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A wrongful death claim on behalf of bicyclist Josie Johnson - who was struck and killed by a car two years ago while riding in Big Cottonwood Canyon - has been settled for $2.5 million in insurance money, Johnson's family and their attorneys announced Tuesday.

"We're very happy about the outcome," said Salt Lake City attorney Colin King.

The attorney noted that the amount of the settlement was unusually high, considering Josie was only 25 and had no dependents.

The settlement was possible because the motorist, 67-year-old Elizabeth DeSeelhorst, was driving a car belonging to Solitude Ski Resort, which is owned by her family, King said.

"You don't see insurance at that level on individuals," King noted. "It was Solitude's liability insurance, which included coverage of their cars."

But King said the settlement was also "commensurate with the very serious injuries inflicted on [Josie's] family. She had three siblings and parents who loved her dearly. And, it is reflective of the extremely impressive life that was lost here."

At the time of her death, Josie was a second-year graduate student pursuing a doctorate in molecular biology at the University of Utah.

"She was going to go places," King said. "She was doing research on diabetes; she was going to contribute a lot of good to society; and she had done a lot of good in her short life. Her death was a very great loss."

In addition to the insurance settlement, the DeSeelhorsts have promised to make a personal financial contribution "to be used to honor the memory of Josie," King said.

Josie's father, Richard Johnson, told The Tribune the money will be used to establish a memorial scholarship in Josie's name at the U.

"It would be from [the DeSeelhorsts], in her memory," Johnson said. "That's what we want. That's what I have in mind."

Johnson declined to divulge the exact amount of the personal contribution, but King said it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Johnson said the personal contribution was his idea.

"I floated it," he said. "I wanted them to make a contribution for the U. or something. And I left it up to them to decide what they wanted to do.

"It was not pursuant to the bargaining. It was strictly voluntary on their part."

Johnson added that he felt Elizabeth DeSeelhorst "absolutely" had made good on her vow to make something good come from Josie's death.

"We have a good feeling for the DeSeelhorsts," Johnson said. "This has been a tough thing for everybody."

As for the insurance money, Johnson said family members were considering making "a substantial contribution" to the U. "We're still working on it," he said.

Insurance settlements are often kept secret, but Johnson said he hoped that publicizing this settlement might have "a deterrent effect, make people be more careful."

Josie was killed Sept. 18, 2004, when she was hit from behind by DeSeelhorst's Jeep Cherokee about 12 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Convicted by a 3rd District Court jury of class A misdemeanor negligent homicide, DeSeelhorst was sentenced to probation, six months home confinement, 320 hours of community service and fined $4,625.

Trial evidence showed Johnson was riding up the canyon, just left of the right-hand fog line, when she was struck by DeSeelhorst.

Gouge marks in the asphalt showed the Jeep was straddling the fog line, with its right wheels in the gravel, at the moment of impact.

DeSeelhorst testified she never saw the cyclist and said her first recollection of the fatal crash was the sound of Josie's body smashing into her car.

Defense attorneys claimed DeSeelhorst - who was found to have a history of strokes - had experienced a "mini stroke," which caused a brief lapse of consciousness.

Josie's death sparked the passage of a Utah law requiring motorists to give three feet of space to bicycles, as well as numerous "Share the Road" signs, a video on bicycle safety circulated in the public schools, consideration in the planning of road construction for the needs of bicyclists and an annual memorial bicycle ride in the Salt Lake area, scheduled this year for Oct. 7.

"Josie lives on," Johnson said, "and those things are positive."