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Posted on Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 4 p.m.

Driver Nicholas Wahl pleads guilty to negligent homicide in fatal bicycle crash in Pittsfield Township

By Amalie Nash

The driver of a van that struck and killed a bicyclist in Pittsfield Township in July pleaded guilty to negligent homicide today under an agreement that calls for no upfront jail time.

Nicholas Wahl, 20, of Clinton was charged with the high-court misdemeanor in the death of Tim Pincikowski, 45, of Saline.

Thumbnail image for 072809Accident.jpg

This photo shows the scene of the July 28 crash.

Wahl, who had no criminal record, faced up to two years in prison if convicted. During a pre-trial hearing today, he pleaded guilty to the charge under a sentencing agreement with Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Melinda Morris.

Under the terms of the deal, Wahl will not serve any jail time and will be sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which means he will have no criminal record if he successfully completes probation. Judges can sentence anyone between the ages of 17 and 20 under the act if they plead guilty to a crime, although certain crimes are excluded.

Police testified during a preliminary hearing in October that Wahl admitted he took his eyes off the road for a moment to change a pre-set radio station just before the crash.

Authorities say Wahl was driving north on Maple Road on July 28 at about 5 p.m. when his van struck Pincikowski's bicycle. Witnesses testified the bicyclist was on the fog line or in the travel portion of the roadway close to the line.

Joseph Simon, Wahl's attorney, declined to comment this afternoon but said he may comment at sentencing. Wahl is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 22 and remains free on bond.

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.



Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 12:54 p.m.

As somone who has watched this young man grow up, i did not hear about this until recently. What a tragady! i have 2 sons 19 and 21 that no doubt has looked down to change a radio station, and i infact have, anyone who says they havent are lying. I am not sure what the punishment should be but i believe truly that what he has to live with the rest of his life will be a lot of heartache and pain. I am truly sorry for the family of the man that was killed, he will never be replaced nor forgotten. I am sure this was nothing more than an accident....there is a reason they are called that....he did not go out saying he was going to do was an accident. Further more he accepted his responsibilty it this. Both families will have to suffer a great deal form this accident and people blaming either or for this need to stop. It happend and that wont change, but maybe, just maybe something good can come out of this.

Paul A.

Sun, Jan 10, 2010 : 6:32 p.m.

Good friend made what I consider a thoughtful and intelligent response to some of the posting on this situation. As one of the coordinators of the memorial ride in Tim's honor, I have tried to stay informed as the courts considered this case. From all I have learned, from all the communications with Tim's family, from what I know of Nicholas's sense of responsibility, I truly believe that best outcome of this accident will be accomplished by Judge Morris's determination on how Nicholas's probation can best be served. I know he has expressed remorse, that he feels responsibility, and that if he can help others understand the dangers of distracted driving, it could give some possible positive outcome to this. I also know that most drivers would not be influenced in their distracted driving habits if the only outcome was a jail time for him; they would continue doing what it is they do without really understanding that this accident could have happened to them, either as a cyclist or as a driver. If Nicholas can show new and young drivers the consequences of their behaviors, then some good will come of this.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 6:28 p.m.

I am surprised by the number of people who say "it was accidental" meaning "it wasn't what he intended to do" and "therefore it wasn't his fault." Mom always told me that there are people out there who see things in pure black and white. And to watch out for them.

Stacie Sheldon

Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

"Goodfriend" - I just read your posting from 17 hours ago and want you to know it made me feel really good to read. As an American Indian, when I see cases like this I wish that other communities could know about or offer restorative justice." In our way of seeing things, Nick would never go to jail (that would be a waste of two lives). He would be expected to take responsibility for the absence of Tim by buying the family's groceries, shoveling their sidewalks, mowing their lawns, attending family events like graduations, etc. This is hard for everyone at first but this is how healing really happens. But clearly in the USA healing and restoration are not what justice is about. :-P I hope Nick does figure out how to handle all of this.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

First, My sympathies to the Pincikowski family. Tim loved to cycle as a means as exercise, a noble activity, for this passion he traded his life. The motorist gets off without any punishment at all? Tim's life was discounted because he was riding a bicycle. Why? Shame on you Judge Morris. Happy Trails in Heaven Tim.


Thu, Jan 7, 2010 : 12:38 a.m.

