Article from Las Vegas Sun


This article by Susan Snyder describes a "left cross" accident to a cyclist traveling in the shoulder of an urban road, where this unofficial "bike lane" became a right turn only lane.  This incident points out one reason why riding on a shoulder is not a good idea where there is turning and crossing traffic.
The article is a reprint from the Aug. 8 edition of the Las Vegas Sun.

August 06, 2004

Columnist Susan Snyder: Accident leaves pain, uncertainty

Susan Snyder's column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at [email protected] or (702) 259-4082.

WEEKEND EDITION

August 7 - 8, 2004

Tina Hayes turned 34 on July 7, but she doesn't mention it unless reminded.

The date will forever hold a different, darker significance as it marks the day her husband's bicycle collided with a pickup truck on Sahara Avenue -- a crash that has taken him away in an as-yet-unknown measure.

Eric Hayes, a 37-year-old United Parcel Service driver and bicycle racer, remains in a coma.  He was transferred from University Medical Center to a rehabilitation center July 23 but still breathes with a ventilator.

"I just had a cry-fest with Eric," Tina said as she returned home from the rehab center Tuesday morning.  "He's stable.  But he hasn't been awake since July 7."

She keeps track on a kitchen calendar.

"The coma was medically induced from July 7th to the 16th," she said.  "He is responsive to pain and, we believe, to some voices.  He has moved all four limbs on his own, so they believe there's no paralysis."

Hayes races for a team sponsored by Carina Homes.  He had dropped off his pickup for service the morning of the crash and went for a training ride.

He was rolling downhill in the eastbound breakdown lane of Sahara Avenue that crosses El Camino Road and abruptly changes from a striped-off shoulder lane legal for bike use into a short right-turn-only lane for Bronco Street.

As Hayes approached Bronco, traffic to his left stopped for a red light at Jones, farther ahead.  A large vehicle in the lane opened a gap for a westbound pickup truck to turn left onto Bronco, police said.

The stopped vehicle prevented the pickup driver from seeing Hayes in the far outside breakdown lane and prevented Hayes from seeing the turning pickup.  Neither could stop in time.

"He pretty much hit a brick wall," Tina said.

No charges will be filed.  But the motorist has called almost daily.

"You would think it was his own child in the accident, he is in such despair over this," Tina said.

Hayes was riding a bicycle that replaced one destroyed last summer when a motorist ran a red light and struck him.  This time, Hayes' chest hit the handlebars, breaking them in half.  His knee snapped the bicycle's front fork.  His thighs peeled the saddle from its metal frame.

He suffered fractures in his neck, spine, right hand and arm and third-degree burns where his body lay on the hot asphalt.  He was wearing a helmet.

"It's so unfair," his wife said.  "Eric is the one cyclist who obeyed all the laws.  When the team comes to a stop sign, he's the one who stops.  We put the signs up to 'Share the Road,' but we don't educate the public about what that means.  It comes down to courtesy and education."

Tina is trying keep life normal for their 14-month-old son, Brandon.  She has returned to her endodontist assistant's job part-time but will quit when Hayes emerges from his coma.  No one knows when, or if, that will be.

"I'm horrified," Tina said.  "I don't know when and if he ever comes out of his coma, is he going to be a 6-month-old child or is he going to be a 37-year-old man?  They can't tell me.

"I've been determined that he's not going to see me cry," she said.  "But last night I held his hand and cried.  I said, 'I'm so tired.  I want you to come home.  I need you to come home.' "


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This article was reproduced with permission of the original author.