Report: Judge didn’t know bicyclist was down
January 11, 2014
District Judge Michael Gibbons didn't realize he'd hit someone on Aug. 20, 2013, until he looked in his rearview mirror and saw a vehicle pull over behind him.
"I made the turn without apparent incident," he said in his statement to the Nevada Highway Patrol. "I started heading up East Valley Road and I glanced at my interior mirror. There appeared to be an object in the road. I saw a car stopping. I had an uneasy feeling, so I stopped and turned around."
That was when he saw Joseph Longo, 61, and his bicycle lying in the street. Longo was not wearing a helmet.
On Wednesday, a charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide against Gibbons stemming from the accident was dismissed after Gibbons and the victim's family reached a civil settlement in the case. Gibbons was scheduled to appear before Moapa Valley Justice of the Peace Lanny White on Monday.
"I … never felt or saw any impact," Gibbons wrote in his accident statement.
Gibbons said he saw Longo on his bicycle as he passed him traveling west on Pine Nut Road.
He said he slowed more than usual, signaled, and made a wide turn into the southbound lane of East Valley to avoid some gravel on the road.
An eyewitness to the accident said he was driving west behind Gibbons' Subaru.
"The car passed the bike and tried to turn right onto East Valley Road, cutting off the biker," the Gardnerville man said. "The bike hit the right rear of the car, knocking the biker hard to the pavement."
The report was released Friday at The Record-Courier's request.
Troopers talked to the witness twice after the initial statement. In an Aug. 28 statement, the witness said that Longo was riding his bicycle on the fog line along the edge of the roadway.
"It looked like the bicycle was going straight and tried to avoid the car by steering to the right," he said. "The contact happened on the right rear quarter panel of the car."
The report was completed Nov. 6, 2013, and forwarded to District Attorney Mark Jackson.
The Nevada Highway Patrol requested that a complaint be issued to Gibbons for misdemeanor vehicular homicide and failure to exercise due care near a bicycle.
When Jackson filed the vehicular homicide charge on Dec. 6, he said there were no aggravating circumstances, such as alcohol or cell phone use.
Gibbons' attorneys said Thursday that they had reconstructed the accident and would present evidence that Gibbons wasn't at fault.