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Posted on Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:33 p.m.

Driver in fatal bicycle crash in Pittsfield Township was changing the radio, attorney says

By Juliana Keeping

The driver of a van that struck and killed a bicyclist in Pittsfield Township in July told police he took his eyes off the road for a moment to change a pre-set radio station, a police officer testified in court today.

Defense attorney Joseph Simon argued the move didn't qualify as negligence, but District Judge J. Cedric Simpson disagreed and ordered 20-year-old Nicholas Wahl to stand trial for negligent homicide.

Wahl, a Grand Valley State University student from Clinton in Lenawee County, is charged in the July death of 45-year-old Tim Pincikowski of Saline. Testimony on Oct. 15 and today at the 14A District Court centered on whether there is probable cause to order a trial. 

If convicted on the high-court misdemeanor charge, Wahl - who has no criminal record - faces up to two years in prison.

Simon questioned Pittsfield Township Police Officer Patrick Gray about the road conditions, which were dry; police procedures; and Wahl's original statement to officers. Gray testified that Wahl said he looked down for a moment to change the radio and looked up as the van was hitting Pincikowski's bicycle.

Other witnesses included two drivers who saw the July 28 accident on northbound Maple Road. During questioning, Simon honed in on Pincikowski's position on the road in the moments before his bicycle was struck.

Witness Erik Allen was traveling southbound on Maple Road to visit a friend in Saline when he saw the collision. The bicyclist was on the fog line or in the travel portion of the roadway close to the line, Allen said. 

After the crash, in which the front passenger side of Wahl's 2002 Dodge Caravan struck the rear end of Pincikowski's bicycle, Wahl's demeanor indicated disbelief and shock, Allen said.

Jay Russell, 33, was coming home from work and was southbound on Maple Road at the time of the collision, he testified.

"Both the van and the bicyclist were very close to the fog line," said Russell, who also stopped to help. Russell said Wahl was in shock after the accident.

Witnesses from last week's hearing placed Wahl's vehicle over the fog line for four to five seconds. The fog line is the white line on the shoulder of the road.

"He felt subjectively, he had enough time to look away for one second to change a preset radio station," Simon told the judge.

The prosecutor disagreed.

"He made the conscious decision to take his eyes off the road, resulting in the collision and loss of life of Tim Pincikowski," said Assistant Prosecutor Anthony Kendrick. "Your honor, that's negligence."

More than 30 supporters from Wahl's church, St. John Lutheran Church in Bridgewater, filled the courtroom benches, along with Wahl's family members. Afterward, they stood in the hallway with Wahl, crying, hugging and discussing the hearing.

Wahl's immediate family members declined to comment.

Donna Marion, a member of the congregation that came to support Wahl, didn't want to comment on the case, but said: "I think our presence here says it all."

Six friends attended the hearing to support Lisa Pincikowski, Timothy's wife. She sat behind the prosecutor's bench during the two-hour hearing.

Their group lingered in the courtroom for a few minutes while Wahl's supporters were in the hallway outside.

"I'm just happy this wasn't dismissed," Lisa Pincikowski said.

"We're here to support Lisa and happy that the outcome is positive, and that this will go to trial," said John Debling, a friend of Tim Pincikowski's for the last 20 years.

"The right decision was made here today," said Tim Klots, who worked with Tim Pincikowski.

Pincikowski was an avid bicyclist and a project manager/chemist at BASF in Wyandotte. He lived in Saline's Wildwood subdivision with his wife, 18-year-old son, Michael, and 4-year-old daughter, Lauren.

A pre-trial hearing was set for Dec. 7.

Juliana Keeping covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 6:45 p.m.

Sally- I was wondering the same thing, I can't find out any information at all.


Mon, Nov 30, 2009 : 10:39 a.m.

Last I knew, the trial was set for December 5th. Does anyone know if that is still the case--or whether Nick decided to do a plea instead?


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 11:20 a.m.

I know all cases are reviewed individually, and all I know about the case is what I've read of it. It would just be interesting to find out the reasoning behind prosecuting one person and not the other for the same thing. That's all I'm saying. On another note, I drove Maple Rd. yesterday and they really should extend the pavement completely across the shoulder. The little bit of pavement along the fog line is not nearly enough.


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 10:54 a.m.

