Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mark Hardman "Displeased" with Dan Hersh Case

From the Pilot Online:

Mark Hardman, the challenger in the race to be commonwealth's attorney, accused incumbent Harvey Bryant on Thursday of failing "to pursue justice against drivers who injure or kill cyclists."

Hardman, a former collegiate cycling national champion, issued the statement a week after Bryant announced he did not intend to file charges in the April 19 crash that killed Daniel Hersh, an ex-SEAL and civil engineer.

"Harvey Bryant has made the decision to turn this tragedy into a travesty," Hardman said. "It is unacceptable that Mr. Bryant has refused to so much as charge the driver who killed Daniel with a misdemeanor."

Hardman, 27, was a prosecutor in Portsmouth for about five months. He was fired after announcing his bid for Virginia Beach commonwealth's attorney.

Bryant's decision outraged many in the cycling community, but he said there was no evidence the driver broke any law. The driver claimed she never saw Hersh, pedaling east on Shore Drive near Starfish Road before 6 a.m., until after the impact, Bryant said. Hersh was wearing a helmet and yellow windbreaker with reflective stripes.

Bryant, 62, said the woman passed a blood-alcohol test and there was no sign she was distracted.

He dismissed Hardman's claim, saying he'd file charges only "when there is substantial, admissible evidence... To do otherwise is considered unethical and unprofessional."

Hardman's comment "comes from someone with almost no experience in criminal law," Bryant said.

1 comment:

Mark Hardman said...

My heart goes out to the friends and family of Daniel Hersh. I empathize with the tremendous loss that you have and will continue to experience. Although I was not fortunate to meet Daniel, I understand that he was a father and a veteran in the prime of life. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

On the day an SUV struck Daniel from behind, he was riding on the right side of the road and was wearing a bright yellow windbreaker with reflective stripes. Despite his abundance of caution, the Commonwealth´s Attorney has chosen not to charge the driver of the SUV.

People may dispute what could have been done to avoid this death - a dedicated bicycle lane on Shore Drive or a city-wide awareness program. All options are worth considering. The Commonwealth's Attorney, however, does not have to wait for these options.

The Commonwealth's Attorney already has the best tool available to respond to this tragedy - the criminal laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Instead, Virginia Beach Commonwealth Attorney Harvey Bryant has made the decision to turn this tragedy into a travesty. It is unacceptable that Mr. Bryant has refused to so much as charge the driver who killed Daniel with a misdemeanor.

As the Commonwealth's Attorney of Virginia Beach, subsequent to the November 3rd election, I will push the Mayor and City Council to make the streets more cyclist-friendly. I will collaborate with the Department of Motor Vehicles and local driving schools to stress the need to share the road with cyclists. Most importantly, I will prosecute to the full extent of the law those that disregard the life of those who travel the roads on two wheels instead of four.

As a former cyclist who competed professionally in the States and Europe, I understand the danger faced while riding the roads. Acknowledgement of that danger, however, does not diminish the rights of cyclists or the duty of a chief prosecutor to pursue justice against drivers who injure or kill cyclists.

Two of my close friends, both competitive cyclists, have been struck from behind at speeds exceeding 60 mph. Both were left for dead but managed to escape with their lives. Daniel was not so fortunate.

On July 11, 2009, I will join other cyclists on a tribute ride for Daniel Hersh on Shore Drive. I ask everyone who values the sanctity of life to join me.