The tragic Kalamazoo incident in which a pickup truck hit a group of bicyclists, killing five, brings light to bicycle safety on our roads. In that case, 9 bicyclists were hit by a man in a blue Chevrolet pickup truck. The driver has been arrested, and the incident is still under investigation, but what is clear is that 5 lives were lost and 4 others face severe injuries.
The five victims of the crash include:
Debbie Bradley: 53, a mother, parishioner, and former nurse
Suzanne Joan Sippel: 56, a data manager and parishioner
Lorenz John (Larry) Paulik: 74, a grandfather and parishioner
Fred Anton (Tony) Nelson: 73, a grandfather, parishioner, and active community member
Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes: 42, a vibrant young woman and a member of a Japanese drumming group
This incident, though extreme, is just one of a number of bicycle fatalities that occur across the country each week. In an effort to highlight the severity of the problem, here are the fatal bicycle accidents that have occurred between June 1 and June 8 of 2016.
- A 14-year-old was killed while walking his bicycle through a crosswalk on June 7th in Austin, Texas.
- Gail Johnson, from Liano, Texas, was killed when riding her bicycle in Mackinac Island, Michigan on June 7th. She lost control and was struck by a horse-drawn carriage.
- 27-year-old Leah Sylvain, of Connecticut, died when she was hit by a fuel truck. The driver was arrested at the scene.
- Santos Escobar-Villatora, 16, of Gaithersburg, died when his bicycle was struck by a 2004 Toyota Highlander on June 2nd.
- A 12-year-old boy was killed in Coshocton County, Ohio after colliding with a vehicle on SR643.
- 60-year-old Irene Diana Szczesniak of Crofton, Maryland was killed on June 6th after being struck by a garbage truck while on her bicycle.
- 72-year-old Calvin Ray Sapp was killed June 7th in Gilbert, Arizona when he was struck by a vehicle while on his bicycle. The driver of the vehicle, a 17-year-old, left the scene of the accident. He later admitted he had fallen asleep while driving and struck the man.
- 13-year-old Brian Schrader was riding his bike in Burbank on June 3rd when he was struck by a dump truck. The man driving the truck was cited and released.
- 39-year-old Steven J. Lewis died when his bicycle was struck by a truck on June 3rd in Derby, Kansas. One of his dogs, riding in a card behind his bicycle, was also killed.
- 45-year-old Dung Nguyen of Astoria, New York was killed in Kosciusko County, Indiana, when his bicycle was struck from behind by a 2001 Chevrolet.
- Bicycling advocate Paul Schapiro, 58, died June 3rd when his bicycle was struck by a motorist just south of Napa. Schapiro was known to have bragged that he rarely drove his Toyota Prius and preferred to ride his bike, stating the vehicle only had 11,000 miles on it.
- Paige Balinski, 23, was riding her bicycle home from work at Applebees when she was struck by a white Jeep Grand Cherokee on June 4th in Crosby, Texas. The driver left the scene of the crash.
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As tragic as the Kalamazoo incident is, the twelve other deaths that have occurred in the past eight days are also heartbreaking. Sadly, nearly every loss of life could have been prevented. Bicycle injury attorney Andrew Kass has over 20 years of experience handling cases involving bicycle accidents throughout the country. According to Kass, “this tragedy is a sobering reminder of how important it is for all motor vehicles to share the road with bicycles and all vulnerable users. It also raises the importance of having an infrastructure that separates 18 pound bikes from 4,000 pound vehicles. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of all the cyclists that were killed or injured in this truly senseless crash.”