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another cyclist hit(33 posts)

another cyclist hitDougSloan
Jun 11, 2002 10:21 AM
Another cyclist hit. I'm not sure what we can learn from this one...

"Long time UMCA member Rusty Dillon has asked me to pass this information on to the ultra list folks.

Rusty's son Ross (25, a strong young racer, working up to Cat 2) was

hit from behind by a car (a Mitsubishi Mirage) on a training ride

last week outside Sebastopol, California (Sonoma County). The car was

going about 50-mph (the posted limit) and the driver apparently

didn't see Ross until he bounced off the windshield. Skidmarks don't

start until about 50 feet beyond the point of impact. Ross was riding

alone at the time.



The scene of the accident is a long, flat, straight stretch of two

lane road with wide shoulders and good sight lines, carrying

typically a moderate load of traffic. In other words, an ostensibly

safe road. I ride that road all the time and never worry about my

safety. Witnesses say the driver--a young woman who works in a

clothing store in Sebastopol--slowly veered out of a line of other

cars and onto the shoulder. So far, no explanation has been made

public as to why she swerved out of the traffic lane. She was not

drunk or under the influence of any drugs, as far as I know, nor does

there appear to be any malicious intent on her part. Pending other

revelations, it simply appears she wasn't paying attention and let

the car drift.



Aside from some broken bones and extensive road rash, Ross's chief

injury is to his brain. (Yes, he was wearing a helmet, which was

shattered in many pieces.) He is in a coma and is on life support. He

responds to some stimuli, which tells the doctors his brain is still

functioning, if only barely. A neurosurgeon rated his chance of

pulling through at about 5%. A portion of his skull has been removed

to relieve swelling, and that at least has been stabilized.



Ross's parents Rusty and Betsy are keeping a round-the-clock vigil,

along with other family members and Ross's fiancee, Katie Meyers.

(They were scheduled to be married August 10.)



Recently Ross has been living in the Boston area and riding with the

Boston Bicycle Club. He was preparing to enter law school at Boston

College in the fall. He and his fiancee were spending the summer in

Sonoma County with his family.



It is not my intent here to rant about bad drivers. We will follow

the case closely to see that all the details are fully disclosed and

that the driver is held accountable in an appropriate way. Right now

though, the chief concern is with Ross's condition and with his

chances of coming through this alive. He's a strong, smart, upbeat

young man, and he is surrounded by friends and family beaming energy

and love at him non-stop. If anyone can beat the odds, he can.



His parents have set up a trust fund to help with the enormous

medical bills that are building day by day. It is the Ross Dillon

Hope Fund at WestAmerica Bank on D Street in Santa Rosa. Or checks

made out to the fund can be sent to Rusty's and Betsy's home address:

PO Box 1509, Glen Ellen, 95442.

If you want to send Rusty a note, his e-mail is...cdillon292@aol.com.

Sorry to be the bearer of such grim news.

Bill Oetinger
Damn.........Len J
Jun 11, 2002 10:49 AM
it's almost scarier when it's this random. Cyclist doing evrything right, motorist is distracted long enough to drift onto shoulder, no skid marks until 50 ft beyond impact.

Ya'all be careful out there.

Len
Re: "no skid marks until 50 ft beyond impact"czardonic
Jun 11, 2002 2:45 PM
Traveling at 50 mph, the driver would have traveled that 50 feet in about 2/3 of a second. Given that she was probably stunned by the impact, it sounds like her reaction time afterwards was pretty quick.

Nonetheless, its how well she was thinking before the impact that would have made the difference.
Wow, and on such a road too. Scarry. I/ve been debating about128
Jun 11, 2002 10:50 AM
putting a litle flashing red light behind the seat post and displaying it ALL THE TIME while riding. I'm guessing that even if drivers see 'things', they pay more attention to red blinking things. This article confirms it; I'm putting that Planet strobe on the back....

(all prayers to that rider, ...)
the whole thing is too sad for words... -nmTig
Jun 11, 2002 10:54 AM
she was probably putting up makeupcyclopathic
Jun 11, 2002 10:57 AM
I've seen this more then in a few passing cars
i'd bet there was a cellphone in the car.SteveO
Jun 11, 2002 11:14 AM
Godspeed rusty's recovery.
or nappingkenyee
Jun 11, 2002 6:30 PM
or reading the paper. I've seen people do both and swerve out of their lanes.

I'm mentioned it before in the forum, but a coworker was hit from behind in her car while she was signaling left to turn into a strip mall and stopped. The lady who hit her was putting on makeup (coworker asked what happened). Plenty of space to go to the right. No screeching of tires or anything. She just hit her at 30+mph as if she weren't there. It's a relatively "main" street in a suburban town.

