Wrongful death lawsuit settled; focus on cycling safety to continue

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 8:45 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - One year has passed since Tabitha Thompson was killed while riding her bicycle in Botetourt County.

This week, a judge finalized a $1.5 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit. But the end of one chapter is the beginning of another for her husband, Matt Thompson.

Thompson sat down with WDBJ7 Friday morning.

“I think one of the things that upsets me the most is that she was just hitting her stride at 39 years old,” Thompson said.

Tabitha Thompson had a major impact on the people around her - as a wife and friend, as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, as an animal lover and a gifted athlete.

Although the last year has been difficult for her husband, Matt Thompson is determined to tell her story in an effort to save lives.

“We don’t want this to happen to anybody else. So we want there to be an awareness. We want folks to identify cyclists with an individual, with a person, not an inconvenience or not an annoyance on the road,” he said.

We spoke with Thompson in the office of his attorney, John Lichtenstein.

Lichtenstein said Tabitha was doing everything right. And he hopes the crash that took her life serves as a “lightbulb moment” for everyone who drives.

“What we need to do is when we see that cyclist we understand we’ve got duties under the law, we’ve got to give at least three feet to pass, by statute, by law,” he said. “And when we do that -and if we need to change lanes, we change lanes - we save lives and that’s what this is really about.”

“There’s an immense imbalance between power, with a runner and a cyclist and a vehicle,” Thompson told us. “And let’s be kind enough to just view that cyclist, view that runner as your mother, your brother, someone special to you... to ensure that someone gets home to their family.”

And Thompson would like to see stronger enforcement and tougher penalties for drivers whose behavior leads to the injury or death of a runner or cyclist.