Hit-and-run driver hits, kills 63-year-old cyclist James Mckethan

The intersection where Mckethan was hit and killed by a driver who fled the scene is not controlled by traffic lights. The speed limit on this stretch of Capitol Drive is 35 mph.

A person driving hit and killed a person riding their bike and then sped off Monday evening. The Milwaukee Police Department is in search of the driver who killed 63-year-old James Mckethan.

Surveillance video of the crash shows Mckethan crossing the street near 63rd Street and Capitol Drive. While crossing he was hit and the vehicle never stopped. Mckethan died a day later at the hospital. He was described as a father and a brother by family members.

“Part of me is gone. James was a father. James was a brother. James was a dad,” Mckethan’s girlfriend Lillie Blissett told Fox6 News.

This is the third fatal crash between a person biking and a person driving this year and the first that is a hit and run. At the same time last year nine cyclists had already been killed on Wisconsin roads.

Mckethan was attempting to cross a six lane road at a busy intersection with no traffic lights in an area where people drive regularly exceed the speed limit. The speed limit on Capitol Drive is 35 mph, when cars reach speeds of 40 mph, people Mckethan’s age often don’t survive the crash.

A crash report isn’t available at this time and police are still looking for the driver of the vehicle and asking anyone with information to contact the Milwaukee Police Department. McKethan’s step-daughter has asked for the person driving to turn themself in.

“It should sit in your heart that you killed somebody. That’s cold-blooded. That’s very cold-blooded,” Kenyatta Blissett said to Fox6 News. “James, he was a good, loving man. Everyone is out here supporting him. He made everyone laugh. He was the life of the party,” she later stated in the article.

The family is also working to raise funds for funeral expenses as Mckethan didn’t have life insurance. The page for the GoFundMe page can be found here.

Mckethan is the third person killed this year compared to nine at the same time last year. Hitting and killing a person with your car is a tragedy for all involved. Fleeing from the scene of a fatal crash is a crime and one that is punished as a Class D felony with a maximum penalty of 25 years in the Wisconsin state prison system.

A majority of crashes occur in urban areas, like in this case, at a rate of 846 crashes out of 988 from that year. This is an issue that affects all of those who bike in our communities throughout the state. Cycling does, however, remain a safe and healthy activity in the state of Wisconsin and more people doing it creates a safer environment for those who choose to ride.

Two of the most important things we can do when driving are to pay attention to the task of driving and to remember to look out for others. It is too easy to be distracted with cell phones and other electronic devices,  food and beverages, and the worries of the day. When you get into the car, make sure you are well rested and store all electronic devices; be ready to give your full attention to the task of driving and look for other people on and along the roadway.

The ultimate goal of the Wisconsin Bike Federation and the Share & Be Aware program is however to reduce these numbers to zero. We are working towards this goal by offering classes and information throughout the state through our Share & Be Aware ambassadors. They can come to schools, universities, police stations, driver’s education classes and events. The classes and information are always free.

People driving can make efforts by taking care when opening doors while parking on streets, yielding to oncoming cyclists when turning left, avoiding right turns in front of people riding their bikes and practicing caution around children on bikes. In turn, cyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic while using hand signals to broadcast movements and can make other efforts like using lights and wearing visible clothing. The Wisconsin Bike Federation also recommends the use of helmets

The ultimate goal of the Wisconsin Bike Federation and the Share & Be Aware program to reduce crash and fatality numbers to zero. We are working towards this goal by offering classes and information throughout the state through our Share & Be Aware ambassadors. They can come to schools, universities, police stations, driver’s education classes and events. The classes and information are always free.

Those who are interested in learning from or working with an ambassador can reach out to the program at ShareAndBeAware.org for safety tips and free classes. Ambassadors are spread throughout the state and are often willing to do some traveling.

As a citizen of the area you can help by understanding the laws and lead by example by following the speed limit and giving space to those cycling on our streets. In Wisconsin a driver is required to give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing. You can also write, call or speak with your local elected officials to support funding for cycling safety improvements.

The Wisconsin Bike Federation will be out picketing for safer driving this Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon and next week on Friday the 11th from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for the a.m. rush hour. We are staging at Albright United Methodist Church–55th/56th and Capitol Drive. Park in the lot off Melvina.  Call Steve O’Connell with questions cell: 975-4414.

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