"They never explained why" would be the key in that comment. Every person should be held to the same standard, but every case has to be looked at individually. Circumstances vary, so the prosecution team has to decide case by case when to prosecute. Just because they didn't make the reason for their decision public doesn't mean it's not a good one. And even if the reason for the decision in the Meijer case is a bad one (which is certainly a matter of opinion), should they then be forced to use the same bad reasoning on all cases from that point on? Or should they try not to make the same mistake twice?


Wed, Oct 28, 2009 : 8:50 a.m.

The Meijer incident may be unrelated, but if the law is the law shouldn't everyone be held to the same standard? They never explained why they didn't charge the woman. And what of the family of the woman killed? Don't they deserve "justice" as well?


Tue, Oct 27, 2009 : 4:24 p.m.

As someone in attendance at last Friday's hearing, I'd like to clarify one thing not mentioned in this article: the reason Mr. Wahl changed the radio station was to seek an update on weather and traffic. A tremendous storm was approaching the area, as Officer Gray's testimony confirmed, and passed over the area just minutes after the accident. The storm was approaching from the same general direction Mr. Wahl was headed to attend an evening physics class at WCC. The legal process will determine the matter of negligence, but let's be clear in our discussion: Mr. Wahl was seeking additional information, not channel surfing.


Tue, Oct 27, 2009 : 8:12 a.m.

The entire reason that the charge of "negligent homicide" exists is because it allows for someone to be at fault without intent. They mean no harm, but still do something illegal that results in the death of another person. If you have a problem with the fact that this charge exists, take it up with your lawmakers. And I can't help but wonder why an unrelated case keeps being brought up here. Maybe the woman in the Meijer parking lot should have been charged, maybe she shouldn't. But it's still independent from this case. How about we applaud the prosecutor's office for examining each case on its individual merits before deciding that prosecution should or should not happen instead of suggesting that they lump all cases together and either prosecute all or none.


Mon, Oct 26, 2009 : 10:07 a.m.

I can't help but go back to the Meijer incident. Technically, both of them were driving negligently and they both killed someone because of it. The difference is the man who hit the bicyclist stopped while the woman at Meijer didn't even know she hit someone until somebody else stopped her. Why is the man going to trial while the woman did not?


Mon, Oct 26, 2009 : 6:55 a.m.

Bear, I agree. Does putting this young man in prison make ANYTHING better? Would it make the cyclist's family and friends "happy" as the article says? If so, it will be a fleeting joy. No one who gets happiness from someone's pain experiences it long term. I am hoping that the cyclist's family ends up finding the strength to forgive this young man and ask for his release. Then they will be truly be at peace and free as well. Curse fate that everything fell into place at that moment. At that moment everything lined up for this event...the cyclist, the spot on the road he peddled,the weather, the particular road, the young man, the decision to change the radio station, the wheel on the car moving the inches.......all of it. What if the cyclist had chosen a different road? If he had left 10 mins earlier? Later? If he had been farther off the road? If the young man had turned his radio 2 mins earlier? later? What if the cyclist chose not to ride that day? What if the young man chose not to drive that day? But no. Everything lined up just as it was to happen. FATE. There's no way to understand it or to change it. Sometimes there is no way to accept it. Sometimes it just IS.... and so because we really can't blame fate, we look elsewhere. Then what was an accident (does anyone think this young man intentionally hit the cyclist, trying to kill him?) turns into a court-fest with bloodthirsty prosecutors painting the driver as a monster.....and there are people who buy it. Because SOMEONE has to be responsible. You can't imprison FATE. You can't sue FATE. But sometimes you also can't escape FATE.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 6:26 p.m.

" "car at 60mph will travel 440 feet in 5 seconds." That is 1/12th of a mile. mighty long ways to drive without your eyes on the road on a two-lane highway. my driving experience tells me this is highly improbable. Most drivers would be in the ditch or oncoming traffic before then." That is true. And yet I saw this driver drive quite straight for 5 seconds, right up to the point of collision.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 4:02 p.m.

You are correct, of course, Bear. We do get to each have an opinion. You are especially correct that that doesn't mean the opinion is necessarily right.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 3:28 p.m.

And it irks me something fierce. It is that type of mentality that lead to an innocent man in Texas being executer recently. Talk about responsibility! We have a responsibility as citizens of the United States to prevent innocent citizens from being prosecuted by the State. This is, in my opinion one small example of that. Ever hear of the 'slippery slope' argument? Well, we have a precedent now, let's push it a little further. Turn up the heat slowly and the frog never knows he being boiled alive. So, even in local cases like this, small potatoes to all of you not involved, but it is this man's life and future at stake. And all you out there want to hang him out to dry. He is responsible, he is negligent, he deserves what he is getting. These are the same arguments and mindset that killed Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas. He was innocent. The case against him was false. But you've all already made up your mind. Thank God Michigan abolished the death penalty, the mindset we have here would've strung up a few of them there 'lawbreakers' who may have been innocent. I feel very passionately about this and will not be trodden upon because of it. WE PROSECUTE AT THE DROP OF A HAT!


