Couple killed while walking on sidewalk

From the never-ending Are Cars Dangerous? and Seriously, how often does this happen? files:

[Final result, seemingly inexplicably, the driver was never charged with any crime, and never issued and citation in connection with the incident]

Randy and Doris Bjerken, of Palmer, Alaska were in town visiting Randy’s dad… out for a stroll at 10AM on Mother’s Day when. BAM! An SUV jumps the curb and wipes them out.

Police say the driver, Andrew Whalen, 23, fell asleep during the May 8 incident and are recommending neg hom charges. Nothing is showing in public access yet. Those charges would (eventually) come from the county attorney… the brief investigation says no drugs or alcohol is suspected. Neg Hom is a relatively unusual charge — if impairment is involved the charge is usually manslaughter, and if there’s no impairment, there are rarely any criminal charges (just a traffic ticket; e.g. driving on the sidewalk).

Scottsdale police: Driver fell asleep before SUV hit couple

by Ofelia Madrid – May. 20, 2011 02:36 PM
The Arizona Republic

The driver of the sports utility vehicle that hopped a curb and killed two Alaskan pedestrians in Scottsdale on Mother’s Day told police that he fell asleep while driving.

Scottsdale police investigators are recommending charges of negligent homicide against Andrew Whalen, 23, of Scottsdale, police said Friday.

Pedestrians killed in Scottsdale were from Alaska

Whalen was not booked into jail, police said. Charges were forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, police said.

About 10 a.m. May 8, officers were called to the scene at Scottsdale Road just north of Jackrabbit Road. Witness said Randy and Doris Bjerken were taking a walk on the sidewalk when a GMC SUV drove up on them.

The vehicle eventually struck a utility pole.

The victims were taken to an area hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Randy Bjerken, 51, was pastor of the Matanuska Assembly of God Church in Palmer, Alaska.

Doris Bjerken, 50, worked as an administrative assistant and the children’s church director.

The couple were in town visiting the man’s father. They had taken a few days in Scottsdale after attending a pastor’s enrichment conference in Texas, a church official said.

3 thoughts on “Couple killed while walking on sidewalk”

  1. as of this writing, no criminal charges, or citations have ever been filed by either Scottsdale PD, or Maricopa county.

  2. Scottsdale PIO David Pubins responded that the PD received a “decline to persue criminal negligent homocide” response from the county on August 23, 2011. The 1 year statute of limitations for civil traffic citations involving death expired a few days ago.

    Pressed on why no citiation was issued:

    “Apparently the timing was not the issue [referring to the statute of limitations for issuing a civil citation]. The detective decided that it was not the best course of action to pursue a civil citation in the matter after the County Attorney turned down the felony counts”

    ———————————————————————

    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 4:00 PM
    To: Pubins, David – 539
    Subject: Re: [DPUBINS@SCOTTSDALEAZ.GOV: RE: citation issued?]

    ah, maybe i can help. the time limitations in the event of investigation are much longer than the usual 60 days — up to 1 year for a fatality. Please review 28-1592.

    28-1592. Commencement of action
    A. A civil traffic violation case is commenced by issuance or filing of a uniform traffic ticket and complaint as provided in this article.
    B. A civil traffic violation case shall be commenced as follows:
    1. If a case is commenced by issuance, it shall be issued within sixty days of the alleged violation.
    2. If the case is commenced by filing, it shall be filed within sixty days of the alleged violation and shall be served within ninety days from the filing date.
    3. Except as provided in paragraph 4, within one hundred eighty days of the alleged violation if the alleged violation is under investigation in conjunction with a traffic accident.
    4. Within one year of the alleged violation if the alleged violation is under investigation in conjunction with a traffic accident resulting in death.

    http://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/01592.htm

    From: “Pubins, David – 539”
    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:30 PM
    Subject: RE: [DPUBINS@SCOTTSDALEAZ.GOV: RE: citation issued?]

    My understanding of that particular civil infraction was the timing. It was too late after the detective received the turndown to go after the civil infraction. I thought you were focusing on the felony counts.

    Officer David Pubins
    Scottsdale Police Department

    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:23 PM
    To: Pubins, David – 539
    Cc: Justin Pryzby
    Subject: Re: [DPUBINS@SCOTTSDALEAZ.GOV: RE: citation issued?]

    Officer Pubins,

    I must not be understanding something — sorry.
    I understand all that about the criminal charges. And although I might not be happy about it — i accept it.

    Driving on the sidewalk is illegal, is it not?
    So i repeat: Why was the driver not ticketed?

    From: “Pubins, David – 539”
    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:34 PM
    Subject: RE: [DPUBINS@SCOTTSDALEAZ.GOV: RE: citation issued?]

    I can tell you that there was no civil citation issued. We submitted felony charges for negligent homicide and the case was staffed by multiple prosecutors at the MCAO who, as mentioned before, turned it down. We did go to the City Prosecutor who informed us that the case did not fit any vehicular homicide charges that we would have been able to file at the City level.
    I’m sorry that there isn’t any more information that I can offer you.

    Officer David Pubins
    Scottsdale Police Department

    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:01 PM
    To: Pubins, David – 539
    Subject: Fw: [DPUBINS@SCOTTSDALEAZ.GOV: RE: citation issued?]

    Dear Officer Pubins,

    Sorry to keep beating you up; but this info seems to be no where to be found, other than by asking…

    We understand that, per your reply, that the county turned down any criminal charges. Fine.

    What is not clear is if any citations were issued (a search of your court’s site seems to indicate there were none); and if not, why not?
    Your department had several months in which to do so; assuming you were awaiting the reply from the county which came in August.

    —– Forwarded message from “Pubins, David – 539” —–

    Date: Tue, 22 May 2012 20:18:00 +0000
    From: “Pubins, David – 539”
    Subject: RE: citation issued?

    We received the turn down on August 23, 2011. Again, you may want to ask the County Attorney’s Office for the reason.;

    Officer David Pubins
    Scottsdale Police Department

    —–Original Message—–
    Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 11:14 AM
    To: Pubins, David – 539
    Subject: Re: citation issued?

    Can you tell me when they communicated to you that they’d declined?

    Thanks,
    Justin

    On Tue, May 22, 2012 at 06:11:54PM +0000, Pubins, David – 539 wrote:
    > Justin,
    > We did request the charges through the County Attorney and they did turn it down. You need to check with them as to why.
    >
    > Officer David Pubins
    > Scottsdale Police Department
    >
    >
    > —–Original Message—–
    > Sent: Monday, May 21, 2012 6:19 PM
    > To: PIO
    > Subject: citation issued?
    >
    > Could you confirm that no citation was ever issued for this fatal
    > collision? Has the county attorney declined negligent homicide
    > charges? If so, when?
    >
    > http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/05/20/20110520scottsdale-police-driver-fell-asleep-before-suv-hit-pedestrians.html
    > Scottsdale Road just north of Jackrabbit Road
    > 10 a.m. May 8, 2011
    > Driver Andrew Whalen
    >

  3. My question is, how is operating a wheel exhausted any different than operating a wheel intoxicated? It is appalling the county does not hold someone responsible for negligently killing two people. I guess if you are going to run down an old couple, you better be a rich kid from scottsdale.

Comments are closed.