Driver gets bond in cyclist's death

Lawyer: Man's only record is one of service

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AIKEN --- Daniel Johnson shuffled into the small courtroom Wednesday, eyes focused on the floor, then on Magistrate Bond Judge Danny Lynn.

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Daniel Johnson (right) walks into a courtroom for a bond hearing Wednesday at the Aiken County Bond Court. Johnson was arrested Tuesday and charged with reckless homicide in an October crash that killed a bicyclist.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Daniel Johnson (right) walks into a courtroom for a bond hearing Wednesday at the Aiken County Bond Court. Johnson was arrested Tuesday and charged with reckless homicide in an October crash that killed a bicyclist.

He listened in silence as attorney Jim Huff argued why he should be released on his own recognizance for reckless homicide. Johnson is charged in the Oct. 1 wreck that killed a bicyclist, Dr. Matthew Burke, on Beech Island Avenue.

Johnson, 41, has lived in the county 31 years. He's a Sunday school teacher. He coaches the church's volleyball team. He's a former EMT who works for Aiken County Emergency Management.

"His whole life has been to serve the county," Huff said.

Lynn considered Johnson's background and lack of a criminal record in setting a bond of $50,000. As conditions of the bond, Johnson cannot make contact with the family of Burke, either personally or through a third party.

Johnson surrendered Tuesday night at the Aiken County Detention Center after a warrant was issued for a charge of reckless homicide.

Johnson, who lives in the 400 block of Beech Island Avenue, struck five cyclists with his Dodge Durango about 6:40 p.m. four months ago. Burke, 38, was critically injured and died Sunday evening.

The arrest warrant says that the group of about 15 cyclists was "legally in the roadway" and that Johnson's driving was "grossly negligent which caused the death of Mr. Matthew Burke."

On Wednesday, Huff called the incident "a very sad accident."

The South Carolina Highway Patrol finished its investigation "several weeks ago," 2nd Circuit Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. said Wednesday.

Thurmond said a charge of reckless driving was possible, but if Johnson pleaded guilty or was convicted of the charge, it would have made it much harder to press the current charge of reckless homicide.

"A double jeopardy argument could have been made," said Thurmond, referring to the constitutional amendment that protects citizens from being charged with the same crime twice.

He said his office was "certainly hoping" Burke would recover, but added, "It's illogical to serve a warrant for reckless homicide if the victim is still alive."

Asked about a reckless driving charge for the four other cyclists injured, Thurmond said that was a decision to be made on the magistrate level.

Sid Gaulden, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, didn't have an immediate answer Wednesday about the potential for other charges.

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censorshipiswrong
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censorshipiswrong 02/10/11 - 08:53 pm
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Orinda8, Were you a witness

Orinda8, Were you a witness at the crash scene? your right the truth will come out. video is on hand.

censorshipiswrong
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censorshipiswrong 02/10/11 - 08:55 pm
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And i see no one else is

And i see no one else is willing to pledge to drive and ride more safely...
i guessed as much, my pledge still stands.

Who I am
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Who I am 02/10/11 - 09:52 pm
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I would hope that most, if

I would hope that most, if not all of the people writing in are Christians. Then as a Christian why is there so much hatred ? Was Mr. Burke the type of person that would want this ? What happened to "innocent until proven guilty" ? Let the court system do their job and as Christians let's do ours. Pray for everyone involved.

censorshipiswrong
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censorshipiswrong 02/10/11 - 10:20 pm
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Andikiros: The video will

Andikiros: The video will show several bikes laying down with reflectors and lights still flashing..since you have never seen one of those lights I thought I would point it out for you so you dont miss it when the video is shown.

Physics, do you ever contemplate chaos theory? really fits this scenario better than physics.

I have ridden up that hill many times, I have never seen any of the riders more than two abreast, with the exception of when a rider who climbs at a faster speed passes a slower rider (me) other than that always two or less. The reason we ride two abreast is to make the overall group tighter and shorter, attempting to make shorter work for cars that need to pass, the line of cyclist would be twice as long otherwise.

I rarely see more than a couple cars and I always move far to the right when i am aware of them. to far right is full of debris, you don't ride over there either for the same reason. Some riders may not move over as quickly as they may not hear you with the wind in their ears, or they themselves are looking to pass and find a place to "pull into" the group.

Anyway, I don't really know why I try to explain, I am sure you already know all this.

I also thought you might like to know that papers across the nation are picking up the story and that you may want to read them...they really seem to focus on some of the beech island resident post. You guys are going to be Infamous!

censorshipiswrong
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censorshipiswrong 02/10/11 - 10:31 pm
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The AJC Quotes: "The bike

The AJC Quotes: "The bike riders broke the law and this poor driver is paying the price. If I was on the jury working this case I could not find him guilty. No way in hell," one person wrote in an anonymous post on the website of The Augusta Chronicle. "I live in Beech Island and I love this place, I can understand why people want to ride here yet, I just can't bring myself to care about bike riders."