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 3:16 p.m.

Or run over a cyclist...


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:51 p.m.

"car at 60mph will travel 440 feet in 5 seconds." That is 1/12th of a mile. mighty long ways to drive without your eyes on the road on a two-lane highway. my driving experience tells me this is highly improbable. Most drivers would be in the ditch or oncoming traffic before then.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:41 p.m.

Yes, Jenifer, let's prosecute all lawbreakers to the point of silliness. Forget to turn on you turnsignal, prosecute. spit on the sidewalk, prosecute, jaywalk, prosecute. I know i am going to an extreme with my examples, but do you get my point? Little old lady killed someone in a parking lot in Meijer's. Why not prosecute her? Surely it isn't legal to run over people and then leave the scene. But that happened. I think people are blowing this out of proportion as far as this young man's culpability and we have a lot of people here who care more about prosecuting than anything else. That is, to me, compounding the tragedy. But hey, this is America, you can have your opinion, doesn't make it right. I am only saddened by the fact that one life was needlessly lost and the fact that I see lynch mob all over this board. Fact is, the man hasn't even been convicted and people are calling him a 'lawbreaker'. And yes, let's go after all the lawbreakers or make 'em into lawbreakers so we can prosecute. Geez! Pay attention to what is going on around you.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:29 p.m.

4-5 seconds? Count 4 to 5 seconds next time you are going down the road and tell me that you can keep your vehicle on the road for that amount of time. That is highly unlikely. It is easy to exaggerate. It doesn't take 4-5 seconds to "change a pre-set radio station". That is one button. "He felt subjectively, he had enough time to look away for one second to change a preset radio station," Simon (defendants lawyer) told the judge. Witnesses said 4-5 seconds, again, I would say that is a gross exaggeration. 4-5 seconds is a long time when you are driving. Taking your eyes off the road for that long would put you into a ditch or into oncoming traffic. But whatever, your minds are made up. Too bad facts and evidence have little to do with it. And you want evidence of prosecution happy society, open the papers, check the archives. The evidence is all around you. Take off the blinders.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 2:17 p.m.

Wow, toofache, you really haven't been reading the posts attacking my opinion and my ability to drive have you? Read some of the comments and you just might get an idea of why I responded the way I did. It's called "the rest of the story". But can't say I blame you there, some of these posts are typical kneejerk reaction to situations in which people feel threatened and justified in getting into 'lynch' mode.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 10:18 a.m.

Bear said, "Tell me, have you ever driven in a combat zone? Have you ever driven professionally, hauling equipment or people? Have you logged thousands of miles and long hours on the road? I challenge you to answer that question! Most people's daily commutes are laughable compared to the type of driving experience I have had in life." Wow. What on earth does any of that have to do with anything here?


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 9:35 a.m.

One good thing to come out of this tragedy is placement of the ghost bike on the site of the accident. I pass it driving to and from work each day as do hundreds of other vehicle operators. It is a powerful reminder to us all of the consequences of inattention. Thank you to whoever did created this memorial. One of Mr. Wahls responsibilities should be to maintain it.


Sun, Oct 25, 2009 : 9:12 a.m.

his was NOT an accident, the driver was NOT looking at the road, he was preoccupied with an activity other then driving for over 4-5 seconds, consequently he was not in his lane. A car at 60 MPH will travel 440 feet in 5 seconds. If the driver was looking at the road and not at his radio this would not have happened.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 8:23 p.m.

Actually, I've not said anywhere that anyone should or should not be prosecuted. I've said that they are responsible for their actions, even without intent. But now I'll ask - where do you get the information that we're becoming a more prosecution-happy society? Are you sure that the first question is not actually "can we prosecute" but rather "should we prosecute"? Just because someone has arrived at a different answer to that question than you'd like doesn't mean they've asked the wrong question. Also, aren't you contradicting yourself? You claim that these types of things are rarely prosecuted, yet we're all jumping at the chance to prosecute as often as possible. Which is it? Finally, can you offer a good argument as to why, in general, prosecution should not occur when a law is broken? I'm not talking anything about sentencing here. Just prosecution. What harm does it bring to society to prosecute law-breakers?


