A hit-and-run collision left a bicyclist dead in Tazewell County, Virginia (VA), on the morning of May 18, 2017. Police have yet to find the at-fault driver, but they have collected enough evidence to identify the vehicle involved as a pickup truck the size of a Ford F-150 or larger with a model year between 2011 and 2016 that incurred damage to its front passenger side. Anyone who witnessed the fatal crash or knows the driver is being asked to call the Virginia State Police at (216) 228-3131 or to email [email protected].
The bike rider was struck from behind as he traveled north on U.S. Route 19, which is also known locally as Steelburg Highway. The crash happened near the interchange with VA 609/Wardell Road in an area where the main four-lane highway is bordered by wide paved shoulders. The bicyclist was on the right shoulder, and the pickup driver fled the scene after colliding with him.
Emergency responders declared the bike rider dead from his injuries before transporting him to a hospital. The victim has been identified as a 54-year-old from Idaho.
Virginia laws allowed the deceased bicyclist to ride on the shoulder of the highway. As explained by the state’s Department of Transportation, bike riders “shall have the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle unless a provision clearly indicates otherwise.” The two major rules bicyclists must follow are to keep right and to travel in the same direction as cars and trucks. Regarding driver’s responsibilities when encountering bicycles, VDOT states, with the bolded text appearing on the agency’s website, “Motorists must approach and pass a bicyclist at a reasonable speed at least three feet to the left of the bicyclist and shall not again proceed back to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken bicycle.”
A pamphlet published by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also emphasizes those duties for drivers, reminding anyone approaching a bike rider from behind to
- Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.
- Give cyclists room. Do not pass too closely. Pass bicyclists as you would any other vehicle -- when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.
The pickup driver turned his or her negligence in not giving the bike rider in Tazewell County enough space while passing into a criminal act by driving off without stopping to render aid or call medical personnel. My Virginia wrongful death attorney colleagues and I hope the at-fault driver is located and held accountable. If that does not happened, the deceased bicyclist’s family may still be able to access uninsured motorist coverage under their own auto insurance policy. Consulting with a plaintiff’s attorney will help them understand that option.