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What a terrible loss.

What I'm still unclear on is whether she was riding or walking her bike. According to many accounts the MPD traffic controller told her to back up. To back up you have to walk. Was she doing that awkward shuffle of baby-steps with the bike still under her? It's starting to sound like poor coordination between MPD and the Guardsmen, and more of a pedestrian situation than a bicycle situation.

This was not Ms. Holden's fault, and there should be some accountability. Facts: Ms. Holden was an older woman commuting home. She obeyed an order to back up. The driver of the Humvee is up very high, and has limited vision. Guides are routinely positioned at intersections to protect the public from these types of vehicles, and were positioned in this instance. Conclusion: Ms. Holden was not at fault. The fault was with the guides, or their protocols or procedures. The guides failed to do their job. Either due to their own negligence, or because they were not given the tools to do their job. The guides' job was to protect the public, and yet a person died, one who by all accounts actually obeyed an order.
By all means their should be an investigation, but barring new facts, the only conclusion is that Ms. Holden was not at fault.

Brendan, I thought the same thing. It sounds like she wasn't actually riding her bike, but was instead walking with her bike at the time.

Mike, I hear what you're saying. It is the job of those who manage the situation to keep everyone safe, and as long as everyone is following directions, that should be easy to do. But still, I'm reluctant to place blame yet.

When I was heading home on Monday night, I got to an intersection where all the traffic was stopped by the police. I was on the road, and so I waiting at the corner with all the other vehicles. The police were letting the pedestrians through, and one of them pointed to me and said "go ahead, thank you for waiting." I moved on, and proceeded in likewise fashion (with caution) through the next several intersections.

After reading this, I have to wonder whether, if I got whacked by a passing motorcade, I'd be considered a cyclists who blew through traffic and into harm's way. After all, the only two people who really, truly would know otherwise would be me and the police officer at that first intersection - what went down would not necessarily be evident to an average by-stander.

My point with this is that it's really hard to place blame on such circumstances. It's human nature to want to place blame, but it seems to me that the focus of any investigation shouldn't be to find the blame but rather to prevent something like this from happening again.

Perhaps assault vehicles and the like are not really appropriate for securing roads. Must we really invade ourselves just to host some heads-of-state?

There should be at least two investigations, one by the DC police and another by the DC National Guard as to whether safety procedures were followed. Which they might not have been, when I was in the Army the procedure was to have one ground guide for each vehicle, the film from the news team only showed one ground guide deployed for both vehicles. A second guide may not have been visible to the news camera, but based upon what the video showed a basic safety procedure appears to have been ignored. Regardless, I agree we should wait for more information before placing blame. My thoughts and condolences for Ms. Holden's husband and family; "We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. ~Kenji Miyazawa"

I won't speculate on what happened as I wasn't there. Having dealt with motorcade blockades in DC on my bike in the past, I know they can be confusing.

I'm going to comment on the suggestion of Ft. Bragg or elsewhere.

This touches on a DC statehood & history concept I'd been thinking of for years. The Constitution, based on Madison's security concerns, sets up a Federal District for the purposes of running a national government and some of the related unique concerns.

However, 260 years of history has turned Georgetown & environs into a sizable city. It has its own culture and ties to the land distinct from solely, but definitely related to the Federal government. To separate out its population from self-government (except for a limited municipal govt) denies it a basic American principle.

So, the operational needs of a national Federal government directly conflict with the governance and social needs of the populace. Perhaps it is time to think of moving the Federal District to location that does not have a population to disfranchise, which in essence is functionally the same as moving summits outside of DC.

I'm not saying I necessarily think this is the way to go, but we have to keep in mind the statutory purpose of the District and how that plan conflicts with the reality that has formed in the past 219 years since its inception.

Would summits in a different city or a military base prevent fatal traffic accidents? Probably not, as traffic accidents happen all the time on bases, or even at airports ( http://atlanta.injuryboard.com/wrongful-death/fatal-accident-occurs-at-atlantas-hartsfild-jackson-airport.aspx?googleid=218900 ) but it would greatly limit the amount of uninvolved people in the environs and thereby the chances of accident.

I agree with Chris that the focus should be on prevention rather than blame. And one great way to prevent this is, as Washcycle pointed out, is to move these types of conferences to more suitable locations other than the middle of a big city on a weekday. If the heavy security is our new reality due to the threat of terrorism, then why are we pretending? For the sake of image? I think North Dakota is probably beautiful this time of year...

The woman was a senior citizen, 68 years old, and still working at her career, AND biking to work. A role model, for sure.

I'm pretty sure a Fox television crew was filming the intersection when it happened. They were showing a clip of the immediate aftermath of the accident and the cyclist's body completely blurred out as soldiers and witnesses were frantically gathering around her. All the facts will eventually come out on that tape. One correction though: it wasn't a humvee it was a 5-ton truck something that is much taller off the ground than a humvee.

Chris, I agree that prevention is the goal, but before you can figure out how to prevent something like this, you have to figure out how it happened and what went wrong. And that's what I meant by blame.

before you can figure out how to prevent something like this, you have to figure out how it happened and what went wrong. And that's what I meant by blame.

I suspect that there may not be a simple answer to this question. If I had to hazard a guess, I would suspect that some procedures were ignored, and this is the "proximate cause" of the accident. But we also have to consider context: was there pressure keep things moving? how well were the guardsmen/guardswomen trained? how long were their shifts? who decided to hold the summit in DC to begin with? And so on.

As for the term "accident" (original post), I wouldn't read too much into it. This is National Guard, after all, and military law applies. If it is determined that there was a breach of procedure/discipline, you can be sure that some action will be taken.

Finally, I would suggest a moratorium on fussing over words--"homicide," "blame," "accident," "tragic," "civilian," etc--although I think that we can all agree that this was sad.

Regardless of who was to blame or whether different parties shared in the blame, it's a sad day. RIP Ms. Holden.

Fox 5 doesn't have video of accident itself otherwise it would be all over the place by now. The police have said they do have video - most likely from surveillance cameras mounted around the area. Hopefully one of them had a clear view of what happened.

Remember the 2 pedestrians who were run down by a bus at 7th & Penn a few years ago? Many of the eye witness accounts were contradictory. Only the video (from a camera mounted on the Archive building) fully resolved that they were crossing legally (with a walk signal) and the bus driver made a very aggressive (and illegal) turn that killed them.

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