Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Camille Savoy: May 27, 1954 to Nov. 26, 2008

Camille Savoy, 54, struck by a motorist on Sunday, November 9, has died.

He died at approximately 6 pm tonight, at the Hackensack Medical University Hospital, in Bergen County, NJ, said his friend Van Gothner.

"His injuries were just too great," said Gothner, referring primarily to severe damage to Savoy's brain.

Savoy was not responding to treatment and he did not recover from the serious blows he sustained from the accident.

His family will inform the cycling community about arrangements for his bereavement.

For some, this might be a Thanksgiving that they will never forget. After the accident two weeks ago so many cyclists traveling on 9W have said they feel very nervous, and unsafe--riding on the road where they say cars speed routinely, or turn in front of them, or cut them off with impunity. Now, with Savoy's death, they may feel even more unsafe.

Benepes Bike Blog will be organizing a ride from the George Washington Bridge that commemorates his life, leaving at 9 am and arriving at 10 am at the spot where he was hit, either this Sunday, November 30, or the following weekend.

Please email jbenepe@msn.com if you can assist in the organization of this ride.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Police Report Details Savoy Crash

The police report detailing the events of Camille Savoy's crash says that both the rider and the motorist were traveling close to the white line that separates the shoulder from the main lane of 9W.

According to a witness, the placement of the vehicle and Savoy's bicycle on the roadway near The Esplanade in Alpine, NJ were about the same, when the car driven by 71-year-old Wha S. Kim from Englewood, NJ, struck Savoy from behind. The car is registered under the name of Hae Jong Kim, also of Englewood, NJ.

The report is one of the first indications of what took place that day, though it warns that a final determination of the cause of the crash is still being investigated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office. 

Such as procedure is necessary in a crash that results in a critical injury, to determine among other things, if the driver was driving in full competence, such as with prescription lenses or drugs, or if the motor vehicle was fully operational at the time of the crash.  Past driver records can also be reviewed in such a case.

A witness who spoke off the record to BBB said that Savoy first was hit by the front of the car, a Subaru Forester, then went into it's windshield, over the top of the car, and onto the ground. Savoy's head injuries are critical and constitute the most significant of his multiple injuries.

One witness to the crash, Michael Passow, who was traveling behind Kim's vehicle, told police that both Kim and Savoy were traveling close to the white fog line when the cyclist was suddenly struck.  Kim also made a statement, and said that she was traveling north on 9W when the cyclist "came into her lane of travel and she struck the said cyclist with the front of her vehicle," said the report.

The report notes, "Cyclist was unable to give statement."

Passow's statement is sure to be one of the most significant in the event of a legal action against the driver by Savoy or his family, because he is the only observer of the accident who is ostensibly not biased. 

Savoy's black Lemond bicycle was crushed beyond recognition.

New Jersey state law says that motorists must be mindful of cyclists on all roads, and traveling on the shoulder by a cyclist is not a given, particularly since there are no bike lane markings there. The shoulder is a multi-use space, allowing cars to stop there. Therefore both cyclists and motorists must coexist on both spaces--the roadway, and the shoulder.

The crash is still being investigated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office, and a final determination of the cause of the crash may not be announced for a few more weeks, warned the report.






Sunday, November 23, 2008

Savoy's Condition Still In Flux: Details of Other Crash Coming to Light

The cyclist who was felled by a car two weeks ago today, is still in critical condition at Hackensack Medical University.

Camille Savoy, 54 who was struck by a motorist on November 9, is in a medically-induced trauma. He sustained severe head injuries in the crash, despite having worn a helmet.

Friends have theorized that after being sent through the windshield by the motorist, a 71-year-old woman, he may have gone over the top of the car and hit his head again.

Family members and friends of Savoy have been streaming in to the New York, New Jersey area. Many are looking for places to stay. If you have a couch or a free bedroom for them to stay for a couple of days, please email jbenepe@msn.com.

Cards can be sent to the hospital in his name: The Hackensack University Medical Center, Patient Camille Savoy, 30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601.

Meanwhile, details of another crash that took place that weekend, on Saturday, November 8, are coming to light.

