On Saturday, July 8th, Tyler Noe, and Greg Goodman set out for what was supposed to be an enjoyable bike ride in the Natchez Trace National Park. Noe, a real estate agent from Nolensville, had not been on a bike since childhood. His friend Greg Goodman, a more-experienced rider, strapped on a helmet-mounted camera to document the experience. The area in which they were riding is a designated bike route in the northern portion of the park. Around 11 am that morning Greg’s camera captured more than the scenery, as the video shows a black Volvo SUV slam into Noe and throwing him to the ground as it speeds away. Tyler Noe was transported to an area hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries and is already on the road to recovery (so to speak). Goodman, who was riding alongside Noe when the incident took place, shared the footage on social media and with investigators, helping them make an arrest.
Authorities later identified the driver as 58-year-old Marshall Neely III, Dean of Students at University School of Nashville. When initially questioned, Neely chose to double down and blame the victim, claiming that a man and woman standing by the side of the road threw their bicycles at his car as he drove past. In the face of overwhelming evidence, Neely recanted his statement and claimed to have not seen the two cyclists and being unaware of any contact between them and his vehicle. He was charged with local law enforcement with felony reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to render aid, and failure to notify authorities of an accident. He has been placed on a leave of absence by USN following news of his arrest and faces up to six years in prison if found guilty of the felony charge plus 30 days for each of the three misdemeanors.
Given the sheer carelessness shown in this account, the issues of safe cycling and sharing-the-road should be forefront on everyone’s mind. Tyler Noe was quite lucky in retrospect. He walked away with only minor cuts and bruises, and thanks to technology, the perpetrator was apprehended. Many people are not so lucky, and countless cyclists are run off the road or subjected to road rage on a daily basis. Federal regulations require vehicle drivers to provide a safe distance when passing, and in places, without a designated bike lane the law permits cyclists to utilize traffic lanes. In Tennessee, this incident has created a dialogue of sorts between cyclists and motorists; more drivers are becoming aware of both the rules of the Natchez Trace Parkway and the “three-foot law” which requires drivers to allow a full three feet when passing bicycles.
The attorneys at Dunbar Monroe have years of experience handling Mississippi’s bicycle crash and personal injury claims. These claims tend to be more complicated than cases simply involving automobiles due to laws governing bicycles versus those for motor vehicles. Also, the severity of injuries associated with these accidents is usually higher. At Dunbar Monroe, we encourage riders to always wear a helmet, and equip a helmet-mounted camera if possible to document driver behavior and potential crashes.
If you or someone you know has suffered a bicycle crash, contact us before you negotiate with the other driver or insurance company. Just because you were riding doesn’t mean you were at fault.