Driver veers into Scottsdale Bike Lane; kills woman and injures man

2/18/2021 One bicyclist was killed and another injured and taken to hospital when a driver “veered” into a BL along Legacy Blvd, near scottsdale Road,  Scottsdale (here’s a sample google street view of the area; location not exact).

If any/all more serious criminal matters are ruled out; Scottsdale police should be aware the driver should be charged with 28-672 because a driver who fails to keep proper lane resulting in death/serious injury is liable for that charge.

I mention this because Scottsdale has a history of not bringing this charge, for example Shawn McCarty was killed in Scottsdale 3/11/2012 when a driver drifted over the stripe and killed him. The driver was only cited for a civil traffic ticket and fined $420, no 28-672 charge was brought. 28-672 is NOT a serious crime, rather, it gives a judge the option of bringing meaningful corrective action to the driver’s dangerous behaviors including license suspension and even (theoretically) some jail time.

The more-recent case of an SUV driver drifting over the fog line and killing a bicyclist, 48 y.o. Miodrag Milovanovic is apparently still open.



Scottsdale police identify cyclist killed by driver who swerved into bike lane

Scottsdale police have identified a bicyclist who was killed Thursday as Ann Theil, 75…. Theil and another cyclist were riding in a bike lane on Legacy Boulevard near Scottsdale Road when a 21-year-old driver veered into the lane and struck them, according to Scottsdale police…

Crash Report

The SPD Dept Report number is 21-03335. After speaking with SPD records who told me the report was available, ordered a copy on 3/23, and received it online on 3/31; Scottsdale’s current system is very efficient, and reasonably (well, i guess that’s relative; in some ways it doesn’t cost them anything. Someone needs to redact it but I would imagine that only need be done once) priced at a flat $5 for an electronically delivered copy.

Crash time: 08:37AM.  Sunrise on Feb 18th: 07:08am

Victims: Stephen Thiel (injured), Ann Thiel (killed)

Crash Location is listed as 612feet west of 98th St on E Legacy Blvd; approx here. All were eastbound. This is just east of where legacy bends and becomes 4 lanes (plus bikelanes).

The departmental report lists four citations/charges:

28-735 Failure to maintain minimum 3 feet passing (civil)
28-729.1 Failure to maintain proper lane (civil)
28-672 Causing Death by moving violation (M1)
13-1201 Endangerment (M1)

These are all “city” charges (not county); so next steps would be up the Scottsdale City Attorney’s office. As of this writing (3/31) the driver’s name does not yield any results on either Scottsdale’s or Arizona’s case lookup.

The surviving victim’s, who suffered relatively minor injuries, interview:

I then talked to the male victim identified as Stephen Theil. He told me that he was eastbound on Legacy on his bicycle with his wife. They were single file in the bike lane and his wife was in front of him. Then all the sudden he said he got hit by the vehicle and was thrown off his bicycle into the some bushes.

Here is what the driver’s description:

when asked to describe the events of the collision, [the driver] stated that her memory was spotty, but she was negotiating the curve on legacy BL 9600 block and was making her way back into the EB Lanes when she observed the two bicyclists riding in the bike lane. [The driver] stated that she noticed them and consciously realize that she needed to be careful. As she was negotiating the right left curve in the Road Madison said that her vision was stifled by the glare from The morning Sun catching her glasses, and she put up her hand to attempt to block it the next thing the driver recalled was a bicycle over her Hood and the windshield shattering

It does not seem plausible that sun glare to have been a contributing factor, at 1.5 hours after sunrise, and indeed the crash report does not list any contributing factors.

The driver was asked and denied any cell phone use, and voluntarily consented to turn over the phone to police which conducted a forensic analysis which turned up no user activity in the timeframe of the crash.

The crash report has a diagram which I’m not sure about, it is apparently a drone image but I can’t see any of the reference points (e.g. point of impact, scrape marks, etc); they are enumerated in a table. Here’s a copy of that image, there’s a tiny red dot (I added the grey free-hand circle) which is probably the point of (first) impact.

drone image from crash form

The disposition of the criminal case is unknown — the likely outcome is the Scottsdale City Attorney’s office declined to file charges; as was the case in the Milovanovic fatality, mentioned above. This would be despite the physical evidence, along with the (surviving victim) witness who said the victim(s) were riding in the bike lane; meaning the driver must have “failed to maintain proper lane”.
It would appear she in addition to not being charged , was not cited in the incident.

