Tag Archives: Cindy COmbs

David Combs update Petty offense

David Combs is out of ICU — on 7th floor — still restricted visitors.  Hopefully after some more reconstructive stuff (skin grafts & the like) and the recovery there from visitors will be welcomed… cards of course already and even if you don’t get the room right, it’ll find him…

So, it seems Errol Maul’s lawyer advised him to say he looked at the map *after* the accident.   You know, you wouldn’t want to be charged for the death you caused.   http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2011-04-18/driver-enters-plea-fatal-bicycle-collision.html

Gary Cziko notes in the comments taht the new law says if you kill somebody, it doesn’t matter what the charge was; your license should be revoked. Sounds like a good law to me, and it sounds like somebody ought to try to enforce it.   The whole “proving recklessness” part isn’t what the law says.   It doesn’t say that you have to want somebody dead.   It simply says that if your driving was bad enough to get a conviction of a charge (like, going too fast to keep from hitting something, because that law is there because going too fast to keep from hitting something could cause injury or death.  You see, the idea is that even if you *didn’t* kill somebody, you can be charged with “failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident,” because that is such dangerous behavior!   If you *did* kill somebody, you know, make them dead so she never says “I love you” to her husband again, then you have rather proven irrevocably that you could not handle the responsibility of navigating your vehicle on our public roads.

As the law states, you can plead hardship to keep your license.   If you really need it, you *should* have to ask for it.  Accepting that gosh golly shucks, sometimes you just forget what you’re doing, sorry you’re dead!  SUCKS.

Our State’s Attorney’s address:Julia RietzStates Attorney101 E MainUrbana, IL 61801



Main (217) 384-3733
Adult Diversion (217) 384-3802
Civil Division (217) 384-3832
Domestic Violence Division (217) 384-3750
Misdemeanor Division (217) 384-3813
Support Enforcement Div. (217) 384-3849
Traffic Division (217) 384-3815
Victim/Witness Services (217) 384-8625

I am hoping that civil suit wise Errol’s insurance will be paying for David’s expenses — but beyond that, the acceptance of death by car as “just fine” is just plain wrong.   The lady who was playing a facebook game when her toddler drowned int eh bathtub is doing *time* — the judge said he didn’t think she was a bad person, but she had broken the law.   It *is* against the law to kill somebody with your car (see Gary Cziko’s comment afterthe article).

Update (Journalism isn’t dead yet)

   David Combs is still in critical care ICU, though perhaps moving to ‘less acute ICU’ if things progress.  Prayers and support appreciated

Donations to the Developmental Services Center in Cindy’s honor

can be made by calling 217-356-9176.  A link to a blog to post memories of Cindy is front and center.

DSC is an awesome place.   Let’s at least make *something* good come from this suckage.

Cards of support can be sent to:David Combs
Room 7712
611 W. Park
Urbana, IL 61801

Annie Weisner did an outstanding job researching and covering this — including an aerial photo so you can see for yourself just how incredibly wide open the line of sight is where Cindy and David were mowed down, and that yes, the driver admitted to be reading a plat map, and that there was no sign of using those funny things called brakes.    I’m afraid that the explanation that makes the most sense is that our state’s attorney is among those who do sincerely believe that bicycles don’t belong on roads (and, therefore, if you’re disabled you should simply not be so bold as to try to get out in the world — oh, of course you can!  but don’t get in OUR way!~).   I would love it if even a single utterance or action or lack of action of hers didn’t strongly support that, especially since “highly successful” people with social clout too often don’t need to ever consider such challenges.  However, she keeps on saying and doing and not doing…

Active Transport folks thought it worth mentioning, too, as did lots of people in their blogs.

Ray LaHood’s blog

http://fastlane.dot.gov/ — it doesn’t have many comments… but of course they’re moderated.  So, perhaps if I wrote a gushy complimentary one… but I didn’t.

Dang it, when I copied the address to the blog I deleted the “copy” to what I posted.   However, it was a trimmed version of this:


Mr. LaHood,


You’re from Illinois, and you seem to care about developing an infrastructure and culture that includes vehicles other than cars. You also have often spoken of the hazards of distracted driving.


Yet, here in your home state, despite laws enacted expressly to help this, we’re going backwards.


Cindy and David Combs were a couple in town that everybody knew. She was blind; he is developmentally delayed. They used their tandem for transportation.


Monday, March 7, a driver who ‘may have been reading a map’ essentially wiped them off a wide, open road with all kinds of room for passing at 4:30 in the afternoon, and David and Cindy ride a huge tandem with more flags and reflectors and lights than Carter has pills.


Our whole community is in shock. See


and http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts-police-and-fire/2011-03-09/couple-hit-motorist-maintained-independence-spite-disabilitie – at least that second one, to see their picture. (As I write, David is still in critical condition, back in ICU with internal injuries and broken bones.)


Yet, our state’s attorney has said that our new 3-foot law, because it includes the word “reckless,” demands “wanton and willful” recklessness. As with Matt Wilhelm, who was killed by a young lady who’d already had a string of speeding and reckless driving tickets but still had her license, and was downloading ringtones when she struck Matt with the driver’s side of the car, it looks like this will be another “petty offense” charge.


