A rear-end collision involving two bike riders and a pickup truck in the Pender County, North Carolina (NC), community of Currie left the 12-year-old bicyclist dead. The fatal crash happened near the intersection of Blueberry Road and Borough Road on the evening of December 18, 2016.
The pickup driver appears to have hit the bike riders from behind while attempting to pass them. A 23-year-old woman survived the wreck but required hospital treatment for her injuries. The man in the truck did not suffer any injuries.
A further detail police emphasized to reporters was that neither of the bicyclists were wearing helmets. While North Carolina law does require all children under the age of 16 to use head protection while bicycling, another part of the state code explicitly states that failing to comply with the helmet law does not constitute contributory negligence. This means that the family of the child who lost her life and the woman who got hurt in the crash will not have wrongful death and personal injury insurance claims automatically dismissed on the grounds that helmets were not used.
The other takeaway from this tragedy should be that drivers must lookout for and take care to protect bike riders. Except for interstates, bicyclists can legally ride on any paved road in North Carolina. Drivers must treat bicycles in the same way they treat other cars and trucks. They cannot follow too closely, must pass with a safe distance between themselves and the bike rider and, when passing safely is not possible, slow down to match the bicyclist's speed. Doing anything less usually results in serious injuries and deaths.