Well, this kid plea bargained. case closed


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 10:58 p.m.

Billy, could you cite some references? This website ( points out an Italian study that showed that under some circumstances at least, there can be a deterrent effect. I think that in this case, there will be a deterrent effect. If there are no visible legal consequences, it will deter people from cycling, since it will be clear that under the law, their lives are of little value, even if witnesses agree that they were obeying the laws perfectly. If there are legal consequences, it will slightly deter motorists from distracted driving. The poor kids and poor wife of the dead man strike me as worse off than the person who was negligent. However they've all lost in this case. You may have never had motorists attack you, but I certainly have had motorists attack me. There's even a police case on file of a motorist who followed me home, chased me up my driveway, and attacked me. He even followed me to work the next day. What did I do? I told him "too close, Jack" when he nearly hit me as I turned left into my neighborhood.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

I wonder what the sentencing options for someone older than 20 are in Michigan? I find it disturbing that licensed drivers may be sentenced differently according to age for the same offense. In my mind, the requirement of "licensing" infers a level of competence relating to specific standards, regardless of age. While judicial discretion is evident here, I don't understand the consideration of age in sentencing.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 6:27 p.m.

KJMClark Actually i did some research on this. There is just as much theft in muslim countries who cut limbs off as there is in western countries. Draconian penalties do not work. They only rise the people up against the system that imposes such penalties. This poor kid has to live with this for the rest of his life. And life is for the living....And I've driven on that same road and almost been killed at that same intersection. I would never drive a bicycle on that road....I have been attacked by a bicyclist in burns park who punched my windshield and screamed f & a bombs at me after he blew a stop sign. Never had that happen from another motorist....I'm sorry for the deceased cyclists family. What a tragedy


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 5:24 p.m.

As a close friend of the Wahl family, I'd like to clarify a number of points being addressed in this forum. The police investigation confirmed and no further evidence has proven otherwise: there was NO cell phone use or texting activity at the time of the accident or at any point from the time Nick left his family's home in Clinton until some time after the accident. Cell phone records have confirmed this fact. Indeed, at the time of the accident, Nick was changing the radio station, seeking a local weather update as a severe storm approached the area. As we might recall, the prosecutor's office did not intially seek charges against Nick, a decision based upon the preliminary police investigation. Only after additional consideration did the prosecutor's office decide to pursue the charge of negligent homicide. In this case, the charge simply alleges that a traffic death occurred and Nick was driving the vehicle in question. In the end, and for much the same reasons as their initial hestitancy to pursue charges, the prosecutor's office approached Nick's attorney with this plea agreement. Despite the ease with which this case has been tried in the court of public opinion, this was going to be a very difficult case to try as a matter of law. The defense stood an excellent - though not guaranteed - chance of prevailing at trial. Police were unable to determine the victim's exact location on the road which, despite suggestions to the contrary, is relevant. Eye witness reports were inconsistent and contradictory, at best - a fact that would have been explored in much greater detail had this case gone to trial. As with many traffic fatalities, there was little in the way of physical evidence to present. In the end, the prosecution and defense agreed to a plea arrangement. Judge Morris' role was simply to judge the acceptability of such an arrangement as a matter of law. The Holmes Youthful Training Act was considered a suitable option and the exact terms will be finalized at the sentencing hearing on February 22. However, the terms of this agreement will be stringent and any violation is likely to result in the two year jail sentence for negligent homicide. In the meantime, by his own choice, Nick has not driven since the day of the accident and has determined that he will not drive until he concludes whatever probationary period is included in the sentencing. As the criminal and civil cases are brought to resolution, Nick has remained respectful of the Pincikowski family's loss and their grief. Our community may be ready to move onto other matters, but lives of these two families remain profoundly changed - a fact not lost to Nick. Depending upon the wishes of the Pincikowski family, there may be some communication between the two families in the future, but that will be handled as a private matter. As for any "moral advice" Nick has received from his church over these last months - for he is a Christian, as one commentor recalled - it has been this: Something positive will come from this accident. It must, for the Christian message has always been that death does not have the final word. Ever. And, more profoundly than any of us can ever realize, Nick knows: his life must be one of the instruments for that outcome.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 1:41 p.m.