A couple riding a tandem on Orangeburg Rd. near Blue Hill were clipped by a woman driving an SUV. The driver went close around the couple and turned in front of them, hitting their bike and throwing them to the ground, said witnesses.

As the lead rider lay on the ground, unable to move, his wife lay a few feet away, unconscious, blood streaming from a gash in her head, and through her nose. The driver left the scene of the crash.

Both riders, a couple in their late 40's were injured, he with a broken hip, and she with a smashed collarbone.

Witnesses to the crash said the driver, a woman, is quoted by witnesses to have said on her return that it was not her fault that the two riders had been hit.

She was not ticketed, even though under New York state law, it is a crime to leave a scene of an accident.

Apparently the woman and the police officer knew one another: they kissed good-bye before she left, said witnesses.

BBB was unable to obtain information from the Orangetown, NY police department, who would not comment on the crash.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Details On Terrible 9W Crash

It is now five days since Camille Savoy's terrible crash on Route 9W and some clues as to the nature of the incident are slowly coming out.

Although no official word on the cause of the accident has been issued by the Bergen County prosecutor's office, and officials at the Hackensack University Medical Center where Savoy is being treated have not upgraded his condition, friends who have visited his bedside are providing key information about his condition and the man himself.

Although not confirmed by the Alpine Police, the driver is said to be a 71-year-old woman, and by all indications, she struck Savoy from behind, sending him through her windshield. Based on the severities of the injuries to his head--he was wearing a helmet--it appears he may have gone over the top of the car and struck his head again, said a friend, Van Gothner. Some have theorized that based on the condition of his bike, he may also have been run over by again by another car.

Savoy's condition is still quite dire and he continues to be treated in a medically-induced coma. The injuries to his head are the most severe, and are cause for concern among the medical team, who without an accident report, have not been able to determine the exact cause of his head injuries.

Savoy also sustained fractures to his spine, a broken ankle, and other injuries, and remains on a ventilator.

Medical personnel at Hackensack are waiting for his body to repair to the point where he can brought out of a coma, said Gothner, who visited him today. "It's wait and see," he noted.

Two of Savoy's five sisters have come to the area to see him. His elderly mother lives in Paris, and is not well enough to travel, and his father is deceased.

Many of Savoy's friends, some of whom are located in a community in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, are coming to the area and will be seeking places to stay among the cycling community.

Savoy's Cape Cod friends are also the locus for Best Buddies International, a program that Savoy belongs to that encourages the social integration of persons who have intellectual disabilities and was founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the son of Eunice Mary Kennedy, and brother of Maria Shriver (wife of California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger). The group is known to use bike riding as a fund-raising medium.

Among his friends Savoy is known as an avid bike rider who would go out every day for a ride when he vacationed with them. He had recently bought a new bike, said friends.

Savoy was born in Senegal, and grew up in Paris. He is a jewelry designer and has designed a number of pieces for Tiffany and Co., but his core business is one-off pieces said Gothner.

Meanwhile words of sympathy co-mingled with a sense of burning outrage over the accident, and heated posts between what appears to be one or two drivers posting to BBB, and cyclists, took sides on the car vs. cyclist debate.

But the words of support for Savoy, a man whom many of us have never met, but whose destiny could well have been our own, and whose life now hangs in the balance and in our hearts, have drowned out the debates.

Cards (not flowers) can be sent to the hospital at: The Hackensack University Medical Center, Patient Camille Savoy, 30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601, tel: 201-996-2000.

Those people who think they might have a room or a bed for family and/or friends to visit for a few days should email Jbenepe@msn.com and the information will be passed on to his friends.

Please note the following corrections were made on Nov. 15 to this post: Savoy's community of friends are from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, not Maine; and two of his five sisters are currently visiting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cyclist's Prognosis Uncertain--An Outpouring of Sympathy by Community

Cyclists are still reeling from the news --and the scene--of cyclist Camille Savoy who was tragically struck last Sunday. And while details of Savoy's injuries--and the exact cause of his accident-- have been slow to come out, an outpouring of sympathy and wishes for his recovery have filled the E-waves.

While traveling north on Rt. 9W, a popular route for cyclists that normally carries from 2,400 to 3,500 cyclists a weekend, Savoy, 54 was struck in the vicinity of Closter, NJ, by a motorist who apparently clipped him and caused him to fall.

