Update: Langlade County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy John Schunke reported Wednesday morning that the case involving Michelle Koss will be sent to the district attorney’s office for review and possible criminal charges. The citation referenced below does not preclude criminal charges in the case. Click here for a recent example of a district attorney’s decision in a similar case, the death of a man riding a bicycle in Menasha, in June 2015.
The man who allegedly hit and killed an Antigo-area nurse riding her bike last week was driving without his glasses and reported that he could not see well, according to a new report in the death of Michelle Koss.
Authorities in Langlade County ticketed the driver, Irvin Aird, 80, with inattentive driving and fined him $187.90. He is scheduled to appear in court May 3.
According to the crash reports, Aird told sheriff’s deputies he never saw Koss biking southbound on County Highway A, before he hit her from behind about 200 feet north of Augustyne Springs Road. The two-lane road, with no paved shoulder, is flat and straight in that area, the report said. The speed limit is 55 mph.
Koss, 53, led bike rides and organized races along the Wolf River in Langlade County, and was wearing a bright, green jacket while riding about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22. She was traveling along the right side of the road on a route she followed for decades, part of a 20-mile loop that included views of the Wolf River.
Koss and her husband, Tom, introduced their children to cycling and skiing early in their lives, and shared their enthusiasm for outdoor activities with a wide group of people.
Friends and relatives gathered for her funeral Monday, and remembered her work to encourage athletes throughout northern Wisconsin. She was a leader in the Antigo Bike & Ski Club, raised five children and worked as a nurse for nearly three decades.
The Wolfman Triathlon and the Splash-N-Dash will struggle to fill the void she left.
“She really enjoyed having an impact on the children in the community,” said Brady Koss, Michelle’s son, and Antigo Bike & Ski Club president.
Michelle Koss shared important lessons on cycling safety with children at the bike rodeos sponsored by the community group, placed mirrors on her own bike and always wore bright, highly-visible clothing, her son said.
The circumstances of Koss’ death, as described in the sheriff’s reports, raise familiar questions about the driving abilities of older adults. It has long been a difficult challenge to balance the freedom and independence that driving provides with the increased risks that older adults present behind the wheel, as detailed here by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Legislators in Wisconsin have rejected efforts to require additional testing of older drivers, who follow the same eight-year renewal process as all other licensed motorists.
Cases like this should remind family members to have the difficult discussion about the driving capability of older adults.