SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

August 31, 2013

Ark. man accused of hitting cyclists faces charges

McCRORY, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man accused of driving into a pack of bicyclists, including a young Massachusetts woman who died of her injuries, was charged yesterday with negligent homicide and other offenses.

Teagan Ross Martin, 21, is expected to turn himself in to the authorities next week, his lawyer Erin Cassinelli said.

If convicted of negligent homicide in 18-year-old Merritt Levitan’s death, prosecutors said the Newport, Ark., man could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. He could face thousands of dollars in fines if convicted of that and other charges.

Prosecutors say Martin drove into the bicyclists July 2 on a road near McCrory, about 90 miles northeast of Little Rock. State police say in an affidavit that Martin said he had been looking across a field and then down at some papers right before striking the cyclists, who were on a six-week trip from Charleston, S.C., to Santa Monica, Calif.

Several of the 13 cyclists in the group were injured, and Levitan, of Milton, Mass., died. All of cyclists were equipped with fluorescent clothing and helmets, and the sun was shining the afternoon of the crash, making for good visibility conditions, state police said in the affidavit.

In addition to the negligent homicide charge, Martin faces one count of careless and prohibited driving, six counts of failing to properly overtake a bicycle causing serious physical injury or death and seven counts of failing to properly overtake a bicycle.

Overland, the Williamstown, Mass.-based tour operator that organized the cyclists’ trip, said last month that the rest of the trip would be canceled.

Jonathan Igoe, a director at Overland, didn’t immediately respond to a Friday email seeking comment about the charges.

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