Goodyear Police arrest driver who killed 2 and injured 11 more

Goodyear police have arrested the driver who crashed into a large group of bicyclists Saturday 2/25/2023 around 8:15am;  other traffic at that time would have been very light.

The location was on or near the bridge over Gila River on Cotton Lane, Goodyear, AZ, about a mile south of the intersection with MC86

The news story and police press release don’t really give any details other than 26 y.o. Pedro Quintana-Lujan was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and aggravated assault.

The road leading up to the bridge  is two lanes and narrow shoulders in each direction, divided. The bridge itself is massively wide (about 100′ curb-to-curb — by comparison, a typical “5-lane” arterial is 68′); it’s width encompasses all the travel lanes and shoulders plus the width of the wide median. [the NTSB report, now available, has very detailed descriptions, diagrams, and pictures; see below for link]

Traffic carnage continues to be endemic, later that same day a couple of miles away on MC85 near Estrella Parkway, a 4 vehicle crash sent 3 motorists to the hospital.

Multiple Cyclist Crashes are rare

The vast majority of bicycle traffic crashes involves just one bicyclist, about 98%.

This crash involving 13 bicyclists is likely to be an all time record.  The previous record is the Show Low crash in 2021 involving 9 cyclists. (and the 13 figure will probably grow by the time the crash report is finalized, that just counts those who were reported initially killed or hospitalized, it’s likely more were struck and not injured badly enough to be transported).

Crashes involving large numbers of bicyclists are extremely rare, with just SEVEN occurring that involve 5 or more cyclists in the past 13 years (that’s 7 out of 21,000 crashes; and less than one per year, on average). The reasons are probably self-evident, that the visibility of groups makes all but the most grossly negligent (or outright impaired) motorists able to not crash into them; a very few are apparently intentional (and typically mixed with impairment and mental illness) like the Show Low incident in 2019.

select IncidentID, IncidentYear, TotalUnits, TotalNonmotorists from incident where TotalNonmotorists>4 and sF_Bicycle ;
SELECT count(*) FROM incident WHERE sF_Bicycle ;

Updates from City 2/27 (#press)

The city gave a press conference 2/27. (full video via fox10)

The names of the two fatality victims were released: 61 y.o. Karen Malisa, of Goodyear, and 61 y.o. David Kero who was visiting from Michigan [corrected spelling].

Goodyear Police Chief Santiago Rodriguez gave a few new details:

    • a blood sample was obtained from the driver via a search warrant. Results are pending and nothing else was said regarding impairment
      [I will add: it would be necessary for probable cause of a crime (presumably, of impairment) in order for police to obtain a search warrant (reasonable suspicion is not enough) ]
    • The (criminal, suspicion of) counts were listed, most obviously 2 counts of manslaughter. The counts add up to 20 (2 manslaughter plus 18 endangerment)
    • no indications the incident was intentional.
    • early reports that the vehicle was a semi-truck were inaccurate; it was a Ford F-250 (a heavy-duty pickup truck).
    • 19 reported injures out of a group of 20 bicyclists. It was believed to be the ‘B’ group of the West Valley Cycle club(? not sure of exact name? I think it’s http://westvalleycycle.net/ )
    • “…as the driver crested the bridge over the Gila River… the driver struck the barrier wall of the bridge, and then the vehicle crashed into the 20 cyclists”
    • Chief Rodriguez also included a strong message about bicycling:

“…and as a reminder to the motorists: vehicles must give bicycles 3 feet of clearance.  Bicyclists not only have the legal right to travel our roads, but are treated with the same considerations as any other vehicle on the road. In fact, where bike lanes may not be available, bicyclists may occupy that first lane to travel”

Goodyear Mayor Joe Pizzillo gave a brief prepared statement which referred to the “horrific accident”. Please Mayor Pizzillo, #crashnotaccident

This was reported in a news item 2/27 but as far as I remember wasn’t mentioned at the press conference: “According to court documents, (driver) told officers that the steering wheel of his F-250 locked and drifted to the right suddenly”.

News Coverage

As expected, there are a plethora of newsy type reports; just a sample:

2/27/2023 Bicycling Mag. There was some complaints linked/suggested there regarding what Lisa Berry said, in that they  were inferring she was victim-blaming; although nothing she said was suggesting that, and again as noted above in the press conf, Chief Rodriguez gave a positive message about rights to the road.

2/26/2023 USA today.

2/27/2023 SacBee.

2/27/2023 bikinginla continuing mentions.

