ST. GEORGE — A group ride of 20 bicyclists meant to celebrate the retirement of one of the participants turned fatal Thursday morning on U.S. Highway 95 in Clark County, Nevada when a box truck hit the group.
The incident, which occurred in the area of milepost 35 near Searchlight, has left five people dead and three injured, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
The incident occurred around 9:40 a.m. PST while the group was southbound on the road. With the group was an escort safety vehicle that cyclists where riding ahead of and behind, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka said during a press conference
There was a white box truck traveling in the same direction as the cycling group, but, “for reasons unknown, the truck entered the group of cyclists,” Smaka said.
The box truck hit some of the cyclists and the escort vehicle, resulting in the death of five of the cyclists. Another rider was flown by medical helicopter to Las Vegas in critical condition. The escort vehicle driver was also injured and taken to a nearby hospital. Another cyclist with the group hit debris from the crash and received non-life-threatening injuries, Smaka said.
The box truck driver was injured and is cooperating with investigators, Smaka said.
“We do not suspect impairment at this time, but the investigation is ongoing,” the trooper said.
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According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the ride was an informal one meant to celebrate the retirement of one of the riders.
“It’s a horrific tragedy when you have a beautiful, sunny day like it is today, and we’ve just lost the lives of five people,” Smaka said. “It’s just a horrible tragedy. It’s horrific.”
Southern Utah had its own fatal cycling-vehicle incident on a state highway in 2013 when 36-year-old Brayden Neilson was killed by a passing van while riding with a cycling group on the Southern Parkway.
“Never assume the person behind the wheel of a motor vehicle sees you,” Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street said when asked what cyclists might do to avoid vehicles while on the road.
Cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible by wearing bright clothes, he said, and also do their best to pay attention to traffic around them.
Many newer vehicles also run quieter than older counterparts, so that’s something to also take into consideration, he said.
As for motorists, the law dictates they are to give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing them on the road, Street said.
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