Driver Kills Cyclist On Open Road In Iowa. $500 Is The Only Fine

In broad daylight, on an open county road last June, Gerald Williams, age 58, of Lenox, Iowa, was killed when a car struck him riding his bike.

The driver, a 33-year-old woman, claims she thought she “struck a deer.” After looking for the animal, she drove away and did not report the incident.

In the tall grass the biker, Williams, lay dead.

Eventually things were sorted out. Williams was missing, and then his body was found. The police determined who hit him.

The driver went to court. There was an investigation and legal proceedings. In the end, announced this week in regional newspapers and a press release from the Lenox Police, a fine for the woman, Jessica May Brown, was assigned at only $500.

There’s been an uproar in the community. “That’s all she gets for taking a man’s life and then leaving the scene and telling people she thought she hit a deer?” said a commenter on the Lenox Iowa Police Department Facebook page. “That’s pathetic and they should make her pay the price for the crime.”

Other members of the community said, “How about manslaughter?” And: “Her negligence caused a man’s death and the justice system slaps her with a minimal fine? Absolutely appalling!”

Screen grab of comments from Lenox Iowa Police Department Facebook page

There are dozens of comments on social media and articles this week on the incident in area newspapers.

Williams was an avid cyclist. He was riding on a popular bicycle route when hit.

Brown was charged with the offense of “Failure to Stop at an Assured Clear Distance.”

It’s a sad situation, and seemingly an outrageous “punishment” for a driver who, aware and consciously or not, ended a life.

—Stephen Regenold

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.