The driver had one more recent infraction, Oct 2022 ticket #PR-2022047059 school zone speeding ticket in Scottsdale.

14 thoughts on “Driver veers into Scottsdale Bike Lane; kills woman and injures man”

  1. I know you said the Google Street View was not exact, but that doesn’t look like a bike lane but rather a shoulder. In Arizona, can a motorist be charged with a 28-672 as you suggested for riding in the shoulder?

    I’m not excusing the motorist, but would the cyclists have been better off taking the whole lane? Was there a car coming the other direction when the motorist hit the cyclists? If there was, riding in the lane might have prevented the accident. Otherwise, the motorist should have slowed down until s/he was able to move to the other lane. That’s one of the most common mistakes motorists make: trying to squeeze by.

  2. Hi Bob,
    It does appear to be a fully designated BL, see e.g. here
    with both BL signs and ground markings.
    Either way, the predicate violation “failure to maintain proper lane” applies irrespective of bike lane or shoulder.
    Put another way; any time a motorist strikes from behind, the motorist can be liable for a 28-672 (when it results in death or serious injury) charge unless the motorist and bicyclist are both in the same lane. (where other rules apply, e.g. 3 foot clearance; too fast for conditions).
    Whether or not a bicyclist would be better off in the general travel lane in this situation is more or less impossible to predict; we’ll know more after the investigation. The term “veer” conjures up some sort of sudden uncontrolled movement, as opposed to , say, “drift”; and neither implies a squeezing / lack of space. But it’s a lot of speculation given the small amount of details that were given in the news report.

  3. Now that I look at the original Street View shot you posted I realize it was a divided highway, so my comment about squeezing by would only be germane if the motorist was being passed. Instead of slowing down, s/he may have tried to maintain his position in the lane and got to close. Or as you suggest, may have simply got distracted.

    Here in Florida, the police would have reported something to the effect that the “cyclists entered into the path of the vehicle.” I often wonder in these such cases, how police can determine whether the cyclists veered out of the bike lane or the motorist veered into the bike lane.

    I wish we had a 28-672 in Fla. There’s no doubt that here, the motorist would walk away with only a fine, unless s/he was impaired.

    I’m on a bit of a crusade here with my local Tampa Bay Times re its reporting of bike/ped crashes, as they make many of the usual mistakes. Noting the original report for this crash:

    “A vehicle collided with two bicyclists in Scottsdale on Thursday, leaving one injured and one dead.”

    No, it was a motorist who hit the cyclists. A vehicle doesn’t have a mind of its own.

    Then, the article tries to paint the driver as sympathetic:

    “The driver stayed on the scene and was cooperative with investigators, according to police. The driver was not speeding or impaired.” How do they know the driver wasn’t speeding?

    S/he may not have been, but s/he was careless and indifferent to the lives of vulnerable road users.

    This was nice to see, however:

    “The Scottsdale Police Department Reminds drivers to remain alert for cyclists and leave 3 feet between cyclists and their vehicle.”

  4. Research here in the U.S. is starting to show what they’ve know in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam for decades. Painted bike lanes are actually more dangerous for cyclists – at least they often feel more dangerous. See this short video on the subject:

    I’d have to agree with the premise in the video. Drivers here in AZ shoot past me if I’m in a painted bike lane, coming very close, if not violating the safe passing distance. While on bike boulevards with sharrows, but no separate painted bike lane, I notice drivers tend to slow down and are more cautious in their passing.

    I think a road engineer from Copenhagen or Amsterdam would take one look at the road where the subject collision occurred and they would tell you it was: 1) all too predictable and, 2) made worse by how the road markings allocate a shoulder bike lane separate only by a stripe of paint.

  5. Agree. Drivers have the attitude that if they are in their lane and you are in yours, then all is copacetic, even if they pass with inches of you. You probably are aware of the Cycling Savvy folks, whose philosophy I embrace.