It's scary the attitude Americans have for driving. You know it's a problem when cupholders and entertainment systems are important "features" buyers strive for in new cars...
Can't jump to conclusionsKristin
Jun 12, 2002 11:10 AM
When was the last time anyone here was distracted while driving? It happens even to the best drivers. I, for one, am a careful and alert driver; but just yesterday--to my horror--I missed a stop sign. Lets not draw any conclusions. None of us were in the car, so we really don't know what happened.
re: Sad to see...and more than a little scary (nm).JL
Jun 11, 2002 11:01 AM
Something happened out here yesterday, too.tma
Jun 11, 2002 11:19 AM
A young woman, very fast runner and excellent bicyclist was struck and killed by a dump truck in Clifton Park, NY yesterday. Witnesses said she was on the shoulder but veered left into the path of an overtaking dump truck that locked up its wheels but couldn't avoid her. I haven't seen the followup on this yet, but the skid marks and several witnesses indicate that there was nothing the driver could do.

What's my point? I don't know, but all day I've been wondering what happened. How could this happen to somebody that was so good and experienced and had so much ahead of them? I think of my neice who could have been this person, they sounded so alike.

I was climbing a hill on Saturday when I heard tires skidding. I looked up to see a Lincoln doing a 360 down the road at me after losing control in the intersection up at the top. I laughed and laughed at the driver's expression, but it doesn't seem so funny now.
NEON LIGHTSslow-ron
Jun 11, 2002 11:24 AM
I got hit three months ago and I now ride with bright jerseys and blinking lights. I've got two on my camel back and one on the front.

People just don't see you.

When I was 19 I had an older women run me off the road into the guide rail while riding a motorcycle. Her reply, just like my in my recent accident was, 'I never saw you'. I was so frazzled that I sold the bike and haven't ridden a motorcycle since.

People daydream while they drive and even if you're looking at the road while driving the only thing you can see during a trance are objects as large as another car.

I hope this guy is O.K. but it doesn't sound good.
have you ever been driving on the highway and...EpicX
Jun 11, 2002 11:53 AM
have you ever been driving on the highway and just zoned out? you blink "a few seconds" later and you're 5 miles down the road. weird. people get off in lala land sometimes (me too).
People are blind.Juanmoretime
Jun 11, 2002 11:59 AM
I was on my way back in from a ride on Sunday and noticed a car show was going on in this car dealership parking lot. I stopped to look at the cars. After being there a short while I hear this loud crashing sound and look over to see a car had just pulled out of the lot and a car crashed into the back end of this car removing the whole back end. It was a 4 lane road and even though the car pulling out was at fault, the other car had room to go around. Fortunately no one was hurt. When people can't see another car, being a much smaller object on a bicycle, it's even worse. I think sometimes we are an accident waiting to happen. I've actually been hit by a car twice, thier fault, before.

I hope everything works out for this guy and his family.
what about outlines on the groundishmael
Jun 11, 2002 11:46 AM
I've seen lifesize outlines on the ground where people have been hit by automobiles, I think it was in San Francisco. One day you'd walk across the street happily and the next you'd see a body outline. It lets the rest of the world know what is going on. Otherwise truly horendous accidents happend in your own neighborhood possibly within minutes of you being there and you'd probably never know it. I cant remember if the outlines were for cyclist also but they were self-explanitory with writting that told the date and time and name of the victim (i think that was written, could be my imagination). Anyway, seems easy enough, someone should do it. And the outlines were in there true to life shape of the body, beautiful in a sad way.
When I die I want to be buried in a wood box under a tree and if i get hit on the road I want a paint outline.
So Sad, Very Sorry to Hear...nmrwbadley
Jun 11, 2002 11:50 AM
shoulder accidentsDougSloan
Jun 11, 2002 11:56 AM
Dino probably knows more about this than anyone, but here in California on freeways they say it's extremely dangerous to sit in your car on the shoulder, even well off the road. Lots of people get killed that way.

If people don't see a freaking car on the roadside, I guess cyclists don't stand much of a chance.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the rearview mirror, like the Take A Look that hooks onto your glasses, might help reduce the odds of things like this. Sure, it won't prevent every possible collision, but if it reduces the odds just a bit, it might be worth it.

See and Be Seen.

Doug
shoulder accidentsCHRoadie
Jun 11, 2002 2:05 PM
I don't ride without my rear view mirror for just this reason. Most of my training rides are solo, and the shoulders can be narrow in some places. I like to see what's coming up behind me. Granted, it won't help in every situation, but I think it gives me a fighting chance.
This May Seem Weird But....yfoiler
Jun 11, 2002 9:11 PM
Doug,

I do a lot of my training rides solo on country roads in Florida. My state leads the Nation in cycling deaths---neat huh? We have NO shoulders in FL. None! There's a white line on the extreme right side of the road and then dirt and grass six inches or so away from that---or worse, swamp.

