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Man faces new charge in fatal bike accident

April 16, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

GERRARDSTOWN, W.Va. - An Inwood, W.Va., man has been charged with driving under the influence with death in an April 8 accident that claimed the life of a young bicyclist.

Travis Lee Olinger, 19, initially was charged with DUI with injury after Christopher Begeman, 7, of Gerrardstown, was struck near his home. Begeman, who sustained head injuries, was flown to Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va., and placed on life support, authorities said.

Begeman was pronounced brain dead Saturday, according to West Virginia State Police.

Olinger was arraigned Thursday afternoon in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on the new charge, which is also a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor DUI with death conviction carries a prison term of 90 days to one year.

Police said Begeman was riding his bicycle at about 7:50 p.m. when he was struck by a northbound 1998 Chevrolet Metro on Union Corner Road north of Gerrardstown.

The boy's head hit the right front windshield and he was thrown into a yard, Boober said.

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It appears Begeman was not wearing a helmet, Boober said.

West Virginia has no state law requiring cyclists to wear helmets.

The City of Martinsburg requires anyone under 16 to wear a helmet on any public road, but that ordinance doesn't extend beyond city limits.

Court documents show Olinger had a 0.063 percent blood alcohol level, which is under the legal limit of 0.10 percent for drivers over the age of 21.

A driver under the legal drinking age can be charged with DUI if he or she has a 0.02 percent blood alcohol level or higher, police said.

The DUI charge was Olinger's second within 10 days. Police said he was charged with DUI on March 28 in Winchester, Va.

Less than a week after the Gerrardstown accident, a second boy in the Tri-State area was died while riding a bicycle.

Christopher S. Richardson, 10, of Waynesboro, Pa., died Tuesday when he rode his bicycle into the path of a Ford Ranger pickup truck, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

The boy was dragged about 180 feet beneath the truck, police said. He died at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., of blunt force trauma and a severed vertebrae.

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