Criminal Case (#criminal)

news article 2/28: Maricopa County attorney refers criminal charges in fatal Goodyear cyclist collision back to police. [or here’s an abc15 video piece; clear aerial shots of bridge along with some stills from crash scene] Just a reminder; police can’t actually charge, only the county attorney can bring felony indictments. Decisions will certainly be delayed until results of driver’s blood tests come back at an unspecified time. Prosecutors are loathe to bring charges against drivers who are not numerically, chemically impaired because, they would say, there is not a “reasonable likelihood of conviction”… though it CAN be done, see e.g. Yuma County Prosecutor got a conviction on negligent homicide by this  NOT-dui trucker who killed.

If felonies don’t pan out; the next possibility is misdemeanor “causing death by moving violation” (presumably a failure-to-maintain-proper-lane violation) charges can be brought by the city prosecutor. This is a misdemeanor. We’ve seen time-and-again, that police refer this charge, and prosecutors ignore it; claiming, of course “no likelihood…”. A self-fulfilling prophecy — no charges = no conviction. QED

In late November, the county prosecutor formally announced there would be no felony charges; thus fulfilling the self-fulfilling prophecy; this would bounce it back to City of Goodyear for potential misdemeanor charge mentioned above, or a traffic ticket.

NTSB

The NTSB is conducting an investigation HWY23FH008. This should be seen as highly unusual; out of the hundreds-of-thousands of serious vehicle crashes that occur every year, the NTSB only conducts a handful of traffic investigations. They are know to be extremely through; and take a looooong time to complete (a quick glance at completed “highway” investigations indicate a typical lag of well over a year). They do not investigate any criminal aspects, only safety — so they are presumably very interested in the driver’s claim that the steering wheel locked.

The NTSB is like the Supreme Court of crash investigators — they get to pick-and-choose their cases.

The final report (the “public docket”), all 80 pages of it, was released 2/28/2024; as expected it concluded there was nothing wrong with the vehicle’s steering. see GOODYEAR AZ FACTUAL REPORT OF INVESTIGATION. , and more info about cannibis was in the Medical Factual Report.

The driver tested positive for cannabis, however “The (police) DRE’s opinion based on the results of the evaluation was that the driver was not articulably under the influence of any drug”

Driver had some previous traffic problems: “In March 2022, he was convicted of speeding in Municipal Court in Mesa, Arizona. In October 2013, he was convicted of exceeding a reasonable and prudent speed, resulting in a traffic crash”.

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Goodyear Police arrest driver who killed 2 and injured 11 more”

  1. here are the 10 crashes involving > 3 bicyclists over the past 13+ years (2009 – 2021 complete, 2022 mostly complete):

    one case involved a family w/children crossing a road, and was faulted to the bicyclist(s);
    one case involved a group of bicyclists who struck a stopped (or slowing) vehcile and was faulted to the bicyclist(s);
    The other eight all involved motorist fault for striking same-direction group of bicyclists.

    
    SELECT i.IncidentID, "placeholder", i.IncidentDateTime, LOVCounty.name County,LOVCity.name City, OffNcic.name Oncic,ExtNcic.name Encic, i.eCollisionManner, i.eLightCondition, i.TotalUnits, i.TotalNonMotorists, i.HitAndRunFlag, i.OnRoad, i.CrossingFeature, i.Latitude, i.Longitude, "maplink", i.eTrafficWayType, i.eIntersectionType, i.eJunctionRelation, i.eWeather, p_bike.UnitNumber b_UnitNumber, p_bike.eNonMotoristLocation, p_bike.eSex b_Sex, p_bike.Age b_Age, p_bike.eViolation1 b_Violation1, p_bike.eSafetyDevice b_SafetyDevice, p_bike.ePersonType b_PersonType, u_bike.eLane b_Lane, u_bike.eTravelDirection b_Direction, u_bike.eUnitAction b_Action, p_car.UnitNumber c_UnitNumber, p_car.eSex c_Sex, p_car.Age c_Age, p_car.eViolation1 c_Violation1, u_car.eLane c_Lane, u_car.eTravelDirection c_Direction, u_car.eUnitAction c_Action 
    FROM (((( incident AS i JOIN person AS p_bike ON i.IncidentID = p_bike.IncidentID) 
    JOIN unit AS u_bike ON p_bike.UnitID = u_bike.UnitID) 
    JOIN person AS p_car ON i.IncidentID = p_car.IncidentID) 
    JOIN unit AS u_car ON p_car.UnitID = u_car.UnitID ) 
    LEFT OUTER JOIN LOVCounty ON i.CountyId = LOVCounty.id 
    LEFT OUTER JOIN LOVCity ON i.CityId = LOVCity.id 
    LEFT OUTER JOIN LOVNcic AS OffNcic ON i.OfficerNcic = OffNcic.id 
    LEFT OUTER JOIN LOVNcic AS ExtNcic ON i.ExtendedNcic = ExtNcic.id 
    WHERE p_bike.ePersonType = 'PEDALCYCLIST' AND p_car.ePersonType='DRIVER' AND  
    i.IncidentID IN (2319545,2346120,2533594,2832015,2596875,2970869,3404602,3569811,3789674,3834299 )
    ORDER BY i.IncidentDateTime;
  2. Ed, I ride with the group periodically, but was not there Saturday. The rollout from the shop includes all the speed groups, and when we turn onto Cotton we split up due to the bunch accelerating up over the bridge. So, on any given Saturday, the A’s and B’s will self select. The group is well behaved and typically forms either single file or two abreast on the bridge hugging the right as we accelerate. There’s literally no good reason for a vehicle to be close at all with multiple lanes and clear sight. Plus most in the group have tail lights flashing. I’ve ridden in many many pelotons across the country as well as raced at the national masters level, I can tell you from first hand experience the WVC group is a solid group ride that I’ve found that I am willing to join, and based on my racing and training experience I am very picky who I’ll ride with.. This horrific and tragic event is incredibly saddening. Hope the above adds a touch of context.

