FERRIER FILES: Video led to record jail time for man accused in Natchez Trace crash
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
One of Nashville's most prominent cycling clubs believes this is the first time a Tennessee motorist will spend even one day in jail for hitting a cyclist.
What happened this time? It was caught on camera.
The video of the crash, recorded by a camera on a fellow cyclists's helmet, shows a crystal clear angle of the crash on the Natchez Trace Parkway. IT shows the car seemingly make no effort to get out of the way.
On Monday, Marshall Neely, the accused driver, pleaded guilty to several charges related to the crash.
Neely, a 59-year old Franklin man and the former dean of students at University School, pleaded guilty to reckless aggravated assault, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice.
Neely changed his story several times since the collision on the Natchez Trace Parkway last July. He told police two people were standing in the parkway arguing and they threw their bike at him.
When he realized it was all on video he changed his story again.
“I literally did not see this gentlemen, and I didn't even know I hit him," Neely told Fox 17 News in an interview last year. "God knows I am a very decent and caring man, and if I knew I hit someone I never would have driven away."
In the end, no story could match the video.
“That is the culture today," said Stan Davey of the Harpeth Bicycle Club. "Video. Video tells a story."
In fact, the Harpeth Bicycle club was so encouraged by the national outcry that they decided to make an expensive step to protect their club members.
“The big difference has been camera," Davey said. "So we went out and bought 500 cameras to video both the front and the rear of our bikes."
The cameras record audio and video continuously.
While it is not as dramatic as the Trace accident, they have already made a difference for one Lewisburg cyclist.
In what would have been a he said-he said, an encounter in Lewisburg where Stan Davey says he was buzzed by a car. Stan said he gestured to the driver as he whizzed by. The driver pulled over ahead of Davey and threatened him.
The motorist was placed on probation, which would have been unlikely, even impossible without the video.
“Typically there has been very little charge because they hasn't been video proof," Davey said. “We are not trying to cause people problems. All they want is a little space."
The other big difference is this case on the Natchez Trace was prosecuted by the U.S Attorney’s Office. The feds have stricter laws and have been very successful at getting real jail time for those convicted of crimes.
Official sentencing for Neely is August 17. Neely has agreed to serve 10 months in jail followed by three years supervised released. He will also have to pay $1,210 to the victim.