The scene was met with horror by passing cyclists who saw the ground strewn with a flattened bicycle, a front wheel crushed some 20 feet away, and a pile of torn multi-colored lycra still another 20 feet further away --presumably where Savoy had been cut out of his clothing by paramedics trying to treat his injuries.

"Camille has made some, albeit very modest, progress," wrote a friend Van Gothner to BBB. "He remains in a medically induced coma and the doctors hope to bring him out of it this weekend. Two of his five sisters have arrived and are with him. The prognosis remains uncertain," he said.

Savoy sustained a broken back, a broken foot, head injuries, and his lungs are filled with blood, according to the last report from Van Gothner.

A spokeswoman for the Hackensack University Medical hospital where Savoy is being treated, said she was unable to release an update from the earliest assessment of his condition which was listed as "critical."

Messages of concern, friendship and love poured out onto the pages of BBB and local discussion groups of the FIve Borough Bike Club. Wrote Sharon F. on BBB, "[Savoy] is one of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever met. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers."

Another person who remained anonymous wrote, "I’m a frequent rider on 9-W. It is heart wrenching to hear about this accident and I hope for the safe recovery of the cyclist."

Wrote another, "My husband and I rode by the scene of the accident shortly after it had occurred... We knew that the injuries were serious and stopped to pray for him then and will continue to keep him in our prayers."

A family who knows Savoy wrote, "Camille is an amazing athlete and wonderful person. He has been like a part of my family for as long as I can remember, and now my three boys adore and admire him as well. I ask that everyone who knows Camille or someone like him send thoughts of healing to him. I believe that it makes a difference. Love, Strength, Healing to Camille and his family. DD, Ben, Matt, John."

Another friend wrote: "He is an extraordinary person, great friend and much loved. It will be some time before the full extent of his injuries are known. Please keep him in your prayers."

A member of the Five Borough Bike Club, one of the largest local bike riding clubs, posting to the group's shared email said that he spoke to a "lieutenant" at the Alpine police station who appeared to attribute some blame to Savoy for riding close to the white line.

Wet leaves heavily carpeted the ground and filled half the width of the road's shoulder, a fact that some cyclists have theorized may have led Savoy to move closer to the white line that separates the shoulder from the northbound car lane. But still there has been no official word from the Bergen County Prosecutor's office on how the accident occurred.

Only the prosecutor's office can make a determination of cause, and the local police station is not party to that investigation.

Chapter Eight of the New Jersey state department of motor vehicles,
states that "a motorist should always leave plenty of room when following or passing a bicyclist, skateboarder or inline skater. Under New Jersey law, each of these individuals has the same rights and responsibilities as a moving motor vehicle," it says.

And while cyclists do have the responsibility to ride as far to the right as possible, they are specifically entitled to move to the left when there are impediments.

According to New Jersey DMV regulation, 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11, , "Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care ... A bicyclist may move left under any of the following conditions:... 2) To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right," says the regulation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

City Proposal Would Require Bike Parking


The Bloomberg administration is proposing zoning regulations that would require bike parking facilities be created in all new large buildings.

The proposal will be subject to a public review period that begins next Monday, and would require enclosed and secure spaces for bikes in new multiresidential, commercial and institutional buildings, according to a report in the NY Post.

Despite the bike friendly face of the current administration, New York is still far behind many European cities in the protections, facilities and bike lanes it offers to cyclists.

For one, bike sharing programs abound in cities like Paris and Lyon, France. The bike sharing program in Barcelona, Spain, is offering third generation technology enabling riders to pay a yearly fee, and "loan" bikes with a credit card facsimile.

There are also programs in Pamplona, Spain; Rennes, France; and Düsseldorf, Germany. "Even Rome, whose narrow, cobbled streets and chaotic traffic would seem unsuited to pedaling, recently started a small trial program, Roma’n’Bike, which it plans to expand soon," reported the NY Times yesterday.

Cyclist Still in Dire Condition

The cyclist who was struck by a motorist this past Sunday is in a medical coma at the trauma center at the Hackensack University Medical center in New Jersey.

