The family of a bicyclist killed in a hit-and-run in Georgetown is suing the driver and his passenger in a civil suit.
On Tuesday the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Aaron Davison and Cody Crow, Davison’s passenger at the time of the crash that killed Tommy Ketterhagen. Only Davison was charged in the crash.
Davison, 21, was released from jail last month, less than three weeks after he was sentenced to two years in prison on a manslaughter charge. Sentencing documents showed he was given credit for the time he’d already served, which was 404 days in the Williamson County Jail.
When the Ketterhagen family learned Davison wouldn’t spend any time in prison, they felt like a civil suit was their next best option.
“It’s not easy for us,” said Ketterhagen’s father Tom Ketterhagen. “It’s not really in our nature to be like this but the system hasn’t really worked for us, yet. And this is part of the system.”
Tom Ketterhagen goes on to say the Williamson County District Attorney was “very lenient” on Davison.
Ketterhagen was biking on Patriot Way on Jan. 23, 2017 when Davison hit him.
A witness told police he saw a dark blue pick-up truck driving erratically around SH 130 and take a left on Patriot Way that evening. The witness said he saw the truck drive into the wrong lane and strike a bicycle. While the witness couldn’t tell if anyone was on the bicycle, he did, however, see a bicycle wheel and a bike fly in the air. After impact, the witness said two people got out of the vehicle and started looking around a ditch and “accelerated out of the area,” police say.
Ketterhagen’s mother found her son’s body the following day. Davison turned himself in a few days later.
“For the better part of 10-12 hours, they searched for their boy,” said the family’s attorney Jeff Edwards. “When two young men who were in an obvious and serious traffic collision, hit and did not come forward to the police until essentially they would’ve been caught.”
According to the civil suit, Davison and Crow “did nothing to help” Ketterhagen. The suit states the two were on their way to buy illegal drugs when the crash happened. “While driving fast and recklessly, Davison was also playing with his cell phone instead of paying attention to the road in front of him,” states the lawsuit.
When you hit a bicycle and a person, you know it,” Edwards said. “This isn’t some rock on the side of the road — it’s not a pebble that hit a windshield. It’s a human being and piece of machinery.”
The Ketterhagen family hopes this lawsuit will bring more awareness to safety on the road and for drivers to pay attention to pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Maybe someone won’t pick up their cellphone, maybe someone will focus on the road. And understand that what they’re doing, being careless or reckless can have a permanent devastating effect on people.”
Although the Ketterhagen family is filing suit against both the driver and the passenger, the passenger will likely never be held criminally responsible.
According to state law, the criminal responsibility falls only on Davison — the driver — not a passenger.
“You only have a duty to act or to do something, or to provide information, or to seek medical attention, if you are the person that’s involved as the operator in the accident,” explained Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick.
Dick says the fact that a witness told police they saw two people at the scene made the case more legally complicated.
“To prove which one of the two was actually the driver could have forever been a problem, but for the fact that Aaron Davison did come forward and admit to being the driver,” he said.
The district attorney said he believes an “appropriate” plea agreement was reached in the case, but that it wasn’t carried out the way they intended when Davison was released. Now, Dick is working with a local state lawmaker, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and the Board of Pardons and Paroles to work to make a minor legislation change to prevent such a release in the future.
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