Turning tragedy into triumph: Prosecutor gets pedestrian privilege law extended to cyclists

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“Two motorists stopped for him, and then someone went around them and hit him in the first lane closest to the sidewalk,” said Alyx Walker along Veirs Mill Road, where her friend Frank Towers was killed.
 
He was Alyx’s housemate, co-worker and honorary brother.
 
But when 19-year-old Frank Towers lost his life after being struck on his bike by a Toyota 4Runner, a loophole in the law was revealed, allowing the driver to get off “scot free.”
 
“You just think, ‘How can you kill somebody, and all you have to do is have a day in court?'” said Walker.
 
After the 2015 collision, Montgomery County prosecutors charged the driver with statutes protecting pedestrians, but the judge tossed the case out because Frank wasn’t considered a pedestrian since he was on a bicycle.
 
Before the law reform, a young girl on her tricycle or boy on his skateboard wasn’t protected by the same right-of-way privileges anyone on-foot has in the crosswalk.
 
That changed this week.
 
The lead prosecutor on Frank’s case, along with several other state representatives, pushed to extend protection of pedestrians to people on non-motorized vehicles.
 
Governor Hogan signed the bill Thursday.
 
“A young district court attorney had the gumption, foresight and wherewithal to really pursue an update of the law,” said Ramon Korionoff, Director of Public Affairs, Montgomery County’s State’s Attorney’s Office.
 
Turning a senseless tragedy to triumph, Kyle O’Grady made sure Frank’s last ride wasn’t in vain.
 
“I think drivers would be more aware if they knew there was some kind of consequence,” said Walker.
 
The law takes effect on July 1.

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