Driver sentenced to probation for hitting bicyclist |

Driver sentenced to probation for hitting bicyclist

Tim Mutrie

A Colorado Springs man was convicted of careless driving Thursdayin local court for a July 1998 incident in which he struck a localman who was bicycling on Highway 82.Brian Lacey, 37, initially faced a reckless driving charge forrunning into Snowmass Village resident Francis “Ben” Kiernan onJuly 13. However, during a trial before Judge Tam Scott yesterdayin Pitkin County Court, the judge found reasonable doubt thatLacey’s actions were “willful and wanton” enough to warrant areckless driving conviction. So, Scott found Lacey guilty of careless driving – a lesser chargeand a misdemeanor.According to testimony, Kiernan was bicycling down Highway 82toward Aspen from Difficult Campground. He was about a quarter-mileeast of the Aspen Club when a Chevy Blazer drove past him andstopped ahead, straddling the double yellow line. The driver ofthe Blazer, later identified as Lacey, conversed with a woman,later identified as Lacey’s fiancée, who was walking on the roadside.After a few moments, Lacey pulled an abrupt U-turn and began acceleratingdirectly toward the oncoming Kiernan.”I became extremely frightened and a split second before the carhit me, I just couldn’t believe it was going to happen,” Kiernansaid. Upon contact, Kiernan was sent into the air and off to oneside of the vehicle, he said. Fortunately, Kiernan said, he waswearing a bulky backpack, which cushioned the fall.”It was as though the car was this demonic thing,” Kiernan saidof the experience.”Christine?” chuckled Lacey, interrupting Kiernan’s testimonywith a reference to the Stephen King novel.Once Kiernan realized that his initial injuries were not life-threatening,he began fearing that the driver might make another pass at him.”My original thought was that I was about to be killed,” he said.However, Lacey stopped his vehicle and told Kiernan to remainstill so as to not aggravate his injured knee. Authorities arrivedon the scene later and a trooper with the Colorado State Patrolissued Lacey a citation for reckless driving.Kiernan suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament and a contusionto his knee as a result of the accident. He is recuperating welland expects a full recovery from the injuries, he said.Lacey said the accident served as an awakening of sorts for him.He is now getting professional help with anger management, hesaid.”I’m taking Prozac, which has definitely helped,” he added.Lacey explained that at the time of the accident, he and his fiancéehad just been in a fight, and when he pulled the U-turn and raninto Kiernan, he was distracted and “careless.”Judge Scott sentenced Lacey to six months probation, but did notimpose any jail time or fines. Lacey must also check in with thecourt twice in the next six months to confirm that he is stillreceiving psychological help.A jury trial had been scheduled in the case, but Lacey waivedthat right and opted for a bench trial instead.

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