Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Accident Report on Jessica Purcell

Someone--or some people--are writing into BBB making claims about the accident report of Jessica Purcell, the cyclist who crashed on Rte. 9W on Aug 1 resulting in serious injuries, and questioning my ability as a reporter to report the facts.

Unfortunately, they have not read the accident report. No where does it state the cause of the accident, and no where does it state that any one person saw the accident--they only heard it. 

It also has no statement from either Purcell or her husband Steve Zebrack--essential before drawing any conclusions. 

The conclusions of the accident report are based on interviews with the driver (v1) and a "witness" who was ahead of--and therefore could not see-- Jessica Purcell. 

 I will now quote it verbatim, and if you would like to challenge the facts, you can actually go to the Alpine Police station to do so.

Here it is: 

"V1 was stopped at the traffic light on Route 9W, heading north. B1 was traveling north on Route 9W. B1 collided with V1 while V1 was at a complete stop at traffic signal [not clear if this is the words of the driver or the witness, appears to be the words of the driver.]

The witness. Richard Kidd, stated he was riding in front of b1: he was at least 100 yards from V1 and observed it at a complete stop at red traffic signal; he stated he was even with V1 front tires when he heard a "pop" which was B1 hitting V1. B1 appeared to not observe red traffic light signal [an impossible guess since he has not even spoken to her or her husband,]. Impact to B1 was to the front/ damage was to handle bars. Ms. Purcell was transported to Westchester Medical Center (Valhalla, NY)."
It is still unclear at this point if maybe Mr. Kidd came to a sudden stop, having initially intended to go through the light, or if there was not enough space behind the riders to stop, or if Purcell intended to travel beside the car, and missed, if Purcell and her husband collided, or if indeed, Purcell did not intend to stop and misread the cyclists in front of her.

Either way, the cause of the accident has not been explained by this accident report.




20 comments:

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to Jessica, her husband and their families. There has not been a moment that has passed since the accident that I have not thought about them, and I have been praying for Jessica.

My friend and I were the riders in front of Jessica and her husband. We were riding to Nyack and back from the city. As we approached the bottom of the hill at state line, three things became apparent, (i) there was a convertible parked at the light, (ii) the light was not changing (although the flashing light on the underpass on the way down the hill indicated for some time that the light was red) and (iii) as we got closer to the light, at least two cars were starting to make a left-hand turn into our lane. (And the bottom of the hill is one of several areas on 9W where there is no shoulder.) I am aware that it is commonplace for some riders to blow through this light at top speed, but given the car fully stopped at the red light, no shoulder, and the two cars that were making their way into the intersection, it was a highly dangerous situation, one in which my friend and I were on a collision course for the two turning cars, and we needed to slow down and be prepared to stop.

My friend in front yelled, "Slowing," to me -- neither of us had any idea that anyone was riding behind us. As we approached the parked car, I maintained a reasonable distance between my bike and my friend's bike as we rolled alongside the car's right side. As I was about even with the front wheel of the car, I heard what sounded like a car tire exploding and I wondered how the driver could have popped his tire while standing still.

When I turned around, I saw the head of a cyclist laying on the ground, body and bike almost completely behind the car, and another cyclist running toward the cyclist on the ground. At this point, my friend and I came to a complete stop, called 911 and waited until Jessica and her husband left in the ambulance. This is exactly the statement that I gave to the police. I have no idea what happened behind me - I never knew anyone was there -- although I believe the individual in the car stated that he thought he heard someone yell, "Get out of the way," right before the crash. And while I very much appreciate the updates on Jessica's status, I am not sure what your sensationalized posts and hypothesizing are doing to help the healing process for everyone who was involved in the accident.

Richard Kidd

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to Jessica, her husband and their families. There has not been a moment that has passed since the accident that I have not thought about them, and I have been praying for Jessica.

My friend and I were the riders in front of Jessica and her husband. We were riding to Nyack and back from the city. As we approached the bottom of the hill at state line, three things became apparent, (i) there was a convertible parked at the light, (ii) the light was not changing (although the flashing light on the underpass on the way down the hill indicated for some time that the light was red) and (iii) as we got closer to the parked convertible, at least two cars were starting to make a left-hand turn directly into our path. (The bottom of the hill is one of several areas on 9W where there is no shoulder.)

I am aware that it is commonplace for some riders to blow through this light at top speed, but given the car fully stopped at the red light, no shoulder, and the two cars that were making their way into the intersection, it was a highly dangerous situation in which my friend and I were on a collision course for the two turning cars, and we needed to slow down and be prepared to stop. My friend in front yelled, "Slowing," to me -- neither of us had any idea that anyone was riding behind us. As we approached the parked car, I maintained a reasonable distance between my bike and my friend's bike as we rolled alongside the car's right side.

As I was about even with the front wheel of the car, I heard what sounded like a car tire exploding and I wondered how the driver could have popped his tire while standing still. When I turned around, I saw the head of a cyclist laying on the ground, body and bike almost completely behind the car, and another cyclist running toward the cyclist on the ground. (The police indicated to me that either Jessica or her husband may have yelled, Get out of the way, prior to the crash.) Upon realizing that something had happened, my friend and I came to a complete stop, called 911 and waited until Jessica and her husband left in the ambulance. This is exactly the statement that I gave to the police. I have no idea what happened behind me, although I am quite sure this incident could very easily resulted in my friend an I being the unfortunate cyclists on the ground.

