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| Crime |

Christopher Loven to face careless driving count in truck/bike death that killed Eugene Howrey

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In June, avid bicyclist Eugene Howrey, age 73, was struck and killed by a dump truck driven by Christopher Loven, a man with a number of past run-ins with pedalers. In the years prior to the Lowrey tragedy, he was allegedly involved in two separate bike-rage incidents.

Months later, the Boulder District Attorney's Office has finally decided to charge Loven with careless driving.

In June, as we've reported, Howrey, a founding member of the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society who moved to Boulder a few years ago, was riding east on Lefthand Canyon Road alongside his wife, Sharon. Loven's truck was headed in the opposite direction, and it hit Howrey's bike as Loven was making a turn. The impact threw Howrey approximately 36 feet. He'd been wearing a helmet, but he was declared dead at the scene.

At first glance, Howrey's death seems to be nothing more than a terrible accident. But then Loven's past came to light.

The Boulder Daily Camera has done the heavy lifting on the Loven story. As the paper noted, he was accused with brawling in 2003 with a man named Jim Mohan, who says the fight was prompted by Loven using his truck to run him and a companion off the road.

Mohan was able to catch up with the truck driver at an intersection, and his harsh words inspired Loven to climb from the vehicle. At that point, Mohan punched Loven in the head -- a bad idea for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that Loven was much larger than his angry adversary. "I felt like I was fighting for my life," Mohan told the Camera.

In the end, nothing much came of this dust-up -- but that wasn't the case six years later. According to Bicycle Times Magazine, cyclist Scott Boulbol was in a designated bike lane when Loven passed him with little room to spare on Lee Hill Road. This maneuver sparked a shouting match, after which Loven got back into his truck -- which he used to block the bike lane and force Boulbol into oncoming traffic.

Loven eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless endangerment. But he was only sentenced to probation and community service, which incensed the folks at the Liberty on Bikes! blog. The author of a Loven-related post wrote, "Road rage should just be an automatic six month suspended license, no questions asked... I love how if you swung a metal bat at someone, it can be aggravated assault and a lengthy jail sentence. But wielding two tons of steel can be pawned off as an 'accident,' or maybe 'negligent operation of a vehicle.'"

There was no chance the Howrey crash could be brushed off, and it wasn't -- but according to the Camera, an investigatory backlog meant the inquiry into the facts didn't begin in earnest until late October. During the weeks since then, the Colorado State Patrol completed a report. Its conclusion: Loven didn't intentionally hit Howrey, and neither was he traveling over the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. However, investigators believe he was still driving too fast given the mammoth size and type of his vehicle, which sported a loaded trailer. As such, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett believes a careless driving resulting in death count is appropriate.

This charge, by the way, is a misdemeanor. Look below to see a Daily Camera video from the scene of the crash.

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