And you want to talk to us about hate....

snoopy
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snoopy 02/10/11 - 10:40 pm
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There are many comments that

There are many comments that imply that this accident was deliberate. But I'm not here to debate but only to let the truth be known. That the driver did not leave the scene and he did offer first aide.

censorshipiswrong
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censorshipiswrong 02/10/11 - 10:40 pm
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A little more from the Salt

A little more from the Salt lake Tribune: "All that ended when Daniel Johnson ran his Dodge Durango into the riders. On Tuesday, he was charged with reckless homicide in Burke’s death and was jailed. His bond was set at $50,000. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison."

"But one of the riders with Matt that day said she heard a loud rumble, like someone revving an engine, an instant before the collision. Four other riders were injured. " lets see, four, plus Matt = 5.

I guess they don't atune to the same physics mentioned above

censorshipiswrong
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censorshipiswrong 02/10/11 - 10:43 pm
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Per the investigation and the

Per the investigation and the video, he stayed because he was made to, but like i said, all that will be shown on the video, guess its a good thing it was given to the investigators instead of making it public, that would have really been a mess

TakeAHike
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TakeAHike 02/10/11 - 11:30 pm
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Andikiros, it is very clear

Andikiros, it is very clear you weren't there and you don't have the facts. The reason why there weren't more killed is because the rest of us were riding a few inches farther to the right of the road. After Johnson launched Matt, he side-swiped my friends behind me and grazed me with the dangling passenger side mirror. If Johnson's mirror hadn't been broken off on one of my friends behind me, then it would have hit me hard and taken out more people in front of me. Furthermore, in a side-swipe you don't take the full on force, thus our blows were a much smaller fraction than what Matt was dealt. How's that for physics? Do you need me to do the math? True there were several of us present who hold doctorates but Matt was the only physician there. A PhD, JD, etc., is completely useless in a medical emergency. Often there is another MD, an EMT, a nurse and a fireman on that ride. The EMT who was administering aid before the dispatched EMTs arrived was called by an eyewitness. Since he lives nearby he was at the scene in minutes.

People, I know that anyone could make a mistake and I would not want to see anyone unduly prosecuted. Regardless of what happens going forward, nothing is bringing our friend back. However the facts in the investigation which I also saw firsthand don't point to the conclusion of an innocent error that could have been done by anyone. I truly wish that weren't the case even if a different cause had resulted in the same outcome.

ABCDEFG
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ABCDEFG 02/10/11 - 11:39 pm
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Beech island are you really

Beech island are you really proud now?

Iamrightyouarewrong
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Iamrightyouarewrong 02/11/11 - 12:43 am
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I'm not sure where the poster

I'm not sure where the poster got the information that there were two other doctors in the group and that one man dropped his head on the asphalt. I am good friends with the man who held Dr Burke and even picked his teeth up off of the roadway. They did use a bottle of water to wash some of the blood from his face and worked to make it easier for him to breath as his face hit the pavement like a rag-doll at about 40 mph. Mr Johnson DID NOT administer first aid to Dr Burke. He was held back by other riders. SC failed to administer a blood alcohol test at the scene or after the accident and why they did not will never be known, however two of the riders who held him back did NOT smell alcohol on his breath. He claims that he was reaching for his sunglasses and was distracted, however at that the time of the accident he was traveling AWAY from the sun and was less than a mile from his home. Like Judge Judy says "if it doesn't make sense then it probably isn't true". The driver and God are the only ones that know the truth now. Hopefully it will come out in his trial. My prayers to the family of Dr Burke.

elvis1
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elvis1 02/11/11 - 01:01 am
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I am a retired cyclist. I've

I am a retired cyclist. I've been bullied off the road. I've been hit, t-boned, buzzed, had trash/cigarettes flicked at me, screamed at, honked at. I realized, right or wrong...in a confrontation I lose. When my truck broke down, thought I'd pick up the bike and ride to work for a couple days. Down route 19, 4 lanes, plenty wide. Still cars would pass at 60 mph 6 inches away with the passing lane open...repeatedly. What a shame. If I could ride to work, save my family 100 bucks a month in gas etc. Imagine if America could fight it's obesity problem by commuting with carbs instead of the carbon that we have to fight the middle east over. I'm off the road. Paying to use a treadmill while we watch TV. I hope this conversation can continue. There is room for all of us. No one is in that much of a hurry to not proceed safely. A sedentary life-style is not what humans are built for. Health requires activity. I understand that hunting is also a natural instinct. I respect hunters rights even though it keeps me and my dogs out of the woods for parts of the season. It is a compromise I am happy to make in respect of peoples rights. Please respect our rights and help make the roads safe for all of us....I apologize to the Burke family for participating in such a divisive debate. How horribly tragic. Lets not become further entrenched but in respect for the tragedy, find common ground.

