many people 70 and up should be re-evaluated and licenses revoked

  • Brent Hutchinson

    They need to make more bike lanes in Baltimore. I was it by a car last Aug. It wasn’t bad but it could of been a lot worse. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fought. The person who hit me was in her late 20s and early 30s. It’s illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk but yet there aren’t bike lanes. They should definitely do something about this so young cyclists will be regarded. I’m sure that elderly lady is broken up about this and maybe she should be given some special attention as far as part of the investigation of the case they should give her a driving test to see how well she does on it. This is a mess…

    • Mekedes

      And how do you suggest we fit bike lanes in? Eliminate parking? Knock down buildings to make the roads in the city wider? Who’s going to pay for that? Bicyclists make up 0.2% of users on Maryland roads. Far too much money is spent on this special interest group. Should we eliminate all cars from the roads in the city for you? I can’t count the number of times near misses I’ve had as a pedestrian with careless bicyclists who demonstrate a total disregard of traffic laws, both here and abroad.. “Just like a car” unless it’s inconvenient

    • Deneen

      fault is the word you were looking for. Could have been…

  • JR

    How about every three years that everyone be retested, which will reduce discrimination based on age… I still believe that accidents will happen… There is no perfect solution… Regardless being defensive is just as important as being an offensive driver…

  • Natalie

    While I feel badly for the young man invIolved, I feel just as badly for the elderly woman. have been an avid cyclist for many years, and contrary to popular belief, I feel that as cyclists we should be held partialy responsible for our own safety. By this I mean avoiding high traffic areas, especially during rush hour or waiting that extra second or two instead of assuming the motorist will. The fact of the matter is that everyone has been distracted while driving at one time or another. Yes, the state should provide bike lanes, it’s good excercise and a great way to go green. Until they do though, there are plenty of Ma & Pa and NCR type trails as well as parks that are safe for cyclists. We can’t go around makeing blanket rules for these situations, each one is different and must be treated as such. Bottom line, cyclists and motorists need to be aware of each other.

  • mandy

    I do not drive. If we can not drink till 21 then it should be that teens can not drive till there are out of high school or a 16 year old can still get a Learner’s Permit but can not get a full driver’s license till they graduate out of high school.
    For senior citizen once over 70 re-test . What happend to her that she did not see the kid on the bike path.

  • dg

    So Sandra are you saying that the life of this individual is not worth 10 million dollars???? No amount of money will ever replace a life. And try to work on your English you idiot. You fell more sympathy???

  • kj

    Maryland is second in bicyle deaths does not surpise me. Roads were made for cars….not bikes. Ride in a park or on a path not on a main road or take your chances. I get tired of coming around blind turns on hills on little country roads and all of a sudden there is a bike in the road??? why do they pick the smalledst curviest back roads to ride on? because they have a death wish or are stupid! if there is a car or truck coming at me and i cant move over…guess what …youre gonna buy it ! im not hitting a car or truck head on because you made a poor decision. I think there should be a law passed that you cannot ride a bike on a road that does not have a shoulder or a bike lane! Bikers need to stop complaining and get smart about where they choose to ride.

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