Legal issues remain after cyclist dies

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Cycling, rowing and wakeboarding were things he loved, but Anna was the apple of his eye.

Matthew Burke  special
special
Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke and his wife, Bonnie, looked forward to watching Anna grow up together. Before she turned 1, though, the couple's dream was cut short when he died Sunday evening from injuries suffered in an Oct. 1 bicycling incident.

"It's profoundly sad to lose someone that young," said Randy DuTeau, a cyclist. "He and Bonnie were doing everything right. It's just unfathomable that he's gone."

The 38-year-old orthopedic surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center met with about 15 cycling buddies at Outspokin' Bicycles early that evening for a traditional night out.

An SUV driven by Daniel Johnson, 41, of Beech Island, hit five of the cyclists about 6:40 p.m. while they traveled on Beech Island Avenue. Johnson told the South Carolina Highway Patrol he had reached down for something and didn't see the cyclists, all of whom were wearing helmets and reflective gear.

Burke was taken to the hospital with severe head trauma. The others had minor injuries.

DuTeau had opted out of the ride that night to celebrate his anniversary with his wife. When the group called and told him the news, he said, he was devastated.

Burke had been back from Iraq about a year at the time of the accident.

"I think the one thing people need to realize is that he's more than a cyclist," said John Phelan, a friend and cyclist. "He's a husband, father, soldier, doctor, friend.

"I think at this point, people should stop focusing on who was wrong and who was right and just focus on the loss."

The case is still open. Charges have not been filed against Johnson, says the Highway Patrol. Paul Burke, the victim's brother, said in an e-mail Monday evening that "we expect that Solicitor Strom Thumond Jr. will pursue criminal charges against the driver who bears sole responsibility for this tragedy."

Brett Ardrey, the owner of Outspokin', said it has been difficult for cyclists since the accident. Many, he said, are scared to get back on the roads.

The Friday ride was a time for the cycling community to come together and catch up, Phelan said. Some of that joy has been lost.

"It's been very difficult to get back on the road," he said. "You always think, 'That could have been me.' "

Ardrey said the accident has brought more awareness and safety issues to the table. He said that as the media reported the story, he learned some of the feelings motorists have against cyclists. He hopes that in the future, the two groups can learn to work together.

"I'm not in the business of law," DuTeau said, "but I can only hope that the charges will match the seriousness of what happened. There are still a lot of unanswered questions as to why it happened."

Funeral arrangements have not yet been confirmed.

Comments (79) Add comment
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bettyboop
7
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bettyboop 02/07/11 - 06:13 pm
0
0
...

...

the_source
0
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the_source 02/07/11 - 06:27 pm
0
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Why were there no charges?

Why were there no charges? Even a traffic ticket? 1 promising career and person dead, 4 others injured, and not even a traffic ticket?

nchawk
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nchawk 02/07/11 - 06:55 pm
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@the_source: You can follow

@the_source: You can follow up on that, please contact the solicitor's office and let them know that you support some movement on this case:

SECOND CIRCUIT - Aiken, Bamberg, Barnwell
J. Strom Thurmond, Jr.
Post Office Drawer 3368
Aiken, South Carolina 29802
Office Telephone: 803-642-1557
Fax# 803-642-7530

wildman
1142
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wildman 02/07/11 - 07:16 pm
0
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I know it will be said a

I know it will be said a thousand times but I will say it again, God Bless this family. I know nothing about riding bikes on the road other than I always slow down and make sure it's safe to pass.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 02/07/11 - 07:27 pm
0
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God Bless Dr. Burke's Soul.
Unpublished

God Bless Dr. Burke's Soul.

burninater
9627
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burninater 02/07/11 - 07:31 pm
0
0
"Johnson told investigators

"Johnson told investigators he was reaching for something and didn't see the bicyclists until he struck five of them."

By some perverse twist of SC law, it looks like vehicular manslaughter can only be charged if the driver is unlicensed or uninsured. Someone correct me if that's wrong, but that's how it appears the statute is written.