    I’d rather be on a four lane road taking the full lane–with or without sharrows, than be in a bike lane on a two-lane road with 11 ft. lanes.

    Worse still are two-lane roads with painted shoulder lines, which motorists and many police consider bike lanes and demand we be in them.

  6. After watching the video you posted, the narrator echos my thoughts on bike lanes. But a couple of other points:

    1. The bike lanes he was riding in had poor surfaces and, I would argue, unsafe.

    2. In the first section, he and the other cyclists were riding too far to the right, IMHO. They should be riding in the middle of the lanes to force motorists to wait until the adjacent lane was clear to pass.

  7. For several years now, we ride with cameras. My wife uses front and back Cycliq cameras. I use a front-facing GoPro. Both record traffic incidents (e.g., right hook at light, etc.), which we then upload and forward to authorities – gives us better ammunition to illustrate the problem. I have a standing request into my wife, if I get run over, grab the camera off my bike before checking for a pulse.

  8. Hopefully the police will find out what exactly happened! The driver of the car might have been looking at their phone right before the crash!

  9. I ride with the cyclic cameras too.

    We have to wait 60 days to get a crash report here in Florida. What’s the waiting. In Arizona, if any?

  10. As far as I know, there is no set period. The crash form itself is usually quicker than that. The full report, which is really what you need to look at if there’s anything questionable, can be much much longer

  11. Det. Paliwoda, [UPDATE: as things turn out, lead detective is Mark Johnson. See immediately below]

    In the event that a driver causes a crash and all more serious charges are ruled out —
    when a driver fails to maintain proper lane and a death or serious injury results; the offending driver should be charged with 28-672, a class 1 misdemeanor.

    Regarding the fatal traffic crash that occurred 2/18/2021 along Legacy Blvd in Scottsdale — I want to make sure you are aware of 28-672. I mention this not to tell you your business, but rather because a 3/11/2012 fatal incident that also occurred in Scottsdale under remarkably similar circumstances yielded nothing but two traffic infractions; the report makes no mention of 28-672 and leaves one to wonder why not.
    A more recent incident investigated by Det. Strohmeyer also has remarkable similarities and circumstances; and is recommending a 28-675 charge — the more serious version of 28-672 due to the suspect’s drivers license status.

    Ed Beighe
    President, Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists

    More information here:

    Ed,   Thank you for your concerns over this matter.  I am the lead case detective for the fatal traffic crash that occurred on 02/18/2021 at 0837 hours at 9700 E. Legacy.  My investigation is currently on-going and when it is completed I will be looking at all appropriate civil and criminal charges that may apply in this case.  Thank You.   
    Mark Johnson #585
    Scottsdale Police Department
    Vehicle Crimes and Reconstruction Unit

  12. sent today to city prosector’s email;

    ——— Forwarded message ———
    Date: Wed, Mar 23, 2022 at 1:12 PM
    Subject: Fwd: fatal traffic crash that occurred 2/18/2021 along Legacy Blvd

    Hi there, following up on this incident Feb 18, 2021 where your PD referred several charges to your office in connection with a fatal collision with your agency report number 21-03335.
    The suspect’s name is CURRlER, MADISON GRACE
    Can you please tell me what charges, if any, were filed (I can’t find any); and if no charges or citations were filed, why not?
    If no charges were ever filed as of yet, I note that the statute of limitations on 28-672 is two years.


    On Fri, Mar 25, 2022 at 10:59 AM wrote:
    Good morning,
    At this time, neither the report number nor the suspect name are found in our system.

    Thank you,
    Scottsdale Prosecution

    then after some badgering …

    Date: Fri, Mar 25, 2022 at 12:55 PM
    Yes, the police report exists with the Police Department however, not yet with the Prosecutor’s Office. Detective Johnson will have to advise of the current status of the case.
    Thank you,
    Scottsdale Prosecution

  13. Requested any updates to original report since it was sent to me last year from police records, spoke with Lisa and was forwarded the items added after I initially received the report (Scottsdale records is very efficient).
    In any event, the only additions were a postmortem toxicology report on the victim.

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