Tag Archives: accident

Sunset Hills Mayor’s Felony Case Set For Grand Jury Wednesday; Board of Aldermen set to Vote on Impeachment Ordinance Tuesday

Grand Jury to be used to determine probable cause in case of assault of a cyclist by local Mayor Mark Furrer. The victim is represented by cyclist and St. Louis Trial lawyer Michelle Funkenbusch.

The felony assault and property damage case against Sunset Hills Mayor Mark Furrer has been switched from the preliminary hearing docket to the St. Louis County Grand Jury. The case stems from allegations Mark Furrer intentionally hit cyclist Randy Murdick with his car after yelling “get off my $#^&ing road” several times. As many of you know, our law firm represents the cyclist in the personal injury case and we make it our regular practice to advocate for cycling safety and for sharing the roads. We have been asked many questions about the pending felony case and impeachment process.  The Grand Jury hearing is scheduled this Wednesday December 10, 2014. The St. Louis Grand Jury process has been in the news a great deal lately with the “no true bill” finding regarding Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

On October 1, 2014, a Complaint was filed in St. Louis County, Missouri against Sunset Hills Mayor Mark Furrer for Second Degree Assault and First degree property damage, C and D felonies, following his attempt to run Randy Murdick off the road. Randy was on his bicycle while the Mayor was driving his red Mercedes convertible. According to the Prosecutor’s office, the investigating officer will be the only one to testify. The victim has not been asked to testify. The proceeding, like all Grand Jury proceedings, is closed to the public. We will likely find out the results Thursday.

Three independent witnesses support Randy Murdick’s version of the events. The Mayor has claimed in the media that Randy tried to hang onto his convertible after running a stop sign. Randy has vehemently denied the Mayor’s allegations and those allegations are not supported by any witnesses.


Tuesday December 9th, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sunset Hills Community Center will be the monthly Sunset Hills Board of Alderman meeting wherein they will be voting on the impeachment procedures introduced at the last meeting.  At the beginning of the meeting, you have to make a request to speak if you wish to do so. You will have three minutes. We encourage all Sunset Hills residents and cyclists in our area to attend and voice your opinion at the meeting.   We have learned that the Mayor may attempt to limit the opportunity to speak to only Sunset Hills residents and businesses.  We were given a copy of a letter today wherein he is seeking Board of Alderman support to shut down non-residents from voicing their opinions. As a St. Louis Trial Law Firm, we believe that any attempt to limit non-residents from speaking is unconstitutional and we hope that you show up and make your voice heard if you use the roads in Sunset Hills or believe in supporting safety for all the vulnerable road users.

Some alderman, residents, and non-resident cyclists have been very vocal about the need to impeach the Mayor for his actions in this case and for other unrelated reasons. Cyclists and supporters of the Mayor both attended the last meeting heating up the room during the open forum. Some believe he should not be impeached unless he is found guilty of a crime first, while others believe the unethical actions he admitted to in the media, along with his actions since the alleged crime occurred, is enough to impeach. Missouri state law does not require a finding of guilt to impeach a Mayor in a city the size of Sunset Hills; however there are currently no ordinances in effect regarding impeachment procedure in Sunset Hills.  The findings of the Grand Jury and likely the police report will be available before the vote to impeach the Mayor, which could come as early as January or February 2015.


Some people may be confused as to why a Grand Jury is necessary as a “Complaint” was filed on October 1, 2014. That is true, however, there must still be a finding of probable cause to proceed to trial in Missouri. Here, the criminal justice process starts by the filing of a document called a “Complaint” wherein the prosecutor states that they believe probable cause exists that the defendant committed certain crimes. This filing is followed by either a preliminary hearing OR a Grand Jury proceeding resulting in an indictment if a “true bill” is issued. The prosecutor’s office in the Mayor’s case decided to send it to the grand jury either before or after it was scheduled for preliminary hearing at the last docket. This is within their right to switch to a Grand Jury.

In Missouri, a defendant who is subject to indictment by Grand Jury is denied the right to present evidence to explain or contradict the charge, although as we saw in the Wilson case, a prosecutor may choose to present contradictory or exculpatory evidence. The Mayor has no constitutional or other right to appear before the Grand Jury and will only be there if the prosecutor calls him as a witness. The handling of the Darren Wilson Grand Jury evidence and the fact he testified was unusual. It is unlikely the Mayor would be called as a witness, although not impossible. There are no defense attorneys involved in a Grandy Jury hearing. The fact that this case went to a Grand Jury is significant because if it went to a preliminary hearing the Mayor would have had the right to appear and cross-examine witnesses through counsel, unlike the grand jury indictment process. Plus, the public and media would be able to see the testimony in a preliminary hearing.

