Driver blamed ‘steering difficulty’ in crash that killed USA cyclist Magnus White

A memorial for cyclist Magnus White is pictured near Diagonal Highway. (Courtesy of Richard Kiefer)

Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023

Content warning: This article discusses events that led to the death of a cyclist. As such, it may be difficult for some readers.

By Richard Kiefer

The driver of the car that struck and killed USA bicyclist Magnus White claims unspecified “steering difficulty” led to the collision, according to a recently released accident report from Colorado State Patrol.

At approximately 12:30 pm on Saturday, July 29, Magnus White, a 17-year-old nationally recognized competitive bicyclist, was killed on Colorado Highway 119 when struck by a 2004 Toyota Matrix traveling southbound in the outside lane. White was also traveling southbound on the 10-foot-wide paved right shoulder.

The Toyota traveled from the right-most traffic lane onto the paved right shoulder. According to the report, the vehicle collided with the rear of the bicycle and made no evasive maneuver before or after contact. The car then traveled off of the right side of the roadway and down a grass embankment until it  collided with a fence and came to rest.

White and his bicycle came to rest on the grass embankment. He was transported to and pronounced dead at a hospital.

A graph shows the path of the motor vehicle before and after the point of impact. From CSP report, case number 1D232999.


Colorado State Patrol officer McCall noted in his report that the roadway was dry and the weather was clear. In the opinion of Officer McCall, there was “no apparent contributing factor” on the part of the driver of the car, meaning that alcohol, distracted driving or excessive speed did not contribute to the cause of the accident.

The estimated speed of impact as the car struck the bicycle was 55 miles per hour, the legal speed limit for this section of Highway 119. Charges were not filed against the driver.

The investigation is ongoing and could take several weeks or longer, according to Boulder County District Attorney spokesperson Shannon Carbone. It will include a mechanical inspection and crash reconstruction analysis.

“We expect that CSP will conduct interviews, evidence collection and a crash reconstruction analysis to determine whether, and what, charges should be filed against the driver who killed this young man,” Carbone wrote in response to emailed questions. “Given the loss of life, the District Attorney’s Office has already reached out and offered our assistance to the Colorado State Patrol.”

“Our office has offered our assistance and emphasized the need for an expedited, but thorough investigation.”

There are eight reports of steering malfunctions with the 2004 Toyota Matrix that have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including multiple incidents that resulted in crashes. One complaint reads, in part, that “while driving at 40 mph, the vehicle began to drift off to the right. The contact tried to straighten up the steering wheels but it locked up and caused her to crash into a ditch.”

Only one of the complaints, which are self-reported, resulted in Toyota identifying an issue with the steering, according to the complainant. There have been no official findings of safety issues, no recalls related to steering for the vehicles, no investigations, and no communications regarding steering malfunctions or deficiency from the manufacturer.

There have been several other bike crashes this summer in Boulder County. A tandem was struck by a motorcycle in Left Hand Canyon, resulting in serious injuries to the two cyclists and the death of the motorcyclist. A cyclist died after colliding with another cyclist on Eldorado Canyon road.

A separated bikeway on CO 119 will eventually connect Boulder and Longmont. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024. There will be a public comment period on the final design before construction for the bikeway begins.

— Richard Kiefer is a member of Boulder Beat’s Opinion Panel. His work has also appeared on air at KGNU and been archived in the Carnegie Library for Local History and the Museum of Boulder.

Shay Castle contributed reporting.

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