September 24, 1997 in City

No Criminal Charges In Death Of Bicyclist, 13 Driver In Summer Accident Near Cheney Is Levied A $250 Fine

By The Spokesman-Review

Criminal charges won’t be filed against the driver who ran down a 13-year-old bicyclist last summer on a highway west of Cheney.

The boy, Cooper Jones of Spokane, died about a week later.

Ending a three-month investigation, the Washington State Patrol has cited 66-year-old Glenna Ward of Sprague with second-degree negligent driving. The traffic infraction carries a $250 fine.

Investigators said the evidence didn’t support criminal prosecution.

Ward wasn’t driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and she didn’t drive so recklessly that the safety of others was threatened, said WSP Lt. Steve Jewell.

“The facts did not show any of that,” he said.

“We don’t want anyone to feel that we aren’t making the driver accountable. We are using the only laws that are applicable.”

Appalled at the outcome, Cooper’s parents vow to change the law.

David and Martha Jones said they are working to toughen penalties faced by negligent drivers who hit bicyclists.

Although Cooper dutifully wore a helmet, the Joneses said they will push to have a mandatory helmet law adopted in Spokane County.

The couple also has become involved with local schools, talking to driver’s education instructors and developing a “Share the Road” program.

“It’s very frustrating for us to know that somebody can be killed and that all you need to do is write a check and walk away from it,” Martha Jones said Tuesday.

“Even the name for it, an infraction - it’s just a hand slap. It’s hardly an infraction in my life.”

Just before 7 p.m. on June 24, Ward was westbound in her 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood on state Highway 904, about three miles west of Cheney, according to the WSP accident report.

Cooper was ahead of the Cadillac in the westbound lane, competing in a Baddlands Cycling Club time trial. He was pedaling near the middle of the lane.

“The driver had more than ample opportunity to observe the bicyclist in the roadway,” Jewell said.

According to the report, Ward passed signs indicating that cyclists were using the road and had “an unobstructed view of the roadway for at least 1,000 feet prior to the collision.”

Cooper’s bike was struck from behind by the car. He was thrown head-first into the windshield.

Ward declined to comment Tuesday.

She has until Oct. 6 to tell District Court if she will pay the fine and statutory costs, totaling $475, or contest the ticket.

, DataTimes

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