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210 days later, charges still pending in bicyclist death case

By KTVA Alaska Photojournalist: John Thain - 7:51 PM July 31, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

More than 200 days ago, Eldridge Griffith was hit by a car and killed while riding his bike across a street. Eight months later, his case is still being actively investigated, as are the deaths of two more bicyclists hit and killed this year, police say.

Griffith was killed on Jan. 2, Ashley Xiong was killed on May 9 and Jeffery Dusenbury was killed earlier this month.

Police say all bike-vs-vehicle collision cases are investigated as if two cars had crashed. When a person is killed, the case is investigated as as a homicide.

So far, no arrests have been made in any of these three cases.

Assistant District Attorney Clint Campion says it can take weeks for medical examiner results, out-of-state toxicology reports and other info needed to determine if any charges should be filed.

“The fact that there is an investigation doesn’t mean that charges will be filed,” Campion said. “We go into it with an open mind. We don’t start with the perspective that we’re absolutely going to charge someone. We need to be objective.”

Campion says sometimes, fatal collisions turn out to be accidents and not crimes.

“Give us the time necessary to make the appropriate decision,” Campion asks of the Anchorage bicyling community. “We want to make sure that we make the right decision and we want to do it as quickly as we can.”

Nonetheless, some bicyclists fear the delay in charges and arrests is sending the public the wrong message.

“If you can strike a bicyclist or pedestrian and not have any recourse or consequence, then that’s not going to send a message to the community that bicyclists are valued members of the community,” Steve Cleary said.

Especially when Cleary, with Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage, says cyclists’ safety is too often overlooked by drivers.

“I was crossing the street on 36th by Denali and I got right-turned right into,” one cyclist told KTVA.

“I thought I had the right of way to go so I went and he hit the top of my legs,” another cyclist shared.

Both of these collisions could have easily ended in fatality, according to the bicyclists, and possibly could have been avoided by using common sense and courtesy.

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