NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports on a settlement reached between a cyclist injured in a fatal collision between a group of his friends and an NCTD bus on Aug. 4, 2013 near Camp Pendleton.
Attorney Richard Duquette is a competitive cyclist in his spare time.
So when a North County Transit District (NCTD) bus driven by a man possibly distracted by a cell phone rear-ended three cyclists, it hit close to home.
The Aug. 4 collision killed Udo Heinz and injured one of his riding companions, John Edwards. It also rattled Duquette’s sense of safety.
“It shook the confidence of the cyclists’ community,“ he said.
Eight months after the crash on Stuart Mesa Road in Camp Pendleton, a settlement was announced against the bus company in favor of Duquette's client, John Edwards.
The financial terms of Edwards' settlement were not disclosed, but Duquette says it doesn't just include money.
Duquette says the bus company will have to team with the San Diego Bike Coalition to change its safety policy when it comes to sharing the road with bikers. The details still have to be worked out.
"My client (Edwards) insisted on that as a term of the settlement. He was concerned not just about himself, but about the public at large so this doesn’t happen again," Duquette said.
Especially when you consider the tragic wreck took Heinz, a 43-year-old father, from his two young children and loving wife, Antje.
"We were soul mates. We were best friends and we have the best perfect little family," said Heinz’s wife.
The Heinz family recently filed their own lawsuit in North County, according to their attorney Craig R. McClellan.
Most North Transit buses have six cameras with a view of the driver, the inside of the bus and the road ahead.
NBC 7 obtained still pictures made from those recordings that were filed along with a claim for damages against the transit district and driver Gamal Mohamed Hamouda.
The photos are time stamped. They indicate four seconds before impact the cyclists are off to the right and single file with no oncoming traffic. At 12:49:41 the bus approaches the riders with still no other traffic. Then at 12:49:42 the bus collides with the riders.
The North County Transit District (NCTD) denied our request for a copy of the video tape to show what Hamouda was doing at the time of the crash.