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 8:16 p.m.

> Is that clear enough? It appears to me that you equate "reponsibility" with "prosecutability". I don't necessarily hold that to be true. In Ann Arbor, if you strike a pedestrian, even if they cross the street illegally, the driver is held responsible. Look it up. So, is it fair to prosecute the driver because some bonehead jumped in front of his car? Maybe; maybe not. Not so cut and dry as you would have people believe, Jenifer. So, how about we step down from the "prosecute at every possible opportunity" mentality?


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 8:11 p.m.

Bear, what I said is... I DON'T take my eyes off the road for 4-5 seconds. Ever. I stand by that statement. And I REALLY wish that everyone else here would be as incredulous as I am that driving blind for 4-5 seconds is considered by some an "oops." I am not weighing in on what the repercussions should be for this driver. I haven't even thought about it. I AM however stating that he is responsible. And Bear, having done a lot of driving makes you experienced yes, but not necessarily more conscientious behind the wheel.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 8 p.m.

You are not being clear enough. In your previous post you said, "Should the other motorist be charged? He didn't see the motorcyclist." You did not say that you believed the motorist should be charged but probably wouldn't be because historically they haven't been. And yes, if a pedestrian illegally crosses a street and doing so causes an accident, that pedestrian is absolutely at fault and is responsible. Can you please explain what part of "we are all responsible for the consequences if we choose to take risk" or "if a person chooses to do something illegal (such as not paying full attention while driving), they are responsible if that choice results in harm to someone else" doesn't hold water? Because that seems extremely straightforward to me.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 7:59 p.m.

This is a tragedy for all parties involved (except the prosecutor). My point and opinion here is that we have become a prosecution-happy society. Something happens and the first question is "can we prosecute?" And everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Insane.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 7:53 p.m.

It generally is held that the driver isn't responsible because they didn't make a conscious decision to take their eyes off the road, even though their bad habit results in death or mutilation of motorcyclist. Look it up. Drivers are rarely held liable for hitting motorcyclists. And in the context of the people I was responding to, my driving experience IS relevant. And according to Julie, she DOESN'T make mistakes while driving. And if you are "choosing" to cross a road on foot to get to your job and cause a car to swerve out of the way and it hits a tree and kills a driver, are you to be prosecuted because you are 'responsible' for your choice to cross the road and are 'responsible' to do it safely? Your argument doesn't hold water in my opinion. Also, I never stated that it wasn't the drivers responsibility to look out for the motorcyclist, I merely stated that they weren't going to be criminally prosecuted. See the difference? Am I not being clear enough or is it really that hard to follow?


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 7:05 p.m.

Bear - I've seen no one here say that they never make mistakes (driving or otherwise). Rather, people are saying that if you make a mistake, you're responsible for it. And how many miles or hours you've driven or where you've driven them is irrelevant. A driver may make a mistake in his first ever time behind the wheel, or after a lifetime of professional driving, or anywhere in between. If there are no consequences to said mistake (which is, thankfully, usually the case), hooray! If there are consequences, the driver who made the mistake is responsible. Period. Whether or not a prison term is the right punishment will be decided at a later date by someone with much more information than any of us currently have, but that is also irrelevant when the argument is over mistakes and responsibility for them. And why shouldn't the person who hit the motorcyclist in your story be considered at fault? They didn't see the motorcycle because they didn't look. How is that not the driver's responsibility?


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 6:43 p.m.

Yes, Julie, everyone should be as punctilious as you are or should be prosecuted. People don't look twice and see motorcycles and kill them in a lot higher proportion than bicyclists. I am glad your habits are so that you would not be one of them. Your judgments are a little skewed though. I have driven professionally and have been involved in accidents because of people doing stupid things on occasion. I see stupid things done with cars in downtown Ann Arbor every day by folks with big cars and no sense. Do I wish them harm? I am tempted sometimes, but no. In a perfect world no-one would die from accidents. I drove a 5-ton cargo truck in Desert Shield/Storm. I saw the consequences of lax driving in the wreckage and bodies on the side of the road. You and in4mation and tru2blu blow your self-righteous horn loudly. You should hope that you have more people like me on the road. You folks obviously never make mistakes. I will admit that I make mistakes. It is still madness to prosecute this case. Where do you draw the line between responsible and irresponsible? Are you people that quick to hang a man? You are pretty quick to judge me without even knowing who I am. Tell me, have you ever driven in a combat zone? Have you ever driven professionally, hauling equipment or people? Have you logged thousands of miles and long hours on the road? I challenge you to answer that question! Most people's daily commutes are laughable compared to the type of driving experience I have had in life. I have come upon an accident between a motorcyclist and an automobile. My friends and I both knew that if the guy made it, he would probably never walk again. If he made it. Should the other motorist be charged? He didn't see the motorcyclist. Because most motorists have the bad habit of looking only once or twice they miss motorcycles. It takes only a second to miss. But I am probably wasting my time here. You don't want to listen. You have made up your mind. You should google why Michigan is the first english speaking government on the face of the earth to abolish the death penalty. It is because in a rush to judgment, what is now Windsor hung an innocent man. You people sound to me like the jurors in that innocent man's trial. You perfect people who would never make a mistake. Let us hope this never happens to you. Now, judge me some more. Ignorance would be laughable if it didn't help perpetuate misery.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 1:52 p.m.

