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Texting Distraction Alleged In Shawnee Cyclist Death

The Oklahoman: Phone distraction may be to blame in Shawnee cyclist death

SEMINOLE STATE OFFICIAL FACES CHARGE IN CYCLIST’S DEATH

BY SHEILA STOGSDILL
Published: August 11, 2009

SEMINOLE — Prosecutors said a Seminole State College official was reading a text message at the time of a wreck that killed a Shawnee bicyclist.

Bradley Walck, 56, of Shawnee was in court Monday in connection with the death of Ardie Lewis, 50. Lewis died July 28 when the bicycle he was riding was hit by a pickup driven by Walck, according to police reports.

Walck was charged Thursday in Seminole County District Court with a misdemeanor count of negligent homicide. He surrendered to authorities and was released on his own recognizance.

Walck was ordered to return to court Oct. 6, when he will enter a plea, said Kay Hargrave, Seminole County assistant district attorney.

Lewis was riding a 10-speed bicycle north of Seminole on State Highway 3 when he was fatally struck by the pickup, which had drifted onto the shoulder of the road, Hargrave said.

"At the time of the accident he (Walck) was looking at a text message (on his cell phone) from his daughter,” Hargrave said.
According to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report, Lewis was struck by the pickup and thrown 90 feet. He was not wearing a helmet and died at a Seminole hospital.

Walck told authorities he looked down to check his speed, then received a text message, according to an affidavit. While checking the message he heard a loud "thump” but did not think he had left the road.

At first Walck thought he must have hit a mailbox, but when he checked his mirrors, he saw a person exit her car and run to the east side of the road, the affidavit states. Walck stopped and ran back to the scene and saw Lewis lying in the ditch, records show.

"Walck failed to devote full time and attention to driving,” the affidavit states.

Charles Laster, Walck’s attorney, was unavailable for comment.
"This accident was a terrible tragedy for everyone concerned,” said Lana Reynolds, vice president for Institutional Advancement at Seminole State College. "We regret the loss of life and feel for the families.”

Walck is vice president of student affairs for Seminole State College.

Reynolds said since the accident occurred while Walck was on personal business away from the campus, his position at the college is being reviewed in accordance with board policies.