The Fort Collins Cycling Community is being asked to provide Victim Impact Statements with regards to the automobile vs bike crash that killed Ernesto Wiedenbrug.

In an effort to ensure that our voices are heard and that Theresa Marie O’Connor receives the proper punishment, Fort Collins Cyclists are being asked to explain to Judge Stephen J. Schapanski how the death of Ernesto has impacted them and their riding. Impact Statements should tell how Ernesto’s death has affected us and not how we feel she should be punished.   If we sit ideally by, it is entirely possible that Theresa Marie O’Connor could get off with a slap on the wrist. 


The following is an email that I received from Rick Price outlining Victim Impact Statements. 


Ernesto Ghost BikeSeveral of you have written to me or spoken with me personally over the last several weeks about how the hit and run incident involving the death of Ernesto Weidenbrug affected you.  It has affected me also, keeping me awake after 3:30 a.m. for the past two weeks but also causing me to reflect on the impact of this event on our efforts to make this a safe cycling community.

I will say that Ernesto’s death has not made me afraid to ride.  But I’m hearing from many of you that you are now frightened to ride on the road.   I hear that many older cyclists, especially, refuse to ride on the roads in Fort Collins and limit their riding to trails.  And I hear from parents who won’t let their kids ride to school because they are afraid for them.  Most concerning for me is that I hear from more and more people that they will limit their riding to sidewalks or a combination of sidewalks and trails.  This latter affirmation is of concern as it sets us up for an increase in bike/car crash rates.


After speaking with the Victims Advocate Office in the District Attorney’s office, my own attorney and a well-known personal injury attorney in Boulder who specializes in bicycle cases, I have decided to submit a “victim’s impact statement” to the judge hearing the case of Theresa Marie O’Connor, the young woman who hit and killed Ernesto and then fled the scene.


The latest on the case is that after her initial arraignment in district court her attorney requested a quick disposition hearing.  That is currently scheduled for March 28th at 9 a.m.  My understanding is that her attorney is hoping for disposition of the case and a plea bargain.  This avoids a lengthy and costly trial for everyone.

My purpose in writing the victim impact statement is two-fold:

  1. 1)      Our justice system works so much behind closed doors once a case goes to court that it shuts most of us out of the process especially if there are negotiations for a  I want the judge to think seriously about the impact this hit and run had on the community;
  2. 2)      I want the motoring public to think twice about ever committing such a crime.

With this latter in mind I will be publishing my victim impact statement as my Smart Cycling column on March 17

With this e-mail I am asking for a call to action:

  1. 1)      While my statement is currently in draft form if you have examples of how this specific hit and run incident has affected you, I can always usePlease send me your comments.  Or,
  2. 2)      Consider writing your own victim impact statement about thisThis could be from a cyclist’s perspective or simply as a friend or co-worker of Ernesto.

If you do write here is the address:

The Honorable Judge Stephen J. Schapanski

201 La Porte Avenue, Suite 100

Fort Collins CO 80521


I suggest mailing this on or about March 14 or 15.

If you’d like hints on writing a victim impact statement take a look at these two websites: