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Cycling Advocates Call Sentencing Of Driver Who Killed Bobby Cann 'Unacceptable'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 31, 2017 10:57PM

Bobby Cann

In the wake of a mere 10-day sentence for the drunk driver who fatally stuck cyclist Bobby Cann in 2013, Chicago's most prominent cycling advocacy group is calling for greater accountability against motorists who drive while intoxicated in a petition released on Tuesday.

Cann, a safe-biking champion, was riding home from his job at Groupon when he was struck at the intersection of Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue by Ryne San Hamel, 32, of Park Ridge. San Hamel was drunk after drinking at a Cubs game during the day, and he was driving his Mercedes-Benz SUV between 50 and 60 miles per hour in a 30 miles-per-hour zone, according to prosecutors. The crash severed Cann's leg and he died from his injuries shortly after being taken to a hospital.

San Hamel on Thursday was sentenced to 10 days in jail plus four years probation by Cook County Judge William J. Hooks. He was also ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution.

San Hamel was represented by high-powered attorney Sam Adam Jr., who previously represented R. Kelly and Rod Blagojevich. San Hamel had also been twice arrested for alcohol-related driving offenses prior to the crash, although both cases were dismissed. San Hamel was allowed to keep his license following those arrests.

The petition, issued by Active Transportation Alliance, called the message sent by the judge's ruling "unacceptable." It had garnered nearly 400 signatures within two-and-a-half hours of its release, according to Advocacy Director Jim Merrell, which is not surprising considering the degree of indignation the case has provoked within the local cycling community.

"We are calling upon Chicago’s law enforcement and judicial leaders to start taking preventable fatalities on our roadways seriously," ATA wrote.

The leniency afforded to San Hamel was not out of the ordinary either, ATA argues.
"For every high-profile fatality on our roadways like the Bobby Cann case, there are dozens of additional victims whose names and faces don’t show up in the media. And typically, the motorist who recklessly killed them escapes with a slap on the wrist," the petition read.

At the same time, the organization acknowledges a larger public concern and a skepticism of mass imprisonment. The fight against dangerous, drunk driving includes "looking at alternatives to incarceration such as community service, substance abuse treatment, suspension of driving privileges, and driver education."

"Restorative justice is an important part of the message," said Merrell. "Accountability doesn't just mean locking people up and throwing away the key."

ATA will present the signed petition to city officials after a yet-to-be-determined deadline.

Within the next month, the city of Chicago is expected to release its Vision Zero plan—which attempts to eliminate traffic fatalities within 10 years.

[H/T Streetsblog]