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.

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Iamrightyouarewrong
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Iamrightyouarewrong 02/07/11 - 11:02 pm
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"Buzzing" is an intentional

"Buzzing" is an intentional move by a driver to intimidate a bicyclist by driving past at an extremely close distance. It happens all the time by arrogant drivers who feel that THEY have an exclusive right to use the road. This time it went wrong and now a wonderful surgeon is dead, a wife is a widow and two very young children will never know their father. This road is straight and there is NO WAY this driver could not have seen a large group of bicyclists ahead of him. My friend says he heard a car accelerate just before Matt was struck from behind and knocked ahead of the group, landing face first on the road after bouncing off the hood and windshield of the SUV.

Greg Burlingame
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Greg Burlingame 02/07/11 - 11:08 pm
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http:www.scstatehouse.gov/cod

http:www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t56c005.htm
section 56-5-290 and those after.
Really storiesihaveheard, how does your story relate to vehicles ramming bicycles from behind and killing people?

angryatdrivers
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angryatdrivers 02/07/11 - 11:28 pm
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What is this world coming to?

What is this world coming to? I am a vehicle driver and my husband is a motorcyclist, he is very cautious as am I around cyclists and motorcycles. Especially after hearing my husbands near accident stories because people are texting or on their cell phones or just rude drivers, who blatanly break the laws of the road. This man needs to be charged with something, he was negligent. I am pushing for new laws to be passed to make it harder on negligent drivers. A negligent driver hit my vehicle last year while I was taking my kids to school, he wasn't even ticketed. I am also thinking the police are being lazy not giving tickets.

Cadence
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Cadence 02/07/11 - 11:41 pm
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I am very, very sorry for

I am very, very sorry for this loss. It seems that the family has a lot of friends and loved ones and I hope that will give them some comfort during this. I'm not going to talk about the car vs. bike issue here. I believe that is in bad taste. Perhaps someone will do a letter to the ed. or make a thread in the discussion forums as a more appropriate place to talk about it. Again, my condolences to the family.

usapatriot
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usapatriot 02/08/11 - 02:41 am
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I'm retired Army. I feel

I'm retired Army. I feel this loss.

That said, bicyclists, if you want to be safe, stay off the roads. You're fighting a losing fight. I've read all the posts here and a dozen threads before. You can't win. Battling the public sentiment is at your own risk.

There are places to ride away from traffic. Forget the "rights". "rights" don't always equal safety, does it?

Chose your battles wisely for what you want, but you can't fight vehicles with your bicycle. Until utopia comes and bike lanes are everywhere, keep off the well traveled vehicle routes. The USA is not bike friendly.

You think bicycling is a problem, talk to the motorcycling folks. I had one for a year and was smart enough to get off it.

Your claims for equality do not come close to anyone's "immediacy" radar.

runnermom
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runnermom 02/08/11 - 06:28 am
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My thoughts are with Matt and

My thoughts are with Matt and his family during this difficult time.So, so sad....

Chief Nocahoma
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Chief Nocahoma 02/08/11 - 06:30 am
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God Bless Dr Burke and his

God Bless Dr Burke and his family. I am so sorry for your loss. This is a tragic ending to a bright light among us. Dr Burke was a fine man whose family, friends and country will miss dearly. I pray the pleasant memories of Dr Burke's life sustain his family and friends through this sad ending. God Bless.

xrev
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xrev 02/08/11 - 09:01 am
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All of you "perfect" drivers

All of you "perfect" drivers who have never taken your eyes off the road or been distracted or never had a ticket or never been in an accident caused by you, or ran a light or a stop sign or changed lanes and almost hit someone.... This could have been you who hit this poor guy. So quit trying to make someone who made a mistake (albeit a tragic mistake) out to be a monster. I HATE the loss of this guys life. But I also hate what the driver is going through. And it could have been any of you holier than thou drivers.

scgator
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scgator 02/08/11 - 10:45 am
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The loss of this talented