WW1949
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WW1949 02/11/11 - 01:13 am
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Too many people making

Too many people making statements that they know nothing about. It was a tragic accident.

ABCDEFG
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ABCDEFG 02/11/11 - 08:33 am
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Ww1949, some poster above was

Ww1949, some poster above was actually hit by Mr Johnson; she knows; recall know it was not a mere accident; neither as far as we know was it murder ( unless Johnson fesses up).

The dude was speeding and not looking at the road at a minimum. Therefore, some sort of law breaking and negligence took place. The one poster has been tormented by this alleged crime for months; these felony charges have gave her a slight peace but she can never get her cycling friend Matt back.

May god bless Dr Burke and his family.

She stated that Matt would want the uneducated motorists to learn from this; we don't need another Beech Island tragedy where total disregard for cyclists rights and safety occurred.

We cyclists in the community appreciate all of Paul Burke's legal efforts; for his brother Matt and the safety of the rest of us.

gailkaitschuck
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gailkaitschuck 02/11/11 - 09:56 am
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Dr. Burkes obituary is in

Dr. Burkes obituary is in todays paper.

Read it.

Folks who post comments to the Chronicle should be made to use their real names. The number of asinine postings would drop considerably.

Gail

cyclingman1
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cyclingman1 02/11/11 - 10:11 am
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For so many drivers, the mere

For so many drivers, the mere sight of a bicyclist angers them. Some try intimidating tactics: usually driving close at a high rate of speed. As a forty year cyclist, it does the job: it does frighten. But I still ride. I've been lucky thus far.

I strongly suspect that the driver in this case is one of those persons. The speed up just before impact so indicates. A driver concerned with safety slows down -does not speed up. In this case luck ran out for him and for the doctor. The guy misjudged and he killed someone.

Usually people like that are unwilling to admit to themselves or to others their anger and their danger to others. Occasionaly law enforcement stops these people before they kill - but that is very iffy. Sadly, angry people invariably have to inflict harm before they are found out. It will be interesting to see if this person has the capacity to admit to his hostility and try to make amends. It is most doubtful. And I dare say, his predicament will not sway the many drivers out there who think and act just like him. God, help us all.

tjones1
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tjones1 02/11/11 - 10:17 am
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I received an email respose

I received an email respose to one of my posts yesterday and thought I would publically post my response as an apology, and a lesson to us all to be careful what we say. Im sure we all are just venting, but words can be inflamatory. We all should take a step back, several lives are at stake here. One already gone and by no means, by defending Mr. Johnson does anyone think he deserved to die or be hurt in any way.

I wanted to let you know I appreciate your response, at least the first
part. It certainly has given me something to think about. Its obvious
that other drivers have not given you the respect that we should all
give each other, and it was not my intention to do that either so for
that I apologize. I would never intentionally come even close to a
cyclist. it honestly makes me very uncomfortable to pass some one. So
again I apologize for making you feel worse, and I will continue to
pray for all the cyclist safety , the Burke family and also for the
Johnson family and also cooler heads all around so none of us including
myself don't loose sight of the issue.
Take care and God Bless

elvis1
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elvis1 02/11/11 - 10:29 am
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Why do we keep talking about

Why do we keep talking about taxes? One does not buy rights with taxes. They are called rights because they are based on 'what is the right thing to do'. What is fair. I don't have kids in schools, need medicare or social security. I pay knowing it is the right thing to do. The guy that says he's going to drive his lawn mower down the road...like it's the most absurd thing in the world. Plenty of tractors go down all kinds of roads. Make way, because they have a right to be there.

tjones1
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tjones1 02/11/11 - 10:47 am
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One last note, the lawnmower

One last note, the lawnmower comment was just trying to make a point. Ill be glad to retract it. Obviously it didn't make the right one.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 10:57 am
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Seems to me

Seems to me censorshipiswrong, you have a very serious anger problem....and just so you know, no one made a comment concerning your "pledge" because the comments on this sight were suspended until some time this morning. Get over it.

You might have a right to be passionate about cyclist safety on the road but you (sir/madame) are rude. I've gone back and read some of the comments because I was looking for the posting on your pledge and could not believe how ugly your postings are.

Do you seriously believe that any information a private investigator hired by the deceased brother is going to be unbiased. Of course he's going to gather anything and everything that might remotely look like Mr. Johnson is guilty.

