In 2020, Obianuju Osuegbu was riding her bicycle on her way home from work when a car driver, who was high on drugs, struck her and ended her life. Law enforcement placed the blame on her and have yet to prosecute the driver. Now her family is doing what they can to make sure justice takes place.
According to the initial toxicology report from the responding state trooper, Adam Dodd, Rawlins had four drugs in her system, including meth and valium.
Bruce Hagen, the attorney working with Osuegbu’s family, specializes in bicycle cases. He said this is a “prima-facie case for felony vehicular homicide.”
However, the Barrow County District Attorney won’t charge Rawlins because the trooper’s report lays the blame on 17-year-old Osuegbu. The incident report by the Athens-area trooper said that Osuegbu didn’t have a light on the back of her bike and she wasn’t wearing reflective clothing. The report also claimed that she should have been on the right side of the road despite the fact that she was about to turn left to go home.
In the state of Georgia, where this took place, bicycle riders are not legally required to have lights on the back of their bikes, much less required to wear reflective clothing. The fact that those details seemed to have influenced the trooper’s decision is a problem by itself, even before you consider that the driver was high on four different drugs.
When a teenager gets blamed for her own homicide when she did nothing illegal, and the driver high on drugs who hit her doesn’t get charged for it, then it doesn’t take a lawyer to see a misapplication of justice taking place.
The driver didn’t get away completely scot-free, though. She was charged with child endangerment. But that wasn’t because she killed a teenager. It was for the children in the car with her.
As ridiculous as this case is, we would be remiss to merely consider this as a failure of law enforcement. Here’s what the site of the crash looks like (on the right, you can see the ghost-bike memorializing Obianuju’s death):
This does not look like a safe route for bicycles at all. Yet, we had a teenage girl rely on it to get home from work. Even without the drugs and the neglectful law enforcement, our underlying transportation system enables disasters like this to happen all the time.
If there’s any consolation, it’s that the Osuegbu family has lawyers working for them, and that the media has picked up the story. No matter the outcome of this case, it can serve as yet-another example of how much bicycle riders need justice on their side.