My heart goes out to Mr.Pincikowski and his family. I can only imagine what the family is going through. But what good can come from the prosecution of the young Mr.Wahl? His life has already been irreparably changed forever. There will not be a day that goes by that this tragic accident won't haunt him. Shame on Judge Simpson and the county prosecutor for charging this young man with Negligent Homicide. It was a tragic, tragic accident.

Basic Bob

Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 1:39 p.m.

Let's not blame the cyclist for riding on the same road as cars. Do you also blame motorcycles for riding on the same road as gravel trucks? Or subcompacts and SUVs? When we choose to use the public roads, we are all liable for our actions. This story is definitely sadder for the victim than the defendant. Even if the defendant goes to jail, he is still above ground.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 1:12 p.m.

What was a bicycle doing in the street with automobiles in the first place?

Sandra Samons

Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 11:27 a.m.

As tragic as this accident certainly is for all parties, it does go to show that whether it's radios or cell phones, it is not the object of distraction, but the driver who is all too human in allowing him or herself to become distracted. Since we are probably not going to outlaw radios in cars, perhaps instead of a law against cell phones, we should modify requirements in driver's education to include greater emphasis on not multitasking while driving, and allow for ticketing all lesser forms of distraction until drivers get the message.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 10:54 a.m.

Life is fragile. Each moment is precious. The consequences of our actions are determined by the choices we make. EVERY decision we make affects someone and everyone.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 10:49 a.m.

This is indeed a tragedy. For all the people involved. As an avid cyclist and driver, I myself can see this incident from both sides. I myself have been harassed and even struck while cycling. And I have changed the radio station while driving. One thing that would help is to educate all parties involved. We should include driver and bicycle education in the drivers education program that most high school students take. Having taught both the driving and the classroom portion of drivers education, there very little that is taught about safe cycling and safe driving with bicyclists, or about the rights and responsibilities of both the driver and the cyclist. If we learn to recognize that we need to share the road, it may go a long way to avoiding tragedies like this in the future.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 10:46 a.m.

yes this was an accident, an accident that SHOULD NOT have happened. Yea, i hope prison wouldn't be the answer, but I think he should be made an example to every driver that gets behind the wheel and think they can just text, talk on the cell, go through their whole CD collection, fiddle with the GPS, the list goes on and on. Imagine what would happen if someone pulled out in a car and he killed another driver, we wouldn't be having this discussion. This country is changing in it's attitudes towards drivers, and with gas prices the way they are, we need to. There WILL be more bikers showing up on the road. lack of infrastructure and fewer bus routes means people need to take the most efficient means to get to and from work, and that leaves roads like Maple. Maple isn't as bad as having to cruise down Michigan Ave, but I'm sorry, I am a bicyclist, and I obey the laws when I go in the road. I don't take advantage or breezing through cross walks at my convenience, when I'm in the road I expect to be treated like a vehicle. show us some respect please!


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 10:20 a.m.

difference is jurisdiction; Meijer's is a private lot. Plus, older lady has a lot more to lose then this 20 yo college student. I know it seems pretty rough, but listen, I man was killed here, for something as lame as an inexperienced driver changing radio stations in his van. Sorry, drivers don't own the road anymore, they NEED to respect other people using the road, expecially in heavily trafficked areas. 2 years won't be so bad. he'll have to work things out with the student loan people, but that's the least of his concerns now.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 9:06 a.m.