And, of course, I could add more injuries and deaths to this list.


We’re all pretty disgusted.


I can understand how in the past cases were not won with similar evidence. However, the public is now completely aware of the dangers of distracted driving.


We don’t want revenge – we know there’s no way to get the lost lives back. Still, drivers should bear ****some**** fragment of responsibility for their carnage.


We have this new law… so it seems you might get somewhere with drivers who verbally harass you as well as physically try to shove you off the road — IF you have them on film, and have an ironclad case… and of course don’t count on getting too far. (This happened last summer.)

If you’re dead, though, forget it.   That’s not “reckless.”   That’s not ‘willful and wanton.”   What is???

I looked up “reckless.”  What is cited as an example is: drives over an incline in the road, such as a railroad crossing, with the intent of making the vehicle airborne.

So.   Drive fast over RR tracks:  reckless.

Essentially, yielding to an impulse and deciding that’s more important than safety, eh?

Isn’t that ***exactly*** what distracted driving is?

But no, here in Illinois, if you drive at excessive speed with your eyes closed, essentially:    Failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident. Petty offense.

Is there anything we can do ? It seems like the law was passed to make politicians look good. All your talk – can you back it up with anything?

Or… will a driver who injures somebody have the incentive to make sure their victims are dead?


… for those of you who knew her… or know somebody who did and want to forward…

I got an email from our Parkland Chorus director this morning.  Parkland Pops is the other group Cindy sang with; it is folks from DSC.  She says:

FYI – I talked with Developmental Services this morning (Thursday).  Cindy’s memorial service arrangements are still pending.

There is a Parkland POPS concert in the Parkland Theatre at 1:00 on Sunday, March 13.  They will sing 6 pieces.  Then (around 1:30) Brian Hagy (Director of POPS) will invite singers to the stage to join in singing “Amazing Grace”.    After the concert and tribute, there will be cookies and juice in C-Wing.  This will provide a time and place for people to talk with each other and share memories of Cindy.

Unintended consequences

… at least I fervently hope so!!!

There’s been some talk of a tandem ghost bike… out where the accident happened, or somewhere to make driver’s think.

Someone chained a ghost bike where Cindy and David used to park theirs at DSC.  I wish I couldn’t imagine the emotional punch-you-in-the-gut-’til-you-puke that was to the clients there.    I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way.

3-foot-law: useless if you’re dead

Okay, you might get somewhere with drivers who verbally harass you as well as physically try to shove you off the road — IF you have them on film, and have an ironclad case… and of course don’t count on getting too far.

If you’re dead, though, forget it.   That’s not “reckless.”   That’s not ‘willful and wanton.”   And that is what our state’s attorney, Julia Rietz, has said about applying the 3-foot law to the killing of Cindy Combs and critical injury of her husband David.

I looked up “reckless.”  What is cited as an example is: drives over an incline in the road, such as a railroad crossing, with the intent of making the vehicle airborne.

So.   Drive fast over RR tracks:  reckless.

if a driver had decided to see how long s/he could drive with eyes closed, would that be considered reckless?

Drive at excessive speed with your eyes closed, essentially:    Driving too fast to avoid an accident. (Not to avoid KILLING PEOPLE. Just to avoid an accident.)  NOT reckless.

The person seeking airborne-ness was *not* seeking to endanger others. S/he was simply placing the desires of the moment before the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle in a way that one would expect to be dangerous.

Be it granted that in the past, Mr. Maul would not be considered acting in willful and wanton way, because looking at a map was not something one would expect to be dangerous — and it’s just not as likely to be something done by a teenage male, and people don’t mind when we convict them.

However, laws change as we gain more knowledge. We — the general public — have been made aware that distracted driving is very dangerous. That impulse to drive very quickly and that impulse to look at the map were the impulses of the moment, and they were held to be more important than the lives of everybody else on the road. I’m sorry, but reading a map or whatever Mr. Maul was doing was a whole lot more dangerous than going over railroad tracks at high speed. I’ll bet you anything that driver would be looking at the road.

(From Ed Barsotti, having talked with Julia Rietz)

she explained that there was a big gap in Illinois law between minor driving offenses (e.g., improper lane usage in the Wilhelm case, maybe the new 3’ law in this new case) and reckless homicide.  Reckless homicide requires the prosecution to prove “willful and wanton” behavior, i.e., intentionally and consciously trying to do harm to the victim.  Previous case law had convinced her that she would have been unsuccessful in trying to prove this, so she felt stuck with the minor traffic offense as her only feasible option.  Afterwards, she (and others) actively advocated new Illinois law for negligent homicide, which would fill that gap, but she did not get support from her peers (the other counties’ states attorneys) or the legislature.

Julia called me soon after I sent my email, correcting my mistake about the new law above.  It, too, requires the reckless (”willful-and-wanton” standard), so it does NOT provide another prosecution tool to fill the gap.   Especially during this early stage of the investigation, she’s not able to discuss specifics on the Combs-Maul case, but it seems like she’s facing the same gap in the law that existed during the Wilhelm case.

So. I looked up what “reckless driving” is.