Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cyclist still in critical condition: "Unique accident"

The female cyclist who was hit by a car yesterday at the bottom of state line hill is still in critical condition.

Last night she underwent surgery for her injuries, and her husband was with her.

The time of her accident was about 11:33 a.m. yesterday on Rte. 9W near Exit 4N for the Palisades Interstate Parkway in a collision with a sports car driven by a 59-year-old man.

A witness said the cyclist "plowed into" the back of the car which had stopped suddenly to obey a red traffic light. It was not clear from this account whether the car stopped without slowing, or if he pulled over to the right, squeezing the cyclist, or even if she saw the lights changing.

Capt. Jerry Beckman of the Alpine Police in Alpine, NJ said he would not be able to release the 29-year-old woman's identity for another 12 hours, but confirmed that her medical condition had been classified critical by emergency medical personnel at the Westchester Medical Center where she was taken by the Morristown Hospital Medivac yesterday afternoon.

"The long term prognosis is good," said Beckman about her condition. Stressing that he is not a doctor and unable to make an official statement about her physical condition he said, "we are going to have a better outcome than what we had last November," referring to the accident of Camille Savoy who died two weeks after being hit by a motorist last year.

He also said the accident was still under investigation and no details would be provided to the public until the Bergen Country Prosecutor's Office Fatal Accident Investigation Unit (FAIU) and the Bergen Country Sheriff's Dept. (BCI) had completed their investigation.

Beckman also said they had not had a chance to speak officially with the woman's husband and would need to do so before they could make a formal statement. Her husband was with her at the time of the accident.

Beckman would not confirm the account of the witness but said the accident and its circumstances were "highly unusual," and "not at all like those" that involved Savoy who was struck on Rte. 9W from behind by a careless driver in November of last year. "These set of facts are completely different--and it was a unique set of circumstances," that led to her accident, he said.

If you recall, Camille Savoy was hit by a 72-year-old woman who was later acquitted of careless driving in the incident.

He also ruled out any effect of the tree-clearing that had been in operation earlier in the morning on the northbound lane about 50 feet before the place of the accident, where the lanes in both direction had been coned off to two narrow lanes. "That had no bearing," he noted.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the driver saw a red light and stopped. The cyclist was obviously too close to the driver.
Does not sound at all like the driver hit the cyclist.
Hope she recovers but the driver did nothing wrong.
Think about your posting and how it reads. How does a driver hit a cyclist who ran into the back of his car?

Anonymous said...

Well, it's all pure conjecture at this point. But I think most cyclists have some empirical evidence of an automobile swerving over in front of you and then decelerating rapidly (throwing on their brakes). So while none of us have information on this particular incident, it's not an uncommon or unrealistic scenario you query. Think about your posting and how it reads.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Sounds to me like the driver saw a red light and stopped. The cyclist was obviously too close to the driver."
How can you say that without any evidence? In my many years of bicycling I have see all sorts of dangerous behavior by motorists including swerving in front of cyclists and slamming on the brakes. I'm not saying that is what happened but it certainly is a real possibility.

Anonymous said...

We'll have to wait to hear the first person accounts, but I do know that I have never seen as many cyclists on 9W as I did that morning. (Outstide of things like the MS Ride.)

Also, as a cyclist, I don't know a single person who stops at the state-line light (Palisades pkwy entrance) going north on 9W under any circumstances. Self included.

Anonymous said...

I have ridden all over the country. 9W is an awful ride that has become popular but not an intelligent ride. I would not touch it with a ten foot pole.
Drivers get confused here. I am not surprised the guy stopped. I hope she is okay.

JT said...

We clearly don't know the details, but in the absense of other information, if we want to speculate, when someone on the road rear ends another person, it's the person in back's fault, *especially* if it occurs are a red light. That's a basic principle of traffic. I suppose it's possible the driver passed, then swerved right, then stopped, but since the road bends left their that's particularly broad speculation.

Thsis principle is what made the non-conviction of Camille Savoy's killer so egregious -- the apparent assumption by the judge that Savoy must have done something. No, in rear-ending it's the person in back's fault unless there is clear evidence ther person in front did something strange.

And BTW, stopping for a red light, even suddenly, is not strange.

On a different topic, I ride bikes in the area a lot, though not so much on that portion of 9W going north. But when I do ride that road, if there are cars present either coming off the Palisades or waiting at the light, I stop. But yeah, I'm in the minority on that.

Anonymous said...

How is the cyclist doing? Driver seems like he did nothing wrong. Every account confirms this. God Bless the rider and let's pray for a full recovery.

Jen Benepe said...

We still don't know how Jessica is doing (see this afternoon's update for more info, http://benepesbikeblog.blogspot.com)
Apparently she was operated on last night, for what, we do not know. It is also still unclear exactly what happened to cause the accident.
Jen Benepe

Anonymous said...

I also must admit to not slowing down coming into that intersection as it's hard to get going up the hill without momentum. Having said that, poor Jessica's accident has taught me a lesson to stop there in future. I am praying for her and her hubbie and I hope she pulls through.

Anonymous said...

People need to realize that it doesn't matter who is at fault. A major accident occurred and someone was severely injured. The only thing that matters now is that she make a full recovery.Everyone should be praying for her and her family. I am sure the driver of the car feels horrible whether he was at fault or not.

JT said...

Understanding fault is important to learning, and possibly changing future behavior to make cycling and driving safer.

Anonymous said...

Bicyclists need to understand that they too must obey the same laws that cars are subjected too. This includes stopping at red lights and obeying speed limits.

JT said...

Question for 10:23: do you obey the speed limit in your car at all times?

Anonymous said...

"Also, as a cyclist, I don't know a single person who stops at the state-line light (Palisades pkwy entrance) going north on 9W under any circumstances. Self included"

And you wonder why there was a crash...you are REQUIRED to follow ALL motor vehicle laws. PERIOD.

Anonymous said...

..."Question for 10:23: do you obey the speed limit in your car at all times?"...

No, however if I was involved in a crash and ran a red light or was speeding, I would be at fault and possibly charged. It seems like some of you are trying to justify bicyclists going through red lights and not following other traffic laws. And you wonder why bicylist's get injured and into crashes.

Jen Benepe said...

Please everyone: I never wrote that anyone went through a red light: I only wrote that someone there said they thought they were going to go through the red light.
more importantly, JESSICA DID NOT GO THROUGH A RED LIGHT.
There is no indication that she either broke the law or was not paying attention, because we still have not heard from her husband.
Please refrain from adding further conjecture or blame to this story until we have heard from Jessica's husband.
Jen Benepe