On Wednesday, January 24, the 21-year-old Aaron Richard Davison pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Tommy Ketterhagen. Davison also pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
One year prior, Ketterhagen was riding his bicycle on the 2300 block of Patriot Way in Georgetown, Texas, when he was struck and killed by Davison, who was driving his vehicle on the wrong side of the road.
The terms of the plea agreement include two years in prison and 10 years of probation. Sentencing is scheduled for March 6.
The Ketterhagen family was supportive of the plea deal offered by the Williamson County district attorney’s office.
“I think early on I was hoping more for trial,” said Tommy’s father, Tom Ketterhagen. “But at this point, I’ve gone pretty clearly from just having the truth about all the details, to being more resolved that we know an awful lot, and maybe enough.”
Tom Ketterhagen said he considers the probation more significant than jail time in its implications for public safety, and noted that under the terms of the agreement a traffic violation would be considered a violation of Davison’s probation.
Davison’s court appearance this week marked one year since Tommy’s body was found along Patriot Way by his mother, Luz Ketterhagen, and brother Brendan, then 11 years old.
When Tommy had not arrived home from his ride the previous afternoon, the Ketterhagen family had reported him missing to police and had searched most of the night themselves, finding Tommy’s body around 7:30 on the morning following the crash.
In their search for the hit-and-run driver, police located Davison’s truck behind a locked gate, confirming extensive front-end damage with aerial images. As a search warrant was being processed, Davison’s two attorneys — Joe Turner and Dan Gattis — contacted the Williamson County District Attorney’s office to say that their client wished to turn himself in.
Davison did so on Friday, January 27, 2017.
In a subsequent statement to the press, Turner said that Davison had not been drinking at the time of the crash. Additionally, Turner claimed Davison had dropped his phone and reached down to get it when he swerved across the road and believed he had hit something.
A witness came forward after seeing news coverage of Tommy’s death. The witness reported seeing Davison’s truck driving erratically on State Highway 130 before it exited and turned onto Patriot Way. The witness then saw the truck swerve across the center turn lane and the oncoming lane of traffic into the shoulder on the opposite side of the road.
At that point, the witness heard a loud sound and saw a bike wheel fly into the air, reporting that he then saw two people get out of the truck, look into the ditch beside the road, and accelerate away.
The passenger in Davison’s vehicle, Cody Wayne Crow, has not been charged with a crime.
A talented athlete, Tommy was a soccer player and bike racer, riding for the junior-focused 787 Racing team. Tommy’s death roiled the local cycling community, and news of the case traveled well beyond the state. More than 500 riders attended a memorial ride held the Sunday after Tommy’s death, and many wrote to the district attorney’s office.
A white “ghost bike” currently stands as a memorial near the crash site. Area cyclists continue to advocate for a memorial bikeway along Patriot Way.
During sentencing, members of Tommy’s family will have an opportunity to speak in court. This court hearing is scheduled for 9 AM on March 6, 2018, and is open to the public.
By Kathryn Hunter