On the surface of it, it seems as though Ross Chafe, who was hit head-on and killed by a motorist charged with drunk driving while Chafe was on a recreation ride on B.C.'s Sea To Sky Highway on May 31, is being blamed for his own death.
Chafe, who was riding with two other cyclists at the time, one of whom, Kelly Blunden, was also killed, was an experienced cyclist, former Canadian cycling team member in several World Championships. Cycling Canada issued a statement about the death and his cycling involvements at the time.
The motorist, Samuel "Farmer" Alec, 43, of Lillooet, B.C., was eventually charged with criminal negligence causing death, impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood alcohol level over 0.08, and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. He already had three convictions for impaired driver. A passenger in his car, 52-year-old Paul Maurice Pierre also died in the accident.
Once the charges were laid, Chafe's family launched a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec and the owner of the car.
So far, pretty much as you might expect. Person dies at hands of another, charges laid, lawsuit filed.
It took an odd twist Wednesday when the CBC reported that the Insurance Commission of British Columbia (ICBC) had entered as a third party into a lawsuit, arguing that Chafe might have been impaired, or might have been riding without the proper care and attention, thus sharing the blame in his own death.
This report was followed shortly by one from the Vancouver Province, saying that the ICBC had withdrawn the references to impairment, but still argued that Chafe may have contributed to his own death by having poor brakes, not being as close to the edge of the road as possible, and, somewhat incredibly, not alerting the driver that an accident might be imminent.
As you might guess, the cycling community is stirred up about this.
The ICBC is reported as saying that all avenues have to be explored in a civil proceeding. For me, it just sounds like a case of trying to blame the victim.