I am dismayed with Judge Morris's decision to procecute under HYTA and agree to no upfront jail time. 2 years imprisonment is a small price to pay for taking 40 years of a mans life and devastating a family. It won't bring Tim back but it does send a strong message that Michigan will not tolerate negligent driving. Regardless of the Judges decision on the appropriate sentence (a punishment from the State), it is important that all offenders a) accept responsibility for their actions and b) accept the consequences of their behavior before the process of forgiveness can begin. I am happy that Nicholas has accepted responsibility by entering a guilty plea. However, I do not believe he is truly willing to accept the consequences of his mistake. The approach to avoid jail time and a criminal record is self serving and not the actions of a righteous man. I wonder what moral advice his church (it is alleged he is a Christian) has provided him. How will Nicholas repay the Pincikowski's for the millions of lost wages they will suffer from the loss of Tim? Will he truly sacrifice some of his future wealth to repay those he has wronged or will he attempt to avoid any financial consequence? How will he deal with the grieving Pincikowski family? To my knowledge he has not offered any statement of regret or asked for forgiveness either to the Pincikowski family or filtered through his lawyer. He has sat quietly in court.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

My mistake. Shows I'm not a lawyer; the "high-court misdemeanor" phrase doesn't mean a thing to me. I think Wahl wasn't charged with a traffic crime. Pretty confusing. In this situation, the crime is covered under the penal code. I have to wonder if other states do it this way, or if it's one of those Michigan things to make sure that motorists have lots of opportunities to avoid consequences for crimes, since we have to support the auto industry. We bicyclists see that all the time. That's why most states define a bicycle as a vehicle, like the dictionary does, but in Michigan we use doublespeak instead to say it's not.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 10:35 a.m.

Actually, the sentencing under the Holmes Act looks really odd. I wonder if the parties forgot to check the details of an act that they apply often to other crimes? It's pretty clear that it can't be used for traffic crimes: MCL 762.11 (in part): "(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any of the following: (c) A traffic offense. [...] (4) As used in this section: (b) Traffic offense means a violation of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.1 to 257.923, or a violation of a local ordinance substantially corresponding to that act, that involves the operation of a vehicle and, at the time of the violation, is a felony or a misdemeanor."


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

I'm glad that Mr. Wahl isn't getting jail time, but he really should either be sentenced with, or as a matter of honor agree to serve, hundreds of hours of community service. If it would affect Mr. Wahl's future job prospects, then I'm also glad his conviction will be dropped in the future. It does none of us any good to have another life ruined, as long as he does all of us the good of telling his story to other young people. Bill, do you realize you can replace "cyclists" with "motorists" and have an equally true statement? Loka, I'm pretty sure there's less theft in Muslim countries, so deterrence probably does have some effect. And unlike a few of you, I don't buy the "preset radio" bit. His eyes had to have been off the road far longer than it's ever taken me to glance down and push a button. That's his version of the story, but it seems pretty ridiculous to me. This was negligence, plain and simple. It's lucky that he veered toward the shoulder, and not into oncoming traffic. We could have ended up with far more people dead. No one displaying that level of negligence should get off without any punishment. I've always thought a significant community service requirement would be best. Separately, it's a little confusing that the Holmes Act could be used here. The State Corrections page says, "Excluded from this program are youth who are charged with a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment, a major controlled substance offense or a traffic offense." [Emphasis mine.]


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 7:21 a.m.

there is always a want to be in the comments billy, keep it up and maybe you will get that jail time that Mr Wahl. I will love to here your rationalization then.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 4:47 a.m.

Local cyclists are the worst. They run red lights, violate traffic laws and scream at drivers. I don't even think this young man should have been charged. If he made a mistake he will have to live his action but involving the criminal justice system was a mistake. At most he should have gotten a traffic ticket and a civil infraction and a fine amd perhaps a drivers license suspension.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

Negligent homicide is just a misdemeanor in Michigan? Great decision all around, applauded heartily by many who wrote in! It should be 10 years in prison or a whole lot of bread. How about that 10 years of jail until $200,000 is coughed up for each child? That might cover their tuition, room and board for college. Fair's fair, the parent's house has got to go, and even then too bad. If it is only $100,000 each, so 5 years in prison.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 9:29 p.m.

Lokalisierung, There certainly would be a lot less shoplifting if both hands were cut off!


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 6:03 p.m.