The loss of this talented doctor is indeed a tragedy; and I am not trying to "cast stones" at either side. However, I really do not agree with most of the posts I have read. I recently moved from the Beech Island area (after living there for almost 12 years), and one of the contributing factors were the bicycle riders. Like any other group of people with a common interest, most are respectful, and law abiding. But on many occasions, I and others like me, have been stuck behind bicyclists who are riding 4 an 5 abreast and will not move to single file so that auto traffic ca SAFELY pass them. How would you like to be going to work and stuck behind someone traveling less than 10 mph that will not let you pass safely. If you were in a car, that would be "impeding traffic flow" and you could be ticketed for it by the local police. If you really want your equal rights on the road with a bicycle, let's start legislation for it and REQUIRE full coverage insurance, license plates, and all required safety equipment; and let's not forget a state endorsed bicycle operator's safety course. I know this all sounds moronic, and it is; but so is riding a vehicle that will only go (on average) 10 mph and putting yourself in 35-45 mph traffic. It is not that I don't like bicycles, I do. When I moved here from Florida, I owned two cars, but rode my Raliegh almost 90% of the time. When I got to Georgia / South Carolina..I told myself NO-WAY !

I surely agree that the bicycle riders have the right and should have the freedom to also use the roads that all of our taxpayer dollars pay for. But, I think all of this garbage from both side is way out of hand. The bicycle side wants to "crucify" the auto driver, and some of those commenting from the driver's side, seem to think bicycling is a "child's thing" and shouldn't be tolerated. BOTH SIDES should get over it. PLEASE, I am not downplaying the results of this great tragedy, however BOTH sides are wrong. BOTH sides show fault, and BOTH sides suffer.

I really can see the joy of long bicycle rides in the rural areas; it's a ball, when i lived in Florida, it was not unusual for me to ride 25-30 miles a day........but I lived in a college town, and the local motorists were used to seeing and sharing the road with bike riders; that is not the case here, but that is not to say it couldn't be. And for the subject of "buzzing" the bike riders, as I said before, I lived in Beech Island for 12 years on one of the bike paths and have on several occasion heard comments from the middle and near the end of the group of riders, such things as ......" Like ****, I 've got a right to this road too, I 'm not moving over" ; or "tough ****". I KNOW this attitude does not fit the majority of riders, but you too, have that element within your own ranks. Road rage, or better said road rage "attitude is not limited to only those who drive cars.

I close with this, yes it has been tragic, yes it will never be forgotten; but, it is time to move on. all of the complaining, griping and finger pointing will not bring this great doctor back, nor will it ease any pain, it will simply aggravate and infect the wounds of tragedy. It has been aid that time heals all wounds............don't forget this, but both sides need to heal from it. This is as neutral as I know how to be, my purpose was not to offend anyone, so please don't be.

Iamacyclist
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Iamacyclist 02/08/11 - 12:25 pm
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If it was just a mistake as

If it was just a mistake as screv stated, and if Dr. Burke, the four others hit, and the 10 others on the ride, were riding 5 abreast without proper safety equipment and experience, as scgator stated, I would agree with them. BTW, 10 mph is extremely slow for these experienced and gifted cyclists.

However, per the cyclists on the scene and in this particular incident, they were riding in accordance with the rules of the road; not 5 abreast.

Screv, is going at least 50 mph (per the witness in the following vehicle) in a 35 mph zone, whether distracted or not, a "mistake"?

This tragedy could and should have been avoided.

My thoughts and prayers to Dr. Burke's family.

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 11:52 am
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Why was my post deleted?

Why was my post deleted? What was so bad about it?

Sean Moores
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Sean Moores 02/08/11 - 11:56 am
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Name Not Important, Check

Name Not Important, Check your email please.

justice4u2
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justice4u2 02/08/11 - 12:09 pm
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Dr. Burke, My prayers &

Dr. Burke,
My prayers & condolences to Dr. Burke's family, friends, associates & collegues it has been a somber day hear at EAMC in the hearing of his passing. His signature smile & professionalism will sorely be missed. To Anna your dad is always with you.

justice4u2
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justice4u2 02/08/11 - 12:13 pm
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*scgator* nicely said

*scgator* nicely said

burninater
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burninater 02/08/11 - 12:36 pm
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xrev -- "All of you "perfect"

xrev -- "All of you "perfect" drivers who have never taken your eyes off the road or been distracted or never had a ticket or never been in an accident caused by you, or ran a light or a stop sign or changed lanes and almost hit someone.... This could have been you who hit this poor guy. "
--------------

Yes, it could have been, and if I did kill this man as a result of negligence behind the wheel, I should be facing vehicular manslaughter charges as we speak.

