A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
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Friday, January 18, 2008

Eyewitness Account

OK, so this freaked me out. I just received a transcript of the account of my bike accident from woman who witnessed the entire thing in her rear view mirror. Reading it was like an out-of-body experience.

The fact is that I don't really remember what happened from the point of impact until I was lying on my back in the middle of the road with people standing over me. Whether I blacked out, freaked out or blocked it out, I don't remember flying over the hood of the car. But apparently I did. I had already come to this conclusion after visiting the accident site. No way I hit the car where I did and landed where I did without flying over at the hood.

The eyewitness account confirms it. But before I share her account, allow me to recap the details in this case...

1) I was riding downhill in the bike lane on a residential street in my neighborhood
2) Two cars passed on my left and the trailing car turned right in front of me onto a side street
3) I locked up my wheels but was unable to stop
4) The ensuing collision left me lying an my back in the middle of the road (see above)
5) When I opened my eyes there was a woman standing over me telling me not to move, she had called 911
6) Another woman appeared and told me she "saw the whole thing" and would stay to give her report to the police (I now know her name is Paige)
7) I was taken to Sky Ridge Medical Center by ambulance with a badly broken right collar bone
8) The week after the accident I went to the police station and got a copy of the police report (left)
9) The police report didn't include any information about an eyewitness or offer any indication of fault (the driver wasn't cited)
10) I called Officer Friendly of the Castle Rock Police department to ask why and he informed me that I was lucky he didn't cite me
11) I expressed my befuddlement given that I was riding in a bike lane and she turned in front of me
12) Officer Friendly informed me that the "bike lane ended at the intersection" (wrong) and that once the car passed me it became my obligation to yield to her (wrong again)
13) When I asked about the eyewitness, Officer Friendly said he spoke to a woman who didn't see anything that added to his investigation (i.e. didn't support his conclusion) so he didn't include her statement in his report
14) I was eventually contacted by an agent of the insurance company for the driver (Allied/Nationwide) and they took my statement
15) I contacted my insurance company (Progressive) and they took my statement
16) Allied/Nationwide called to tell me they had determined I was at fault because Officer Friendly told them the lane I was in wasn't a bicycle lane after all (wrong times three) and they were making a claim against me for damage to their insured's car
17) I hired a lawyer (not just any lawyer, but the preeminent expert in Colorado cycling law, Brad Tucker)
18) Progressive called to tell me they had completed their investigation and determined the driver of the car was at fault and they would be disputing Allied's claim against me (and by the way, they had taken a statement from an eyewitness that totally verified my version of events)
19) Brad (my lawyer) fired off a brilliantly-worded letter to Allied/Nationwide explaining why their conclusion was erroneous and how Officer Friendly "has led you astray with respect to the rules of the road as they relate to this collision"
20) Brad sent a copy of the relevant statute to Allied/Nationwide further clarifying why their conclusion was erroneous
21) Brad obtained a copy of the eyewitness' statement from Progressive and e-mailed it to me

...and that brings us up to date.

So, without any further ado, here is the transcript of the eyewitness' statement:

(Line ringing.)

A: Hello.

Q: Hi. I was trying to reach Paige (inaudible).

A: This is her.

Q: Hi Paige. This is Josh (inaudible) calling with Progressive Insurance.

A: Uh huh.

Q: I was calling about an accident that you witnessed on September the 22nd.

A: Okay.

Q: If you remember that where the bicy-

A: Yeah.

Q: Bicyclist was hit?

A: Yep absolutely.

Q: Okay yeah I just show that you were a witness.

A: (Inaudible).

Q: I’m actually-we’re the insurance company for the bicyclist. I just wanted to see if I can get a brief statement about what you saw?

A: Oh yeah. Absolutely. No I’m-I was hoping that you guys would call. I wasn’t quite sure um-

Q: Yeah.

A: You know I never obtained a copy of the police report or anything but I was hoping, number one that he, the bicyclist was okay and-

Q: He is doing fine. He’s recovered. He-he had a-had a little hospital stint I guess but uh yeah he just had a broken collarbone I think.

A: Oh see. That’s-that’s exactly what I thought might’ve happened.

Q: Yeah but he’s doing okay.

A: Oh good.

Q: Um we’re just trying to get everything taken care of. I guess kinda-kinda backtracking on it. So um what-can you just let me know what uh you know what you witnessed in the accident?

A: Absolutely. Absolutely. Do you need to take a statement or you just need to-

Q: That’s what I’m doing right now. Um we do record our calls for quality assurance if that’s okay.

A: Oh okay. Alright. Um so yeah so let’s see. Let me kinda start from the beginning here. And you’ve already stated the date, which is good, because I can’t remember you know without looking at a calendar.

Q: It was the 22nd of September.

A: So I was in the neighborhood of the Meadows, which is in Castle Rock. And I’m there often because we have friends that live there and we were on our way to a friend’s house. Um my-with my daughters and myself. And um on one of the main thoroughfares there in the neighborhood it’s a two lane road um which is divided by a double you know yellow lane.

Q: Right.

A: And so forth. And then on either side is they have um a bicycle lane. You know that’s clearly designated with white lane. You know with the white line. And then obviously the sidewalk.

Q: Okay.

A: So I was travelling um kind of northwest and um excuse me one second. (Baby crying in background.)

Q: Oh sure. Take your time.

A: And um so I was you know just going down and it is still considered a residential area even though it’s a you know a well travelled road and it was I-I don’t-I’m not sure. I think the speed limit’s probably 35 or so.

Q: Okay.

A: And um excuse me one second.

Q: Sure.

