Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Another cycling death says we are not driving carefully enough

Our Stillwater County community has a problem. We value recklessly driving on Highway 10 more than we value human life. I don’t mean that anyone wants to kill someone else. But, it’s sadly clear by people’s poor driving choices that getting where they are going — usually in a hurry — is more important than other people’s lives, with whom they are supposed to share the road.
If we don’t improve our community driving culture, the next person “accidentally” killed might be you or a loved one.
On July 6, 2016. Gary Lowman, a life-long Park City resident, was run “plowed over” and killed on Highway 10 just west of town, robbing his wife, children and grandchildren of his life with them.
Investigating officers and Stillwater County officials told Gary’s family the man who killed him could not be charged under Montana statute. There is no justice for Gary’s tragic death, despite Montana Code 45-5-104. Negligent homicide. 
There is no justice for Gary’s tragic death, which makes it seem like wherever that driver was headed was more important than Gary and his family, even under the law.
On July 18, 2011, Tina Gray was killed while bicycling on Highway 10 between Park City and Columbus, robbing her husband and five children of her life with them. Wherever that driver was headed was more important than Tina and her family. After Tina’s death, it was hoped that her tragedy would “encourage drivers and cyclists to be alert for one another,” as a friend was quoted. Sadly, it didn’t for the Lowmans.
Is five years between these “accidents” too long to expect drivers to remember to choose to drive safely to protect life? I hope we agree that five years is not too long for Gary’s and Tina’s families for the rest of us to grow up, and slow down.
The Bible’s commandment says, “You shall not murder.” It is not widely known that the commandment includes the sense of causing human death by carelessness or negligence. Thus, I include in the commandment: You shall not murder, nor take a life by carelessness nor negligence. We should all drive more carefully, mindful of not murdering our neighbors with our reckless driving, especially on Highway 10 between Columbus and Park City.
That highway may be posted for 70 mph, but it was constructed for 55 mph. It has no shoulders, is narrower than I-90 makes us comfortable with, has a couple tight turns, is bumpy, has narrow bridges, etc. While vehicles have improved since the 55 mph years, rules for sharing the road have not changed. Please slow down and make our Stillwater County community a safer place where each other’s lives are more important than our destination.

Rev. Russell Dewell,
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Park City
Resident of Columbus