Sorry I'm not buying that for a second. I guess it's my fault for bringing it up but there's no shortage or arguments on either saide of the "set an example" in the legal world. Do you think if he was sentenced to 30 years, that no 20 year old would change the radio station? Do you think everyone that drives a car would take more care driving? Are there less Murderes in Texas than Michigan becasue they have the death penalty to "deter" them? Is there less shoplifting in parts of the world where they cut the convicted hands off as punishment?

Phillip Farber

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 5:40 p.m.

@Lokalisierung: regarding how this leaves the door open for more "accidental" deaths, @gerry stated it quite well:. "if you allow yourself to be distracted after seeing a hazard you should be punished severely in order to set an _example_for_others_ who operate a [lethal] weapon....". The penalties for "accidentally" killing someone with you car are just to light, IMO.

Bill Merrill

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

While our legal system is not set up this way, I believe an appropriate punishment for killing or gravely injuring someone with your motor vehicle would be, at a minimum, the revocation of driving privileges. Accidental or not, such a person has demonstrated he or she cannot safely drive.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 4:23 p.m.

I cannot believe people actually think this young man should spend time in jail. It was an accident. The cyclist was on this road during the busiest time of day and close to the line. Risky, I'd say.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Cyclists are to obey the same laws as cars. I wrote an opinion piece on this subject back when the A2 News was on paper. There are bike lanes in some places, that both drivers and cyclists sometimes ignore. It's time to take this tragedy seriously. Cyclists: Follow the rules of the road. Know which roads are most dangerous (Dexter-Chelsea Rd., for example, and avoid them like the plague. Drivers: GET OFF THOSE CELLS! Respect the fact, that the cyclist is vulnerable to even the slightest driver error. Yes, they can be annoying when they drive in packs. So what SLOW down until it's safe to pass. I am heart-broken for this father and his family. I don't feel the young man should be sent to prison. I DO feel that this kid should have at LEAST been forced to re-take Driver's Ed. Community service should also have been added. Something doesn't smell right in this heart-breaking story.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 3:13 p.m.

Cars and bikers will always be on the road. The only useful answer is as the writer previously stated, put in rumble strips, make the bike lanes wider and show consideration for each other. We all have to share in this life. I do have trouble reaching a conclusion in my mind as to which is more of a crime, driving and causing a tragedy while totally sober or is it worse to be impaired by drink or drugs. They are both seem equally bad in my eyes. Let's care about each other, let's get through this life we share thinking of the other person, not just ourselves.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:43 p.m.

I had an uncle who was forced to bail out of his B-17 in WWII as a result he injured his back but was still able to evade capture for 6 months with the French resistance until liberated by the British. On the other hand he had payback knowing that he helped kick the a@@ of the Nazis. After being discharged from the military he was injured during a fire set by a careless indivual. His back was broken fire and became permanently disables in all 4 quadrants of his body. His only restitution was his good nature and support from his family and friends. About 10 years before he passed away he was riding on the sidewalk in his electric scooter when a distracted driver lost control of her car on a local street at 30 mph limit and ran him over breaking several of his bones. Of course the driver was under insured and again he was forced to suffer till the end of his life. His cheerfulness was broken and he was not the same person till the day he passed away. My point is how often does this have to happen before people become responsible for there actions. I am sure the soldiers who shot him down has nothing against him personally. I sure the person who started the fire that crippled him did not intend for him to be injured and I sure the person that ran him over and ruined his remaining years did not MEAN to hurt anyone. My point is an auto is a weapon and if you allow yourself to be distracted after seeing a hazard you should be punished severely in order to set an example for others who operate a weapon that is more lethal ever year than illegal hand guns, thieves and some diseases.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

"leaving the door open to more "accidental" deaths" Oh yeah good everyone is just going to drive around hitting bicyclists all the time casue they can easily get away with it? Please explain exactly how this "opens the door."

Phillip Farber

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 1:28 p.m.

