NOTE: This is about a motorcyclist, not a bicyclist - but is still relevant to our BIKEIOWA community as both types of "cyclists" are vulnerable roadway users. Plus, it's a clear example of how the State of Iowa's current drunk driving laws fail to make the roadways safer.
A dozen years ago, Waterloo resident Jeremy Sawyer stood handcuffed in a courtroom, tearfully apologizing to the family of the 20-year-old motorcyclist he had killed while driving drunk.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what I’ve done,” Sawyer said in court on April 9, 2005, when he was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison on a charge of vehicular homicide.
But last Thursday, Sawyer, now 38, stood in court again — this time in Benton County District Court in Vinton — after pleading to guilty of drunk driving in June of 2016.
Judge Paul Miller reminded Sawyer of what he had said in 2005, and stated, “Clearly there was one day you did not think about that.”
In the early morning hours of June 30, 2004, Sawyer was driving on Highway 58 when his vehicle crossed the median and headed toward a motorcycle. According to accident investigators, the cyclist, Kyle Zey, laid his bike down in an attempt to avoid the collision. Sawyer missed the cycle, but hit Zey, who died at the scene. Sawyer then drove home, later telling officers he did not know he had hit anyone.
After serving more than seven years in prison, Sawyer was released.
On June 4, 2016, he was heading east out of the Wildcat Bluff Park, on 57th Street Trail, when he lost control on a curve, rolling his truck into the ditch. Both he and a passenger suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
The Iowa State Trooper who filed charges indicated in his report that Sawyer had alcoholic beverages or containers in his vehicle, had an odor of alcohol on his breath, and bloodshot or watery eyes. After refusing to consent for a PBT (preliminary breath test) and later refusing to provide blood or urine samples, Sawyer was charged with OWI under the Iowa implied consent law. He pleaded guilty to OWI in November.