  3. I guess I cant understand why death caused by vehicular collision is not a felony. Clearly the guy failed to yield right of way, forget the safe passing law, so death should elevate the charge, at least in my view

  4. @AZBikeLaw, I’d be curious to know how the criminal case (to the extent it proceeds and when) will intersect-affect-delay any civil litigation as well as insurance settlements and excess liability. Clearly there was negligence, and if the driver was in fact engaged in working for an employer may bring the employer’s coverages (non-owned auto liability coverage, if present) either directly or tangentially into the mix here. Moreover, if this driver’s limits are blown (highly likely) any personal liability settlement would be nill as this kid likely has few assets, although I am only guessing given that he was apparently working in construction (delivering materials?).

  5. Yup, as recommended elsewhere, cyclists are encouraged carry extra insurance on their own to cover for the likely puny amount of insurance a negligent driver is likely to have. I carry maximum UM/UIM ($500K or something) through my automotive insurance, and on top of that you can wrap around a umbrella.

  6. https://ktar.com/story/5551324/maricopa-county-attorney-doesnt-charge-driver-who-crashed-into-bicyclists/

    Goodyear Police disagreed with the prosecutor’s findings.

    “We remain confident in our thorough investigation, and we believe the evidence, facts and circumstances meet the statutory elements for multiple felony and misdemeanor offenses,” Goodyear Police said in a statement. “We are disappointed in the county attorney’s decision as it relates to the felony charges.”

  7. Colorado case where Magnus White was killed in 2023 by a driver who investigators say fell asleep — the driver says her steering wheel locked.
    The prosecutor brought criminal charges.

    https://www.denver7.com/news/local-news/driver-who-hit-boulder-bicyclist-magnus-white-fell-asleep-at-the-wheel-investigators-say

    Yeva Smilianska, 23, of Westminster — who was arrested 20 weeks after the July 29 crash on Tuesday on charges of vehicular homicide — denies the allegations and claims there was a steering malfunction. However, authorities determined that her car and steering wheel were functioning properly at the time of the crash.

  8. Besides checking if the Goodyear driver was impaired, did authorities check with his cell phone provider to see if he was using his phone at the time of the crash? Did they check his truck’s computer which would indicate speed, braking at the time of the crash and other important factors of the truck’s road worthiness. Was the truck’s steering checked after the crash? It is hard to believe that the steering of a relatively new vehicle would suddenly lock up. If it was his employer’s truck was there any records of previous maintenance problems or lack of maintenance?

  9. One-year anniversary —

    https://www.abc15.com/news/region-west-valley/goodyear/goodyear-cycling-crash-victims-reflect-on-difficult-year-as-anniversary-approaches

    The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told the victims in November that she would not pursue felony charges due to lack of evidence. At this point, the case is in the hands of the Goodyear City Prosecutor’s Office for misdemeanor charges, who still have another year to file for that.
    “When you see the images of that day and the bodies, and the wreckage and the carnage, and you can’t prove recklessness? I really, I don’t have any respect for that,” said (Clay) Wells.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nre4A3GEVWE

    https://www.azfamily.com/2024/02/25/goodyear-cyclist-ride-group-1-year-after-truck-plowed-into-them/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *