03 June 2017

Mickey Johnson: Father, Friend And Pillar Of His Community

I know that, lately, I've portrayed Florida as a "killing field" for cyclist.  Such a reputation is not undeserved; after all, it has, by far, the highest per-capita cyclist mortality rate of any US state.

Also, I am angry about the way authorities in the Sunshine State handled the case of Alan Snel, the author of Bicycle Stories.  In brief, a driver who may or may not have been impaired by his medications drove straight into Alan's back and got off scot-free.

Well, today I want to point out something local police in at least one community are doing right--and praise the way the local media are portraying the cyclist.

As I have said in a  previous post, few non-cyclists will care about the often-cavalier treatment we get when we are victimized by errant, careless or impaired motorists as long as we are seen as abstractions or monsters--cyclists or cyclists!--and are instead recognized as siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, spouses, lovers or loved ones, friends, colleagues, co-workers and members of our communities, whatever those may be.

Thankfully, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has portrayed Mickey Johnson in such a way--in a headline, no less:  "Victim in Bicycle Crash Was Family Man."  The article, written by Earle Kimel, mentioned Mr. Johnson's extended family and deep ties to his community, where he lived for nearly four decades, or half of his life.  He started two businesses, heading both of them until the day he died. He was also a member of Friends of the Legacy Trail, Volunteer of the Year with the Manasota Track Club and served on several boards of his church.  If all of that doesn't spell "pillar of the community," I don't know what does.  

Oh, and he was an Army veteran.  

Mickey Johnson

Now, of course, I didn't see the crash, but Kimel seems to have given a sober, unbiased account.  Although he doesn't directly place blame, he does show how driver Anthony Alexander and his passenger, Dillon Cooper, tried to impede the invstigation, which is being treated as a traffic homicide.  Both have been arrested and, so far, Alexander has been charged with driving with a suspended license and causing death. Both men have also been charged with perjury and obstructing a criminal investigation/giving false information to a police officer. (Cooper initially said he was the driver, which was contradicted by witness accounts.)  Further charges may be pending.

From what I've read, the only real fault I can find is the relatively low bond:  $3500 for Alexander and $2000 for Cooper.  Then again, I know nothing else about their circumstances, so those amounts may indeed be enough to deter the from taking flight.

Anyway, there is nothing that can, for his family and community, make up for Mickey Johnson's loss.  But, so far, the local authorities are doing a better job of investigating and prosecuting it than their counterparts in Florida have done in other recent cases of motorists running down cyclists.

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