Sobering thought, isn't it? Something to keep in mind as we sit behind the wheel and are tempted to not pay attention, for even a moment. Lives and families are at stake whenever and wherever you are behind the wheel. If you cannot handle that type of responsibility, you have no business driving, and the state should have ZERO qualms about rescinding that privilege.

Not paying attention while driving is equivalent to shooting a gun in a public place without aiming. 9 out of 10 times you probably won't kill anyone, but you should never be allowed to own and handle a gun again. Period.

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 12:57 pm
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@ Mr. Moores okay gotcha...I

@ Mr. Moores okay gotcha...I was typing that at like 2 this morning...my bad on getting the names mixed up :-/

You people make wonderful Christians condemning Mr. Johnson. I'm not saying he needs to be coddled or anything like that. But I have to ask all of you condemning him how many of you have been driving and you looked down to change the radio? Or you got distracted by your children trying to tell you something? None of us are perfect or even perfect drivers. Get off your pedestal people and show compassion for all involved. I don't know Mr. Johnson but I bet he's racked with guilt over Mr. Burke's death(as he should and as I would be if I were in his place) and maybe he does deserve legal charges. But none of us are in any place to judge...

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Oh and let me be clear before all of you start saying "I've never lost anyone this way so I don't understand the anger and emotion behind it". You'd all be wrong. My best friend was murdered a couple of years ago. She was intentionally taken away by someone. I know what it's like to lose someone you love at the hand of another. As far as I can see Mr. Johnson didn't intentionally run Mr. Burke down and I seriously doubt he woke up that day thinking "Gee I think I'll get in my car and mow down some cyclists today" Yes it's sad. I feel for all families involved. But some of you are letting your emotions get the best of you. For a year after my friend's death I became a mean and bitter person. I hated the world. Then one day I suddenly realized me being mad at the world wasn't going to bring her back or change anything. It is easier to forgive then walk around with hate in your heart forever.

Hate is a very big, very hungry thing... with lots of sharp teeth. It will eat up your whole heart, and leave no room left for love if you allow it.

millersequine
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millersequine 02/08/11 - 01:00 pm
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This gentle giant repl. my

This gentle giant repl. my knee and was always there long after hours to check in on me. He loved people, and lived life to the fullest. He kept in shape which helped his surgical skills. Never an unkind word. Just back from Iraq was thrilled to start his family and Anna was the result...with a mother also in Medical....this was one of a kind....and a hard loss not only on his family but the community. May you ride among the clouds without safety issues Matt....thank you for our brief encounter which has touched my life.....God Bless.....Carolyn

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/08/11 - 01:12 pm
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Name Not Important.....I

Name Not Important.....I thought this the first time you posted it and again in your last post. What gives you the impression that the people positng are Christians.....I do not believe anyone here has stated what their religious beliefs area. Why is it that this statement is always used!!! "You people make wonderful Christians condemning".... You never hear "you people make wonderful Atheist condemning", or "you people make wonderful Buddist condemning.." or "you people make wonderful Scientologist condeming...".

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 01:26 pm
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Well from what I get from

Well from what I get from reading posts around here is most of you are conservative Christians. Besides I thought Jesus said to love everyone?

the_source
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the_source 02/08/11 - 01:34 pm
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Sorry for repeat. Computer

Sorry for repeat. Computer hiccupped.

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 01:50 pm
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The_source this was NOT

The_source this was NOT INTENTIONAL. I'm sure Mr. Johnson did not wake up that morning saying "I'm gonna get in my car and mow down some people". There is a difference. We've all been distracted while driving and one point or another. Some of the people who call themselves "the best drivers" have undoubtedly been distracted while driving. This could've easily happened to you or me. It should be a good lesson for all of us to pay more attention when we're driving because all it takes is a few seconds to change your life and someone elses. Get off your high horse. I'm in no place to judge and neither are the rest of us. I wish I could be a fly on the wall for all of you ready to lynch Mr. Johnson when you're driving. I'm sure you're not perfect either.

