Misdemeanour prosecution sparks outrage in Colorado hit-and-run case
Cyclist left lying seriously injured while wealthy driver calls Mercedes-Benz for help with car
We can’t pretend to be knowledgeable about the US legal system, but that doesn’t mean we can’t smell the stench of something rotten when it wafts over to this side of the Atlantic.
A high-profile hit-and-run case currently proceeding in the state of Colorado really is enough to make the stomach of all right-thinking people churn, given the nauseating implications it has for the perception of cyclists as road-using untermensch.
The case, as reported by the Vail Daily, involves cyclist Dr. Steven Milo, a transplant surgeon from New York, who, while riding near the town of Vail was struck from behind by a Mercedes-Benz car driven by wealthy personal financial manager, Martin Joel Erzinger.
After the collision, which left Dr. Milo with spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula, Erzinger sped off and drove to the car park of a Pizza Hut restaurant where phoned for assistance from Mercedes-Benz to deal with his damaged car. While showing plenty of concern for his vehicle he did not, however, appear to think it worthwhile to notify the authorities about the damaged cyclist he had just left lying in the gutter.
Under the US system it is usually down to a locally elected District Attorney to determine the charges for a criminal offence and in this instance the prosecutor, Mark Hurlbert, has decided that despite the seriousness of Dr Milo’s injuries, the flight of Erzinger from the scene and his failure to notify the authorities about the collision, he should be prosecuted for nothing more than a misdemeanour offence rather than a more serious felony.
It appears that Erzinger’s legal defence team has suggested that a felony prosecution would affect their client’s ability to do his job as he would be forced to disclose any such conviction to his wealthy clients, for whom he is said to manage $1billion worth of assets.
Not surprisingly the case has sparked outrage in the US and has been reported nationally, with calls for the District Attorney to be removed from office and for a felony charge to be reinstated against Erzinger. We'll keep you posted on this one.