Yes and those that believe he was adequately punished are leaving the door open to more "accidental" deaths. We are such a "don't give a hoot" culture.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

Yes and many of us agree he was punished accordingly.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

Anybody who takes their eyes off the road to check their cell phone, or to change the radio, is willingly taking the risk of getting into an accident. People need to take responsibility for their actions. He was driving a car, he did not focus on what he was doing, he killed somebody, and he should be properly be punished.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

So in this town you can take the life of an innocent person, or steal a million dollars from a youth organization and not spend a day in jail. Utterly ridiculous.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

I thought this case had completely disappeared, so thanks for this article. I was a witness to the collision. So difficult to decide what is just. I wanted the prosecutor to pursue this case--to acknowledge the gravity of the negligence that caused the collision; he did that. I also wanted Nick to plead guilty and he did. I hoped that Nick's life would not be destroyed by this. It looks like it won't be. Perhaps that is enough. Two good people. One already gone. It was a terrible mistake. Not intentional. Nick will surely suffer for the rest of his own life, over this, even without going to jail.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 10:11 a.m.

Of course he didn't intend to hit a bicyclist, but there are different degrees of "accidental." If you see a bicyclist on the road ahead of you, you stop the distracting activity and put both hands on the wheel and pay total attention to the situation until you have passed the cyclist. Same for slippery or foggy conditions, same thing at night with oncoming headlights. If you do anything other than this, you are guilty of being an irresponsible driver, and no that's NOT okay.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

IMHO the perp should have a permanent record detailing his negligence. He should lose his privilege of a drivers license for at least 2 years and pay a STEEP fine. I am not sure jail time would have served much purpose, although 6 months in county sure would have brought driver responsibility to the fore of his brain. In addition he should be required to perform community service on his campus until graduation, or be required to speak at the local high schools on the topic of PAYING ATTENTION when driving.

Paul Taylor

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 9:36 a.m.

Mixing cars and bikes is madness from the get-go. We should have a path for bikes and pedestrians, physically separate from main thoroughfares. Of course, that would cost too much, so we accept the cost in human lives over the long run. Crazy, eh?


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

It seems folks would allow each immature driver one "free" manslaughter / fatality. That is amazing, but of course there are too many bicyclists. I recall a woman killed west of Chelsea several years ago and a similar outcome for the driver, a cd changer that time. Driving is a privilege not a right.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

I'm amazed at the lack of empathy. Those thinking jail time is the solution, would likely be happy if the old "eye for an eye" was imposed. Why not the death penalty? I'm betting there isn't a single individual commenting who hasn't faced a similar potential tragedy. Most lucked out at the last second or simply lied and didn't admit what actually happened. If you only see justice in this kid going to jail, where do you draw the line? What about the death of child from a parent leaving a cabinet of cleaning suppplies unlocked or someone whose child strangles on a cord from a recalled blind? Do they not deserves the same fate. After all, a death resulted due to their carelessness must be punished.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

good out come why should a kid go to jail for an honest mistake? if you ask me if stay out of the road, you dont get hit by cars. i tell my kids that constantly, when you put yourself in harms way bad things happen....

Resident Tourist

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

I fail to see the importance of mentioning in every article about this incident where the bicyclist was in relation to the fog line. It is legal for a bike to travel on the actual roadway where a bike can avoid broken glass, rocks, and other debris on the shoulder. The way it is worded makes it sound like the biker is somehow at fault for being in the road. It would be great to hear regularly from somebody in the bicycling community about biking around Ann Arbor and raising awareness of biking issues on a regular basis.

A2 in FL

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

What is sad is that so many people feel that they are in the position to judge this young man, make assumptions about him returning to school to "party" and how he will live his life going forward. It is a great tragedy that a life was lost and that a family is missing a father; however, it is a greater tragedy that so many feel that they are in a position of judging others intentions, feelings and lives. Until you've walked a mile in someone else's shoes, or until you are appointed "the higher power" people should reserve their judgments for themselves.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 6:42 a.m.

While I can certainly understand the family's pain and anguish over the loss of their loved one, I do believe that in this situation the judge made the right decision. Every single person on this board has been guilty of exactly what this young man did to cause this ACCIDENT (I say accident because its clear he didn't have the intent of going out and running down a cyclist that day). How many of you have changed your radio station? Have eaten in your car? Have answered your cell phone? Have reached behind to give a screaming child a toy or bottle? We have ALL taken our eyes off the road at numerous times in our lives. This could have happened to any one of us at any time.

Anti ann arborite

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 3:12 a.m.

