Sunday, February 19, 2012

Distracted Driving, Cyclist Killed, Pass It On

 "The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it."   Dudley Moore

You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.  ~Author Unknown

Distracted Driving

I wrote a while back about a local cyclist who was killed by a motor vehicle.  The gent's family had a vacation home at a local ski resort called Wintergreen.  As you might imagine, it's quite mountainous and provides not only great climbs for local riders but is the home of the state hill climb championship every Spring.  It seems that this cyclist was going on a pleasure ride to one of our local colleges to surprise his son.  Sadly, he didn't even make it half way before being struck by a youthful driver. He wasn't identified for quite some time.  The newspaper article below tells the sad tale in it's entirety:

Bicyclist Killed By Car ID'd Posted 2009-08-27
Father Of JMU Frosh Was On Way To Surprise Son

By Pete DeLea and Jeremy Hunt

HARRISONBURG - Joseph V. Mirenda left Wintergreen on his bicycle Tuesday morning bound for Harrisonburg.
He was going to stop by and surprise his son, a freshman at James Madison University, but Mirenda didn't make it to the end of the 50-mile trek.
On Wednesday, police identified Mirenda, 49, of Virginia Beach, as the victim in Tuesday's fatal crash in Rockingham County.
Around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, emergency personnel were dispatched to Port Republic Road, about a mile east of Cross Keys Road, where they found the cyclist lying in the ditch.

Mirenda was riding west on Port Republic Road when he was struck by a westbound 2000 Ford Taurus driven by Jessica Chandler, according to the Virginia State Police.
No charges were filed as of press time Wednesday, but investigators obtained a search warrant for the driver's cell phone records. (She would eventually be charged with reckless driving.)

First Sgt. Bryan Hutcheson with the state police said investigators will be looking into whether Chandler, 22, of Port Republic, was talking on her cell phone or texting in the moments before the crash occurred.
"We don't want to leave any stones unturned," Hutcheson said.
Although the Daily-News Record has confirmed a search warrant was issued in the case, the document remains sealed by court order at the Rockingham County Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, investigators are still trying to piece together exactly how the crash happened.

They had spent Tuesday and most of Wednesday trying to determine the name of the cyclist, who had no identification on him.
State police caught a break in the investigation Wednesday afternoon when they received a call from the Wintergreen Police Department.
A Virginia Beach woman contacted the department and said she couldn't reach her husband, who was staying at the family's home in Wintergreen, Hutcheson explained.
The wife mentioned he may have gone on a bicycle ride.

Wintergreen officers recalled seeing a man riding a bicycle there Tuesday morning, and he matched the description of the then-unidentified cyclist killed in Tuesday's crash.
The state police and Wintergreen officers then confirmed the man's identity based on an inscription on a wedding band he was wearing.
It said "Frauke & Joe" with the date 9-24-88 on it.

Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or

Fitness expert Lauren Record (below) teaches regularly on issues of safety. "You can't do the work out if you don't get to the work out."  Cycling is dangerous business as you well know.  And if you don't know, you should.  In our bike group alone, while riding a couple weeks ago, Superbowl Sunday, we remembered a Superbowl 4 years go where two of us collided resulting in a crash, head to the asphalt and loss of consciousness for one rider!

About ten years ago, while mountain biking on SB Sunday, one of us crashed and broke his neck! Fortunately there was no neurologic component and he was part of today's mountain bike ride.  

Even with this history, some of us still flaunt danger by riding two abreast making cars go around them (professionals both), some of us ride with no hands adjusting who knows what on their clothing even with cars behind the group (Lawyer and respected HS FB Coach), you know what I'm talking about.  Maybe you can be the good example and convince others to follow your lead. Maybe we should all put mirrors on our bikes and put a cop in them.

Photo #2, Nick Strocchia

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