However, if he really admitted to this, he should now be facing charges of involuntary manslaughter.

the_source
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the_source 02/07/11 - 07:34 pm
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@nchawk: Thank you for the

@nchawk:
Thank you for the information. Absolutely I'll follow up. People have to realize that bicyclists have every right to the roads as drivers of any other vehicles.

TripleBlack
0
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TripleBlack 02/07/11 - 07:38 pm
0
0
Seriously? No charges? That's

Seriously? No charges? That's just wrong.

dani
12
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dani 02/07/11 - 11:49 pm
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At least two traffic lanes

At least two traffic lanes and no room to pass?....

I am so sorry for all involved.

scoobynews
3855
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scoobynews 02/07/11 - 07:49 pm
0
0
That poor family. God be

That poor family. God be with them after months of this heartache only to end in his passing. I really believe this guy should have been charged this is just heartbreaking because if I remember correctly he had a wife and young child. How awful!

bobynes
0
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bobynes 02/07/11 - 07:50 pm
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I worked with Dr. Burke when

I worked with Dr. Burke when he rotated as a Resident with Dr. W. Gibson at MCG-CMC he was an awesome doctor and a wonderful person. People please be careful and more aware of your surroundings this is such a terrible loss. May God bless him and my prayers are with his family.

Iamrightyouarewrong
0
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Iamrightyouarewrong 02/07/11 - 07:51 pm
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As a friend of a member of

As a friend of a member of that riding group I have seen the pain it has caused to not only his family but his friends as well. My deepest prayers to his wife and children to give them strength during this time. Having driven on that stretch of road several times since the accident, I wonder to myself every time HOW in the world did he not see the group ahead? The road is straight and flat there and ANY driver would have to see them up ahead. I have to believe that this was an intentional "buzzing" incident that went tragically wrong. There is no other explanation. I sincerely hope the prosecutor moves forward with charges in this case.

Gpoulter
0
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Gpoulter 02/08/11 - 01:00 am
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Mr. Johnson, Here is my

Mr. Johnson,

Here is my question: What will you do to make up for this loss to all of us? Will you devote your life to the service of others in medicine? Will you volunteer with children to help pay back the loss that one little girl does not have a father? Will you join the military to pay back the government for the highly trained soldier/surgeon you took from them? Will you be a caring and supportive spouse to your family? Will you be a friend to everyone you meet, to make up for the loss of a man who was a friend to many? You are here, and Matt Burke is now gone. I think you should step up to the plate and spend the rest of your life trying to fill the void you created by your actions in October.

rjv
0
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rjv 02/07/11 - 08:13 pm
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THIS DRIVER IS RESPONSIBLE !

THIS DRIVER IS RESPONSIBLE ! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT SOUTH CAROLINA !!!!!!!

Name Not Important
0
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Name Not Important 02/07/11 - 08:14 pm
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My condolences to Mr. Burke's

My condolences to Mr. Burke's family and friends. Also to Mr. Johnson I'm sure you are sorry and I'm sure this weighs on you more than the people here condemning you realize. Stay strong. All families involved stay strong.

storiesihaveread
358
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storiesihaveread 02/07/11 - 08:43 pm
0
0
Prayers to the family as they

Prayers to the family as they try to get past this pain in their hearts!!

the_source
0
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the_source 02/07/11 - 08:49 pm
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Pardon my ignorance but what

Pardon my ignorance but what is a "buzzing" incident?

storiesihaveread
358
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storiesihaveread 02/07/11 - 09:34 pm
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As I keep in mind how tragic

As I keep in mind how tragic this is. I have to chime in and say a few words. 1st of all I have never heard the word buzzing until I read the comments posted on here. 2nd about 2 weeks ago at the light at Jones Street at 13th by Weeks transmission I got the green light to turn left. All of a sudden I see a man on a bike. I blew my horn and he turns around and flips me off. He then procedes to follow me to the light at Renolds and 13th street and starts yelling and cussing at me. I am going whoa I had the green light you had the red light. I said the hell with this and drove off. So to all you bike riders you really need to pay attention to the lights and cars around you also.

