I truly don't know what to make of the final disposition of the case of Dale Wideman, who nodded off at the wheel of his SUV this year and fatally struck Barrie Conrod, who was out on a Sunday ride with his wife, Heather Caron.
The 32-year-old Wideman, with no previous record of any kind, was fined $1,000 after pleading guilty to the Highway Traffic Act offence of careless driving. He will have to do 10 hours of community service -- probably talking to kids about the perils of distracted driving. No licence suspension. No jail time.
According to the Record report on this case, the justice of the peace said that Wideman appeared "genuinely remorseful." Wideman's defence lawyer said that if the nodding off had happened just a few seconds before or after the actual incident, "there may have been no repercussions."
Gee. The way I see it, there were no repercussions for Wideman, anyway. The $1,000 fine doesn't even cover the cost of the bike. The same day in another court in town, a woman was sentenced to two years in prison for impersonating a nurse. The essence of her crime is that she dished out Tylenol and meds to seniors while being paid for being an RN, when she wasn't. No one was hurt, except maybe the egos of the nursing homes that hired her without checking her credentials closely. The scales of justice sometimes seem to defy the laws of physics.
Not that it is my business to seek justice in this case. Conrod left behind his wife from his first marriage, his adult children and his new wife and riding companion, Heather Caron. I wasn't at the court, but the print and video reports indicated that family was satisfied with judgment and want to move on.
Hard to know how I would act in such a case. There's been a lot of time to grieve since the May 6 accident.
The memorial ride for Conrod on May 13 was truly an inspiring event, and perhaps helped Caron and family members come to grips with Conrod's death in a way that no court procedure could have done.
What happened to Conrod can happen to any of us on a bicycle. The Tiberiu David case of earlier this year is another instance where a cyclist who was doing everything according to the rules of the road -- even riding in a designated bicycle lane -- was killed by a motorist who eventually got a slap on the wrist (in the case of Matthew Waltenberry, he was fined $1,000 for careless driving and lost his licence for 18 months).
That's why I have a rear-view mirror on my helmet. I'm ready to bail at any moment.
The gallows humourists at work often ask co-workers to write things down that might be essential for the next day's work "in case you get hit by a bus." Or an SUV. Ride carefully.