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Driver charged with death of bicyclist hit Tuesday in Durham County

Posted May 11, 2016
Updated May 12, 2016

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— A Durham man was charged on Wednesday with the death of a bicyclist who was hit Tuesday morning in Durham County.

Russell Grant Rutledge, 33, was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Troopers said Eugene Howard Rotberg, 66, of Raleigh, was riding on N.C. Highway 98 near Cheek Road when he was struck by Rutledge's 2016 Chevrolet pickup truck. Rotberg was thrown from his bike and landed on the shoulder of the road.

Wake County school officials said Rotberg was a physical education teacher who retired from Dillard Drive Elementary school in 2015. He has worked at the school since 2007 and had been with the district since 2004.

"Mr. Rotberg had been a big part of our school family for years and was very loved," Dillard Drive Principal James Douglas said in a statement. "He was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed by the students and staff here at Dillard Drive Elementary School. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends."

According to a Facebook post, Rotberg was an employee at Life Time Cycle in Raleigh and "devoted his life to working with children and passing on the love of cycle."


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  • Fred Holt May 11, 2016
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    Well, it's pretty clear that any passing vehicle must leave room (current law in NC for any vehicle is 2 feet) and not hit and kill the person in front of them. That part is pretty cut and dried. We need better laws, and penalties severe enough to discourage distracted driving. I get that this man didn't expect there to be a bicycle there - but that's no excuse for hitting and killing a person in broad daylight on a straight and level road. Today it's a woman mowing her lawn in Edgecombe county. Better laws, and better enforcement and prosecution are needed.

  • Jamie France May 11, 2016
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    I researched this by reading other news groups. This one talks about the vest. http://wncn.com/2016/05/11/durham-man-charged-in-collision-that-killed-cyclist/

    Here's a quote from SHP... "Speed was not a factor and as in all cases, will be looking into if the driver was distracted," said Lt. Jeff Gordon with the N.C. State Highway Patrol from another article. "According to the preliminary report, it appears Mr. Rutledge simply failed to stay within his travel lane thus striking Mr. Rotberg."

    I would agree that he probably wasn't speeding, but I'm pretty sure that he didn't slow down enough around the other vehicle on the road (bicycle). Most drivers don't want to have to hit their brake because they are in too much of a hurry.

    I think we could consider not staying within your lane as breaking the law.

  • Robert Scott May 11, 2016
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    Where does the article say the driver didn't stop. If he hadn't it would have probably been a felony hit and run.

  • Sara Hauser May 11, 2016
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    I will never understand how someone can be so cold-hearted and cruel not to stop if they have hit someone. Once you get caught AND YOU WILL, things will be much worse for you.

  • Robert Fotch Jr May 11, 2016
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    I thought vehicles were considered deadly weapons. How bout charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

  • Tomma Hargraves May 11, 2016
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    Gene Rotberg was a wonderful person... His life was lost in a horrible accident... Try some sensitivity, folks.

  • Johnathan Gault May 11, 2016
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    Just because you have the right to do something does not make it logical or sane. I am a cyclist and I would never be on NC98, other than to cross the road. There are many beautiful back roads in that area. You do not need 98.
    Prayers to both families.

  • New Holland May 11, 2016
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    interesting that on Monday there were several riders on hwy 751 right about rush hour and big trucks and cars and landscaping trucks with trailers, and i thought that these folks must have a death wish. 55-65mph vs 10mph no contest. Find some roads that don't have small 2 lanes and 55 speed limits to ride and live to ride again.

  • Fanny Chmelar May 11, 2016
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    Yet another commenter in too much of a hurry to judge without facts.
    Where did it say he was speeding? Or what traffic law he didn't follow? Or that he had a vest on?

  • Jamie France May 11, 2016
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    yet another driver in too much of a hurry to follow rules of the road. Now we get to listen to people blaming the victim for legally riding on a road in daylight, with a vest on.