Bloomington police report: Early Sunday morning death when drunk driver hits scooter rider

In the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, a drunk driver veered up onto the sidewalk of North Walnut Street near 12th Street causing one person on the sidewalk to jump out of the way, according to a Sunday afternoon news release from Bloomington police.

But the driver struck a 20-year-old man riding an electric scooter, and the man has died from his injuries, according to the news release.

Bloomington police arrested 22-year-old Madelyn N. Howard of Crown Point and have charged her with two crimes: Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Resulting in Death (a level 4 felony) and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury or Death While Intoxicated (level 3 felony).

According to the news release, the car driven by Howard was seen on security footage from a nearby business driving with its passenger-side tires up on the sidewalk on the east side of Walnut Street. According to the news release, the car was driving fast and a person on the sidewalk can be seen jumping out of the way of the car into the grass just before it strikes the victim on the scooter.

According to the news release, the man was found lying along the east edge of Walnut Street just north of the intersection of 12th and Walnut Street. He was taken by ambulance to the IU Health Bloomington Hospital.

Bloomington police officers responded to the call around 1:50 a.m on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, according to the news release.

Howard was located by Indiana University police officers at 19th and Lincoln streets, seven blocks north of the crash scene according to the news release. Howard’s arrest came after IUPD officers learned from a security officer, who had been driving through the area, some details about the 19th and Lincoln scene. The security officer told police that the 2012 Mercedes-Benz driven by Howard was headed north on Lincoln Street and it sounded as if the car was dragging something.

According to the news release, the security officer said that Howard’s car stopped at the intersection of 19th Street and Lincoln Street and a woman got out of the driver’s seat and a man got out of the front passenger seat. According to the news release, the security officer heard bystanders tell the occupants of the vehicle that they were dragging an electric scooter under their car.

The bystanders helped the driver remove the scooter just before IUPD arrived on scene, according to the news release.

According to the new release Howard failed dexterity tests and was taken into custody. She was taken to the IU Health Bloomington Hospital for a blood draw, then to the Bloomington Police Department for further questioning.

11 thoughts on “Bloomington police report: Early Sunday morning death when drunk driver hits scooter rider

  1. Additionally, I think and feel the City is culpable in these recent deaths of people using motorized scooters. They have passively earned income for around four years, while not doing a whole lot to hold the scooter companies accountable for the safety parameters the scooter companies, and the shared-use motorized scooter business license with the City, stipulates. This includes the hazards the scooters become when improperly parked.

    The users are supposed to prove they parked appropriately as well as prove they are wearing a helmet. Was this young person wearing a helmet?

    In my opinion, the City should be doing more to ensure that a service and product they signed off on, and are profiting from, is not a threat to our public’s safety.

      1. I absolutely did not blame the victim. I am critical of the City of Bloomington not enforcing what their own business license stipulates. I am also blaming the scooter companies, Bird, Lime, and VeoRide.

    1. This is such a stupid response. I am mean ‘stupid’ not as a pejorative, but descriptively.

      1. Bike helmets cannot prevent death from being crushed by a speeding Mercedes. They protect your head in the event you crash onto a hard surface at speeds around max for a bike or scooter, i.e. 20-25mph. From the evidence we have, a helmet would have made no difference in this case.

      2. There is no evidence the victim was driving his scooter illegally. There is lots of evidence the Mercedes driver was. There is no basis for victim-blaming here, and doing so is shameful.

      3. There is no evidence parking a scooter had anything to do with this incidence of manslaughter, nor any other in Bloomington. If you are going to make claims connecting one set of phenomena to another, you have to have a warrant.

      1. Everything you said is factual. I still take issue with the City of Bloomington not enforcing their own business license stipulations. I take issue with the scooter companies, Bird, Lime, and VeoRide, for not enforcing their riders using helmets. I am not blaming the victim.

        I mention the parking violations as it is in the same vein of the City has not been enforcing their business license stipulations. There is a problem here.

      2. Some people are perhaps unaware that this is not the first fatality involving a scooter. The other one that I am aware of did not involve a drunk driver: I don’t think the B-Square did an article on this:

        https://www.idsnews.com/article/2022/08/iu-student-dies-last-week-after-e-scooter-crash

        https://www.heraldtimesonline.com/story/news/education/campus/2022/09/13/e-scooter-related-injuries-around-indiana-university-bloomington-campus-persist/65468753007/

        These are the only two fatalities that I am aware of. We should likely brace ourselves for more unless some meaningful action is taken.

  2. This is a stretch of Walnut that I avoid when walking. In the 70’s Jim Dolezal died when he was walking here and somehow got hooked on the bumper of one of two cars drag racing on Walnut. Shouldn’t have to plan for drivers behaving badly, but we do.

