Car-on-bike accident not felony

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The motorist who hit and severely injured Starkville cyclist Jan Morgan on May 22 will not face felony charges.
According to District Attorney Forrest Allgood, Robbie Norton of Cedar Bluff violated no state felony laws when she hit Morgan, carried the cyclist 165 feet on her car, and then ran her over again.
“People get in car wrecks all the time, and unfortunately people die in car wrecks all the time,” he said. “And nobody’s charged with a crime because there is no crime, because it’s a terrible accident. And what you have here falls into that category.”
Allgood said he was contacted by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, which is investigating the accident, to determine if any felony charges applied. But because Norton didn’t leave the scene, wasn’t impaired, and didn’t intentionally or negligently hit Morgan, a felony wasn’t committed.
“There was no drinking, no drugs, she didn’t run a stop sign or a red light, she was going the speed limit, stayed in her own lane, she was not weaving,” Allgood said. “Obviously, she violated the 3-foot law, which is a misdemeanor.”
Allgood said Mississippi doesn’t ban cell phone use while driving, either, and Norton can’t be charged with that.
The MHP accident report states Norton was talking on a cell phone when she exited her vehicle; Norton had told the Daily Journal she wasn’t talking at the time of the accident and called for help only after stopping.
Morgan’s husband, David, said he’s outraged Mississippi has no felony laws against drivers who kill or maim while talking on the phone or violating the state’s 3-foot rule.
The 3-foot rule requires motorists to provide a 3-foot berth while passing cyclists on the road.
“It’s got to be changed, because it’s going to happen again,” he said. “We all need to bring cell phone use in cars to the forefront.”
Jan Morgan remains hospitalized at North Mississippi Medical Center since the accident. She has been upgraded from critical care, her husband said, but her long-term prognosis isn’t yet known.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.