The Opinion page or Oct. 5, 2009 Racine Journal Times, Wisconsin just below the Letter from Readers column had a very important article titled The subtext of a very dangerous driving hazard. This article stated that 6,000 people a year were killed and more than half a million were injured last year in crashes linked to texting or talking behind the wheel. The solution is so obvious yet we read these statistics and say shocking, Oh well and continue on our everyday habits oblivious to the pain and loss that a moments selfish carelessness causes. Two months ago our family lost our 45 year old son to senseless a biking accident in which the driver was simply tuning his radio. Our son was riding as he should within the lines designated for bikers. As witnessed by other drivers this young mans car passed over these safety fog lines designated for bikers and from behind hit and killed our son. Unbelievably some bloggers stated that bicycles dont belong on the road and the accident was our sons fault. A small thing like tuning the radio, a moments glance over the shoulder to see what the children are doing in the back seat, combing hair, picking something off of the floor, waving to a neighbor, little things are equally dangerous. Lets get our priorities straight! Over the years it has been by motto to our family members to KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD. Our own family would moan, Oh, Mom, but please heed these words. They WILL save a life and it may be yours. We are not out for "vengence" We only want justice and fairness. It only makes sense that when a person gets beind the wheel of a car, it is a big responsibility. We hope that this young man will be responsible in his future decisions and pursuits. There is a big lesson here for all of us. Yes, this accident has received a lot of attention and debate, as well it should.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 8:15 a.m.

Bear,you wrote: "So, if someone came up on your car in that second, and you hit them, wouldn't you still be negligent?" That wouldn't happen. Because I'm PAYING ATTENTION to my surroundings. I don't have my eyes off the road for FOUR OR FIVE seconds, EVER. And I don't let them leave the road for even ONE second until I've analyzed my surroundings, can see one second in the future in all directions, and found it safe to do so. C'mon -- I thought everyone knew this stuff! Your eyes dart around constantly, you are always watching around you... OK, maybe YOU are not. But I'm getting worried about sharing the road with YOU.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 7:46 a.m.

No one wants this man to go to jail. Really, what would be best, is for everyone who thinks that it's no big deal to be irresponsible when driving to lose their license. "What Every Driver Must Know" ( says: "Concentrate on your driving. A momentary distraction can lead to a crash. Do not allow tasks, such as tuning the radio, searching for a compact disk, eating, or talking on the cell phone, pull your attention from the road." So the Michigan Secretary of State says doing any of these things while driving is irresponsible, and we all should have learned that in driver's ed. When you agreed to get a driver's license, you agreed to these terms. This was no accident, it was someone doing something irresponsible and killing someone else as a result. I bike to work every work day. I don't what this man to go to jail. I don't want his future ruined. I want justice to be done and have him found guilty, because I want all other drivers to take responsibility for how they drive. The best outcome would be community service for this man, going to other young drivers and telling his story, so the other drivers will hopefully never do something so dangerous and irresponsible. And yes, if you're taking your eyes off the road to change your radio station, you're being irresponsible. Get a CD player and keep your eyes on the road where they belong.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 7:36 a.m.

This is a very sad tragedy, but a human life is worth a least a trial. This kid won't go to jail. Anything less than 2 years will probably draw only a probation sentence. His horrible life lesson should go on at least through a trial to show respect to the family of the deceased. He appears to feel horrible about the accident and will likely live with this guilt for his entire life - so that is his real punishment. A trial is the least that should be done to honor a man's life and give his family some closure.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 7:29 a.m.

I can vividly remember the times on separate occasions that my now grownup children pulled the Accident Card. " But daddy I didn't mean to do it... It was a accident". Followed by the puppy look. Well they all got a STERN but informative talk and the universe has been in order ever sense. Look people,you can't go through life handicapping yourself or others by being a no account wussy. Life is DIFFICULT...Play by the rules


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 6:16 a.m.

This is a tragedy and an ACCIDENT. Putting this young man in prison would only serve to escalate the tragedy. It will not bring the cyclist back to life. It will only torture the young man who changed his radio station. Sometimes accidents have tragic results. That's a fact. It is time to differentiate between people who intentionally harm someone and people who have an accident. Stop the insanity of filling prisons with people who unintentionally hurt someone in an accident. If some people want revenge for this death, stand outside and shake your fist at God. Because accidents DO happen without any malicious intent. We don't know why, but we do know it sometimes happens. Only God doesn't make mistakes.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 6:15 a.m.

The inane, provocative, spiteful and misguided comments posted here on the outcome of this tragic accident, is exactly why Ann Arbor needs a paper newspaper every day. If these "letters" had been submitted to the editor of a normal newspaper very few, if any, of them would see the light of day. And quite rightly so.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 6:08 a.m.

