Bicyclist Dies after Collision with Utility Truck

By: Liz Palka Email
By: Liz Palka Email

April 19, 2010

A biker who was hit by a Charlottesville waste-water utility truck downtown has died.

City officials said the accident occurred around 9 a.m. Monday. The bicyclist was immediately transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where he died from the injuries sustained in the collision.

The identification of the victim is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The intersection of Fourth and West Main streets in downtown Charlottesville was closed for much of the morning to assist Charlottesville Police with the investigation.

Officials said interviews with the driver of the city vehicle and identification of additional witnesses are ongoing.

"We're in the preliminary stages of the investigation, of interviewing the driver and collecting statements from all of the witnesses that were at the scene at the time of the accident," said Lt. Ronnie Roberts of the Charlottesville Police Department.

Police say the utility truck was trying to make a right onto Fourth Street from West Main Street when it hit the biker. They said they do not yet know who had the right of way or who was at fault.

Investigators from Charlottesville and Albemarle County were on the scene, recreating the events to figure out exactly what happened. City spokesman Ric Barrick said the driver of the truck has been put on administrative leave with pay.

Members of the Alliance for Community Choice and Transportation, a bicycle advocacy group, stopped by the scene to check on the man.

"As a bicyclist and a car driver and a citizen here, I am deeply saddened for this accident," ACCT Executive Director Vince Caristo said.

Caristo said this incident reinforces the need for everyone to know the rules of the road.

"What this says to me, it really kind of highlights the need for bicyclists and drivers to really educate and understand their rights and responsibilities as drivers of vehicles," Caristo said.

That intersection has seen tragedy before. On Jan. 7, 2008, a man in a wheelchair was hit by an Albemarle County police cruiser. The man's attorney filed suit seeking $850,000. That lawsuit is still in the courts.

On Friday, ACCT will hold a vigil for the bicyclist in front of the West Main Restaurant on the corner of West Main and Fourth streets, beginning at 5 p.m.

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