Fault in question in case of cyclist’s death
Published 9:14 am, Saturday, August 8, 2015
Evidence cited by the investigating officer in the Aug. 23, 2014 motor vehicle death of New Milford cyclist Dwight Hipp, 57, questioned whether Hipp or driver John Kimberly was at fault.
Kimberly appeared in Superior Court in Bantam recently only briefly in his arraignment on a charge of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.
His arraignment was continued to Monday, Aug. 10 as his attorney, Jonathan Levitan, had just taken the case and received court documents that day.
Levitan declined comment.
Hipp’s bicycle collided with a 1998 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Kimberly at about 8:30 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 23, 2014, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
He sustained serious injuries and was transported to New Milford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The collision occurred as Kimberly, driving westbound, was making a left turn into his family’s farm at 415 Chestnut Land Road (Route 109).
Kimberly told the officer at the scene he did not see the cyclist and “was already turning when he heard the bicycle impact the pickup on the passenger side.” The pickup sustained dent damage to the right door and frame and the passenger side window was shattered.
According to the affidavit, Hipp negotiated a right curve, and was near the center line within the eastbound lane when he hit the side of the pickup.
The change in elevation from the top of the hill to the approximated point of impact was about 195 feet and the descent grade was about 11.39 percent at its steepest point.
The front and rear tires of Hipp’s 2012 Specialized Secteur bike were “in poor condition” while the brakes appeared to be in good condition and working properly, according to police.
The primary cause of the crash was found to be the left turn made by Kimberly. It is unknown if he used his left-turn signal before executing the turn, police said.
“It is believed the speed of the bicycle is a factor in the crash, but the evidence was not sufficient to support that,” the affidavit reads.
Given the elevation of the hill Hipp was riding down and the next hill climb, the investigating officer concluded the bicyclist may have been building up speed to use momentum to ascend the next hill.
Kimberly remains free on $10,000 bond.
A conviction of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle would carry penalties up to a $1,000 fine and six months’ imprisonment.
The state’s Vulnerable Road User law, in place since October 2014, requires a $1,000 fine in the death of a pedestrian or cyclist in a motor vehicle crash.