A: Sweetie, this is an insurance company for that bicycle accident. Can you? Thanks. Okay. Sorry about that. (Inaudible) some peace and quiet here. So anyway um so yeah I was travelling about-it’s you know kind of northwest and I passed this cyclist and always I do cuz there’s so many cyclists in that area um I always kinda move over you know more in the middle and there was no traffic coming opposite direction. So um just to always to make sure to give them space.

Q: Right.

A: You know even though he was in his designated lane. And you have to forgive me because right off the top of my head I can’t recall the names of the street but uh-

Q: That’s okay. We just you know just kinda want a general you know about what happened.

A: Oh okay. Sure.

Q: It doesn’t have to be so detailed uh-

A: Oh okay. Sure. So anyway okay so I passed the cyclist and um you know just obviously noted that he was there and everything and then um I continued straight past him and um I just happened to glance up in my rear view mirror. I’m not exactly sure why-why but I did. And I saw a car coming in-in my same direction also about northwest and-and um however, she was behind me obviously.

Q: Uh hum.

A: And I noticed that she was attempting to make a right hand turn onto a side street. And I also noticed, I mean this was obviously just instantaneously this all kinda came together that she was-the bicyclist at that time who was still in the bike lane um was approaching the same area where she was making her right hand turn and it just occurred to me right away that, “Oh my God. She’s gonna hit this cyclist. She is not gonna stop for him. She is not gonna yield for him as she’s making her right hand turn.” And then it was no sooner than that happened, again it was just seconds, then she committed to her turn. Made her turn and they hit. He went up flying up over the vehicle and I remember just gasping you know I was just in shock that number one this lady in the vehicle didn’t even stop for him but also that oh my God. You know this guy just flew off his bike. He was just hit by a car.

Q: Did it look like she saw him at all? Try to slow down (inaudible)?

A: There’s no way she-she could not have seen him because she-she-again, they were going the same direction. So they were parallel.

Q: Right.

A: So she passed him. She passed him and then continued on and then had to slow down to make her right hand turn. And he was continuing straight. And so she clearly did not even you know stop for him as he was continuing straight in his bike lane. And the point of impact on her vehicle was her right fender.

Q: Right.

A: Um so it wasn’t like it was the back of the vehicle. You know where she was so far into the turn that he could’ve stopped.

Q: Okay.

A: In fact, he-it looked like he attempted to stop but knew that, “Oh my God. This lady is turning right in front of me. There’s no way I can stop.” And cuz his tire started to wobble a little bit and then it was just boom. They hit and he went flying up over the bicycle and landed in the middle of the street.

Q: Okay. Did you see if she had her turn signal on?

A: I did not see at the time of the accident if she had her turn signal on. However, when I turned around and went back to make sure that he was okay-

Q: Uh hum.

A: And stay there um I do remember her turn signal being on.

Q: Okay. Okay. And that’s really I mean the same kind of story I guess that uh that you know these-the driver for the vehicle and our insured have. So-

A: Yeah.

Q: At this point in time we’re just uh we’re just trying to decide you know which coverage is gonna apply. Hers or ours so I-

A: Sure. Well if I could-if I could add something-

Q: Sure.

A: You know to this just because well first of all she lives right there in that neighborhood.

Q: Uh hum.

A: Because as she was making her right hand turn, again it was onto a residential street. Then if you were to take your immediate left there’s a corner house that the back yard backs up right to where the accident occurred.

Q: Uh hum.

A: And it was obviously very loud and a lot of commotion and so forth. Well the reason why I know that that’s where she lives is because her husband comes running out of the back door in the back yard and proceeds to obviously see what’s going on but then uh make sure you know to direct traffic and so forth.

Q: Right.

A: And just from me not even living in that neighborhood but being there so often I know that there are so many cyclists you know in that neighborhood.

Q: Right.

A: And so for her to live there, she to-in my opinion anyway, she should know that you know there’s cyclists around all the time and be aware of uh the fact that you know she has to proceed with caution you know.

Q: Right.

A: So that’s my feeling. I just couldn’t believe cuz there was no way she-she should not have seen him.

Q: Well let’s just say you know I completely agree with you. Uh we just need to get all the information we can get-

A: Right.

Q: Before we make a decision. I can’t say so much as for-for the other insurance company. So that’s kinda why we’re-

A: Oh yeah. Absolutely.

Q: Trying to back out-back up all our information. So-

A: No absolutely. And-and I-I know how it all works and um you know I’m-I’m really happy that you guys called and-and I’m definitely-you know I was definitely very concerned for the cyclist and I’m glad to hear that he is okay and re-recovering but um-

Q: Yeah he’s doing perfectly fine. Just got off the phone with him and uh yeah I’ll-I’ll let him know you were concerned. I’m sure he’ll appreciate that but uh-

A: Yeah absolutely. Please do. Please do.

Q: Okay. Well again, I really appreciate it. That’s uh really what I needed from you.

A: Okay. And I’m sorry. What was your name again?

Q: (Inaudible). My name is Josh with Progressive. Did you want my phone number in case anything comes up or you have any questions?

A: Um no I think I’ll be good.

Q: Alright. Okay.

A: Alright.

Q: Well again, I appreciate your time.

A: Thanks Josh.

Q: Thanks.

A: Take care.

Q: Bye.

A: Bye.

Wow. All I can say is I agree with everything in this transcript except I am not "doing perfectly fine." On my last visit to my orthopedic surgeon I learned that my collar bone is not healing...at least not as it should be. It's coming up on four months since the accident and I haven't been on a bike since. I don't have a bike to ride and am not sure I could if I did.

On Sunday, Feb. 3 the route for Ride the Rockies will be announced in the Denver Post and registration will be open. Should I register? Will I be able to train? Will I have a bike to train on? This is killing me.


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