RogueKnight
220
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RogueKnight 02/07/11 - 09:19 pm
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This is beyond sad.

This is beyond sad.

nofrills
0
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nofrills 02/07/11 - 09:36 pm
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My prayers for the family

My prayers for the family

reba530
65
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reba530 02/07/11 - 09:44 pm
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This is so sad. May God bless
Unpublished

This is so sad. May God bless his famiiy

augusta citizen
9474
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augusta citizen 02/07/11 - 09:45 pm
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This is such a tragedy. A

This is such a tragedy. A young man with a wife and baby, so very sad. I had started to worry that his injuries were very bad with so much time passing since the incident occured and not many updates on his condition. His family will continue to be in my prayers.

markallenshells
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markallenshells 02/07/11 - 09:52 pm
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@storiesihaveread: While you

@storiesihaveread: While you are correct that cyclist need to be more careful, it was not a cyclist that caused this death, or any other deaths. It was a bad driver, reaching down for something while he was driving down a two lane road at over 50mph. Matt will never ride again, his family will never see him again. All because a bad driver could not wait till he was stopped to pick up some meaningless item that would have still been there when he pulled into his drive and it could have waited...you get it? BAD DRIVERS KILL PEOPLE. while the middle finger was rude, you my friend are unhurt. God bless Matt Burke and his family. I am truly sorry for their loss.

Bandaid_man
0
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Bandaid_man 02/07/11 - 09:54 pm
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Having known Dr. Burke since

Having known Dr. Burke since He was a new resident, and having been one of his patients, the Medical Profession has lost a brilliant surgeon and friend. My condolences go out to His Family and all of his co-workers. May God Bless and Keep Him and his family in His loving hands.
May the South Carolina Legal system do what is right and just in this case. The driver's failure to concentrate on what his primary responsibility when behind the wheel, has cost a family their Husband and Father and a plethora of patients will never have the advantage of his knowledge and ability

Iamacyclist
0
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Iamacyclist 02/07/11 - 10:30 pm
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I still agree with

I still agree with 'Iamrightyouarewrong' and I still dont agree with ''Name Not Important',

My thoughts and prayers with Dr Burke's family.

TheArmyWife
0
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TheArmyWife 02/07/11 - 10:40 pm
0
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Matt is resting in heaven, I

Matt is resting in heaven, I am forever grateful for his dedicated service to our country. His dear family has endured this difficult time with admirable strength and grace, we can all honor Matt by doing the same.

Beattybugs
426
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Beattybugs 02/07/11 - 10:43 pm
0
0
I am both ashamed and

I am both ashamed and frightened that I live in South Carolina.
How could no charges have been filed in such a clear case of, at the very least, negligent driving???
What's up with the South Carolina police, and/or prosecutor???

markallenshells
0
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markallenshells 02/07/11 - 10:52 pm
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@name not important: I am

@name not important: I am sure Mr. Johnson feels terrible, he should. He took a life because he felt it was more important to pick up his phone, or mail, or, whatever, than it was to keep from killing Matt Burke. Sorry, no mercy or sympathy is deserved...you might feel different if it was your son. I am sure you would not be quite so understanding. Hope your family is safe from bad drivers like Mr. Johnson, I wish we all were.

agustinian
689
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agustinian 02/07/11 - 10:53 pm
0
0
Mr. Thurmond --HAVE YOU NO

Mr. Thurmond --HAVE YOU NO SHAME? Either charge the driver; or stand up and tell everyone why NOTHING should be done! If it is the latter, I will work tirelessly to make sure this is your last term.

markallenshells
0
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markallenshells 02/07/11 - 10:57 pm
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The Army Wife is certainly

The Army Wife is certainly right, I acknowledge her thoughts as being in the best interest of the family. I am going to use my anger to try and get more bad drivers off the road, as many as I can, for the rest of my life. Matt, rest in Peace knowing that you are loved, that is Heaven.

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