A coalition of cyclists is calling on Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office to bring serious charges against the drivers of a truck and Jeep that were involved last week in a crash that killed a woman riding her bike through Cambridge.
In a letter sent to Ryan’s office Monday, Richard Fries, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, or MassBike, said that both drivers should face either vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide charges stemming from the collision that killed 27-year-old Amanda Phillips last Thursday in Inman Square.
State Police continue to investigate the crash. They said a day after the incident that a preliminary reconstruction of the scene showed that Phillips entered Cambridge Street from the sidewalk, then somehow struck the Jeep’s open door. The impact, police said, pushed Phillips, a barista at Somerville’s Diesel Cafe, into the travel lane, where she “came into contact with” a landscaping truck.
Phillips was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she later died.
Fries claimed in his letter to Ryan, which was also sent to Cambridge police and local and state elected officials, that had the driver of the Jeep been paying attention, and the truck not struck Phillips, she would still be alive.
“Opening a car door into a cyclist without first looking is negligent and a violation of law. ... When a driver does so and the victim dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter,” Fries wrote. “Likewise, when a driver runs into a cyclist and hits her from behind, if the cyclist dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter.”
In a telephone interview, Fries said he was not saying the drivers were guilty, but that the discussion was worthy of being taken up in a courtroom.
But Ryan’s office said that preliminary witness statements indicate Phillips may have struck the Jeep’s driver’s side door, which was open before she entered the roadway, causing her to “be thrown from her bicycle into the path of a landscaping truck.”
A statement from Ryan’s office said although officials “understand the concerning nature of these incidents,” they must “conduct a complete and thorough investigation before making charging decisions in these cases.”
On Monday, State Police spokesman David Procopio said police would not have any further comment on the circumstances of the crash until the investigation is complete.
“Generally speaking, it takes several weeks for a full collision reconstruction to be done,” he said in an e-mail.
A vigil is planned for Phillips Wednesday, at the intersection of Hampshire and Cambridge Streets, near where the deadly crash occurred.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.