Here's what I do. I know this is weird, but I'm 54 and still here. (I almost hate saying that)
When I look in my helmet mounted mirror (often) and I see a car way in the distance I move to the middle of the right lane and stay there. Yea, right in the middle of the road. As they get closer (say less than a block or so away, I make a few unclear weaving manuvers sort of snaking back and forth like a drunk cyclist. Then I just move to the extreme right hand side of the road and wave them through. Funny, if I do this they nearly ALWAYS pass in the opposite lane giving me a TON of room. If I don't do this, they nearly always pass me with just enough (say half a lane) to go around.

Funny huh? So I guess a crazy guy in day-glo Lycra weaving around in the middle of their country road really does get their attention, they figure I'm nuts, and they give me a very wide berth... So far so good, but you never know.

Marty
This May Seem Weird But....JBurton
Jun 11, 2002 10:35 PM
In South Georgia, where I am from, the same applies. No shoulders, swamp or field six inches from white stripe. (I now live in Texas where shoulders are as big as the lanes in Georgia!) I only do the center of the lane thing when two cars are about to pass me at the same time (one in my direction, the other oncoming). I MAKE the car behind slow to my pace, sometimes with much protest from the driver. But at least they see me and I do not run the risk of being squeezed out. I usually do not do this when approached by one car alone.
One thing I look out for...biknben
Jun 11, 2002 12:24 PM
Whenever I am passed by a truck or other large vehicle, I'm always a little weary of the next vehicle that comes by (in quick succession). The large vehicle in front of them is blocking their view of objects beyond. If that following vehicle is only a few car lengths behind they don't have much time to react to me.

Combine this situation with any of the others that have already been mention (make up, cell phone, etc.) and it's strange we don't hear these stories more often.

Truly a sad story with upcoming wedding, school and all. I'm hoping for a positive twist to the story.
Scaryfiltersweep
Jun 11, 2002 2:14 PM
You should really post a warning about these types of stories that don't have a happy ending... I'd almost rather not know about these things.

Rant about "driving culture" in general in the US:

I was recently in Norway, and I swear every bicycle/car accident in the entire country makes the news. It makes drivers much more aware. Of course the national speed limit is about 55 mph, there are only a few million people in the entire country, and a drivers license costs the equivalent of $2000 US, and people are literally trained how to drive- and value it as a true priviledge. Drunken driving is almost unheard of- even my wild-partying relatives were sternly cautious about eating a bon-bon containing a tiny amount of some liqueur if they were potentially driving.

I have felt strongly for years that the US doesn't care about cyclists. Sure there are mandated bike lanes, etc... but how much driver's ed discusses cyclists' rights? How many PSAs have you seen on TV about cyclist awareness? Why aren't roads that are simply popular with cyclists posted as such?

Hell, try to even get someone to stop if you are in a clearly marked cross walk. Anywhere in Europe traffic will grind to a halt if you are even near a X-walk... you don't even need to "look both ways." It is an accepted part of driving culture.

Accidents are accidents, but to clip someone on the shoulder like that? They should charge her with negligent vehicular homicide. She apparently was not controlling her vehicle, and was not driving where she SHOULD have been driving. At the very least, she should never drive again... and god forbid they put "rumble strips" on the road to wake up these bozos...!
TrainingStampertje
Jun 11, 2002 2:27 PM
The "training" part applies in the Netherlands, too. Cycling is such a common mode of transportation that drivers are litterally drilled and grilled about looking for cyclists (and pedestrians) everywhere. I came to the US without a license and passed the test after only 7 hours behind the wheel of a car. 30,000 miles later (a couple hundred on Dutch roads) and after 11 more hours of instruction in the Netherlands I still barely passed my Dutch driving test. I understand that driving is more of a necessity here but that's no reason to give a license to anybody who wants one. Honestly, I know I shouldn't have got one...
Trainingfiltersweep
Jun 11, 2002 3:29 PM
My god- the bike racks at Amsterdam's central train station... thousands of them. Of course it appears gouche if someone has a ride newer than 30 yrs. old ;)

Seems there aren't many shoulders anywhere in Europe (relative to the US). Many mountain roads are so narrow that if a bus is coming at you, you need to pull your car off the road... or the tunnels in Norway to various islands that are miles long (under the ocean)... or the roundabouts everywhere. Driving really does require a bit more skill.
Oh, man...dsc
Jun 11, 2002 3:39 PM
Thanks for reminding us (in a very sad way), that we are basically invisible out there. My prayers to the family...

-Debi
Wishing Rusty and his family strengthcraigg
Jun 11, 2002 3:52 PM
Well, thanks for the detailed and sensitive account.

It is always in the back of all our minds that other road vehicles form a serious risk. It would seem perhaps that riding in a group forms some form of protection by presenting a larger 'body' for drivers to see.

