Driver in fatal motorcycle crash will not be held criminally responsible

Driver in fatal motorcycle crash will not be held criminally responsible

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Family and friends of a man who was killed while riding his motorcycle recently found out the suspect in the crash will not be held criminally liable for his death.

Shawn Cardwell was hit and killed near Broadway and Hancock while riding with friends on Labor Day.

Robert T. Phelps drove the Chevrolet Impala that made a left-hand turn in front of Cardwell and another biker, according to police.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jeff Cooke said this scenario represents an incredibly high percentage of motorcycle crashes.

"The likelihood of injury or death is much greater when a person is on a motorcycle," Cooke said.

The Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney said Phelps' case will be prosecuted as a DUI. Phelps' lack of criminal history, along with high rates of speed of the motorcycles, were factors in the prosecutor's decision.

"He left two people with broken bones, one person died, and all he gets is a DUI," Cardwell's friend Adbull Al Jumaily said.

Jumaily was riding with the group on September 3. He said the large group was riding slowly to stay together in their pack the night Cardwell was killed.

A police report states Phelps was suspected of being intoxicated that night.

"Excessive speed for the situation and for the environment, that could indicate that it wasn't that intoxicated party's fault," Cooke said.

Cooke explained there is a difference between negligence and wanton endangerment. He said impaired drivers are often considered wanton or reckless. In order to hold an intoxicated driver criminally responsible, the prosecution must prove that the impaired driving was the factor that caused the death.

Jumaily, who saw his friends thrown to the pavement, and one of them die, said he can't wrap his mind around the charges.

"If you get hit while in the car, there are airbags there is something that might save your life," Jumaily said. "On a bike it's going to be my body that is hit. Why don't people care?"

Cooke said wrecks involving motorcycles and motor vehicles are investigated the same as those involving only vehicles, even though the damage is often very different.

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