The bare maximum

Highest penalty available in bicyclist's death seems paltry

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If convicted, the driver who rammed a group of bicyclists Oct. 1 on Beech Island Avenue and ended up killing one of them will face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

The minimum, in our view, ought to be nine years, 11 months, 30 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes.

And 59 seconds.

We're not going to predict what the evidence will show about the crash that put Iraq War veteran Maj. Matthew Burke -- an orthopedic surgeon at Fort Gordon and father of an 11-month-old -- in a coma until his death on Sunday. But we can say with some confidence that nothing whatsoever can be proffered that would excuse what happened.

No moment of inattention, no claim of poor vision, no gnashing of the teeth about the various sins of bicycledom can excuse having hit a large and obvious group of cyclists hard enough to have injured a handful and killed another.

But if the cyclists' assertion that they heard an engine revving just prior to the crash is true and accurate, it makes the case all the more aggravated.

A Beech Island, S.C., man, Daniel Johnson, 41, has been charged with reckless homicide, described as driving with "reckless disregard of the safety of others."

Forgive Dr. Burke's friends, family and others for thinking that's a gross understatement.

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Name Not Important
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Name Not Important 02/11/11 - 12:34 am
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For the most part, bikers in

For the most part, bikers in the Augusta ara are pretty knowledgable and courteous. Still there are certain areas where it just is not a good idea to ride. Hwy 278 between Beech Island and New Ellenton is a dangerous road no matter what type of vehicle you are using. There have been numerous fatalities in AUTOS much less bikes. Bikers have rights like everyone else, but sometimes you have to use a little common sense as well. I've been riding motorcycles in the North Ga mountains and come around a curve and run up on 15 bikes spread all the way across the road on numerous occasions and they refused to move over to the side. And yes, they get hit up there too. Accidents happen no matter where you live...

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/11/11 - 05:38 am
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I'm glad to see the Chronicle

I'm glad to see the Chronicle is finally exercising their rights and expressing an opinion without following the misguided principle of innocent until proven guilty.

DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 02/11/11 - 06:43 am
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Good Lord. If every accident

Good Lord. If every accident that ever happens were given an editorial judgement like this one, there would be little else to read. And nobody would drive. Yes bikers are pretty helpless on the roads that were designed to move cars and trucks. And everybody remembers how to ride a bike. But unless someone can prove intent was used to run them down, to me it was a terrible accident and no more. There are accidents and victims everyday. Most are not heros worthy of more than two paragraphs. But the same levels of saddness and regret are. I am sure that the system will sort it all out eventually but the hurt will still be there. Editor don't make things worse.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 08:27 am
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My thoughts also Riverman1.

My thoughts also Riverman1. It's one thing for individuals to rant or rave their opinions, but this is a man's life and determining if he's innocent or guilty should be left up to the courts and not be swayed by something the local media writes up in their paper. Sad to say, there are some who swear what the AC publish is the gospel.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/11/11 - 08:35 am
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What bothers me about all of

What bothers me about all of this is that I realize Mr. Burke was a wonderful husband, doctor, etc... but why has the media placed Dr. Burke on such a high pedestal. We have had several days of praising what a wonder man he was and how terrible Mr. Johnson is. Why are other victims of death not given all the media attention that Dr. Burke has been given. I take nothing away from the man, evidently he was a gracious and wonderful man....but isn't Jane Doe or John Doe who died last week or the week before just as important. It seems like if we raise the awareness of how wonderful Dr. Burke was, somehow it makes Mr. Johnson look less worthy and guilty.....is that the point?

I don't have an opinion one way or the other because I know neither man, I'm just making an observation by what I've been reading.

