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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 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."

Don Niederfrank April 20, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Thank you for posting this, Lyssa. There is probably no source of injury and death to which the great majority of American public is numb than that caused by drunk drivers. For whatever reasons, we have become deadened and heart and head to this suffering of fellow citizens. Imagine what our response would be if we would go from a year in which no one drove drunk and then the next year when people began to do so there were 10,000 deaths? Imagine what our response would be if on January 1st a list of names of persons who were going to be killed or injured in the next year came out? Would their friends and families tolerate the ubiquitous use of alcohol in our society? In the past 10 years we have spent billions of dollars, to say nothing of waging war, because of Islamic extremist terrorists. Yet we tolerate drunks who are responsible for 3 times the deaths of 9/11 year after year. In other words, approximately 30 times the number of persons who died in 9/11 have died in auto accidents involving a drunk driver. Protect me from terrorists? Don't bother. Protect me from those who decide to drive after drinking too much.
Don Niederfrank April 20, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Lyssa, As I mentioned elsewhere, I' new to this corner of cyberspace. If the above response/rant seems inappropriate for the conversations you envision here, feel free to delete it. DN
Lyssa Beyer (Editor) April 21, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Hey Don, We appreciate comments that share ideas and opinions in a respectful manner, and welcome all viewpoints. Thanks for visiting and posting on Patch — hope to see you around here more often!
Carolyn Kaske April 21, 2011 at 02:03 AM
I met the victim from this incident a few months back at the laundromat near Sentry - I am hopeful that he will be able to recoup some of the monies he has paid out and that the accused gets sentenced properly.
Zoe Kristine April 21, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Hi, Read the article twice and didn't see the age of the victim. Just curious.

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