High-Profile Bike Death

A bike death that won't be forgotten? High-profile case sees serious charges, a ghost bike & debate

A bike death that won't be forgotten? Major case sees serious charges

Galveston ghost bike Jon Trevalise
The ghost bike memorial for Jon Trevalise sits near the road where he was hit by Melissa Smith's car. Jon Trevalise's Life / Facebook

Bicyclists often charge that police and prosecutors don't do enough when one of their brethren is killed by a driver. In at least one high-profile case in Galveston, that's changing.

A Galveston woman has been charged with manslaughter after authorities tied her to a collision that killed a Houston cyclist on the island's west end earlier this year.

Melissa Malin Smith, 68, turned herself in to authorities before being released on a $40,000 bond early this week, as first reported by the Galveston Daily News.

 Smith was driving on the shoulder to look for an address since she was lost. According to the police report, Smith said “she looked up and the man on the bike was there.”  

Smith was behind the wheel of a 2006 Ford Taurus when she struck 66-year-old Houston resident Jon Trevelise at approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 19. Trevelise was cycling on the shoulder in the 19600 block of FM 3005 west of Jamaica Beach when Smith's car struck him from behind.

Smith told the police she was driving on the shoulder to look for an address since she was lost. According to the police report, Smith said “she looked up and the man on the bike was there.” 

Trevelise was treated for a traumatic brain injury at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, but he never regained consciousness. He got removed from life support after he was found to be in a constant vegetative state. He died at a Houston hospice on May 16.

A ghost bike (a white bike placed near sites where cyclists have died due to being hit by cars) was installed in Galveston last month to commemorate Trevelise. Jon Trevelise is the cousin of New Jersey comedian and radio personality Steve Trevelise, which has brought more attention to his death.

This time, serious chargers have also been brought.