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After investigation, no charges will be filed in fatal 2016 bike crash in Cambridge

Amanda Phillips, 27, died in an Inman Square bike crash in 2016.
Amanda Phillips, 27, died in an Inman Square bike crash in 2016.(Lane Turner/Globe Staff/File)

No charges will be filed in connection with a Cambridge bicycle crash that killed a 27-year-old Somerville woman in 2016, the Middlesex district attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

Amanda Phillips is thought to have been thrown from her bicycle after striking the door of a parked Jeep, and then became lodged under a landscaping dump truck, authorities said.

The crash took place near the intersection of Cambridge and Antrim streets in Inman Square on June 23, 2016.

“Investigators ultimately concluded that the collision with the landscaping truck was unavoidable,” read a statement from the district attorney’s office.

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The probe was conducted by the district attorney’s office, State Police, and Cambridge police, and included a reconstruction of the collision, a visibility study, a vehicle examination, a review of available surveillance footage, and witness interviews.

The probe into Amanda Phillips’s death was conducted by the district attorney’s office, State Police, and Cambridge police, and included a reconstruction of the collision, a visibility study, a vehicle examination, a review of available surveillance footage, and witness interviews.
The probe into Amanda Phillips’s death was conducted by the district attorney’s office, State Police, and Cambridge police, and included a reconstruction of the collision, a visibility study, a vehicle examination, a review of available surveillance footage, and witness interviews.(Middlesex district attorney’s office)

According to the district attorney’s office, Phillips apparently struck the driver’s side door of a parked 1999 Jeep Cherokee, causing the bike to overturn and Phillips to be thrown into traffic, where she became lodged under the right rear tires of a landscaping dump truck that was towing a trailer. She was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she died later that day, authorities said.

Investigators determined that the owner of the Jeep, a 47-year-old Somerville man, was probably unable to see Phillips in the roadway before he opened the door, as she had entered the road from the sidewalk behind the Jeep. Phillips probably would not have seen the open door before she entered Cambridge Street, investigators said.

A witness told authorities that the door was open “for a couple of seconds” prior to Phillips entering the road by coming off the curb of the sidewalk, according to the district attorney’s statement. The statement noted that under state law, cyclists are only authorized to operate on sidewalks outside business districts “when necessary in the interest of safety.”

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“Based on the investigation, Ms. Phillips may have been more visible to other persons in the area, including the owner of the Jeep, had she been riding her bicycle consistently in the rightmost travel lane as directed by the painted markings on the road surface instead of the sidewalk,” the statement said.

The probe also cleared the driver of the landscaping truck, a 66-year-old man from Woburn. According to investigators, he “was properly operating the vehicle.” Authorities found no evidence that he was speeding at the time of the crash.

“Investigators concluded that the operator of the truck would have no expectation of this,” the district attorney’s statement said. “Based on the way Ms. Phillips entered the roadway, and that she was struck by the rear tires of the car, the operator of the truck could not have avoided the crash.”

No criminal charges or civil motor infractions will be filed against the Jeep’s owner or the driver of the landscaping truck, the district attorney’s office said.

Cambridge Bicycle Safety, an all-volunteer group of residents who work to improve safety for cyclists, said in a statement that the investigation’s conclusions miss the point.

“Protected bike lanes here would have saved Amanda’s life,” the statement read. “The crash, and Amanda’s tragic death, were avoidable through a different street design. The crash would have been impossible if the bike lane had been separated from traffic, away from the car door which knocked her into traffic, killing her.”

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An upcoming Inman Square re-design includes protected bike lanes, according to the group.

“Nobody should ever have to go through what Amanda’s family has experienced again,” the group said.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.