Even if a true bill is issued, the indictment is merely an accusation against the Mayor. The true bill is not “evidence” that the Mayor committed the crimes charged. He still has a right to a full criminal trial. However, as far as impeachment goes, if probable cause is found the “true bill”, if issued, could be relied upon by the Board of Alderman, along with the police report, for purposes of impeachment.  Also, if a “true bill” is issued, an arraignment would then be scheduled, which is the formal presentation of charges against the Mayor in open court. During an arraignment, the charges would be read to Mark Furrer by a judge in the St. Louis County Circuit Court, and then Furrer would be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. They can also ask to waive the reading and plead guilty or not guilty in paperwork. During this time is also when he may be offered a deal to avoid trial on the charges.

If you have any questions about a criminal or personal injury case arising our of crimes against cyclists, please do not hesitate to contact our firm. We would be honored to advocate on your behalf.

Michelle M. Funkenbusch

St. Louis Trial Lawyer and Bike Advocate



Safety Tips for Halloween from Personal Injury Lawyer Michelle Funkenbusch

Car v. Pedestrian Accidents Safety Checklist for Halloween

Personal Injury Lawyer Warns About Monkeying Around on Halloween Night

According to U.S. Census data, there are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14. Add that statistic to the fact that in 2010, 41 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1) involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or higher, Halloween night requires added attention to safety to all those walking from house to house.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, in four out of six years between 2006 and 2010, more pedestrians under the age of 21 were killed by cars on Oct. 31 than on Oct. 30 or Nov. 1. Taking steps now and remembering them on Halloween night can prevent a pedestrian vs. car accident.

Here a few tips to reduce car v. pedestrian accidents this Halloween from Saint Louis personal injury lawyer Michelle Funkenbusch:

1.  Carry a flashlight or glowstick and wear glow-in-the-dark necklaces or attach reflective tape to costumes, wagons, and bags.

2.  Loose fitting clothing and oversized shoes can trip a trick-or-treater when crossing the street, so they should practice walking/running in their costume safely. Cut any costumes shorter if necessary.  

3.  Pirate swords and masks are cool, but are dangerous and masks can obscure vision. Thus, leave the swords at home (or make one from a poster board and aluminum foil) and use face paint instead of masks.

4. Remind kids to cross at crosswalks or at a corner with you.   They should also always make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the street and ALWAYS look left, right and left again.

5. For parents and kids, take out the headphones and no texting and walking especially when crossing the road.

6.  Avoid the decorative contact lenses — they could blur your vision at night.

7.  Many car accidents happen when a vehicle is pulling out of a driveway; kids should always look for cars when walking by a driveway.

8.  Stay with a group as you and your children are more visible.

9.  In urban areas, make sure children understand they cannot dart out between cars and that they may not see oncoming traffic.

Halloween trick-or-treaters need to be careful, but so do drivers. Drivers need to know that kids will be out of the streets looking for candy and not looking for cars. Avoid a car accident with a child by increasing your look-out for pedestrians. A few extra seconds could prevent a pedestrian vs. car accident!!!

Prepare now to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. Be safe and watch out for those who aren’t!


Missouri cyclist killed in accident during charity ride

A 48-year-old bicyclist from Independence died Saturday after he was struck by a vehicle while riding along a rural route of a charity ride east of Buckner.

Michael D. Forbes was riding west shortly after 8 a.m. on U.S. 24 near County Road H when a westbound car struck his rear wheel, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Forbes was riding the route of the Freedom From Cancer Ride, a charity event that started at 7 a.m. in Independence and extended to Lexington and back. Forbes wanted to start earlier than the official race time, so he was actually headed back to Independence as hundreds of other riders were still riding east, said Chris Pace, the event’s coordinator.

Forbes was alone, so other riders didn’t see the accident, Pace said.

Troopers still investigating the bicycle/car accident cited inattention by the 32-year-old driver as a cause. The driver told troopers he had glanced down at his dashboard. When he looked back up, it was too late to avoid hitting the cyclist, said Sgt. Collin Stosberg.

Troopers are going to subpoena cellphone records from the driver as a routine part of the investigation, Stosberg said.

Evidence showed Forbes was on the roadway, according to the Highway Patrol.

The victim and his wife, who was volunteering at the event, are well known and liked in the cycling community, Pace said.

“It’s tragic all the way around,” Pace said. “He was a good guy. He’d do anything for anybody.”

Cyclists know their hobby can be dangerous, Pace said, especially with multiplying distractions inside vehicles.

“All I can say is try to ride in a group,” Pace said. “Try to make yourself a bigger target.”

SOURCE: BY CHRISTINE VENDEL, To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.  Posted on Sat, Jun. 30, 2012 09:47 PM

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/06/30/3684614/independence-cyclist-killed-in.html#storylink=cpy
If you are in need of a personal injury lawyer specializing in cycling accidents,  Contact Michelle M. Funkenbusch, Missouri’s Advocate for the Cyclists.

Summary of U.S. Report on Commuting by Bike and on Foot by Missouri Bicycle Accident Lawyer

The Status of Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.