markallenshells
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markallenshells 02/08/11 - 01:56 pm
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Hate? This is not even close

Hate? This is not even close to being about hate, or religion, it's about bad drivers. Not merley "imperfect" drivers, but drivers that really go the extra mile to make other day worse than it needs to be. Sometimes much worse.
If I hate anything its the attitude that much of America portrays, needless killing on the roads, sugar coated and called "Accidents" it was no accident that he chose to take his eyes off the road completely, it was a real bad thing to do. Like I said before, what if it were your loved one? It might have been someone just getting his mail! it's not about the bike, its about bad drivers and how many of them there are..getting distracted by something out of your control happens all the time, but CHOOSING to look away is totally different. it's about thousands of lives lost at their hands, millions injured. And for you that think cyclist should share in the paying for this killing, you need to put that away! we do not cause the damage, and we already pay for it, at least as much as you do. Quit making excuses for bad driving and open your eyes!

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 02:54 pm
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"People need to stop talking

"People need to stop talking about things they know nothing about. "

Same goes for all of you ready to crucify Mr. Johnson and no I do not know him personally. And yes I do know what it's like to lose a loved one because of someone else. My best friend was murdered. You know what they say about assumptions right? Also like I said from what I've read and seen about this case since the beginning Mr. Johnson did not wake up ready to go mow down anyone with his car. This was a tragic accident. I agree he needs to be charged with negligent driving or something of the sort. But I don't agree with everyone ready to crucify him either. It's so easy to sit back and judge anonymously behind your PC screen isn't it?

the_source
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the_source 02/08/11 - 03:14 pm
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Name Not Important said "It's

Name Not Important said "It's so easy to sit back and judge anonymously behind your PC screen isn't it?"

Wow. Your parents were very creative when they had "Name Not Important" printed on your birth certificate. Hypocrisy? MOST un-Christian-like. Doesn't the Bible say that Jesus hates hypocrites?

truthful777
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truthful777 02/08/11 - 03:16 pm
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Look who's calling the kettle

Look who's calling the kettle black, "NAME NOT IMPORTANT"

the_source
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the_source 02/08/11 - 03:33 pm
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Gee, I wonder why The Augusta

Gee, I wonder why The Augusta Chronicle deleted my previous post pointing out my experiences with "Christians" (church preachers and a minister) who ripped off me and my friends. Could it be because there is a bias here? I was only responding to the "Christian teachings" of someone here. Lookss like a religious bias to me.

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 03:51 pm
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Here is my facebook:

Here is my facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JesusSavesAtCitibank

I'm not hiding who I am. Also I'm not a Christian either. I've just noticed from reading the comments on other articles most people bring up Christ. Especially when gay rights are concerned or some other thing "against Christ" that you all are trying to ban because you have the deluded mindset that we are a Christian theocracy. I'm merely pointing out your own gospel to you. Judge not lest ye be judged.

truthful777
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truthful777 02/08/11 - 03:54 pm
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Don't feel bad,

Don't feel bad, the_source...mine was deleted too. There is a certain someone that likes to flag the posts they don't like as abusive. I think we all know who that someone is. I only pointed out that "Name not important" didn't know what Mr. Johnson was thinking or saying when he woke up the day of this tradgedy and to offer my condolences to the Burke family. I guess we have to consider the source.

truthful777
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truthful777 02/08/11 - 04:04 pm
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I think there is a difference

I think there is a difference in losing a best friend and losing your husband, father, brother, and son.

Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/08/11 - 04:27 pm
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Truthful don't tell me their

Truthful don't tell me their is a difference between losses. A loss is a loss. I'm merely saying I know what it's like to lose someone because of someone else. Only difference was in my case and my friend's family case someone intentionally shot her through the chest without any remorse. Like I said I doubt Mr. Johnson got in his car that day ready to mow anyone down.

Also I never said he shouldn't be legally punished but I'm not ready to go out and crucify him either. It was an ACCIDENT he did not go out and intentionally kill anyone like Manson or any other killer you mention. There is a difference. You're acting as if you've never made one mistake while driving. All I'm saying is it could've easily been you or me who looked away for a split second. None of us are perfect. I'm not and neither are you. Quit acting like your God's gift to drivers...

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