Jim Reed Esq., Managing Partner at Ziff Law Firm and on the Board of Directors for the New York Bicycling Coalition, spoke out about an alleged hit and run that left one dead. 

“It’s really sad for the local cycling community that I’m a big part of to have somebody who was doing everything he should do as a cyclist, and to be mowed down by a car, it’s a real tragedy for the entire community,” Reed said. 

Sara Harnas, 40, of Elmira Heights was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Police said more charges are pending for this alleged hit and run.

The accident left 68-year-old Charles Rodgers in the hospital and later pronounced dead from injuries sustained. 

In 2016, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) noted 840 cyclist deaths In 2016. That’s 139 more deaths than nearly a decade before. 

Harnas allegedly drove under the influence of alcohol with revoked privileges to operate a vehicle in New York. She has six suspensions on three separate dates. 

Reed felt Harna’s conduct in fleeing the scene was reckless and said she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent permitted by the law. 

“Frankly, I hope they throw the book at her,” Reed said about Harnas. “This is a perfect example of where the prosecution of this driver could send a very important safety message ot drivers throughout the state of New York.”

As the weather warms up and the community begins to enjoy the essence of nature, Reed said drivers should remain vigilant by obeying state driving laws. 

“The biggest thing motorists need to understand about cyclists is that you need to give them space between you and them,” Reed said. “Under New York Law, a motorist is required to pass a bicyclist at a reasonable safe distance.”

Reed said the law permits drivers to briefly cross over a double yellow line to give enough space to a cyclist. 

One of the objectives the New York Bicycling Coalition works on is improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians. 

“It’s tragic cases like this that sometimes scare people away from getting out and going for a walk or going for a bike ride,” Reed said. “That to me is a very sad thing, if people want to live in a more healthy way, then we should find a way to protect those people.”