While I very much appreciate the updates on Jessica's status, I am not sure what your sensationalized posts and hypothesizing are doing to help the healing process for everyone who was involved in the incident.

Richard Kidd

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double post, my computer froze the first time, and I didn't think it went though. (Kinda of a pain to retype, but you can delete the first post if you wish.)

RK

Anonymous said...

I see so many fast looking cyclists who are way too cool to put their foot down and wait at a red light.

Anonymous said...

WHAT DO YOU NOT GET ABOUT THE ACCIDENT REPORT. IT IS VERY SIMPLE. JESSICA REAR ENDED THE MOTOR VEHICLE.

IF YOU KNEW WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT, YOU WOULD KNOW THAT BOXES 118A THRU 119B INDICATES THE CAUSE OF THE CRASH. ACCIDENT REPORTS ARE NOT MEANT TO BE COMPASSIONATE ONLY STATE THE FACTS.

Jen Benepe said...

Not true. The accident report states what two "wtinesses" who did not see the crash said.
It does not say WHY Jessica Purcell crashed.
Thanks
Jen Benepe
Publisher

Anonymous said...

Did the report on the Savoy death say WHY that driver hit/killed him?

This more recent accident was simple - Purcell made a mistake.

Anonymous said...

OK, I will put it this way. You want a "WHY"...there is none. When the accident is investigated, the police put all pieces together and come to an educated conclusion. When a medical examiner does his thing, he or she makes an educated conclusion based on the facts in front of them. Maybe the hospital will say she had a heart attack. But it appears she made a mistake. It is the same thing as a car rear ending another car...someone was not paying attention and made a mistake.

Sounds like you are making this into a much bigger deal than it really is...Mr. Kidd hit it on the mark.

Anonymous said...

She crashed because it is normal procedure for lance wannabes to disregard common sense at intersections. I see it all the time. I've been on club rides where the group often causes absolute mayhem at stoplights. So dumb.

Anonymous said...

How is she?

jptcu said...

I see it all the time, douchebags jumping to conclusions based on scant evidence and their own prejudices. Alpine Police Capt. Jerry Berckmann, a gentleman clearly better informed and more compassionate than you, indicates that Jessica may have collided with another rider just before the accident.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/Ride_with_caution.html

JT said...

WTF????!!!

From that northjersey.com article:
"Need to stay to the right of the roadway and out of the travel lane most of the time "

So if I'm riding a bike on 501 or 505 or any of the majority of named streets in Jersey which have no shoulder or a shoulder only a few inches wide am I doing something wrong by not staying out of the "travel lane." The only place to ride on a lot of road is the "travel lane." I'm happy to keep right most of the time, but suggesting bikes have to stay out of the "travel lane" is absurd. Or if I'm riding on 9w in the spot where this accident happened, the only place to be is the "travel lane."

I'm glad that site urges drivers to show some respect, but come on.

JT said...

Also,

On this accident, or any accident where we lack proof, it's entirely reasonable to consider the simplest explanation as the most likely. In the case of rearending a car at a light, that's that that cyclist made a mistake.

I hope she recovers well.

JT said...

From that northjersey.com article, some good stuff:
----
[[They are allowed to use the travel lane, which is the portion of the road between the yellow line and the white fog line, Beckmann said. "Bicyclists are allowed to be in the same space as cars," Beckmann said. "They are allowed to move left if the shoulder is unavailable, but as soon as possible, they are supposed to keep right and ]]

That's nice and clear.

And some bad stuff:
-----------
[[stay in single file at all times.]]
-----------
This is simply not true. According to NJ State Law, bicyclists can ride two abreast as long as it does not impede other traffic. In North Jersey, on roads with a lot of traffic, that might be rare, but there are certainly small streets where it is legal and safe to ride two-abreast some of the time.

JT said...

One last thing - I'm glad northjersey.com is talking about these issues

jptcu said...

Hi JT,

I saw the aftermath of the accident Saturday morning. It was chilling to see that medivac helicopter taking off. My first thought was, of course, is it one of my riding buddies? Well, thanks to Jen here, I know it wasn't. But that knowledge was small consolation because I realized, thanks to the pictures Jen posted, that I'd seen this woman many times out on the road or up at the Runcible. She's part of the New York cycling community. That's why this thread bugs me. Because people seem more concerned with venting their spleen than rider safety and Jessica's condition.

Yes, it may be "reasonable to consider the simplest explanation as the most likely." However, it appears that this may not be the case here.

JT said...

What I find interesting is that if something happens to someone we know or someone like us or someone we think we know, we use one sort of logic, and when it happens to someone different than us, we use a different logic.

That's natural. But I try to avoid that when I can. YMMV

jptcu said...

This discussion has taken a decidedly philosophical turn. I guess the question is, if Jessica had been, say, driving a car, would I feel the same? I think so. My compassion might not be as strong, but I'd still be ticked at the dude who sees in this tragedy an opportunity to rail against "lance wannabes." (JT, you sonofabitch, here I had my first chance to call someone a douchebag online and you robbed the moment of all its pleasure).

I don't believe that compassion comes solely out of empathy. But we are all human, after all. And, for me, part of the pleasure in cycling is being part of a community.

JT said...

I'm not commenting on compassion -- I'm commenting on posts about this accident that use a different logical approach to speculating about what happened and who made a mistake than was used when Kim rear-ended Savoy.

Carol said...

It is an unfortunate incident for the cyclist. I hope no one was seriously hurt in this accident.