A man in Colorado's Weld County was arrested recently in connection with a 2007 motorcycle crash that killed a 21-year-old woman who was the passenger on his motorcycle when they crashed. Tyrrell Kochenower, the motorcycle driver, was arrested and is being held on a $100,000 bond.
The crash, which happened on Sept. 21, 2007, occurred near Weld County roads 29 and 74, about three miles west of Eaton. A passenger on the motorcycle, Bethany Gibson, was killed, and Kochenower was seriously injured when the motorcycle they were on skidded out of control. Kochenower was driving the motorcycle, according to affidavits, when it ran off the road. The motorcycle tumbled for 255 feet with both Bethany and Kochenower thrown off. The crash occurred about midnight, but the victims weren't found for more than seven hours. When found, Gibson was dead and Kochenower was alive, but he was in serious condition with a brain injury. Further investigation alleges that Kochenower was legally intoxicated at the time of the crash. Kochenower suffered a severe brain injury, fractured skull and collapsed lung in the crash and hospital bills in Greeley exceeded $300,000.
A drunk driver, either of a motorcycle or a car, has a responsibility to their passenger. They have a responsibility to drive safely and if injury ensues then the driver can be held criminally liable as this case shows. Moreover, a drunk driver who injures his passenger can be held civilly liable as well. However, a jury might find that the injured passenger may also have blame. In other words the jury might find the injured or killed passenger was partly at fault for becoming a passenger by assuming the risk that the driver was drunk.
In Utah, if a passenger is found to be 50% or more at fault, the passenger will receive no compensation whatsoever.