Driver Pleads Guilty to Felony for Killing Cyclist
Just over a year ago, Dr. Matthew Burke was riding in a group of 15 cyclists on a straight road in Beech Island when he and several others were struck by Daniel Johnson. Dr. Burke was the most severely injured and remained in a coma until he passed away in February.
Daniel Johnson plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Monday and was sentenced yesterday to 90 days in jail, five years of probation and the revocation of his license. So rarely are drivers held accountable for the deaths of cyclists that few cases ever make it this far in the legal system.
The Burke family is represented by Bikelaw‘s Peter Wilborn, who explained the importance of this conviction, “Matt Burke’s legacy is that drivers can and should be treated as criminals for killing cyclists. Throughout the country, cycling deaths are regularly dismissed by law enforcement as mere traffic ‘accidents.’ But often they are not accidental, the needless fatalities are tragic consequences of reckless driving and lawless drivers. The driver’s felony conviction here proves to police, policymakers, and drivers to take cycling safety seriously. This case from South Carolina is an example of how to do it right.”
Dr. Burke’s brother Paul added,“Today’s felony conviction establishes the criminal responsibility of Daniel Johnson for the senseless death of Matthew P. Burke. Dr. Burke was riding legally in a group of fifteen cyclists when he and four other riders were struck from behind by Mr. Johnson on a long, flat straight road in broad daylight. Our family thanks Second Circuit Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. and his team for fairly prosecuting this case to achieve a measure of justice. We also gratefully acknowledge the efforts of South Carolina attorney Peter Wilborn in his pursuit of justice for Matt and the cycling community.”