A sheriff has been found at fault for using a laptop at the wheel before he crashed into a teenage cyclist and killed him.
Police in Cape Coral, Florida, said that Deputy Doug Hood should have pulled off the road to use his laptop after he hit 15 year old Austin Dukette in the early morning of August 22.
According to the investigators the collision involved a number of factors including environmental conditions, the patrol car computer, Dukette's dark clothing and inadequate lighting on the bike.
Cape Coral Police issued a citation to Deputy Doug Hood for careless driving. He may now suffer a formal punishment.
Hood was using his in-car laptop shortly before the crash, but it was not clear whether he was still using it at the time of impact
"I don't know if he was on when the impact occurred. I believe he was on the computer approximate to the crash," investigator Sheriff Scott told abc-7.
"Our policy is such that if you're going to be on a computer, you should pull off the roadway."
Scott issued the following statement about the findings:
"I appreciate the thorough investigation completed by the Cape Coral Police Department and I concur with the findings.
“Any injury or loss of life is tragic, and my thoughts and prayers remain with Austin's family. I have more than a thousand vehicles on the roads, and my policies mandate safe operation at all times.
“The well being of my Deputies and the citizens we serve throughout our daily travel is paramount, and I regret this terrible traffic accident."
Earlier this year we reported a similar case, in which the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department launched a probe into the behaviour of a deputy who was said to be typing on his computer when he hit and killed a cyclist in a bicycle lane.
Deputy Andrew Wood was driving his patrol car on Mulholland Highway in December last year, when he was said to have entered the bike lane “as a result of inattention caused by typing into his MDC (mobile digital computer)”.
The Internal Affairs probe was said to be a “routine” procedure that would examine whether Wood violated any department policies. He would not however face criminal charges.
“In any administrative investigations, the possible outcomes can range from no discipline to significant discipline,” she said.
Prosecutors in the previous criminal investigation into the death of former Napster executive and entertainment attorney, Milt Olin, found that the sheriff “acted lawfully,” and “within the course and scope of his duties” in typing on his computer.
Although California has a law against texting while driving, it exempts emergency services professionals operating their emergency vehicles.
Because state law apparently exempts law enforcement officers from the anti-texting or typing ban, “it’s up to law enforcement agencies to set proper protocols, which it looks like the Sheriff’s Department failed to do,” said Eric Bruins, policy and planning director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
Bruins said this loophole allows certain people to “essentially use a computer as if they’re at a desk while they’re behind the wheel.”
What a stupid overgeneralisation.
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