NORTHWOOD, Iowa – Hitting and killing a rollerblader will not send a Mason City man to prison.
Luke J. Beenken, 44, was found guilty in November 2020 of homicide by vehicle-reckless driving. Authorities say Beenken was driving east on 390th Street in Worth County on May 3, 2019, when he hit and killed Rick Johnson, 58 of Kensett, who was rollerblading in the east lane of traffic.
The judge in the case ruled phone records showed Beenken was texting around the same time as the fatal collision and there is no other explanation for Beenken not seeing Johnson and hitting him from behind. The judge said there is no evidence Beenken reduced speed or moved to avoid hitting Johnson.
Beenken has now been sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community work service. He has also been ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to Johnson’s estate or heirs.