Cyclist critical after Bodo crash

By Ann Butler , Shane Benjamin
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012

Source: Durango Herald

Injured woman taken to Lakewood hospital

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald
With the victim’s bike still pinned under her truck Linda Wagner, 64, of Bayfield is comforted by a passerby after the she struck bicyclist Elizabeth “Betsy” Richards, 51, of Durango at the north entrance of Centennial Shopping Center Thursday morning.

A Durango woman was in critical condition Thursday after being run over by a pickup near the entrance of Office Depot in Bodo Industrial Park.

The crash occurred at 10:31 a.m. near the north entrance of Centennial Center.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Richards, 51, was riding a road bike southbound on West Frontage Road when a northbound Toyota Tundra pickup driven by Linda Wagner, 64, of Bayfield, turned left from the Frontage Road into the parking lot without seeing the bicyclist, according to a witness and the Durango Police Department.

The pickup hit the cyclist and caused her to be pushed onto the hood, the witness said. Richards then fell to the pavement and was run over by both tires on the driver’s side, said Lt. Ray Shupe, with the Durango Police Department.

“She’s in very serious condition,” he said Thursday afternoon.

Richards was airlifted to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood and Thursday evening was in the Intensive Care Unit.

She appeared unconscious and had labored breathing moments after the accident, according to a witness who declined to be identified.

“I’d say the legs were pretty mangled, from my observation,” the witness said. “I just pray to God she survives.”

Richards raised both her hands as a reflex moments before the impact, the witness said: “She knew it was coming, I know that, because I could hear her scream.”

The bicycle was dragged under the truck about 40 feet, and Richards was dragged about 20 feet, Shupe said.

The bike remained wedged under the truck after the vehicle came to a stop, and the truck also sustained damage.

Richards is a frequent cyclist and member of the Durango Wheel Club, her friend, Richard Bagienski, said. She has competed successfully in events ranging from the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic to cyclocross competitions. According to the USA Cycling website, her most recent first in her age bracket came during a New Mexico Cyclocross Series event Sept. 23.

“She doesn’t use a car unless she has to,” Bagienski said. “Last year, she took a solo trip from New Mexico to Florida on her bike.”

Richards recently founded Bucket List Bicycle Tours, and the first trip she led tracked the USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2012 with the group riding part of the route, Bagienski said.

Richards and her husband, Joel, have two daughters, who also are avid cyclists. Lucy Richards rode to Washington, D.C. to advocate for meaningful legislation on alternative fuels and climate change in 2009, and the Richards’ younger daughter, Nora, is on the University of Colorado cycling team and hopes to race professionally.

Charges against Wagner are pending, Shupe said. Police are waiting to see if Richards survives before determining whether to cite the driver with careless driving causing serious bodily injury or vehicular homicide, he said.

Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call Officer Rob Haukeness at 375-4737.

“We want to send out all our best to the victim and hope for a quick recovery,” Shupe said.