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June 12, 2015

Family of cyclist killed in St. Louis pleads for witnesses to come forward

St. Louis Post Dispatch – June 12, 2015 6:00 am • By Leah ThorsenScreen Shot 2015-11-03 at 9.11.29 PM

Days after Richard Beard was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he biked in St. Louis, several cyclists stood outside City Hall holding large cardboard signs that combined to read, “No more dead cyclists.”
On Thursday, when Beard would have celebrated his 55th birthday, his sister stood at the intersection where he was fatally struck, with a similar message and a plea for those who saw the Clayton man get hit to come forward.

“Please do the right thing. Tell the truth,” said Elizabeth Beard Davis. She announced a $25,000 reward at a news conference for information leading to a felony arrest and conviction of the driver who hit her brother.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, who also spoke, said authorities know what car hit Beard, but they can’t prove who was driving. Witnesses have refused to cooperate, and the car’s owner won’t talk either, they said.

The car that hit Beard was estimated to be traveling 65 to 75 mph in a 25-mph zone. Police are investigating whether the driver was racing another driver, Dotson said. The car had not been reported stolen.

“In my mind, this case is a homicide,” Joyce said. She called Beard’s death “particularly chilling” because Joyce’s husband is an avid cyclist.

Their appeal came one day after another man, Timothy Canada of St. Louis, was killed as he biked near the intersection of Page Boulevard and Euclid Avenue, about a mile from where Beard was struck.

Canada, 21, was hit about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and died 10 hours later at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, authorities said.

And cyclist Carole Admire, 65, of Alton, was killed May 23 when she was struck as she rode on the Great River Road in Jersey County. The driver, Kajavion McCarvey, 21, of East Alton, has been cited on suspicion of improper traffic lane use. Jersey County Sheriff Mark Kallal said the investigation continues and it’s possible more charges could be added.

Canada was the first cyclist to be fatally struck in St. Louis this year and the fourth since 2009, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

But the number of pedestrian deaths has already surpassed last year’s total — 12 people have been fatally struck on St. Louis streets in 2015 compared with five in all of last year, which was an unusually low number when compared with previous years.

The number of pedestrian deaths has been an ongoing problem. In 2011, the Federal Highway Administration named St. Louis as a “focus city,” which means it had 20 or more pedestrian fatalities per year, or had a pedestrian fatality rate over a three-year period above 2.33 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Although St. Louis averaged 12 pedestrian fatalities per year between 2011 and 2013 — 12 in 2011, 13 in 2012 and 11 in 2013, according to MoDOT — the designation has remained because city’s fatality rate was 3.76 per 100,000 people during that period, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Ralph Pfremmer, Trailnet executive director, attended the Thursday press conference and called the number of deaths a “real issue” and a cause for concern.

The mayor’s office wants to hire a bike-pedestrian coordinator, who will likely be an employee of the streets department, to coordinate bicycle and pedestrian projects and plan work with other city departments, said Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay.

That position likely will be approved July 1 as part of the city’s budget.

SEEKING JUSTICE

Beard, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, was a captain in the Army. He also earned a master’s of business administration from Harvard Graduate School of Business and founded Cardinal Investment Advisors, according to his obituary and his sister, who said he frequently biked in the area where he was killed.
After Beard’s death, Dotson said video footage from a camera mounted to Beard’s bicycle showed that Beard rolled through a stop sign at North Sarah Street and Cook Avenue just before the accident.

“What we have is an incomplete picture of what transpired,” he said Thursday.

The Post-Dispatch late last week requested the police report of the investigation into Beard’s death but had not received it by Thursday.

Dotson and Joyce stressed repeatedly that witnesses are the key to bringing criminal charges against the driver who struck Beard.

“If they would come forward, I can move forward,” Joyce said.

Anyone with information on Beard’s death is asked to call St. Louis police Detective Tom Mayer at 314-444-0061 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.

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