Suspect in hit-and-run that killed Germantown bicyclist released; researcher says fatalities on the rise

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GERMANTOWN -- The number of fatalities involving bicyclists has doubled in Wisconsin over the last year. The latest victim -- a 50-year-old man from Germantown never made it home after he left to get some food on Sunday night, August 23rd.

Germantown police said late Monday the vehicle involved in this fatal hit-and-run incident had been recovered, and a suspect was in custody. But now, we've learned that suspect has been released -- because there is not enough evidence yet to charge him in this case.

Germantown fatal hit-and-run

Germantown fatal hit-and-run

Meanwhile, a cross and flowers sits at the spot where Keith Habenicht spent the last moments of his life.

"A really sad situation," Robert Schneider said. "When these fatalities occur, it`s a loss to our entire community."

Schneider teaches and conducts research related to pedestrian and bicycle transportation and safety at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He's uncovered a disturbing trend.

"Comparing 2014 to 2015 -- last year there were four bicycle fatalities throughout the state the entire year. So far this year we have had nine. The number has increased significantly," Schneider said.

Surveillance video shows that after Habenicht was hit on Sunday night on Appleton Avenue, south of Mequon Road, the vehicle that hit him drove off without even braking.

Germantown fatal hit-and-run

Germantown fatal hit-and-run

"We want to try and prevent as many of these crashes as possible," Schneider said.

Because more fatalities occur when bicyclists are struck from behind, experts continue to emphasize pedestrian and bicycle safety -- and encourage motorists to watch out for bicyclists, and vice versa.

Schneider says he hopes to facilitate changes in an effort to make roads safer for bicyclists. He says a lot of communities have made improvements over the years.

"In rural areas that includes adding wider shoulders on roadways -- so paving those areas so bicyclists can be out of the travel lane and have their own space on the side of the road," Schneider said.

In addition to driving cautiously, police hope you can help in this hit-and-run case out of Germantown. Anyone with any information is asked to give Germantown police a call.

Germantown fatal hit-and-run

Germantown fatal hit-and-run

3 comments

  • Wischneider

    Bicyclists should not ride in the middle of the street. They have the same road “rights” as vehicles, and that needs to change. They’re too slow, don’t obey the same traffic rules, and cause accidents.

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