The family of a Tulsa motorcyclist who was killed in a west Tulsa County motorcycle crash in May said it’s likely that a lawsuit against Tulsa County and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office will be filed soon.
Meanwhile, the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office announced Monday that it would not file criminal charges against the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash or the Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputy who was present when the crash occurred.
Cobie Tyner, 18, was killed in a fatal motorcycle crash on May 14 near the 6400 block of West Avery Drive.
According to a preliminary report from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Tyner was travelling eastbound on his 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle at a high rate of speed, and shortly after rounding a curve in the road “crossed the center line for an unknown reason” and crashed into a westbound Ford Fusion driven by Lisa Reyna, 37, of Sand Springs.
Tyner died at the scene from his injuries. Reyna was taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.
However, the initial OHP account of what happened did not mention that Tulsa County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Titsworth had just performed a U turn in the road after seeing a speeding motorcyclist headed eastbound had pass by, according to a report by Titsworth.
In an interview with The Frontier, Reyna said she was behind Titsworth’s Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department sports utility vehicle when the speeding motorcycle came around and Titsworth hit his brakes, turned on his emergency lights, and began to make a relatively slow U turn to pursue the motorcycle. At that point, Reyna said, a second motorcycle — which turned out to be Tyner’s — appeared from behind Titworth’s SUV and crashed into her car.
Though Titsworth in his report said that he attempted to render aid to Tyner, Reyna said he did not attempt to aid Tyner or check on her or her son, who was also in the vehicle at the time.
Other motorcyclists who were part of Tyner’s group, but further behind, said they nearly crashed into the deputy’s vehicle as well when they rounded the curve.
One of those riders told The Frontier that the deputy told them to leave the scene, though Titsworth, in his statement, said the riders left despite his instruction to stay.
Tyner’s family said they later learned of the deputy’s presence after other riders who were part of Tyner’s group, having seen statements from the OHP that neglected to mention the deputy, began to post about the crash on social media.
On Aug. 14, the Tyners’ attorney Daniel Smolen submitted a notice of tort claim and intent to sue to Tulsa County, the Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners and Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado.
The notice accuses Titsworth of performing an illegal U-turn on a double yellow line highway which forced Tyner into oncoming traffic, resulting in Tyner’s death.
The wrongful death claim also alleges negligent supervision and training played a role in the actions of the deputy. The county has 90 days to respond to the claim.
“I’ve never sued anybody in my life. I never thought I would,” said Cobie Tyner’s father Derek Tyner. “But I’ve got to get justice for Cobie. I can’t just let this go. I just can’t do it, no matter how bad I want to.”
Derek Tyner told the Frontier that he believes the crash investigators and other first responders at the scene intentionally tried to downplay or conceal the deputy’s involvement in the crash, and displayed a callous attitude toward his son’s death.
“If he would have said ‘I made a mistake, I should have never done a U turn on that corner, I would have lived with that,” Derek Tyner said. “That’s a mistake. I’ve made mistakes. But they didn’t. They went the other way and tried to cover it up.”
“If we go to court, it will all come out,” he said.
On Monday, the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would not file criminal charges against the deputy, Andrew Titsworth, or the driver of the oncoming car Tyner crashed into, Lisa Reyna.
Based on reports provided by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said Tulsa County District Attorney First Assistant Erik Grayless, there was not enough evidence to show criminal negligent homicide occurred.
“The presence of any potential civil suit does not concern the Tulsa County DA’s office,” Grayless said in a statement. “Recognizing that this is a tragedy to all parties concerned, we wish them the best moving forward.”
A spokeswoman for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office refused to release the contents of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s crash investigation report, and an attorney for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said on Tuesday the report would not be immediately available.
A spokeswoman for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that an internal investigation of Titsworth’s actions was has yet to be completed.