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Magnus White: Family of Boulder cyclist files wrongful death lawsuit against alleged driver

Magnus White
Posted at 4:59 PM, May 23, 2024

BOULDER, Colo. — The family of the 17-year-old bicyclist who was struck and killed in Boulder County last summer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged driver.

Magnus White, who was on the verge of becoming a world-class cyclist, was struck and killed by a driver near Highway 119 and N. 63rd Street in his hometown of Boulder on the afternoon of July 29, 2023. At the time of the crash, he was proudly wearing his Team USA jersey and training for the Junior Mountain Bike World Championships in Scotland, his family said.

Yeva Smilianska, 23, was charged with vehicular homicide - reckless, a Class 4 felony, in connection with the teen's death.

Magnus White

Local News

Driver who hit Magnus White fell asleep at the wheel, investigators say

Stephanie Butzer
12:00 PM, Dec 13, 2023

According to a crash report completed on Aug. 5, 2023, Smilianska was driving a silver 2004 Toyota Matrix at the time. Magnus was bicycling southbound on Highway 119 south of N. 63rd Street while Smilianska was traveling in the same direction in the right lane. She was going the speed limit, the crash report reads. She drifted out of her lane and into the paved right shoulder. She later reported this "was due to steering difficulty," according to the crash report, though no issues were found in the subsequent investigation. According to an arrest affidavit, Smilianska said she lost control of her car.

Smilianska reportedly asked witnesses who stopped if she could leave prior to police arriving, according to the affidavit. Some witnesses said it appeared like she did not know she had hit somebody. A witness said, "right when I was told I was free to go, (Smilianska) came over to ask me what happened. So I gave her, like, a brief explanation, um, and she said she passed out at the wheel," according to the affidavit.

Smilianska later told investigators she tried to steer her vehicle back on the road, but "the next thing she remembered, she was off the side of the highway and felt 'fuzzy,'" according to the affidavit. She reported that she thought the people who were stopped were checking on her. She did not recall seeing Magnus on his bike.

In the subsequent investigation, an inspection showed no issues with the vehicle Smilianska was driving and noted that when traveling over 50 mph, the vehicle pulled slightly to the right if there was no "steering input," according to the affidavit. Investigators also determined that she was likely asleep for less than three hours the night before the crash, and Smilianska said she hadn't been sleeping well since she fled Ukraine.

"Based on the totality of circumstances, it appears most likely that Smilianska was asleep at the time of the crash," the affidavit concludes.

magnus white and parents graphic.jpg

Local News

Magnus White's parents on grief, their son's memory after driver arrested

Stephanie Butzer
5:17 PM, Dec 14, 2023

Michael and Jill White, the parents of Magnus, named Smilianska as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed on May 21. The family is seeking more than $100,000 in damages and is asking for a jury trial.

In the wake of his death, Magnus's family launched a nonprofit as well as a film about the young man's life and impact. The nonprofit, called The White Line, was possible thanks to donations made to a GoFundMe online fundraiser after his death.

The White Line said it "champions the relentless spirit and love for life of Magnus White," adding that "while the world recognized him as a rising cycling talent, to us he remains the ever-smiling Magnus, who cherished family, friends, and fun above all." It aims to preserve and honor Magnus, while inspiring cyclists around the world, and raising awareness and creating change for bicycle safety on the roads.

The nonprofit will release a series of films titled "Lives Worth Remembering" to highlight the lives of bicyclists killed on the roads, and their impact on the communities. A 10-minute trailer for the first film, which provides glimpses of Magnus's life as well as his family's grief, was released on Dec. 4, 2023. You can watch it below.

The White Line will soon host the Ride for Magnus: Ride for Your Life. The 13.5-mile memorial bike ride is scheduled for Aug. 11 and will start at 10 a.m. at Farrand Field, located at 2200 Baker Drive on the University of Colorado Boulder's campus. The route goes north to Jay Road, east to westbound Diagonal Highway (Highway 119) and slightly beyond the crash site before turning around and taking the same route back to CU Boulder.

The nonprofit said a "special memorial activity" will happen as the group of cyclists passes the crash site.

All westbound lanes of Diagonal Highway will close for this event.

The White Line_Ride for Magnus White

Once the bicyclists return to the CU Boulder campus, the nonprofit will hold a rally and will introduce a legislative effort, the nonprofit said. It said the effort will focus on "reforming penalties for injuring or causing death to vulnerable road users," and they hope it serves as a deterrent and forces drivers to be more responsible behind the wheel.

To register for the memorial ride, click here. Options to participate by walking around the campus or a virtual ride will be available.

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