ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A beloved high school coach, wife and mother is run down and killed while bicycling. A Calvert County driver is found guilty of traffic violations, including negligent driving.
Tracey Leong speaks with Patricia Cunningham’s family and friends.
Inside the courtroom, it was a packed house filled mostly with family and friends of the Annapolis cyclist who was killed. They were unhappy the charges were only traffic violations, but pleased the judge imposed the maximum fines.
Friends and family showed their support for cyclist Patricia Cunningham, who was fatally struck by a driver, Whitney Decesaris, last August on Riva Road in Davidsonville.
Many who knew Cunningham–who was a high school track coach, mother and wife–were shocked the punishment was traffic tickets and not criminal charges, which was decided by a grand jury last fall.
“It’s not treated like a real crime ,” said Jerry Cunningham, the husband of the victim. “A couple traffic tickets for somebody’s life?”
The family tells WJZ the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office could have done more to impose the more serious criminal charge of negligent manslaughter.
“I have no confidence at all in the state’s attorney,” said Cunningham.
Emotions ran high during the trial. The judge acknowledged the tragic situation, saying Decesaris was guilty of not seeing Cunningham–a decision the family applauded him for.
“She was there on the roadway, clearly visible, on a hill, you’re going up, the van’s going up, you can see up the hill. I don’t know why she hit her,” said John Naughton, the father of the victim.
The Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office released this statement, saying: “We are pleased, but not surprised that the judge ruled that the defendant was clearly negligent for running into a cyclist on the road, and that he imposed the only appropriate penalty.”
Family and friends of Cunningham are hoping this case calls attention to the changes needed and that a more serious charge will be imposed for those who fatally hit cyclists.
The judge imposed the maximum fine of $500. The driver has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
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