Driver ticketed in Bob Bear's death

Craig man could receive 6-point citation, fine for fatal accident

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. Steamboat Springs police do not know whether Bob Bear had the walk signal when he attempted to cross U.S. Highway 40. Also, police did not take Terry Tomey's driving or criminal history into consideration when deciding what traffic citation to issue. Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae said prosecuting attorneys could consider that history when deciding on plea offers, and judges can use it when deciding on sentencing. Police investigators, however, take only the facts of the case into consideration when deciding on charges, Rae said.

Steamboat Springs Police Department officers issued Craig resident Terry Tomey a citation for failure to yield to a pedestrian with disabilities Wednesday, after Tomey struck Robert "Bob" Bear with his pickup May 6.

Bear died later that day from injuries sustained hitting his head on the road.

Steamboat Springs Police Department Capt. Joel Rae said the Class A traffic infraction carries a six-point driving penalty and $150 in fines if Tomey is found guilty in municipal court. The charge also carries a mandatory appearance in that court.

Tomey, 48, was driving a company truck at the time of the accident and on Wednesday said he had a perfect driving record for the past two years with the company. Tomey's boss could not be reached Wednesday night.

"I'm not a monster. I didn't go and try to run down a schoolteacher. It was a complete accident," he said.

Tomey owned and operated the Windy City Dogs and Beef hotdog stand in Craig with his wife for three years.

Tomey was issued a ticket Wednesday morning. He said he laid flowers at the site of the accident.

The charge comes as a relief for Annie Meyer, Bear's daughter and a Steamboat resident.

"I was really glad that they did actually issue him a ticket because I thought for a while perhaps they wouldn't do that," she said.

Meyer said her father used a cane, a remnant of a stroke that Bear, 77, suffered 20 years ago. Bear recovered from the stroke well enough to walk, but Meyer said he still found the intersection at U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road daunting. On May 6, Bear was returning from the Yampa River Botanic Park to his home in the Selbe Apartments.

"He walked very slowly, but he's very alert, and he had figured out a way to cross the street by pushing the button and going to the edge of the street," she said. "It's kind of a dangerous intersection, and he really felt like he had to have a plan to make it across the street."

Even so, Meyer said, anyone crossing that intersection at that time would have been hit.

"I can't understand. The accident happened because (Tomey) didn't look right, why isn't that reckless driving?" she asked. "Anybody in that spot would have been killed."

Rae said there is no evidence that either Tomey or Bear was using a cell phone at the time of the accident.

Police report that Tomey was eastbound on U.S. 40 and came to a complete stop at the red light. When he began rolling forward to begin a right turn, he struck Bear, knocking him to the ground. Although the force of the vehicle's impact was not great, Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said Bear's fall to the ground caused internal bleeding and brain injury.

Comments

JustSomeJoe 5 years, 7 months ago

I think hitting and killing someone in a cross-walk who was crossing with the light deserves a much harsher citation or arrest than one with a max $150 fine and six points of your license. I know it wasn't malicious, but Tomey's negligence cost Bob Bear his life.

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Brent Boyer 5 years, 7 months ago

JustSomeJoe and others: I have just corrected the online version of this story to clear up two serious inaccuracies. First, police do not know whether Mr. Bear had the walk signal when he attempted to cross U.S. Highway 40. Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae said witness accounts have not been able to verify whether the walk signal was present at the time of the accident. However, police do know that the traffic light was red for southbound U.S. 40 traffic when Mr. Tomey initiated his right-hand turn onto Pine Grove Road. Also, the initial version of this story stated that Rae said police took Mr. Tomey's driving and criminal history into consideration before deciding what to charge him with. That is also not accurate. Rae said police take only the facts of the case into consideration when determining what charges to issue. However, prosecuting attorneys can take a person's criminal and driving history into account when deciding on plea offers. Similarly, a judge might take that history into account when determining sentencing. I hope this helps clear up the story. My sincere apologies for the inaccuracies in the initial version. A correction will appear on the front page of Friday's paper, and an additional story also will run in tomorrow's edition.

Brent Boyer Editor, Pilot & Today 970-871-4221 bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years, 7 months ago

Does it really matter if the "WALK" signal was on?? anyone knows by the time you get half away across the 4 lanes, the signal changes anyway.....pedestrians have the right-of-way...this is very sad and it sounds like Tomey is feeling remorse, unlike some other people who were responsible for tragic losses in this valley

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arnonep 5 years, 7 months ago

Remorse or not, Negligent Homicide is Negligent Homicide. A traffic charge for what I see as Negligent Homicide is a travesty of justice. How pathetic is our system when a traffic ticket is issued when a life is lost? Someone's child/father/grandfather is dead because Tomey was negligent. I do not know how the investigator can sleep. He has implied that Bear's life was only worth $150. I hope an investigation into our Police Department is under way. There should be riots in the streets over this. The saddest part of this is now the family will have to do the system's job and prosecute the alleged murderer or Tomey will get off with a very minor slap on the wrist.