My prayers are for both families involved and for the other injured cyclist. I do hope people find peace and let go of this anger...I have no problem with justice being served but this is more like a vigilante.

the_source
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the_source 02/11/11 - 01:08 pm
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cyclingman1 said "For so many

cyclingman1 said "For so many drivers, the mere sight of a bicyclist angers them."

I've embarrassingly felt road rage at times towards drivers of other vehicles such as cars as big as mine and bigger, but never towards bicyclists, pedestrians, moped/motorcycle riders, etc., and am actually afraid to get too close to them. What kind of person would feel angry enough to "buzz" them? What sick mind would try to scare unprotected people with a weapon like a car, SUV, or truck?

stairway2nowhere
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stairway2nowhere 02/11/11 - 02:46 pm
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he did not run from the scen

he did not run from the scen that was ahit and run and the offenders name was ward...take time to read an article before you begin to comment

stairway2nowhere
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stairway2nowhere 02/11/11 - 02:55 pm
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wow do you really think 15

wow do you really think 15 cyclists were riding single file...you would be lying to yourself..... every single day night weekend i run into cyclists on old washington road tubman road and 221 and guess what EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY ARE SPREAD ACROSS THE ENTIRE LANE FROM WHITE LINE TO YELLOW LINE....he hit the five cyclists because they were probably bunched up in a cluster

stairway2nowhere
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stairway2nowhere 02/11/11 - 02:58 pm
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and wait a minute the brother

and wait a minute the brother hired and paid private investigators to present evidence on the families behalf...yeah im sure that evidence was one sided

stairway2nowhere
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stairway2nowhere 02/11/11 - 03:06 pm
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and taxes dont buy

and taxes dont buy rights.....really..... well dont pay your property taxes then see if you still have a right to live in a house you pay a mortgage on guess what it wont happen

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 09:46 pm
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nohopeforbi, well at least

nohopeforbi, well at least your last post seems a lot more civil. I understand your frustration and you may very well have a good cause for it. I don't know you, didn't know Dr. Burke, and don't know Mr. Johnson. Your post concerning danger only enters the picture when vehicles get on the road....what are you suggesting, that we all go back to walking or riding bikes? Can't go back to horse and buggy because that would be just as dangerous. What happens if a horse looses control and takes off...someone might get hurt.

If as you say, you have had things thrown at you, people nearly running you off the road, etc....why do you even ride in that area. Not every place is Beech Island, and not all bikers are as courteous as you are....

I really don't have a bone to pick here....just speaking an observation I got from reading your past post and you sir were not rational....there was a LOT of anger coming out in your post. Seems to me you have just as much anger towards automobile drivers as you seem to think Mr. Johnson has towards cyclist.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 10:14 pm
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Why should you ride

Why should you ride elsewhere....you're the one that said it's so dangerous. I don't know about you but I don't usually put myself in dangerous positions or places unless I have no choice.

I don't deny that there are some really bad drivers out there, I have to drive on the road with them, but you sir don't know me well enough to know if I am content with the world as it is. Where in the world did you get the idea that I don't think the world will ever change. You fight, I pray......you'd be correct in that evaulation, and I can guarantee you my prayer will do more good than your fight. You want peace, give prayer a try.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 11:04 pm
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nohopeforbi, I have no clue

nohopeforbi, I have no clue what you are talking about or accusing me of....talking about talking in circles and playing word games.

You said "I don't know what you want"...I don't want anything. I simply posted my comments on here like everyone else. As I said before I don't have a bone to pick in this. I don't ride bikes anymore and never did on major roads. Maybe my answers are simple because that's how I like life. I don't have time to play word games and just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I'm avoiding the point. I've never hit the "abuse" or reset button.....you've really lost me there. Are you accusing me of something and if so, be man enough to come right out and say it. I'm an honest person and I'll tell you straight up if I'm responsible. I'll also let you know if I disagree with you or not. As for a religious workout, my comments weren't an opening for a debate. It is my life and how I feel. There is no workout involved, it's my life. You don't like or agree, that's fine but you were the one talking about finding peace and prayer has worked for me, just giving you some friendly advice...take it or leave it..doesn't matter to me. And on a last note....I don't run and hide behind an alter....I knell before it...that's how I get things done. Fighting only leaves you with bloody fist and a sour attitude....look in the mirror and see if I'm wrong.

I am sorry you have lost a friend, I'm sorry that Mrs. Burke has lost a husband. Whether Mr. Johnson did it intentionally or by accident is for the courts to decide. All your anger won't bring Mike back and your sour attitude doesn't impress me. Good night and end of discussion for me. Thank you for your thoughts.

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