Teen who killed Fort Collins cyclist avoids jail time

Foco bike fatalityFrom The Coloradoan

Coming off a year when two cyclists were killed by drivers in and near Fort Collins, officials have unveiled a new restorative justice pilot program that will keep some offenders — including a teen who killed one rider — out of jail.

Earl Ong, 18 at the time he swerved into a bike lane and fatally injured an avid rider, will be the first person to participate in “Chain Reaction,” a collaboration between nonprofit Bike Fort Collins and the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office.

The program, spurred after a deadly year resulted in community outrage that boiled over at a town hall meeting, is aimed at advancing safety and systemic change rather than lobbying for stricter punishments, said Chris Johnson, executive director of Bike Fort Collins.

“Sentencing and justice should seek not just to punish, or scare, but to use tragedy to change our culture, create awareness and advance the greater good,” Johnson wrote in a statement to the Coloradoan.

Acknowledging some advocates would likely vehemently disagree with Ong’s sentence, Johnson stood by the court’s judgement and DA’s efforts throughout the case. He also touted the teen’s character and apparent remorse that made him the perfect person to pilot the new program.

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