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cawa 5 years, 7 months ago

An accident will weigh on somone more than anyone knows unless something similar has happened to them. He may have only recieved a $150 fine but don't think he feels any better about what happened. My sympathy and thoughts goes out to the family of Bob Bear. It's such a heartbreaking thing to have a life lost. I also have thoughts for Terry Tomey and hope he will be able to forgive himself for this tragic accident, and know that there are people out there that don't see him as a "monster". Prayers and blessings to all involved.

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callguinness 5 years, 7 months ago

Based on information in this article,

So a guy punches another guy, a punch being an action that you would do to hurt someone. Guy who is punched falls down hits head and dies. Puncher receives assault charges, relatively minor for being involved in someone's death.

Now you tell me that Tomey should receive a stiffer punishment for making a minor mistake and pushing someone over with his truck by accident. Tomey wasn't running through a red light, he wasn't speeding, he wasn't drunk, he wasn't on the phone... He was making a right hand turn, looking to his left trying to be safe and make sure he wasn't going to cause a traffic accident by pulling out in front of another car.

I in no way want to marginalize Bear's life, but for an accident at an intersection that everyone knows is dangerous, should we really be trying to ruin Tomey's life also?

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 7 months ago

Callguiness - you think the ticket tomey got was appropriate for his actions? Sorry I wasn't paying attention in my truck and you died. We all have to be responsible for our actions, I don't think a potential $150 fine is appropriate for his actions.

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callguinness 5 years, 7 months ago

There is more too it than that. A simple fall to the ground from standing hight shouldn't kill someone. If it had been a 20 year old male who was pushed over, he probably would have gone home with out ever going to the hospital, or maybe a quick check at the hospital. My point is, this is not as black and white as some people are trying to make it out to be.

Tomey never had any intention of hurting anyone. I don't believe for a second that you have never had a momentary lapse while driving. Tomey wasn't doing anything "negligent" so far as the law is concerned. Maybe the law should be changed, but be careful what you wish for. Next time it could be you who looks to the right doesn't see a ped. then looks to left and slowly proceeds into the intersection to be totally caught off guard by a person in front of you.

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JustSomeJoe 5 years, 7 months ago

So callguiness, you think the ticket is appropriate for the situation? I'm saying I don't. I think negligent homicide is a bit much, but failure to yield is not nearly enough.

I can say that I look where I'm going in my car, and I don't think turning right while looking left is in the manual. I'm with you, I don't think Tomey started off his day to run someone down. I just don't think the ticket he got is appropriate for what he did.

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cheesehead 5 years, 7 months ago

Not every accident is crime. Unless you're a lawyer.

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arnonep 5 years, 7 months ago

cawa, Why should Tomey be allowed to forgive himself? He killed someone by his own action/inaction. Karma will get him even if the system failed. callguinness, So because the system screwed up the assault/murder case then that should be the base for the next one? Do you work for the Police Department? Small physics fact: a fall from standing can create 9 Gs, it only takes 1 G to break your skull (maybe a little more for you). And PLEASE, the 77 year old man using a cane "totally caught (Tomey) off guard", like he jumped out of the bushes? cheesehead & oldskoolstmbt, By Colorado statute, any time a vehicle makes contact with anything, other than the road, it is a crime and there is a penalty.

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cawa 5 years, 7 months ago

arnonep, I hope you never have to go through what he is probably going through. Things can happen in a split second, ACCIDENTS happen, that is why they are called ACCIDENTS! Remember....we are all human and incapable of being perfect all the time. And karma has nothing to do with this. I think you should read this comment from a previous poster again. I totally agree, we never know when something could happen to us just like this:

"Tomey never had any intention of hurting anyone. I don't believe for a second that you have never had a momentary lapse while driving. Tomey wasn't doing anything "negligent" so far as the law is concerned. Maybe the law should be changed, but be careful what you wish for. Next time it could be you who looks to the right doesn't see a ped. then looks to left and slowly proceeds into the intersection to be totally caught off guard by a person in front of you." (we all know what caught off guard means because it has happened to EVERYONE in one situation or another, no one is exempt)

Do not mistake my comments for a lack of caring for the family of Bob Bear and what they are going through as well. It's very sad and I am so sorry for them.

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callguinness 5 years, 7 months ago

First no, I don't nor do I ever want to work for any kind of law enforcement.

Just because that is by the book the force that could break your (or my) skull. Doesn't mean it always will. People fall and hit their heads with much more force in this town everyday. Biking, skiing, bull riding, running, jumping, etc... His injuries are not what you would expect to see from someone who just fell over. Therefore Tomey shouldn't get some huge punishment for an exceptional case. Did Tomey make a mistake? YES, should he have looked back to the right before he started to move? YES, Has everyone here made that move with out looking before. I would guess yes, does it make it right? NO

Is what Tomey did a crime? Absolutely. This is why he received a ticket. Is the ticket appropriate for the situation? Sounds like it to me. It does sound like it because, the people who are the true experts on crimes, IE the Police and the DA, say it is. They don't make the laws, they just enforce them. Would you rather see them slap him with a Vehicular Homicide, only to have it go to court and thrown out because what he did doesn't meet the statues for Vehicular Homicide. Leaving him with no punishment, or is it better to have this show on his record as a mistake he made and paid for?

The police could charge him with whatever crime they choose. However they are responsible to charge him by the statues that he violates, if they choose to do more than that, it won't stick and he winds up with no punishment. Even more so he could come back and sue the City for unlawfully charging him with a crime it was obvious he didn't commit and this would cost the city money in at least defending the suit, and more than likely paying for a settlement in his favor. Then we would have to be here discussing how the police have messed up and shouldn't have charged him with a crime that doesn't fit the statues and why they didn't know them. So on and so forth.

So the Police know the statues, they charged him with a crime that fits what the law provides. If you really have a problem with it work your politician to get the law changed, but as I said, be careful what you wish for.

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years, 7 months ago

arnenop~ obviously YOU should be working for the PD...then we shall see how you would truly charge this man...you know, since you are all-knowing...good luck with your judgemental anger..

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Gaylan Hellyer 5 years, 7 months ago

I was at the accident before the police or ambulance arrived and it was an accident. The truck was still in the turn lane and if it had been someone in better health they most likely would have gotten up and walked away. The driver was very shaken up. I am not going to take sides with anyone and feel for the family.... who also happen to be my neighbors. I think it caught both parties involved off guard. Bob fell to the ground and hit his head and it didn't appear that he was able to make an effort to break his fall. Incidents like this should remind us all to slow down and look twice. Next time it will be a small child on a bicycle who won't be seen because they are too short. And the city needs to address the safety issues at some of the busier intersections in town as our community grows. It will only get worse.

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arnonep 5 years, 7 months ago

oldschool, If having an opinion that there are a lot of charges between a $150 slap on the wrist and Neglegent Homiside, that are a lot more fitting the crime, makes me all knowing, I want to move to your planet. JustSomeJoe said it best "We all have to be responsible for our actions". That includes the Police and the DA. cawa, My point is that a "momentary laps of attention" at an intersection is more serious than the the haphazardly handed down penalty would imply. callguinness, "the people who are the true experts on crimes, IE the Police and the DA" My argument is that thay are suppoed to be the "experts" and in this case it is my opinion that thay have dropped the ball. As put to oldschool's comments above, there are a lot of charges in between. The rest of the rant stems aroud this "undercharging" by the "experts" seems to be becoming a trend and we the people should be ouraged. Obviously I am.

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oldskoolstmbt 5 years, 7 months ago

arnonep~learn to spell and then i will give you a LITTLE more credit....now, since you are on such a higher level than the rest of us and gets to choose who can forgive themselves and who can't...or, oh no! mr. karma will get us!..let me ask you this, intentional vs. unintentional..what is the difference?..i believe this is where karma comes into play...but hey, i'm just a liitle tiny immortal on this big, big forum having a little compassion for a law abiding citizen, who had an ACCIDENT..get over yourself

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callguinness 5 years, 7 months ago

arnonep, If you are such an expert on the laws, maybe you should become a part of law enforcement. Maybe run for DA. Seems like you know more than they do, if you would do such a better job, step up and do it.

At the very least, post some of these excellent charges, that would be "a lot more fitting (to) the crime."

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ourhome 5 years, 7 months ago

Many opinions here is mine. This is a very busy pedestrian intersection. It is a popular entrance to the core trail which most of us Steamboat residents enjoy regularly. To think that drivers don't owe pedestrians the duty of actually looking to their right when turning right on a red, to look to see if there is a pedestrian entering the cross walk, is absolutely frightening - for our children, for our elderly, and for the rest of us as well. Then to learn that if a driver fails to look right when turning right on a red, fails to take the brief moment necessary to look for people that may be entering the crosswalk where they are authorized to be, hits someone as a result, causing the death of that person, to learn that the driver will simply be given a 150 traffic ticket for their transgression, seems absolutely frightening and ludicrous as well.

We don't have the right to be careless - we have the obligation to be careful, to pay attention, to be mindful of other people's rights and their safety. If we are careless, there should be consequences that reflect the injury resulting from our careless actions. The driver may believe he was being careful by looking left for traffic before turning right on a red - but there is plenty of opportunity to look BOTH ways - left for traffic, and right for people. To not do to so at an intersection like this, in a town where everyone bikes, walks, etc, on an intersection that leads directly to our most popular trail has to be at least be considered careless, doesn't it? how is there even any question about this? I am not trying to demonize the driver at all he made a mistake, he was careless, he drove into a busy cross walk without looking. But unfortunately, that mistake resulted in the worst possible consequence the death of a person. A small traffic ticket just seems to really really minimize what happened here.

Regarding the comments about Mr. Bear's age and condition: if you are walking and truck hits you, bumps you, whatever, you may very well fall down. If when you fall, you hit your head, whether you are a child, an adult, or elderly, you can suffer head trauma that kills you. That is just a fact. Perhaps a 20 year old could have withstood the impact of the truck without falling who knows. But that doesn't matter we need to enforce laws that protect all of us, children, adults, elderly, etc. If you are careless, and that carelessness results in someone's death, there should be consequences that reflect that. Period.

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