A female cyclist was hit by an automobile driver at approximately 12: 15 pm today on Rt. 9W near state line and was critically injured.
She was moved by paramedics to a staging area about a quarter of a mile south of the accident scene, and was then airlifted by helicopter to the Westchester Medical Center across the Hudson River at about 1 pm, as her husband stood by.
The location of the accident was a few feet shy of the bottom of the hill where there is a light and the opportunity for cyclists and motor vehicle drivers to be squeezed, especially during changing lights. About 10 miles from the George Washington Bridge, the descent is particularly fast but also very narrow, and the potential for accidents is great.
Earlier today in the same location, one lane on the northbound side had been coned off by workers and local police officers, forcing northbound traffic into a middle lane that opposed southbound traffic but it was unclear if those conditions still existed at the time of the accident.
Visibly upset, with a torn blue triathlete jersey, and wearing a makeshift support on his left arm, in response to whether he felt okay to talk about the accident he said, "I will not blog about my wife," and walked away.
Alpine New Jersey police officers at the scene had declared the area sealed for an accident investigation but said they did not know anything about what happened.
A dispatch officer who answered the phone at the Alpine police headquarters said more information would be forthcoming but at this time he was not able to talk to the press.
It was unclear if the woman had been struck traveling north or southbound, but her bike lay a few feet away from the intersection of Rte. 9W on the north bound lane and the exit ramp and stop light for State line, on the New Jersey side.
Her bike was in one piece, with blood soaked articles of clothing around it. A sportscar stood parked a few feet ahead, it's driver outside the vehicle, while police officers asked riders to keep moving. It was unclear if the driver had been involved in the accident, but since the area had been sealed for an investigation, he most likely had been.
Car traffic was blocked from entering the scene of the accident from both directions, and cyclists traveling northbound were stopped at the top of the hill before the descent to the next intersection and state line.
Pic: Paramedics bring stretcher to move accident victim about 1/4 mile south of state line on 9W
A fire department employee who had been called to the scene when asked about the accident said he did not know why it occurred but wasn't surprised since cyclists he said "always go over the white line."
When it was pointed out to him by BBB that there was no space on either side of the road next to the white line because the road had been re-engineered to remove the shoulder entirely, he said, "well, it's a state highway, cyclists shouldn't be riding on the road at all." Though he did acknowledge that his father is a triathlete and he always tells him to be careful.
John Birnbaum, a New Milford, NJ paramedic on the scene who was not working on this accident said he was driving nearby when he heard the call come in over his radio.
Birnbaum said the cyclist's condition would have to be good enough for the county to send a helicopter to the scene, but bad enough that it was necessary.
Pic: Helicopter taking off for Westchester Medical Center.
He noted if her condition had been extremely critical with no chance of survival, she would have been taken to a nearby hospital.
As BBB continued to head south, the very visible truck belonging to the Bergen County Prosecutor's office with the words "Prosecutor" emblazoned on the side, was heading north on Rte. 9W.
Prosecutors are normally called to the scene when an accident is or could become fatal after the victim has been moved to a medical facility.
Pic: In the background, accident victim is being taken by stretcher into the helicopter, while her husband walks away.
The area of the accident is sealed off so that tire tread impressions of both the motor vehicle and the bicycle can be taken: measurements of the distance between the car and the bicycle; and the distance between the cyclist and the bicycle are also taken. The distance that objects that have been thrown by the impact of the accident are also measured to get a sense of how fast the driver was going when they hit the cyclist (or vice versa).
Also, eyewitnesses are interview, which in this case includes the victim's husband who was cycling with her, and the automobile driver.
Once the prosecutor has made an assessment of the cause of the accident, they decide whether to prosecute the driver for fault.
As we wrote in the follow up to the accident last November that killed cyclist Camille Savoy, although prosecutors were able to prove that tire marks showed the driver crossed over the white line by over one and a half feet to fatally hit Savoy, she was not found guilty by the presiding judge in Alpine, NJ, and did not even receive the minimal violation of careless driving.