Bicyclists remember friend

Several dozen bicycle riders pedaled around Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon to remember Nathan Crowson, a father, artist and bicycling enthusiast who was killed two years ago after being struck by a suspected drunken driver while riding along Perkins Road.

The eclectic group’s makeup ranged from experienced riders to children on tandem bikes, among them Crowson’s 7-year-old daughter, Katherine Coburn, who wore her signature Batwoman T-shirt as a tribute to her father, whom she called Batman.

Friends of Crowson’s on Sunday said before his death, his life increasingly revolved around his young daughter.

“He was even looking into purchasing a car, which was crazy,” said Jamie DiGilormo, a long-time friend of Crowson’s.

Crowson didn’t own a car at the time of his death, instead he used his bicycle as his main mode of transportation.

Since the death of Crowson, 30, on Jan. 21, 2012, his family said they have patiently awaited justice.

Prosecutors in June 2012 charged Joseph S. Branch, 30, with second-offense DWI, first-degree vehicular homicide and first-degree negligent injuring in the night-time crash that killed Crowson and seriously injured Daniel Morris, who was hospitalized for weeks following the crash.

Branch has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a motion hearing to set a trial date is scheduled for Feb. 10, according to court documents.

Morris’ mother, Debbie McConnell, said Sunday that her son has good days and bad days.

“He’s not doing well,” McConnell said of her son, who a year ago filed a civil lawsuit against Branch and The Bulldog, where Branch allegedly consumed “a number of alcoholic beverages” prior to the crash, according to the suit.

The group on Sunday rode along the Mississippi River levee and around the LSU Lakes, enjoying the brief reprieve from freezing temperatures.

Crowson’s younger brother, Loc Crowson, participated in the memorial ride and said he appreciated the modest showing in memory of his brother.

“It’s been a hard week,” Loc Crowson said.

Mark Martin, a Baton Rouge bicycling advocate who participated in the ride, said he wishes the city would dedicate more resources to planned routes that would divert bicycle riders off Perkins Road, a notoriously dangerous road for bicyclists.

Martin also said while there are laws in Louisiana to protect bicyclists, many of those laws are unenforceable until after crashes occur.