HOUSTON – The attorney for a Rice University professor has filed a temporary restraining order against the dump truck owner/operator involved in a fatal bicycle collision that left a woman dead.
Sudipta Roy, 30, died in the fatal collision on April 24 at Sunset and Main near Rice University. Robert Kwok of Kwok Daniel Ltd LLP filed the restraining order on behalf of her Roy's husband Dr. Ujjal Bhattacharjee.
Roy was a nurse and avid cyclist, and her husband was a Rice University professor. Kwok said the couple had just met for their last lunch together moments before she was struck and killed.
“Dr. Bhattacharjee hired our law firm to clear his wife Sudipta’s name and honor her memory. Our initial investigation reveals she did not cause her own death,” Kwok said. “We are confident the evidence will show the dump truck driver was negligent and did not obey the law. We will conduct our own private investigation, starting with inspecting the dump truck and it’s black box. We are also calling for all witnesses to come forward and collaborate with us on our investigation.”
Investigators with the Houston Police Department said they believe the woman arrived at the intersection of Sunset and Main at the same time as a dump truck heading the same direction, with both having a green light. They say as that dump truck driver turned right onto Main, the cyclist entered the crosswalk and struck the truck’s back right tire.
“Cyclists have to abide by all the laws of a motorist when they’re on the street,” said Assistant Chief Wendy Baimbridge, during a briefing at the scene. “So, at that point, it sounds like…again this is still under investigation, that the cyclist would be at fault.”
The crash scene was directly in front of a memorial for another cyclist killed at the same spot in February 2017.
A MetroRail train struck and killed Rice professor Dr. Marjorie Corcoran near the same spot.
“The design of the intersection is dangerous, and there needs to be engineering changes,” said John Long, Executive Director of Bike Houston.
Long says it can take cyclists and pedestrians more than five minutes to cross two busy roads and rail tracks if they wait for all the traffic signals.
After the wreck that killed Dr. Corcoran, METRO began wrapping their trains in brighter colors, using louder horns, and partnered with the city and community to study safety upgrades.
“We agree with Bike Houston, this was a crash, not an accident. Crashes that happen repeatedly in the same way in the same area are not accidents, they are preventable incidents. And they require design changes to prevent future crashes,” Kwok said. “Last year after Dr. Corcoran was killed, METRO hired an outside safety consultant to evaluate this dangerous intersection. Roadway design changes with bike safety improvements were among the recommendations, but those changes have yet to be implemented by the City of Houston. Part of our case will be to encourage the City of Houston to make these design changes soon, before another crash happens at the same intersection.”
In addition to design changes, Kwok said his client seeks to bring attention to and enforcement of the Vulnerable Road User law.