The Augusta Chronicle: Questions remain in biking accident
Injured cyclist remains unconscious
By Susan McCord
Monday, Oct. 4, 2010
Friends and family are still looking for answers in the Friday crash that critically injured a Fort Gordon surgeon as he rode his bike with a group on Beech Island Avenue.
“It’s no surprise — there are some people that just don’t care for cyclists to be on the road and they let us know, at times, whether it’s by yelling profanity, or driving too close or really fast,” said Ben Hyler of Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse.
Whether that was the situation on Beech Island Avenue remains to be seen. That’s where 41-year-old Daniel Johnson resides and where he ran his Dodge into five cyclists about 6:40 p.m. Friday, severely injuring 37-year-old Matt Burke.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Robinson of South Carolina Highway Patrol said Johnson, who was northbound when he came up behind the group of northbound cyclists on the two-lane road, told authorities that he was reaching for something and did not see the bikers.
“We hope that’s the case. It may have been an incident where somebody wasn’t paying attention, and something bad happened,” said Hyler, who wasn’t a part of the ride but knew some of its participants.
The highway patrol does not believe alcohol was a factor in the collision and no tests for alcohol were administered, Robinson said.
Meanwhile Burke, the married father of a young daughter and an Army orthopedic surgeon, lies unconscious at an Augusta hospital.
“He has experienced a very serious head trauma,” a family spokesman said.
The riders were part of a loosely organized group that gathered at Outspokin’ Bicycles in Augusta as often as three times a week to ride the Beech Island route, Outspokin’ owner Brett Ardrey said.
The cyclists try to take every precaution, such as riding single-file and as close to the shoulder as possible along two-lane roads, and use protective gear, including helmets, lights and reflective clothing, Hyler said.
Robinson said the riders Friday were all wearing helmets and proper gear.
The highway patrol won’t know whether charges will be filed until later this week, he said.
Despite the tragedy, Hyler doesn’t think it will keep area cyclists off public roads.
“It’s what we enjoy doing, and sometimes people take a risk when they do things that they love,” he said.