Still No Charges in Death of Wellesley Cyclist

wellesleyThe location of the accident via Google Maps.

It’s been 10 days, and still no charges against a driver who hit and killed a cyclist on Weston Road in Wellesley, then drove away. Police have located and interviewed the driver, who reportedly was driving a truck, and hit the cyclist, 41-year-old Alexander Motsenigos, the father of a 6-year-old boy. Motsenigos was cycling near town center at the time of the accident.

It’s perplexing that two people could be traveling side-by-side on the same street at the same time, and one could end up killed while the other drives away unaware. Suburban streets are not Thunderdome; there has to be some accountability. I find it hard to believe that the driver didn’t hear anything, feel anything, or look in his rear-view mirror and see what had happened. From pictures in the media, it looks like the street was littered with wreckage.

If such a thing happened between a truck and a motorcycle or a truck and a moped, it’s probably unlikely it would take police so long to file charges. Yes, bicycling is quiet, and bike frames are light—for many of us, that’s the point—but it doesn’t change the fact that everyone needs to be aware and careful when sharing the road. No vehicle type has primacy out there, and just because a vehicle is big doesn’t mean it has the right-of-way.

Many cyclists assume we can’t be seen by cars, which, like defensive driving, is something we do for safety. But getting caught in an unsafe situation—my guess is Motsenigos got squeezed against the curb then had nowhere to go (a friend is in a coma after a similar strike)—shouldn’t be paid for in blood. Wellesley police need to realize that either the road isn’t safe (admitting that could make the town partially liable) or the driver wasn’t operating his vehicle in a safe way. The case is complicated, but the outcome is anything but: A 41-year-old man is dead and nothing has been done.

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  • Jeff

    I’m sure it wasn’t complicated when Alexander got hit. My prayers to his family.

  • radjr

    Yes, a sad situation here. The towns are liable. For the past 10-15 years the towns have subscribed to a theory that narrowing the streets will slow traffic speeds. In reality drivers go just as fast and there is little room for errors. Stop the insanity and widen the roads back to 1970/80′s standards.

  • Millicent Broderick

    Whoever was at fault, the driver of the truck had no business, moral or legal, to leave the scene. Broad daylight? Unless he was texting, eating his lunch and had his bass on highest he would have known he hit something. (You can’t hit a chicken in the road without being aware of it.)

  • priya

    13 days is a very long wait for the authorities to act. They’ve got to remember there is a grieving wife and little boy who need justice for the tragic loss of their beloved Alex. I do hope that witnesses will come forward and do their duty too.

  • Mark

    As a driver, cyclist and fellow Wellesley resident I find the lack of charges incredibly frustrating and disheartening. I have no doubt the Wellesley police are capable and working very hard, but at the very least, the driver left the scene of an accident. Since when is “not knowing” a credible excuse for a hit and run? Seems ridiculous! Further still, if both vehicles were traveling in the same direction as has been stated, how complicated can it be? Cyclists aren’t always perfect, but the fact is there have been numerous auto/cyclist accidents in Massachusetts and elsewhere involving drivers overtaking cyclists and hitting them from behind (incidents in Dover, MA in June and Foxboro, MA in August are recent examples). Unacceptable! Drivers, let’s start treating cyclists with a bit more respect and less anger, and please pass with care. A few seconds of impatience or imprudence and a decision to pass unsafely could change a cyclist’s (and your) life forever.

  • Peter

    Police should have already filed vehicular homicide charges.

    Investigating “whether or not it is possible the operator would or would not have been aware of contact being made” (Lt. Marie Cleary) only affects the felony hit-and-run charge. And if they conclude that the driver wasn’t aware, it would only increase the degree of negligence in the vehicular homicide charge.

    Negligence is defined in relation to the situation: if you are driving a 18-wheel dump trailer truck (potentially capable of killing people along the way without you even noticing it) on a narrow residential street, anything less than driving extremely slowly, extremely cautiously, and extremely aware, is negligence.

    And if you pass a cyclist (police have the video, so they know who entered the road first), in these circumstances (we can just imagine the width of the truck compared to the lane’s width) it is gross negligence.

    Therefore, the vehicular homicide (manslaughter) charge should have been filed immediately as soon as the driver was identified.

  • dulles

    I dunno why my last post disappeared from this site. From having seen vehicular homocides progress here in neighboring Newton, it takes police time to gather and compile all the evidence, and to make sure they have all possible witnesses come forward. The point is to build as solid a case as possible, and only then does the prosecutor to file a comprehensive list of charges based on the findings.

    It’s painfully slow for those seeking justice. But it’s better to be slow and methodical, and have an ironbound conviction by the time the case heads to court, rather than risk missing some critical details.

    Elsewhere, an officer stated that it’s possible the vehicle’s driver may not have noticed the accident. Cynically I think that officer was just avoiding appearance of bias, to not give a possible defense any fodder. If the officer had said “the driver’s obviously lying and guilty as sin,” that would’ve hurt the prosecutor’s case. Better yet, the officer shouldn’t have said anything.