Test results delay charges against driver in fatal pickup-bicycle crash

A bike lies on the ground on C Street SW, after an accident on Thursday, July 29. (Christopher Pratt/The Gazette)
A bike lies on the ground on C Street SW, after an accident on Thursday, July 29. (Christopher Pratt/The Gazette)

Charges against the driver of a pickup involved in a crash that killed a bicyclist won’t be filed until the results of toxicology tests on the victim are known, police said Tuesday.

Susan M. DeSotel, of Cedar Rapids, died Aug. 2, four days after she collided with a pickup at the corner of C Street and Wilson Avenue Drive SW. She was 51.

Witnesses told police the driver of the pickup, Robert H. Fleming, 55, of Alburnett, turned left into DeSotel’s path before she and her bicycle hit the front of the pickup.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin, a police spokeswoman, said Fleming will not face a serious charge such as manslaughter or vehicular homicide, because those charges require evidence of recklessness or impairment.

“He was not intoxicated or impaired, nor did he drive in a reckless manner,” Hamblin explained in an e-mail. “He made a driving error, as do hundreds of other citizens in Cedar Rapids. But in this case, that driving error cost someone their life.”

Hamblin said Fleming, who was not hurt in the accident, may be issued a traffic ticket for failure to yield. She said investigators consider many factors, including witness statements, roadway conditions and the conditions of the people involved before deciding what charges to pursue.

Toxicology tests were done to see if anything unusual was in DeSotel’s system, Hamblin said. The test results, which are sometimes used in civil lawsuits, won’t be known for a few weeks, police said.

“They want to make sure there aren’t any other factors involved,” Hamblin said.

Hamblin expressed sympathy to the DeSotel family. She said there was a connection between DeSotel and a member of the police department.

“I cannot stress enough the pain that our department feels for the DeSotel family,” Hamblin said.Attempts to reach Fleming for comment have been unsuccessful.

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