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Cyclist fined for crash with off-duty deputy

MagicValley.com: Cyclist fined for crash with off-duty deputy

By Andrea Jackson - Times-News writer | Posted: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 1:35 am

Bicyclist Gary Flora paid a ticket Tuesday for $49.50, after he was struck in July by a boat-towing, off-duty Twin Falls County jail deputy near 3500 East and 4000 North.

During a trial Tuesday in Twin Falls, Flora tried to fight his ticket — a bicycle stop violation — but lost.

The 42-year-old’s arm was still in a cast when he took the stand, saying that he slowed down at the four-way stop sign, yielded and then pedaled on, thinking that the truck driven by Deputy David Hartgrave would stop.

But Hartgrave’s vehicle ran a stop sign as he was focused on a phone, according to testimony from Idaho State Police Trooper Cris Clausing Tuesday.

Hartgrave continues his employment at the sheriff’s office. He was cited for inattentive driving and paid a $156 ticket.

Clausing testified that when he arrived at the crash, Flora had already been taken to the hospital. According to Clausing’s testimony, the trooper did not administer a field sobriety test on Hartgrave, who was “walking around everywhere” though not assisting with the investigation.

Hartgrave moved evidence at the scene before ISP arrived, Flora’s lawyer, Joe Rockstahl told the court. “Because he moved things, we don’t know the exact point of impact.”

Hartgrave did not testify at the trial, where only Flora, Clausing and a witness to the crash took the stand.

Magistrate Judge Thomas Kershaw decided that speed estimates are probably “not completely accurate” but Flora should have done more than just yield. Hartgrave’s vehicle presented a potential danger that Flora should have recognized, stopped and waited for, Kershaw explained to the court.

Hartgrave is largely responsible, though, for the crash, according to Kershaw. “Had Mr. Hartgrave followed the unambiguous aspects of the law, the accident wouldn’t have happened.”

Flora told the court in an October letter that he felt Hartgrave was “getting off on this because of his ties to the court house.”

Trooper Clausing, however, testified more than once Tuesday that special treatment was not given to Hartgrave due to his employment in law enforcement.