Transportation

Attorneys Say Cyclist Was Not At Fault In Fatal Crash Near Rice University

They plan to conduct an independent investigation to prove cyclist Sudipta Roy was legally using a crosswalk when she was struck by a dump truck at Sunset Boulevard and Main Street April 24.

Attorney Robert Kwok represents Dr. Ujjal Bhattacharjee, the husband of Sudipta Roy. He said they are not filing a lawsuit yet against the operator and owner of the dump truck, but a judge has now granted a temporary restraining order stating that the truck must be preserved as evidence. 

Kwok said they also said they plan to conduct an independent investigation to prove that Roy was legally using the crosswalk at Main and Sunset when she was struck by the dump truck’s rear tire as it made a “right hook turn.”

“We have the ability to conduct what we believe to be a fair and impartial investigation,” said Kwok. “And in the end our goal in this case is to clear Sudipta’s name, that this tragedy was not her fault. She did not cause her own death.”

Kwok added that Roy was considered a vulnerable road user under Houston city ordinances and the dump truck driver “had a responsibility to ensure he was safely clear before making his right-hand turn.”

Kwok said the driver probably looked to his left, saw no oncoming cars, “and made his turn without even considering Ms. Roy was right next to him on his right side.” 

Meanwhile Rice University cyclists and the organization Bike Houston are calling on the city to make fundamental changes at the intersection to ensure the safety of walkers and cyclists.

Last month’s crash was the second bike fatality at Sunset and Main. In 2017 a Rice University professor, Dr. Marjorie Corcoran, was struck by a train as she rode her bike through the intersection.   

Mary Natoli with Rice University Cycling and Triathlon said her fellow students felt “incredible sadness and incredible frustration” upon hearing of the most recent fatality. “A simple sign that said ‘yield to bikes and pedestrians in the crosswalk’ could have caused the dump truck driver to look twice and yield the right-of-way in this case,” added Natoli.

Cycling activists say they also worry about the city’s future if it doesn’t make safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Failing to give people the option to bike safely will result not only in more deaths but Houston losing out as a city,” said Natoli. “We already know we lost out on Amazon earlier this year and transportation was a big reason. Rice University itself loses students graduating to take jobs in more bike and pedestrian-friendly cities.”

Bike Houston Executive Director John Long is also calling for better signage and more visible crosswalks. He said Rice University and Hermann Park are currently separated by a “dangerous no-man’s-land that’s designed for motor vehicles and not for people.”

“It’s not just about cyclists,” said Long. “It’s about the road safety of all users in Houston.”

Meanwhile the Houston Police Department said it has not yet completed its investigation into the crash and at this point no charges have been filed.

 

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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