WW1949
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WW1949 02/11/11 - 08:42 am
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I still think it was an

I still think it was an accident and nothing more. I go down that road several times a year and it is single lane and curvey.

dougk
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dougk 02/11/11 - 02:39 pm
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You are spot on, ICL, at
Unpublished

You are spot on, ICL, at 8:35.

nohopeforbi
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nohopeforbi 02/11/11 - 08:37 pm
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Accidents are an easy out,

Accidents are an easy out, everyone uses that word to describe just about every death on the road. It's become so commonplace that many don't even pay it mind when a crash is reported and is picked up on the news, Aww, its sad to see some children were killed in the "Accident"

Speeding, talking on the phone while driving, playing with the ipod or other devices is not an accident, it is a deliberate, maliced disregard for the others on the road. The laws exsist for a reason, they are not "arbitrary" as one poster on another discussion. We all like to think that we don't do wrong things, the things we do everyday most likely are bad things to do, it's just done so ofter it's become more of the standard than the exception.

50,000 a year die because of these things, many of them children in the back seat, millions more seriously injured.

I was not there, I don't know what he really did, except that he hit a person at 50mph and killed them, how does any argument you might make change that fact?

nohopeforbi
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nohopeforbi 02/11/11 - 08:46 pm
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AND...you don't want to

AND...you don't want to beleive it, but I am positive, without doubt, that the editor of a large local newspaper is privy to much more information that you or I are. Just Sayin

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 02/12/11 - 11:19 am
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Whoever put that sign up

Whoever put that sign up should be strapped to it until the next “driver” runs over that spot. How callus can drivers be? Just because they hoist their ever fattening butt up into a cab they think they can just ignore everybody in their own little world. Drivers are running over pedestrians, light poles, Telephone poles, stop signs, mile markers, pets, & their own children but all this is someone else’s fault, not theirs. I’ve driven way over a million miles and none of these things have ever jumped out in front of me...
What this really points out is how selfish blood sucking gas guzzlers really are. Put down the cell phone, McD’s, coffee, stereo, remote, DVD’s, mail, and your family photos and D-R-I-V-E. Hope the Burke family does a wrongful death suit to wake drivers up that actions have consequences.

Bicycling
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Bicycling 02/15/11 - 07:14 am
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Agree with nohopeforbi. The

Agree with nohopeforbi. The medical community long ago did away with the term MVA, or Motor Vehicle Accident, b/c there are so few true accidents. Instead the term MVC is used or Motor Vehicle Collision, which very accurately describes it.

Free2rideforlife
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Free2rideforlife 02/18/11 - 02:34 pm
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The Pedestal that Maj. Matt

The Pedestal that Maj. Matt Burk was put on was built On his friendships and compatriots experiences along the way..the same goes for Mr johnson.

Matt Burke was revered by his firends and loved ones because of the person he was.

I am sorry if the other people you mention were not as revered as He, that is sad indeed. To make wrong of the loving of Matt Burke is also a sad thing. He was dearly loved, and that love is what got the medias attention.

Andikiros
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Andikiros 02/19/11 - 12:21 pm
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Dear Augusta Chronicle, I am

Dear Augusta Chronicle,
I am pleased to see that you are using your First Amendment right to try, convict and sentence someone in your newspaper. I am also pleased to see that you, without proper evidence, assume you know have all of the facts in this case. I am pleased to see that you have purposely chosen sides in this situation. It makes me proud that my spouse, who served in the military, and retired disabled, fought so that you can have the right to use your paper to malign the character of one human in order to elevate the character of another.
It is my intent to apply to the Vatican for sainthood for Dr. Burke. I did not know the man, but from the expenditure of time and space in your paper, I think you would be willing to support me in this venture.

Free2rideforlife
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Free2rideforlife 02/23/11 - 09:48 pm
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Dear Sir, Matt, to those of

Dear Sir, Matt, to those of us who DID know him, is already a Saint, Maybe not in the official eyes of the Vatican, but to many he is. It's sad you find that to be to be so hard to live with. His resume of life speaks for itself and has no need for your endoresment. But we thank you for your thoughts.

Mark A. Shells

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