Jackie Hutcheson Jr. was hit and killed by a person driving on Sunday as he biked along Highway FJ near Wilmot Road in Kenosha County, making him the fourth person in the state to be killed while biking this year and the second killed by a hit-and-run driver.
The Ryan Peterson fled the scene and told his wife he had struck a deer, according to the sheriff’s department for the county. She reported her husband after reading a media release about the fatal crash. He has been charged with hit and run resulting in death and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. Peterson has no other criminal history, but has also been cited with failure to notify police of an accident and inattentive driving,
Jackie was 29 years old when he was struck from behind while heading home sometime between 9:10 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday. He had just left his sister’s house after a birthday celebration. He had also been growing his hair out to donate it to cancer patients, his family still intends to donate his hair.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case Peterson said he was drinking prior to the crash, but didn’t believe he was drunk. He also stated he was distracted because he was plugging in his cellphone at the time of the crash and that he believed he hit a deer and never stopped to check.
According to kenoshanews.com Assistant District Attorney Andrew Burgoyne said drivers have a duty to check what they strike in a crash.
“A passerby found a bike on its side. He was ejected from the bicycle. No skid marks. We have no indication at this time how fast the vehicle was driving,” Mark Malecki with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said according to Fox 6 News.
At some point after he was struck by the 39-year-old driver, who posted $15,000 cash bail this week, the victim’s mother searched for Jackie in the area.
“We saw the lights, blue and red lights. I jumped out of the truck. I ran down there. I told the officer ‘I’m missing my son. I can’t find my son,’” Hutcheson’s mother said to Fox 6. “They knew they hit him. They knew. Why didn’t they stop to check him? Why couldn’t they stop?” she later added.
Jackie had been discovered by a passerby and was found among debris from the vehicle the person driving was operating at the time of the collision. The speed limit at the site of the crash is 35 mph and there is a four foot shoulder beyond the fog line. Tire tracks at the scene show Jackie was likely traveling on the gravel shoulder 4 or 5 feet from the fog line.
Though tragedies like this continue to happen, they continue to happen less often as the years go on. At this time last year, 10 people had been hit and killed while riding bikes compared to four this year. Both injuries and fatalities from crashes like this are down significantly compared to the 1970s. It is also important to remember that biking remains a safe and healthy way to travel and recreate in the state of Wisconsin.
A majority of crashes occur in urban areas, unlike in this case, but a majority of deaths occur on rural roads, as in this case. It is also important to note that many fatal crashes involve alcohol, as this case may have. This is an issue that affects all of those who bike in our communities throughout the state. When you get into the car, make sure you are well rested, sober and store all electronic devices; be ready to give your full attention to the task of driving and look for other people on and along the roadway to help further reduce these numbers
However, the ultimate goal of the Wisconsin Bike Federation and the Share & Be Aware program is to reduce these numbers to zero. We are working towards this goal by offering classes and information throughout the state through our Share & Be Aware ambassadors. They can come to schools, universities, police stations, driver’s education classes and events. The classes and information are always free.
People driving can make efforts by taking care when driving on any of our roads in Wisconsin, and by actively looking for people biking and giving them at least three feet of space whenever passing them. In turn, people biking should ride in the same direction as traffic while using hand signals to broadcast movements and can make other efforts like using lights and wearing visible clothing. The Wisconsin Bike Federation also recommends the use of helmets.
Those who are interested in learning from or working with an ambassador can reach out to the program at ShareAndBeAware.org for safety tips and free classes. Ambassadors are spread throughout the state and are often willing to do some traveling.
As a citizen of the area you can help by understanding the laws and lead by example by following the speed limit and giving space to those cycling on our roads. In Wisconsin a driver is required to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. You can also write, call or speak with your local elected officials to support funding for cycling safety improvements.