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Respect the road, and each other

The Morgan Hill Times: Respect the road, and each other

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

What do Bruce Finch, Rory Tomasello, Allen "Skip" Haughay and Marschelle Syverson have in common? They were all struck and killed by a motorist in the past three years. Two on bicycles, one on his horse and - oddly enough - one while riding a Segway motorized scooter.

The other thing they have in common is that all were apparently killed by a motorist who by all counts was not giving their full attention to the task at hand - or in the case of Syverson - by allegedly driving drunk.

Rita Campos, 61, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter following a jury trial in May. The jury found that Campos drove her Honda Civic negligently and failed to yield the right-of-way to Finch, 58, causing the accident in west Morgan Hill that killed the cyclist Oct. 23, 2008. She was sentenced to three years of probation.

Sandra Arlia, 67, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter last month for the Oct. 23, 2009 accident that killed Rory Tomasello. A jury last week found her guilty of driving negligently when she failed to yield at a crosswalk. Tomasello died Nov. 2, 2009. Arlia's sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9.

Haughay, 48, an Apple software engineer from Morgan Hill, was riding his horse in north Morgan Hill with a caravan of other horses to a friend's party when they were struck by a 2004 GMC pickup truck, driven by Blaine Beck, 58, of San Jose. Both Haughay and his horse Regal died. Now, the California Highway Patrol suggests the driver be charged with involuntary vehicular manslaughter. The District Attorney has yet to file charges, but they are likely coming.

Finally, Syverson, 72 of San Jose, was struck while riding the two-wheeled device in a crosswalk on Butterfield Boulevard, at Jarvis Drive the evening of Oct. 23. Dick Chappell, 83 of Los Gatos was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and felony driving under the influence.

We live in a rural area in which bicyclists, pedestrians and yes, horses and Segway riders, share the road with vehicles. It's our duty, regardless of what mode of transportation taken that day, to pay attention. No texting, talking on the phone, eating, or anything else that will divert your attention.

Respect the road and each other and maybe, just maybe, we can reduce the chance of another family losing a loved one to a senseless accident.