Ken Schram Interviews Joe Przychodzen and attorney Chris Davis regarding the fatal Kirkland bicycle accident on Juanita Drive in July 2011
Date: October 14, 2011
JS: Ken Schram, KOMO News Radio Personality
CD: Chris Davis, Bicycle Accident Attorney
JP: Joe Przychodzen, Brother of John Przychodzen
Listen to this interview instead: Ken Schram Interview of Washington Bicycle Accident Attorney Chris Davis and Joe Przychodzen
KS: Thank you very much for hooking up and hanging with me here on Newsline PM. I appreciate that. I'm guessing that many of you are going to remember the story that I'm about ready to give you the background on. Last July, John Przychodzen was riding his bicycle from Kirkland to Kenmore, so he was on Juanita Drive and there was an 18 year old driver in a truck who struck and killed him. Apparently he was on the side of the road, hit him once because apparently someone heard John say something like, "What" and then he, the 18-year old driver hit him a second time and ran over him and that's what killed him. We are joined here this afternoon by Joe Przychodzen who is John's brother and Chris Davis who is an attorney for the family. I appreciate both of you being here. Thank you very, very much.
CM, JP: Thanks Ken.
KS: So, let me begin with you if I may, Joe. I don't know what to say to people who have suffered the kind of loss you have. But what makes you believe this was more than an accident, a tragic accident?
JP: Well, my brother John was just riding his bike in a legal manner and from the accident diagrams I've seen, he got rear-ended. There was no reason for anybody to hit him.
KS: And he was riding on the side of the road, on the shoulder.
KS: I'm very familiar with Juanita Drive and the area in which your brother was hit. I think what is absolutely most infuriating is that we learned now that the 18-year old driver of the truck that killed your brother is going to face a $42 ticket. That's it. And that's going to be for an unsafe lane change. If it was me, that would gnaw at me. And I'm not trying to make you, but it's just it's so unbelievably frustrating when you look at what we have here in the way of justice, and this is not justice by any stretch of anyone's imagination I don't think.
JP: Yeah, well Ken, part of the reason we're bringing this lawsuit is we want to uncover the truth and really find out what happened that day.
KS: How has this impacted your family? ‘Cause I know there's a residual effect when you lose somebody like this.
JP: You know we're devastated. Our lives have been turned upside down for the last two months and quite honestly, I don't think my parents are ever going to recover from this. They're in their 70's and 80's and they're just completely devastated.
KS: I-I just can't even begin. Chris, let me ask you. The lawsuit, what are you seeking to achieve here?
CD: Well, as Joe said, uncover the truth. What happened? There are a lot of suspicious circumstances involved here. Everything that I've seen to include, witness statements, the police investigation, tells me this likely is not a minor, unpreventable accident. I think there's more here. You know, this kid told the police one thing and we found out from other witnesses that that statement to the police was not true. The other facts of the accident show that, you know, as Joe said, John was clearly within the marked shoulder, minding his own business and this driver drifted over and not only hit him once from behind, but continued another 50 or 60 feet and hit him again, and then hit a telephone pole with such force to cause that pole to collapse. So, most people when they're paying attention and they hit something that they're not supposed to hit; what do they do? Instinctively they brake and stop. That's not what happened here. And so those facts, along with some of the other facts revealed by the witnesses, tell me as an attorney that it is consistent, at the very least, with distracted driving, which would also include, you know, driving while using a cell phone.
KS: Texting or talking on a cell phone.
KS: See and this is what caught my eye. I would have thought that given the investigation that ensued after this. A thorough investigation into the cause of what killed this man would have included a trace on this kid's phone to see if he was on the phone at the time that this accident occurred. It's not that difficult is it, to do that?
CD: Well I don't know what's involved with the trace. I can tell you that the police did check his cell phone, but simply looked at it and looked at the last text and phone call that he received or placed. But as most people know your texting activity and phone activity can be easily erased, on one's phone. So, you know this law suit is also a perfect opportunity for this kid to prove that he was not using his cell phone. I mean, the records will tell either way, so that's a big part of why we're pursuing this action.
KS: Would that answer any questions for you at all? Regardless of whether it's discovered that he was using his cell phone or if it's discovered that he wasn't? I don't know if that's going to bring any degree of closure.
JP: Yeah, well, we don't have any closure right now, Ken. And we'd really like to get some to tell you the truth.
KS: What was your brother like?
JP: He was a great guy. He was an avid outdoorsman. He cycled almost every day and he was extremely safety conscious.
KS: You know how we feel about bicyclists around here in Seattle. There's some animosity. But he, when you say he was an avid cyclist, this was something that he incorporated into his lifestyle.
JP: Yeah, he had 3 bicycles. He had one that he commuted to work with, one that he rode on the weekends, and one that he rode on the trails. He was... that's what he did for fun.
KS: He must have loved it up there.
JP: He sure did.
KS: Did he take in St. Edwards State Park and all?
KS: Because that's a fun ride through there. They have some really nice bike trails. So, Chris, where does this go from here?
CD: Well a lot of it depends on how the other driver responds to the lawsuit. At the very least, we'll be asking for him and his attorney to produce his cell phone records on the date of the accident. And we'd also like the opportunity to question him under oath, this driver, and give him an opportunity to explain in his own words how this collision occurred; why some of the things that the witnesses are telling us, why they occurred.
KS: This does not seem to have been a very thorough, and I don't want to be overly critical of the police investigation, but looking at the phone, before police arrived, I'm sure that there was, you know, several minutes at the least that this kid could have, as you say, deleted his last texting efforts or whatever cell phone conversation he may have been engaged in. Why would they not, given the tools available to them, use the technology to find out and prove definitively that he was or was not on that phone?
CD: You know and that's a great question, Ken. That's the same question I have. And I forgot to mention also that one of the witnesses tells us that after he struck John, he got out of his truck, looked under the vehicle to see, you know, that he was unconscious and then got back in his truck for 30 to 60 seconds as if he were looking for something or doing something. This is one of the witnesses who observed, you know, what happened. That's another fact that makes me suspicious of whether this kid was erasing cell phone activity or so forth. I don't know. But that's a great question. I would have expected more from the police to find out, to either prove or disprove that cell phone use was not involved here.
KS: If it is found, if you are successful in obtaining his phone records, and if it is found that he was indeed using the cell phone at the time of that accident, could additional charges then be filed against him?
CD: That's really up to the prosecuting attorney.
CD: The real question is whether that then elevates the case from a simple negligence or careless driving into a reckless situation, and that's for the prosecutor to decide.
KS: Alright. Chris Davis, Joe, I think my wish for you is peace for you and your family. I sincerely hope that you and your mom and your dad and all your other relatives really get some peace from everything that's occurred.
JP: Thanks again. Thanks for having us on.
KS: You take care. Thank you for being here. I know this has been difficult.