The Chainlink

Four Cyclists Hit in North Carolina While Riding Single File on a Rural Road

Most importantly, I hope all four of the cyclists recover full from this crash. They were riding in a single file line and the driver states that she didn't see them because of a "hill". Let's hope the investigators dig deeper because this truly seems like she was distracted. 

Here's a view of the road at the point of the collision:

https://goo.gl/maps/1tfgNe9vxfF2

All four bicyclists were transported to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh with serious injuries.

The four bicyclists all have non-life-threatening injuries and were identified as: Christopher Graham, age 34, Joel Arthur Lawrence, age 57,  Lynn Lashley, 57 and  Michael Dayton, age 60, according to officials.

Donnie Marie Williams, the driver in the crash, did stop at the scene after the crash, officials said.

Williams’ daughter came to the scene and told WNCN that her mother, who was driving, didn’t see the bicyclists until it was too late.

Her mom was too distraught to speak. The daughter, Tiffany McElveen, says her mother was coming up over the hill and didn’t see the cyclists. A car was passing in the other direction and she panicked.

“…she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know whether to hit the other car or to try to miss the bicyclists,” McElveen said.

McElveen said that her mother was “hysterical” when she called her to the scene.

“I really couldn’t hardly understand her. She just kept saying ‘Tiffany I hit somebody, I hit somebody.’ She said ‘come down here, come down here.’ I said ‘where you at’. She told me like ten times, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying because she was so hysterical,” Tiffany McElveen said of her mother, who was not injured.

Full article: http://wnct.com/2016/02/21/4-bicyclists-in-serious-condition-after-...

Highway Patrol said two of the victims suffered head injuries.

The victims were listed in the following conditions at WakeMed:

Joel Lawrence, stable
Lynn Lashley, critical
Christopher Graham, stable
Mike Dayton, critical

Additional article: http://abc11.com/news/cyclists-in-hospital-after-being-hit-by-car-i...

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Hmmm, given the evidence provided, it sounds like the alleged car that was passing in the other direction was really the cause here, assuming, of course, what Ms. Williams stated is true. Passing another vehicle when approach a hill is almost always illegal.

I don't think the oncoming car was in this driver's lane.  I read this as it was 'passing' in the sense that it was in the other lane at the time this driver hit the cyclists, preventing her from swerving left to avoid them.

One of the photos I saw of the scene showed that the crash scene was at a curve where the center line was double yellow - a no passing zone. It brought scary memories of some rides I took years ago in rural Pennsylvania and New Hampshire when I was living out there.

On the other side of the hill, there could have been farm machinery, a stalled car, children crossing the road, a deer, whatever - and this driver would have hit it.  Obviously she had no bad intentions, and clearly she feels terrible about what happened.  But it doesn't sound like an unavoidable 'accident'.  When sight lines are blocked, you are supposed to reduce speed, for exactly this reason - you might have to stop quickly.  Like her, most drivers don't do this, but they are usually lucky and don't hit anything.  This driver's luck ran out (as it also did, albeit more tragically, for the cyclists).

Leaving the scene of an "accident" with injuries... doesn't bode well for the driver.

Again, there's that word "accident." It was a g-d damned COLLISION. 

I read that she did not leave the scene.

Sorry, you're right... my disgust allowed me to misread the post... All the same, it is no "accident." 

Yes, thank you for the correction. I try to always write "crash" or "collision" when describing it. I corrected it. 

The woman stayed at the scene and was shaken up but given the inability to brake in time, it seems like she was distracted and possibly on her phone. Paul has a good point - you have to assume there could be something on the other side of the hill. 

Thank you.

Apparently the four cyclists are experienced randonneurs. Mike Dayton, recent past president of RUSA, the national organization for randonneuring and he also is the web manager for Bike Law. 

It seems that she was some combination of distracted, speeding, or driving too fast for conditions.  Oh, you can't immediately pass slower traffic by driving into the oncoming lane?  What a shame.  Slow the heck down and wait for oncoming traffic to clear! 

 

Judging by the pictures, she hit all 4 of them very hard.  If she had rear-ended a car or a tractor that hard, virtually nobody would try to justify it by saying that the victim was only going 25 MPH in a 45 MPH zone.

A few updates:
http://wncn.com/2016/02/23/woman-who-hit-4-cyclists-in-johnston-co-...
The driver was on probation for drug charges.

http://www.bikelaw.com/2016/02/23/update-on-mike-dayton/
Two of the cyclists are still in critical condition. People with Bike Law visited the location of the collision, "Next, we needed to find out what happened. We visited the scene and it is obvious that there’s no liability question here; by all accounts, the driver drove up on the cyclists from behind, started to pass and then veered right into them. But why? News reports seemed to indicate a limited sight distance. Did she start to pass without enough sight distance and then come face to face with an oncoming car? Did something distract her? Why did she simply not just stop? And then why did she not stop immediately upon impact?"

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