The Columbia Police Department says it will not charge the driver of a semi-truck that hit and killed a bicyclist on 1-70 in the early morning hours in October. Department spokesperson Captain Joe Bernhard says the driver’s statements and physical evidence at the scene suggest 36-year-old Ennis Patrick was riding his bike on the main traveled portion of the roadway, and there is no criminal offense on the part of the driver.
The investigation also looked into the department’s response to the accident: the remains stayed on the side of the highway for more than 8 hours before they were identified as human. Bernhard says two different officers drove by the scene shortly after the truck driver reported hitting something on the road, but both thought it was a deer that had been hit, and there was nothing on the roadway that needed to be cleared.
“But if none of those things exist there – there’s no hazard in the roadway and it doesn’t appear that there’s an injured animal laying there, then the officers aren’t required to get out and inspect the heavily-traveled roadway like I-70 on foot," Bernhard said.
Bernhard says other officers and civilians also reported the scene as a deer versus car accident later in the day. It wasn’t until just after noon that drivers called in with reports of bloody clothing on the side of the road that officers stopped at the scene and discovered Patrick’s body. Bernhard says command staff will review the report to see if any procedure changes need to be made.
“I’m sure command staff will review that, but you know this is not something that happens very often at all. Deer versus vehicle accidents happen hundreds of times each year, but I can’t recall in my police career anything like this happening," Bernhard said.
In the press release regarding the investigation, the department also acknowledges “the terrible loss to the Patrick Family caused by this tragic accident."