I think prison is for criminals. I personally do not think that this young man is a criminal, but on the other side a man is dead. His children no longer have their father, and his wife no longer has her husband. I think there does need to be punishment, however I dont think prison is the answer. This young man would better serve as a spokesman to youth that we should not be texting, talking on cell phones or even changing radio stations and blasting loud music, these are all distractions when driving. I pray for all involved.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 1:22 a.m.

First and foremost, my deepest sympathy to the family of the deceased. Next, my deepest sympathy to this young man and his family. I drive a couple hundred miles, five days a week to feed my family. The most nerve-wracking of those miles are in Ann Arbor. Those "Fog Lines" are ridiculous. Get rid of bike lanes! Make more bike paths. Bikes and automobiles do not mix. Bicyclists in Ann Arbor think they own the road. I've had so many "near misses" that I squirm when I read about this. Think about it...minimum speed anywhere for an automobile is 25 mph. How many bicycles go over 5 mph for more than a few hundred feet? If you're driving around a curve or going over a hill and closing on someone at 20 mph... sooner or later you're gonna have a collision. Unfortunately....TWO families get ruined for a long time.


Sat, Oct 24, 2009 : 12:14 a.m.

Sad story, so lets make it worse! Should I tell my kids not to stop?


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

Every day there are thousands of accidents. Even more "near misses". Depending on the circumstances, any one of them, no matter how small, could cause a fatality. Unless you have never made any such mistake in your life, keep your judgmental comments to yourself.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 10:10 p.m.

Stepping back from all the really horrible name calling so far here, can we just acknowledge for a moment that no one is, at least yet, being sent to prison? In fact, no one has even yet been convicted of any crime? A judge has simply decided that, based on evidence presented so far, the defendant in question should go to trial for negligent homicide. That doesn't mean he will be found guilty. And if he is found guilty, it doesn't mean he will be given the maximum allowable sentence of two years in prison. Now to comment on the more popular issue - Anyone who chooses to operate a motor vehicle is responsible for doing so safely. You might choose to take your eyes off the road to change a radio station or dial your phone or pick up the sandwich you're eating or make eye contact with someone in the back seat or see what that bright red thing on the side of the road was, or check out that interesting-looking billboard or check to be sure you've got your book bag on the front floor of your car. Doesn't matter the reason, if you take your eyes off the road, you take responsibility for that action. If that action results in harm to someone or something, it's your responsibility.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 10:09 p.m.

@tru2blu76 "careless morons" who? people who listen to the radio in their cars? Do you drive in silence? If not please dont turn the radio down while the car is in motion because if you do you should be shot "right there on the side of the road." The young man made a mistake and the loss of life is never good but how does putting him in prison make things right?


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 10:08 p.m.

In4mation, how is it that I can empathize with this young man for doing something that is normal to do in a car. CHANGE THE RADIO STATION, FOR ALL YOU SARCASIC IGNORANT PEOPLE! Also are you saying that you follow all traffic laws and never do anything in your car that would distract you from the road, even for a second? You never talk on your cellphone, listen to the radio, or even roll up your window. As a matter of fact, are you saying you never speed, drive with your hands at 10 and 2 or 9 and 3, whatever the proper hand placement is nowadays? How dare you voice who you think should stay off the road when you are probably one of the first to roll through a stop sign in downtown Ann Arbor. Secondly, there are plenty of cyclist that do not follow the rule of the road and hug the white line or cross over it, just as Mr. Wahl had done in his vehicle. If Mr. Pincikowski had been over the white line would this gentleman still be in court today? I have no disrespect for Mr. Pincikowski's, but what is to be gained from sending this young man to jail. He can't go back and change it and I'm sure he is already learning a hard enough lesson having to live with the fact that he killed a man for the rest of his life. And keep your negative comments to yourself. If you want to tell people to stop driving and to walk or take the bus, maybe you should be the first to do so, because you drive no better than the rest of us.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 8:49 p.m.

"We're here to support Lisa and happy that the outcome is positive, and that this will go to trial," said John Debling I agree that this statement is troubling. There is nothing positive about this. While criminals are let off everyday in the court system or not taken to court at all. This seemingly responsible young man is being drug through the mud. He made a mistake and will pay for it the rest of his life. I am not here to say he should not be charged but I would like to see more righteous indignation when it comes to the career criminals that get off scott free every day.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 7:55 p.m.