Camille Savoy, 54, was struck from behind by an SUV, and went through the car's windshield. He has a head injury, a broken back, a broken ankle and his lungs are filled with blood, according to the source who spoke on condition that he not be identified for reasons of privacy. Savoy was in a medically induced coma for reasons pertaining to his treatment.

The Bergen County prosecutor's office is still investigating the accident. A spokesperson for the Hackensack medical center said Savoy's condition is still being determined: on Sunday, he was listed in critical condition.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Identity of Fallen Cyclist Now Known


The cyclist who was hit by a motorist yesterday while traveling north on Route 9W was revealed as Camille Savoy, 54, of New York City, said Captain Beckmann of the Alpine, NJ police dept. Savoy's family has been notified

The cause and circumstances of the accident are still under investigation, said Beckmann. But riders who passed the accident scene yesterday were confronted with a crushed bicycle and littered personal effects of Savoy's bike jersey.

Savoy is listed under critical condition at the Hackensack University Medical center's trauma unit. 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cyclist Hit by Car in Critical Condition

A 54-year-old male cyclist traveling north on route 9W was hit by a motorist at around 10 am this morning.

Alpine police responded to the emergency on a straightaway a few miles south of Closter Dock Road, and the cyclist was removed to the Hackensack Emergency Medical Center for trauma, where he is listed in critical condition, said Captain Jerry Beckmann.

Cpt. Beckmann said the nature of the rider's injuries, and his identity are not being released pending notification of his family, but he confirmed that the rider was from New York City.

By any cyclist's standards, the scene was horrific: the familiar flashing lights could be seen from a distance, and cars were backed up in both directions. As you neared the scene, you could see a twisted, flattened bicycle on the ground, its front wheel lying some distance away.

Another 20 feet away was a pile of torn lycra of the many colors one often sees on a team jersey--yellow--black, blue, pink. Motorists and cyclists were allowed only to pass on the far left--as far away from the accident scene as possible.

"Today was a gorgeous day, hence we get a lot more riders on a day like this, and many of them want to get their last ride in," said Beckmann, who said his police team handles a number of accidents between motorists and cyclists every year.

The accident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor's office, said Beckmann. No other cyclists were harmed in the accident, and it is still not clear how it occurred he said. The police will not release any information until an official determination of the cause of the accident is made.

"Anytime an officer responding to a scene sees serious personal injury," they make an assessment as to its seriousness and whether to call in the accident investigation squad. However, many cyclists who witnessed the wreckage thought the cyclist could not have fared well---and many feared the worst.

The scene was closed off so that any indicators of how the accident occurred--skid marks, the distance of where the body landed from the bicycle, and other essential marks, would not be disturbed prior to the arrival of the prosecutor's office. At 1:45 pm in the afternoon, the ground was still be combed over by a police officer in a yellow safety vest wearing gloves, as he put contents from the scene into a large plastic garbage bag.

"There are hundreds of cyclists that traverse 9W every weekend," said Beckmann who said this is one of the "unfortunate" things that sometimes happens. "All the cyclists and the motorists equally need to share the road and be cautious."

When asked if Beckmann had seen the latest article in the New York Times published today that said that the number of pedestrians and cyclist fatalities and accidents had risen sharply in New Jersey this year, and if he could comment anecdotally for the 9W area he said they did not have numbers for the area, but "those [NYT reported] statistics probably speak for themselves."

Some cyclists theorized that wet leaves may have played a role in the accident. Yesterday, Saturday, a cyclist traveling past Tallman State Park in Sparkill, NY, about 5 miles north of today's accident, was struck by a motorist as he rounded a blind corner: he also was taken to the hospital with serious injuries said an officer with the Piermont police dept. The officer said off the record that wet leaves played a role in that accident as the cyclist turned the corner, hit the leaves, and slid into the pathway of a motorist coming around the corner.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New Bike has no Seat!

This is pretty hilarious: a bike called the Randy Ross Stepper: it has no seat.

But the funniest thing is the video--with semi-porno, scratchy music, it shows models in G-strings "stepping" around outside in Palm tree lined avenues.

I can just imagine what their calf muscles are going to look like!