Dave Schlabowske
Bike Czar

Texting 20-Year-Old Convicted of Homicide

The bicyclist was killed. The crash has lessons for both automobile drivers and bicyclists.

By , Bike Federation of Wisconsin - Jul 5th, 2013 10:52 am
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The 20-year-old woman who was texting when she hit bicyclist James Weiss in the town of Kimberly a year ago, has been convicted of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. Tom Held reports on his blog, The Active Pursuit, that PaKou Xiong, the Little Chute woman who crashed into James Weiss when he was riding his bicycle, will be sentenced on August 20th. According to news accounts, District Attorney Carrie Schneider will recommend a two-to-three-year prison sentence for Xiong, along with four to five years of extended supervision. Schneider is also expected to ask for a community service order that would require Xiong to speak publicly about her case or the dangers of texting and driving.

Pa-Kou-Xiong

Pa-Kou-Xiong

Soon after she left work, Xiong hit Weiss, 46, from behind while both were eastbound on Kimberly Avenue after midnight on July 28, 2012. Weiss, the manager of the Liberty Hall Banquet and Conference Center, suffered severe head injuries and died one week later. Phone records show Xiong began texting almost as soon as she began driving home from work that night.  Phone records showed a half-dozen messages received and sent in the six minutes prior to the crash, and she was actually typing a text when she hit Weiss.

There are a couple take-aways from this tragic and avoidable crash (note that I did not say “accident”) most of us can learn from. The primary lesson is that distracted driving can result in the deaths of innocent, vulnerable road users. Most of us who ride bicycles also drive cars. Many of us are just as guilty of distracted driving, but we have been lucky enough not to hurt anyone. Many of us have also been passengers in cars where the driver is texting, speeding, failing to yield to a pedestrian, or just eating a cheeseburger. We can all be safety advocates for sharing the road by asking our friends and relatives to give driving the full attention it deserves.

Finally, the other important factor in this fatal crash is that Weiss was not wearing a helmet. People who know me know I don’t always wear a helmet when I ride in the city. I know there are many studies that show riding a bike (even without a helmet) is safer than driving, taking a shower, walking down stairs, etc. I also know that if you are hit by a car going 45-50 mph, a helmet might not do you much good. All that said, nobody can debate that you dramatically reduce your risk of serious head injury in a crash if you are wearing a helmet.

We all evaluate risks differently, but please, think before you ride or before you answer that call on your phone while driving a motor vehicle. Let’s do all we can to help reduce the number of avoidable deaths like this one.

Jim Weiss

Jim Weiss

 

This story was originally published by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.

Categories: Bike Czar

2 thoughts on “Bike Czar: Texting 20-Year-Old Convicted of Homicide”

  1. Jimmyboy says:

    A better question would be whether Jim had the legally required red and white lights on his bicycle.

  2. According to the crash report, he did have lights, front and rear. I’m not sure what question you think your question is better than, but it sounds like you are implying the victim is somehow to blame. Given the rest of the facts in this case are not in dispute, and the driver of the car was in clear violation of the law when through her own illegal, distracted driving, she killed an innocent person, I’m not sure it really matters.

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