I'm sorry, these cyclists think they own the roads around Washtenaw County. There's been many times I've had to follow some dumb biker going 13mph because "they own the road, too". You're asking to get flattened if you ride in the road. It's stupid to presume that all drivers are watching the road at all times and there's never a drunk driver out there. I say bikers shouldn't be allowed to ride bikes on the street unless there is a designated bike lane, even then, stay in your bike lane, it's wide enough for one at a time.


Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 12:23 a.m.

The scary part of this story is: even with all of their faults, drivers here seem to better than they are in many places. I guess that I'll never understand the 'I rule the road' mindset.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 11:50 p.m.

How can people say jail time for the offender would not serve any purpose? Exactly what purpose does a slap-on-the-wrist precedent for a lethal act of negligence serve? A sentence with no jail time simply does not fit here, period. My heart goes out to the family of the cyclist.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 11:14 p.m.

Everyone likes to paint every college age kid as a party hard type. it is an easy and a popular thing to do. But when you use broad strokes you get alot of good kids with your paint. Nicolas has been given an option many of us don't or won't never get, a do over. The courts know our youth can make a bad choice, but if they can learn there lesson then they can get a fresh start. Nicholas is one of our youth that has been given this choice. Will he make good choices? it is up to Nicholas to choose. Watch how you paint, if your not careful you will get covered by it.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 10:39 p.m.

This tragedy needs to teach both sides, drivers and cyclists, to be more aware of the rules and their surroundings. I would like to get a run-down of the laws cyclists need to follow. Are they supposed to stop in the line of traffic or to the side? Can cars pass a stopped cyclist at a red light? Are cyclists allowed to pass cars to get to the intersection at a red light? I've always thought a bike in the road should be treated like a car but it seems cyclists rarely follow the same line of thought.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 10:29 p.m.

It seems to me that the ultimate problem is putting bicycles in close proximity to cars. I realize that it's cheaper to pave bicycle lanes right next to the road itself, but if the bike lanes were more like sidewalks - away from the road - this sort of accident would occur less frequently. Or at least put rumble strips between the bike and car lanes.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 9:32 p.m.

I'm stunned that someone who kills a bicyclist, while resetting the radio preset, isn't getting any jail time. What kind of message does this send to those who are too busy texting and talking on their phones to notice us riding on the public roads. It's time people wake up and understand driving is a privilege and needs to be approached with some self responsibility or someone else is going to be killed soon.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 8:20 p.m.

If anyone thinks this young man intentionally hit the cyclist, speak up. Otherwise it was a tragic accident. Vengeance is a cruel warden. Every time you sleep, he awakens you. Every time you swallow, he gags you. Every time you pray, the words won't come. Only forgiveness will open YOUR prison doors. I'm not sure that intentionally wishing pain, sorrow and horror on a young person is any better then causing a fatal accident by turning a radio dial. One seems to have a lot more vile intent than the other.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

Well a high mis. means he can do 2 years in jail...which is a lot for a mis. On his record/off his record I don't know if that really matters. he wouldn't have to report it to anyone and no one is going to look. Hmmm...unless he gets a job that requires a driving record check.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:42 p.m.

What are the consequences of a "high court misdemeanor"? Will it ever be removed from his record? Will it make any future careless driving on his part turn into a really big penalty? Will it act as a deterrent in any way? I would imagine that he's pretty broken up about this, but it would be nice to also see that the penalty has some teeth.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:35 p.m.

i have kit a biker or two in my day and been hit a couple times (These were all a very long time ago). I think it's more the driver's fault now but not always. Many bicyclists go out of their way to do whatever they want, drive on the street when it's easy then slip onto the sidewalk when they want, run lights and so on. But most times the drivers ignorance of the law, or just common spacial awareness that does it. We all know the drivers in this town are just horrible, they make it dangeroous for bikes, cars, & pedestrians.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

I don't know the prior record. It may have been the best sentence. But riding a bike is a real problem. I gave up riding on the roads, it's just such a crap shoot if even a non-distracted driver will see you. I was driving on Maple right near the site a month or two ago. A bicyclist coming in the opposite direction must have been distracted and crossed over the centerline. I was able to pull over to the shoulder, but maybe the safest thing is to ride on trails


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:21 p.m.

