Cyclist Dies, Months After Collision with Car in Baltimore Bike Lane

By Brew Editors
Baltimore Brew
August 11, 2011

Nathan Krasnopoler, the 20-year-old student left comatose since a Feb. 26 collision with a car that crossed in front of him in a Baltimore bike lane, died Wednesday morning at a Howard County hospice facility, his family has reported.

As part of a settlement, family members also disclosed, the driver of the car has paid the family an undisclosed sum and agreed to forfeit her license to drive. In a radio interview, Mitchell Krasnopoler, Nathan’s father, called that resolution of their $10 million lawsuit “a little justice for Nathan.”

“Of course the monetary settlement cannot replace my son,” Krasnopoler said yesterday, in an interview with WBAL radio. “It’s just a small thing that adds some fairness to the loss that we’ve experienced.”

According to a post on Nathan Krasnopoler’s Facebook page, where family members had been offering updates on his condition, Nathan died peacefully Wednesday, surrounded by family at Gilchrist Center in Howard County.

He had been moved to that facility from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Care Center on Aug. 4.

The Johns Hopkins University computer science major, remembered by family and friends for his independent spirit, powerful intellectual curiosity and gentle manner, never regained consciousness after the crash.

According to police, Krasnopoler had been riding on the West University Pkwy. bike lane when a car driven by Jeanette Marie Walke turned right in front of him. The cyclist crashed into the side of her car and then became trapped underneath it. His lungs collapsed and the loss of oxygen lead to the brain injury that rendered him comatose.

The case quickly inflamed emotions around the hot-button issue of the rights and responsibilities of motorists and cyclists. But when a Baltimore Police Department spokesman suggested, soon after the incident, that the bike rider had been at fault, the cycling community was incensed and police officials apologized.

Walke ultimately pleaded guilty to negligent driving and failure to yield to a bicyclist in a designated bike lane. As part of her May 11 plea, she paid a $220 fine. (She would have had to pay twice that if a police officer had not mistakenly left the box for “injury accident” unchecked on the citation.)

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