" I do not change my radio without first making sure that everything around me is visible and clear, and safe to do so. And my eyes don't leave the road for more than a second." So, if someone came up on your car in that second, and you hit them, wouldn't you still be negligent? By these standards you would. Fun to judge when you aren't the one in the hot seat.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 7:51 p.m.

Who amongst us hasn't made a "conscious decision to take his eyes off the road," and how does that alone constitute negligence? I am saddened by the loss of life, we were coming home from work when we came upon the scene. But what is wrong here? If I look away from the road because of something distracting me am I negligent? Apparently so! By that logic we are ALL negligent drivers who are just waiting for an unfortunate set of circumstances to allow us to be prosecuted by overzealous acolytes of the system. " happy that the outcome is positive, and that this will go to trial," What!?! I cannot help but be disturbed by that mentality. The side of the road has a shoulder with gravel on it and even with that it is still too narrow for bicycles to safely navigate without any danger. Riding a bike with your back to large, heavy, fast-moving vehicles capable of killing you is insane in my book anyways! I would rather be going towards traffic, so I can at least see and take evasive measures if a vehicle wanders from it's lane. But instead, let's just prosecute! What a messed up mentality. And yeah, what about the old lady that killed a woman in Meijer parking lot? Never brought to court or prosecuted and she ran someone down in a PARKING LOT! But a kid looks down for a second to push a button and isn't drunk or high or on his cell phone and you want to put him in Jail and ruin his life? You want to compound and extend the tragedy? That is insane, wrong & a real frightening picture to paint of our society as a whole! I ask once again, what is wrong with this picture? I cannot be the only one who sees the elephant in the living room here.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 7:21 p.m.

This is not something we all do every day. I do not change my radio without first making sure that everything around me is visible and clear, and safe to do so. And my eyes don't leave the road for more than a second.

Silly Sally

Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 6:47 p.m.

This young driver was clearly negligent, and someone died due to his error. He is guilty. Many people are thinking, "wow, I could have done this" I never have, but all drivers have been distracted at some point, especially immature younger drivers. So, he is guilty. What punishment is appropriate? Jail for a year or two will not bring back the dead or make Mr. Wahl more careful. It might embitter him and make him a worse person. Perhaps he should be made to volunteer hundreds of hours at various charities.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 6:44 p.m.

This is vengeance. How is sending this young man to prison going to bring Mr. Pincikowski back? Take his license away or make him do community service lectures, but prison??? I change the radio station/cd player in my car every time I drive and yes you do have to be careful. However, I would never ride my bike on a busy road, especially in rush hour. It is unnecessarily dangerous. I think both men made mistakes. Mrs. Pincikowski has an 18 year old son. Surely she can empathize through her own suffering and see that this was an accident.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:47 p.m.

I would agree with the second and third post - I may change the radio everyday - but when I see a bicyclist and there are oncoming cars, I would wait until the road is less busy before I take my eye off the road. In that part of the road, he should have seen the bicyclist and not taken his eye off the road. Therefore, he was negligent - he didn't mean to do it - but his decision making while driving a vehicle was negligent. Sorry.

Drew Burton

Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:46 p.m.

Obviously Ann Arbor cares deeply about bicyclists because this story has generated a lot of comment at every turn. Changing the radio IS something people do daily. Thank God it rarely ends this way. This is why they are called accidents. Pray for everyone involved.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:39 p.m.

And to state the obvious again- I meant "sarcastic," so keep your spelling lessons to yourself. I know spelling errors are comic gold to sorry to feed the beast.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:39 p.m.

Thank you Jacksmom,THANK YOU. You took the words right out of my mouth. Its amazing how low some responders minds drop to.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:36 p.m.

Obviously the first poster meant that we all change the radio station every day. It is so annoying that after every story- doesn't matter what it's about- there are snarky, sarcatic, know-it-all comments.


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 5:14 p.m.

jrigglem, you are correct this is a very sad story. However "doing something that all of us do everyday", not sure about you but I don't kill someone "everyday" with my vehicle.

Duane Collicott

Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 4:58 p.m.

>Why must this young boy suffer for something that all of us do everyday? We kill people on bicycles every day?


Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 4:45 p.m.

This is a sad sad story. Why must this young boy suffer for something that all of us do everyday? How is his case any different than the old woman who was speeding through the Meijer parking lot, killed someone and critcally injured another? This young man was driving on the road, not through a parking lot and yet the elderly woman got to walk away without anything happening to her. What a shame. :(