Government officials working to promote bicycling and walking need data to evaluate their efforts. In order to improve something, there must be a means to measure it. The Alliance for Biking & Walking’s Benchmarking Project is an ongoing effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and the 51 largest cities. They have now prepared the third biennial Benchmarking Report which is 248 pages long. The first report was published in 2007, the second in 2010, and the next report is scheduled for January 2014.


According to the report, the top ten cities where the most people commute by bike or on foot are: 1. Alaska 2. Vermont 3. New York 4. Montana 5. Oregon 6. Hawaii 7. Massachusetts 8. South Dakota 9. Wyoming 10. Maine.  The number one position, Alaska,  indicates it is the state with the highest share of commuters who commute by bicycle or foot.  The cities who ranked highest in commuting by bike and on foot are: 1. Boston  2. Washington, DC 3. San Francisco 4. Seattle 5. New York 6. Portland, OR  7. Minneapolis 8. Philadelphia 9. Honolulu 10. New Orleans.

Missouri ranked 40th out of the 50 states in the levels of commuting by bike or on foot. 

This information comes from the 2007-2009 ACS Notes: This ranking is based on the combined bike and walk to work share from the 2007-2009 ACS. View graphs illustrating this data on pages 34 and 35 of the Benchmark Report.


This is difficult to determine, but one statistic to consider is the number of fatalities per population commuting by walking or biking to work.  The arguably safest state based on fatality statistics is Vermont. The top safest states rank as follows: 1. Vermont 2. Nebraska 3. Alaska 4. Wyoming 5. South Dakota 6. North Dakota 7. Iowa 8. Maine 9. Massachusetts 10. Minnesota. See FARS 2007-2009 ACS 2007-2009.  Note that this ranking is based on the fatality rate which is calculated by dividing the number of annual pedestrian and bicycle fatalities (averaged between 2007-2009) by population (weighted, or multiplied, by share of the population walking and bicycling to work). View these data on pages 56-62 of this report.

Illinois ranked in the top half  of lowest fatalities/population commuting by bike/foot at 23rd,

but Missouri was in the 34th position.

The top twelve cities who ranked the safest based on the fatality statistics  are as follows: 1. Boston 2. Minneapolis 3. Omaha 4. Seattle 5. Portland, OR 6. Washington, DC 7. New York 8, San Francisco 9. Philadelphia 10. Honolulu 11. Colorado Springs 12. Chicago. Kansas City, MO ranked 45th and St. Louis did not make the list because this report focuses on the 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities. Most bicycling and walking is in urban areas, and because of short trip distances, the most potential for increasing bicycling and walking is in cities.

Summary of Additional Facts From the Report

Bicycling and Walking Levels:

  • 12% of all trips are by bicycle (1.0%) or foot (10.5%).
  • From 2000 to 2009, the number of commuters who bicycle to work increased by 57%.
  • In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, yet Americans use their cars for 87% of trips 1 to 2 miles. Twenty-seven percent of trips are shorter than 1 mile, yet 62% of trips up to 1 mile long are by car. Residents of the largest U.S. cities are 1.7 times more likely to walk or bicycle to work than the national average.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety:

  • 14% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are bicyclists (1.8%) or pedestrians (11.7%).
  • In the 51 largest U.S. cities, 12.7% of trips are by foot and 1.1% are by bicycle, yet 26.9% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians and 3.1% are bicyclists
  • Seniors are the most vulnerable bicyclists and pedestrians. Adults over 65 make up 10% of walking trips, yet comprise 19% of pedestrian fatalities and make up 6% of bicycling trips, yet account for and 10% of bicyclist fatalities.

Funding for Bicycling and Walking:

 • States spend just 1.6% of their federal transportation dollars on bicycling and walking. This amounts to just $2.17 per capita.

Missouri was ranked 17th out of the 50 states in funding bicycling and walking.

This ranking is based on the per capita spending of federal funds by states and cities on bicycling and walking using a 5-year average (2006-2010). Data is based on funds obligated to projects in this period and are not necessarily the amount spent in these years. The number one position, again Alaska, indicates the state with the highest amount of per capita federal funding to bicycling and walking.  View these data on pages 86-87 of this report.

Here are some additional facts about financial benefits from the extensive report:

Public Health Benefits:

• Bicycling and walking levels fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156%.

• Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school fell 75%, while the percentage of obese children rose 276%.

• In general, states with the highest levels of bicycling and walking have the lowest levels of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes and have the greatest percentage of adults who meet the recommended 30-plus minutes per day of physical activity.

Economic Benefits:

 • Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects.

 • Cost benefit analyses show that up to $11.80 in benefits can be gained for every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.

Download the complete report at: www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org/Benchmarking

Michelle M. Funkenbusch is a cycling advocate and Missouri trial attorney specializing in representing cyclists who have been injured in accidents. Please contact her if you wish for her to speak with your group about the benefits of cycling or if you have been injured in an accident. 314-799-6602. mmf@SaintLouisLegal.com