Yes, intent makes it a completley seperate crime. I mean it's the difference of Murder 1 & a misdemeanor...that's about as far apart as you can get. Intent of a crime, especially one involving a death, shows a severe detatchment with the beliefs of society as a whole, and must be dealt with. That can either be reomval from society, punative results, etc etc. But hey I agree with you that should stay on his record...getting that exsponged after 2 years is a joke. of course that's if he stays clean. He violates the probation (the terms of which we do not know) and he could be right in jail. That's the other thing, we have no idea what this kid is going to have to leaglly go through. It's not like he's gunna walk out of the court room, crack a beer and laugh at everyone.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 7:12 p.m.

@Lokalisierung So where do you draw the line? If somebody murders somebody with intent, should that person not go to jail? It's not going to bring that person back either. The victim's family won't get anything out of that either. I don't know either party involved, but I think that he should at the very least have a criminal record for this. Most people get lucky and get away with distracted driving. Nicholas did not get away with it, and should live with the consequences.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:51 p.m.

Again I understand you're upset but you are in no position to judge?question this kids feelings or emotional damage. Look, I don't think the kid is a great guy or anything, but what is throwing him in jail going to do? How is that going to help the victim's family at all?


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

Remember- in this case, Mr Wahl made a "stupid mistake" that got a person, a husband, a father, a bread-winner KILLED!!!!! TIM IS DEAD. Mr Wahl will be back at Grand Vally State U in no time, partying up a storm, and live the life of a 20 yr old college student, and he doesnt have to pay even a minimal price for having killed Tim. We who are Tim's friends are upset, because, Mr Wahl is walking away with not even a slap on the wrist. Heck, the other young guy being discussed on Ann Matthew Freeman, is in a lot more trouble with teh criminal justice system for engaging in consensual underage sex, where no one was hurt, leave along being killed.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.

Who's gunna pay that money nonyo? Kid will probably never make that much. insurence isn't gunna cover that much.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:35 p.m.

I hope Tim's family sues in civil court. $20 million seems about fair.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:35 p.m.

Wolverine3660- I'm sorry you lost your friend, really I am. Unfortunently I think this makes you the last person I would listen to about how the driver feels...or your assumptions of how any group of people you aren't involved with feel.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:32 p.m.

It's tragic anyway you look at it. If you want to feel sad feel sad for the victim's family and not crying to yourself about how the driver should have done hard time etc. People are so ready to throw some young kid who made a horrible mistake in jail to teach him a lesson...oh wow you're so tough on crime! this kid has to live with Killing somone for the rest of his life, that's more than your punitive cries coudl do. Besides, if he went to jail he'd be recieving health care and taking college courses and you same people would complain about that all day.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

Tom Joad- dont count on it. Most people who get no jail time are happy that they got off, scott-free, more or less. I doubt if this driver will spend the rest of his life feeling bad about having killed my friend Tim. He will be back to doing wha the did as soon as sentencing is over. He will read a lawyer-drafted, statement of "reorse", which really means nothing.

Tom Joad

Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 6:13 p.m.

I've ridden extensively on the roads, but frankly I'd rather walk or drive. The level of distractedness has reached crisis proportions with cell phones and people addicted to text messages that they feel utterly compelled to answer immediately even if they are driving a vehicle that can kill in an instant. I don't believe this young man was changing the radio station. Obviously he has to live with the knowledge that he killed someone through carelessness. I just see way too many clueless inattentive drivers to risk a ride on a bicycle


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 5:34 p.m.

While I agree that this is a reasonable result, this is not a good outcome for anyone. I am concerned that this decision does NOTHING to larger issues of driver and cyclist skills, knowledge and attitudes. I understand that this is a criminal court and has limits for sure. I am not advocating that Mr. Wahl go to jail or be tarred and feathered in a public forum. It is just sadly clear that nothing will really be done to improve the cycling environment in Ann Arbor.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

If he killed a construction worker in a work zone he would have gotten jail time? What if it was a mother walking her child across the street? Killing a cyclist riding on the fog line deserves the same punishment as killing other innocent victims of distracted driving.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 5:19 p.m.

I am a cyclist who rides past the site of the accident on almost every ride. I think Judge Morris got it right. Jail time would not bring Tim back, nor would it make Nicholas a better person.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 5:16 p.m.

Why should you take your driving seriously? How about because it's the right thing to do.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

I think it's a good outcome, quite frankly. I don't think he should have done time.


Mon, Jan 4, 2010 : 4:53 p.m.

Not surprised.