A cyclist struck and fatally injured by a car on January 6, 2009 in Rancho Bernardo in San Diego County, has been identified as 55-year-old retired Navy captain, Walter Carl Joller Jr. According to this news report in the North County Times, Joller was nearing the end of his 55-mile bicycle commute from the Point Loma area of San Diego and was on Sabre Springs Parkway when a BMW drifted into the bike lane and struck him.
Joller was apparently an incredible athlete, experienced bicyclist and a program manager at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command at Point Loma. My heart goes out to his family and I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved this man, who by all accounts was a remarkable person.
Police are saying that the driver of the BMW was not intoxicated by alcohol or drug use during the crash. They say it was “inattention” that caused this fatal Orange County bicycle accident. Joller was wearing a reflective vest and helmet. He also used illuminated flashers on his bicycle. The driver of the BMW may face misdemeanor manslaughter charges.
We have all been distracted at one time or another when we were driving. However, in this case, Joller had taken every precaution as an experienced bicyclist to avoid exactly what happened to him. The BMW driver simply did not have his eyes or his attention on the road. He must be held criminally and civilly responsible for this tragic accident that took away a husband, a father and a man who was still making significant contributions to the U.S. Navy after his retirement.
I would urge the family of Walter Carl Joller Jr. to at least consult with an experienced California bicycle accident attorney, who will provide them more information and insight about their legal rights and options. A skilled California personal injury lawyer will also look into whether there was anything about the design of that roadway that may have contributed to this collision. If that is the case, then the city or the governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable as well. In such cases, a claim against a governmental agency must be properly filed within six months of the auto accident.