It is so easy as a driver to forget how lethal the car you are in control of is to other people on the roads; especially bike riders, motorbikes and peds.

In Australia, near Melbourne late last year a youngish father was killed after been cleaned up from behind by a 21 year old on a cell phone sending a SMS message. Not only is his life snubbed out but the lives of his family and friends and the girl's are damaged forever.

Good luck Rusty.

We hope you pull through for a full recovery.

Wishing you strength.

CraigG.
cyclists' responsibilitybianchi boy
Jun 11, 2002 6:10 PM
Obviously this was an unfortunate accident and the cyclist was not at fault. But I see too many cyclists who just don't take proper precautions. I've been riding for 30 years and I've never had a wreck or been hit while cycling. Luck has something to do with it, but I'm also convinced that it's also somewhat due to being very careful. Aside from the obvious issue of following traffic rules, there are many things that cyclists can do to reduce their chances of becoming a victim:
-- Always wear a helmet, preferably red, white or yellow.
-- Wear bright clothes, the gaudier the better.
-- Use a mirror. Many cyclists consider this nerdy and Freddish, but it can help prevent accidents like this. I do a lot of solo riding and I like to see what's coming up behind me.
-- Ride defensively, assuming the car coming up behind your or pulling out from the street ahead doesn't see you.
-- Keep a flashing light on your bike so you can turn it on if you get caught riding in twilight.

At most group rides I participate in, I am one of the only cyclists who uses a mirror. Many "serious" cyclists wouldn't be seen dead with one. This is just another silly example of cyclists being more concerned about looking cool than using common sense. Flame away.
Good post!Uncle Tim
Jun 11, 2002 6:33 PM
I think your advice needs to be heeded. Buying a good rearview mirror is one of the best cycling related purchases I've ever made. We should all be wearing them. I couldn't imagine riding without one now.

It is painful to read about this tragic incident. Here's hoping that this very strong young man can recover and live to ride his bike again some day soon.
oh my...namir in SoCal
Jun 11, 2002 8:10 PM
I got chills reading the article...what an awful story. I hope Ross becomes one of the "miracle" stories we all hear about. My father is a neuropsychologist, and during his training he spent some time researching the "miracle recovery" cases. they do happen. it is often due to superb medical care and a supportive family. It seems the Dillon family is wonderful, and I can only hope his medical care is as good as it can be.
Wishing them the best...--namir yedid
Consider yourselfs lucky having roads to train on....Fender
Jun 12, 2002 8:07 AM
I just wanted to let all of you know that in some way or another you are very lucky. Even though having a license might be easier to obtain than in Norway, at least you go through two examinations in the U.S. I'm from Mexico, and heres what drivers with licenses do to obtain a D.L. First you take a one page written exam, which is the same for everybody and your are allowed to keep, hence no need for studying, just borrow one and memorize the answers. Second you are taken for a driving test around the block. If the guy evaluating you is in a good mood, you pass, if not.... try again. Drivers here are some of the worst I've seen.
As for roads, the only safe roads are toll roads, and cyclists are not allowed on them, so therefore you must ride on normal highways, on a 2inch white strip. After the strip there is no more than 4 inches of space to ride on. You are literally fighting with cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles for space. The cycling community where I live is small, everybody knows everybody literally!!!! I can give you at least three names of riders hit and killed in the last 5 years, and all three of them due to drunken/negligent drivers.
At least in the US there are bike lanes in some cities, you can sue the driver who hits you, witness will actually serve as witness and not flee the scene because they are afraind of becoming involved.
If anyone is still complaining about the riding in the U.S., I personally invite you to come down here and ride with me one week.
Good Luck RustyFender
Jun 12, 2002 8:08 AM
forget to mention, Rusty and your family will be in my prayers.
FOLLOW UPDougSloan
Jun 12, 2002 10:06 AM
Dear Friends
Following is the notice Bill O posted at our request.
Ross was hit at @2:50 pm Monday June 3rd 2002. He has been in a deep
coma since and in Critical Care at Santa Rosa Memorial where they are
fighting to save his life and give him a chance to come back from critical
brain injuries. The trauma doctor said he'd never seen anyone with such
devastating head trauma survive even a few hours. We are in the 9th day
and Ross battles on.

Please pray constantly for him, us, and the staff who are already so
attached to him. Send whatever you can to The Ross Dillon Hope Fund,
PO box 1679, 655 1st Street, Santa Rosa CA 95402
For info, see www.RossDillon.com and call 707-799-8868

Hold close those dear to you. Their life and yours can change in an
instant. Don't leave anything unsaid or undone with your loved ones.
Ross surely did not. He made sure we all knew of his love and
faithfulness to us.
Thank you
Rusty, Betsy, Ariel, and Katie
Thar last paragraph says it all. Thanks Doug. nmLen J
Jun 12, 2002 10:26 AM