Robert Schlange Killed in Bicycle/Truck Accident on US-36 in Norton County, KS
Norton County, KS — August 8, 2022, 68-year-old cyclist Robert Schlange died after being hit by a semi-truck on U.S. Highway 36 in Norton County.
According to reports the incident happened shortly before 8:00 p.m. on Highway 36 west of Highway 383. Preliminary investigation suggests Schlange was riding a bicycle in the area when he was hit under unknown circumstances by a westbound Freightliner big rig driven by 41-year-old Ronald Steelsmith.
Schlange, wearing a helmet at the time, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash remains under investigation. No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Robert Schlange Accident in Norton County
So far it's still unclear what happened here, so I hope authorities are really giving this incident the attention it deserves. I've learned over the years that many folks believe anything without four wheels--bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians--have no business on the road. With that kind of mindset many of them jump to premature conclusions about fault and with their minds made up they may miss or ignore critical details about a particular accident.
There are two sides to that coin, however: Some people will see that a truck driver hit someone on a bicycle and they'll assume the driver was reckless or that big rigs are just too dangerous to be around. It's true that things sometimes go catastrophically wrong when an 18-wheeler is involved, but it'd be unreasonable to expect truck drivers to nimbly avoid everything every time. That's why it's crucial to break down precisely where, how, and why this crash happened.
Basically, if a reasonably prudent professional driver should have been able to see and avoid the cyclist then one who didn't may have done something wrong. However, if there was nothing he could do then obviously it'd be unfair to point fingers. Did someone fail to yield out there? Were they distracted by something? How fast were they both going? Where precisely was the cyclist on or near the road? Was he traveling with or against traffic? Did anyone else see what happened, or are police relying mostly on the trucker's word?
Answering these questions and others like them is crucial for bringing answers to the victim's grieving family. Whether those answers simply get them some closure or reveal the need to confront a negligent party remains to be seen.