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Editorial: Questions remain after death of bicyclist in Johnstown

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If there were unanswered questions immediately after Ed Lakata was hit and killed by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle in the town of Johnstown on June 25, there are even more now that we know the driver, John Damphier, has a history of driving with prescription drugs in his system. We learned this after another incident, in late July, where Damphier hit a mailbox with his car and was charged with driving while ...

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comments

albright1
August 21, 2013
11:25 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

This editorial should be stricken from the paper and an apology issued to both the sheriff and Mr. Damphier. It reads like a journalistic vigilante conviction of manslaughter. I don't know who was at fault and neither do you. You mention a lot of circumstantial items about Damphier that have nothing to do with this particular accident. You don't mention some things about Ed Lakata (God bless him and his family and friends) that do in fact have bearing on this accident.

Mr. Lakata was a 55 year old (I'm 57 and an avid cyclist) climbing a monster hill on a Trek compact road bike. It is not unbelievable to assume that Ed veered into the traffic. I suspect he was not using a mirror and either turned to look at oncoming traffic, which has a natural tendency to make the cyclist veer to the left or he was simply wobbling because of the duress of the climb. One has to suspect that he was a novice cyclist. He had no helmet, no high viz or reflective clothing. I seriously doubt he was using a high intensity LED light on the rear. As a cyclist, we should all know that you can't count on the vehicles to keep a half lane away from you. You need to know when vehicles are oncoming (mirror), you need to be visible (clothing and lighting) and you need to travel straight when traffic is coming upon you.

If your point was to promote a law regarding drug and alcohol testing after an accident resulting in death or serious injury, you could have done that without the yellow journalism we see here in this editorial.

irene58
August 21, 2013
5:13 p.m.

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Great editorial - putting in print what many "locals" are already thinking.

ChuckD
August 21, 2013
9:34 p.m.

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So albright1, it appears that you a.) are late to this story (or an apologist for small town corruption) and b.) don't understand the meaning of yellow journalism. If you're really as passionate about this as all your wordiness implies, you owe it to yourself to do a little more reading (See The Leader Herald for more amazing quotes from Damphier. See Google for more detail on both these men) and get your facts straight before you come off just sounding hysterical.

There's no yellow journalism here. This is an "Editorial" and it doesn't sound like you understand the meaning of that either.

albright1
August 22, 2013
9:27 a.m.

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ChuckD...I have no dog in this fight. I see lousy, "expletive deleted" drivers every day that I ride. I could give you a detailed accounting of the most common dangers a rider faces when it comes to vehicles. But, rider safety can only be maximized by one person, the rider himself. Ed Lakata seems to have put himself in great danger by not wearing a helmet, not wearing high viz clothing, not using a mirror and not using lighting. That being said, it is very possible that Mr. Damphier is a bad driver and was at fault. Or maybe he is a bad driver but Ed swerved into him. The point is, we don't know and will never know.

I feel the Gazette is trying to give the impression that is was in fact Damphier's fault and that the Sheriff is somehow negligent for not recognizing this. They state that Damphier broke the law because he obviously did not pass at a safe distance from Lakata. Well, if Lakata swerved into the oncoming vehicle, he broke the law. He is required by law to maintain a straight line when being overtaken by a vehicle.

Listen, this accident has been a horrible experience for everyone involved. If we can get anything good out of it, it would be to heighten the awareness of as many people we can about the importance of safety when biking and/or driving in the proximity of bikes.

irene58
August 22, 2013
10:51 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Why would anyone use lighting at 930 in the morning..... There should be more than just conjecture when a fatality is involved. 2 people involved, and as a result, only one witness. Some suggestion of a thorough investigation was warranted here, and it didn't happen.

ChuckD
August 22, 2013
12:43 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

The Gazette is pointing out the flaws in the sheriff's judgement. It's the facts that are working against the driver. I have no other connection to the Gazette except as a subscriber, but it looks to me like they're just reporting the facts and asking appropriate questions, not about who's guilty or innocent, but about the questionable judgement of law enforcement. His half-baked statements alone are indictable, imo.

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