    Hadn’t thought about dying on a scooter this way, but they are a hot mess. Attended a meeting yesterday and heard about elderly people who no longer go downtown these days for fear of being struck by scooters. Then went for a walk and almost got hit by a scooter. A common event in my experience, but it happened on the sidewalk at the northwest corner of Second and College at dusk. I had thought I only needed to worry about the area around the square and Kirkwood, but apparently no area is safe.

    So one scooter rider has killed himself. One scooter rider has been killed by a motorist. I’m guessing the next permutation is a pedestrian is killed by scooter rider. Hope it isn’t me (or you).

  3. Once, during my 14 years at Otis Elevator, I and more that 10,000 other people in North American Operations had to stop work, stand and contemplate silently how we could improve the chances that we and our co-workers made it home safely at the end of the day. Why? Because an installer had fallen to his death in a New York elevator shaft. If a profit-seeking corporation can manage such a level of concern for safety then I’m thinking that Bloomington as a community can do so, too.

    Unlike motorcycles and automobiles, e-scooters are not subject to regulation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (https://www.nhtsa.gov/importing-vehicle/importation-and-certification-faqs-0)
    “The following scooters or scooter-like vehicles are not “motor vehicles” that must be manufactured to comply with all applicable FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) and be so certified to be lawfully imported into the United States: Scooters lacking seats that are operated in a stand-up mode.”

    This leaves them in the realm of consumer product safety: (https://www.urbanscooters.com/pages/scooter-safety)

    U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Recommendations:

    Wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. (Wrist guards may make it difficult to grip the handle and steer the scooter.)
    Children under age 8 should not use non-powered scooters without close adult supervision. Children under 12 should not ride motorized scooters.
    Avoid gravel and uneven pavement, which can cause falls.
    ** Don’t ride scooters in traffic. **
    Don’t ride scooters at night – riders can’t see where they’re going or be seen by others.
    Wear sturdy shoes.
    Owners of scooters should check with local authorities for local laws regarding scooters.
    Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Scooter Data.

    From the same site:

    Areas to Ride: Ride in a safe place free of cars in an area which will not disturb other people or animals and has a clean dry surface.

    Rules to Scoot By:
    * Never ride on sidewalks.

    So, don’t ride them in traffic and don’t ride them on sidewalks, Paradoxical to some no doubt, but it conforms perfectly to my conclusion that they are not safe and should not be ridden at all, a conclusion born out by the recent Bloomington fatalities.

    When talking about safety there is the concept of the ‘near-miss’. When speaking about fatalities broken bones and concussions are near-misses. I forget the exact number but I think on average it was said that 10,000 near-misses might occur before you get a fatality. Anecdotally I have heard that the IU Health emergency room and the Student Health Center have been reporting alarming numbers of injuries for students riding scooters. I haven’t seen the statistics, but I hope we haven’t had 10,000. However many there were, each and everyone was a warning that we ignored.

    The typical undergraduate student, aged 18 to 23, is neither an adult nor a child. They are adolescents. Human development specialists have discovered that the adolescent brain is unique. If you have ever been awakened by undergraduates partying at 1am then you have experienced one way that it is unique. The adolescent sleep cycle begins in the wee hours and extends far further into the morning than the adult sleep cycle. It is perhaps not coincidental that both fatalities recorded in Bloomington so far involve adolescents operating a scooter at 2am.

    Another feature of the adolescent mind that developmental specialists have noticed is that adolescents are willing to assume risk but have not yet mastered the ability to correctly assess the associated dangers. So automobile insurance rates are higher for adolescents in order to cover the additional crashes they incur due to this inability. Occupational injuries and fatalities are higher for adolescent workers than than they are for adults, controlling for other factors. Apparently, neither of the deceased scooter riders where aware of the dangers of operating scooters at night, or, in typically adolescent fashion, they disregarded that danger. One rider was unable to assess the risk associated with operating a scooter improperly. One was unable to assess the lack of safety features required to survive a collision with an effectively out of control automobile. Or, in typically adolescent fashion, they disregarded that danger.

    I’m a parent whose child has progressed beyond adolescence into adulthood. Nonetheless, my heart breaks when I think of the parents and family of the deceased scooter riders and feel that we, as community that prospers due to the presence of the university, have an obligation to those parents and the parents of the 9,000 new adolescents who arrive in our community every year. We must do something to prevent a recurrence of these tragedies.

    Given the current regulatory environment and the limited power of city government the only solution is to ban these devices from our community.

  4. It is stupid and irresponsible to blame the city. Licensing had nothing to do with this. A pedestrian could have been hit. Should we blame the pedestrian?

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