Bicyclist Hit by Drunken Driver Still Suffering Symptoms from Incident
Ann Stelling's plea and sentencing hearing set for June 6 in connection with the crash.
Like many a Port Washington resident might, Robert Splan decided to take a bike ride to the harbor and throw in a fishing line or two early last fall.
But the ride home brought an unexpected and unlucky turn when Ann Stelling, 518 W. Chestnut St., Port Washington, made the decision to drive drunk — colliding with Splan as he pedaled along on North Wisconsin Street.
"I don’t even remembering it happening, I just remember waking up in the hospital," Splan said.
Stelling was driving near the 900 block of North Wisconsin Street on Sept. 16 when she struck Splan. She told police that she did not see the bicyclist — who she said came off of Douglas Street — until he collided with her car, according to the criminal complaint. She failed field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test showed a result of .20, more than twice the .08 legal limit for driving.
Splan said he was heading north in the curb lane of North Wisconsin Street and had not been riding on Douglas Street. He had been wearing a flashing red light on the back of his bike, a light on the front of his bike, reflective shoes and a reflective backpack. The incident happened at about 7:30 p.m.
Though Splan does not remember much of the actual incident, witnesses have told him he flew over the car.
He suffered a severe concussion, and seven months after the incident still experiences headaches from what doctors told him must be related to post-concussion syndrome.
The impact of the crash also caused Splan to have a cracked tooth, resulting in a $3,000 dentist visit.
He underwent two-and-a-half months of physical therapy for his shoulder, and then purchased a membership to the YMCA to continue exercising.
Still, seven months later, Splan said he experiences soreness in his shoulder.
His medical bills are about $13,000, he said, and the strain of those costs have sent his credit score rocketing down more than 200 points fromwhat it originally was.
"I just want my medical bills paid for, I want my credit repaired," he said. Insurance companies have been slow to respond to the incident, and he hasn't recieved any compensation for his destroyed bicycle. He's consulting with a lawyer to determine what he can do in hopes of getting his life back on track after the unfortunate incident.
Stelling appeared in court on Tuesday for a brief moment with Attorney Perry Lieuallen. Lieuallen declined to comment on the ongoing case.
Judge Paul Malloy on Tuesday scheduled a plea and sentencing hearing for 11 a.m. June 6.
Stelling faces charges of operating while intoxicated and causing injury, a felony charge, for which she could recieve not more than $10,000 in fines, six years of prison or both as well as one to two years of drivers' license revocation; she also faces charges for third-offense operating while intoxicated, which could mean fines of $600 to $2,000 as well as 45 days to one year in county jail.
Stelling also faces several counts of bail jumping after violating terms of her bond calling for 100 percent sobriety and daily breath tests.
While Splan wasn't wearing a helmet that unlucky fall day, he said it's a regular practice now. But that added protection doesn't necessarily mean he can feel comfortable while pedalling — vehicle drivers continue to be disrespectful to bicyclists, he said, hardly offering enough room to be safe.
"I’m nervous driving my bike on the roads," he said. "You read about people getting hit on their bikes all the time."