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Third bicyclist in fatal accident speaks out

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - An accident on Highway 207 claimed the life of one bicyclist and left another in seriously injured.

But there was a third cyclist who saw it all happen.

“I was in mid-sentence, and then all of a sudden, they fly past me. It all happened so fast,” said an emotional Melissa Driskell. She was riding with two of her friends and fellow cyclists when they were struck by a car around 8:30 Monday morning.

“I stop, and I’m on the phone with 911 and they’re both unconscious. The EMTs get there and they’re enough people there to address both of them.”

Scott Childers of the Anderson Volunteer Firefighters say that when they got on-scene, there was one cyclist laying in the street.

“I grabbed my medical bag and started towards him and realized there was another patient laying off the side of the road.”

Those men were James Green of Rogersville and Mannon Rogers of Sheffield.

“We realized they were both pretty serious,” explained Childers, “so we called for two helicopters and two ambulances.”

First responders say Green was pronounced dead the hospital. Rogers was upgraded from critical to fair condition at Huntsville Hospital Thursday.

“The worst part was just seeing them laying there, and there was nothing I could do,” said Driskell.

One day later, the only thing left are some markings on the road put in place at the time of the collision. At this point, Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate, and there is no word on whether charges will be filed.

“It took me a long time to feel like i could ride again,” said Driskell. Green and Rogers were riding behind Driskell to build up her confidence after she was hit on her bike a year ago.

“[They] made it a point of riding with her to enable her to get back to the thing she enjoyed so much, riding,” said her husband, Josh Driskell.

Melissa Driskell says riding with her friends made her feel safe again.”I thought…statistically  how would that ever happen to me again. And I got to walk away, but Jamie didn’t get to walk away.”

“It’s tragic for everyone involved, including the driver. He has to live with what happened,” said Josh Driskell. He went  on to say that motorists can create a better neighborhood in the Tennessee Valley by being more aware of cyclists’ rights and having a ‘general respect for human life.’ Driskell believes that motorists should be willing and able to slow down to prevent serious injury to a cyclist, as well as their loved ones.

“We’re supposed to have the same rights, but I don’t think we really do,” said Ryan Jones of Huntsville. Jones is a friend of Rogers, Green, and Driskell, and says the incidents seem to be more frequent.”Melissa had to live through yet another horrific accident, so…it’s definitely shocking.”

Returning to her bicycle then living through a second accident has traumatized Melissa Driskell to the point that she no longer plans to continue her hobby.

“I’m done,” she said emotionally, “I can’t get back on the bike after that.”

30 comments

  • Keith

    You do have the same rights. That means when you come to a STOP SIGN or a STOPLIGHT, you STOP. Also, those white lines that show that it’s a bike lane? Bikers need to stay on the RIGHT side of those lines, not the left!

    I mean, it sucks that it happened, but if most bikers would realize there are other people on the road with them, there wouldn’t be these accidents.

    • Ryan

      Thanks for the lesson. You know most people who ride bikes for sport also drive cars? Wow, that never occurred to you? Maybe you should give the car drivers a lesson and everyone will know what to do. Keith, you are the definition of ignorant.

    • Ron M

      Right. And when the posted speed limit is THIRTY-FIVE miles per hour, you motorists drive NO FASTER THAN THIRTY-FIVE MILES PER HOUR! Yeah, right, it’s about the following law. That’s just an end-around to say what they really mean which is, they don’t want to share the road with cyclists. If it were about following the law, these same people would be chastising motorists who drive over posted speed limits (all 99% of them). The blatant hypocrisy of these motorists who are dishonest in their meaning or too self-centered to see that following the law is a two-way street, and most of them disregard driving laws ALL the time.

    • chillout

      Many of those white lines are not bike lanes as much as people perceive. It is actually illegal to ride on the right side of the white line in most instances unless there is a bike painted on the road. Most cyclists I know do follow the rules of the road. I break many more laws when I drive than we I bike, probably same situation goes for you.

    • Wtf

      Your last sentence is completely backwards. If MOTORISTS would realize there are other people on the roads with them, we wouldn’t have these accidents. Trust me, cyclists know we aren’t alone out there. Jackasses like you make it clear.

    • Betty

      I don’t know where you live but where Jamie and his friends were riding is out in Lauderdale county. There is no bike lanes. These cyclist always obeyed the road way rules. Maybe before you comment you should have gone out and seen to accident site. There was no reason for Steve Parker not to have seen them.-Betty

  • Nuclear Mike

    Just a shame for these deaths to continue…the Laws of Physics ALWAYS favor the 2,000lb+ vehicles over the bicycle…

  • Jessica

    I swear motorists in Alabama like to see how close they can get to pedestrians and cyclists. Every time you drive a car or a motorcycle, or ride a bike, you are putting a lot of faith in complete strangers. Of course, the motorcycle and bike make you much more susceptible to serious injury or death. Where I’m from, there are bike trails everywhere!!!

  • Mark

    Its tragic.. but my Dad taught me not to ride my bike on the main roads, i would get a whooping if I did. We had to ride in our neighborhoods or out in Webb’s nursery off Blue Springs Rd. We were not to go on Winchester, Pulaski Pike or any main road like that. I wish they would make special biking trails our of the old railroad beds for these folks that like to ride. Everytime I see one on a main road, i pray.. and I wait in a long line of traffic to get around them. It is dangerous and it is your choice to ride into danger.

  • Country Boy

    “’We’re supposed to have the same rights, but I don’t think we really do,’ said Ryan Jones of Huntsville.”….NO YOU DON’T! You don’t have the same rights but you do have the same laws…plus some. READ: Code Of Alabama 1975, Title 32, Articles 12 & 13. RIGHTS? You are on a wire frame with two wheels! Exactly what rights are you going to express on your bicycle without also expressing your mortality? If bicycle riders continue this insane mindset then bicycle riders will continue to be injured and die. Your issues are with the ALDOT and your legislators, not motorized vehicle drivers. Riding your bicycle on the road is a PRIVILEGE not a right! Just like driving. If the law states that you can not ride a bicycle on the roadway then guess what? You have lost your PRIVILEGE, not your right. The Constitution gives you rights, laws restrict and sometimes take away those rights but I have yet to read any document that gives a bicycle or the operator ANY rights!

    • chillout

      Actually riding a bike on the road is a right and you cannot ride a bike on the highway in most states because it is illegal to do so. Driving a car is a privilege since we get our license to drive and at any moment you can lose that privilege and might have to ride a bike. What we(cyclist) know is that we have the same laws, but most drivers don’t understand the laws, nor know how to proceed to deal with a cyclist on the roadway. You have to drive around a broken down car, slow tractor, debris on the road, mail truck stopping at every mail box on and on.. what makes it so hard to go around the cyclists? What creates people like you to get so angry at people riding their bikes.

      • Jewced

        I’m not angry at bike riders lol. I’m just sad that you can’t see that the bikers CHOOSE to ride a 30lb vehicle with no safety features on a road MADE for a 2000lb+ vehicle with MANDATORY safety features. This is about poor choice and accountability- on that much we agree- it’s just that the poor choice was made by the bikers. There are so many bike trails that people can use recreationally. Why put yourself at risk? What’s worse is that it puts other people at risk too- but all you see is a defenseless biker who had no choice but to use a road recreationally who is victim to an evil driver that had to use the road to get to work, school, or any other place necessary for everyday living. How date a driver get in a car to do these things when I’m trying to get a little exercise or fun?!?

  • Another Mike

    2013 Code of Alabama
    Title 32 – MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC.
    Chapter 5A – RULES OF THE ROAD.
    Section 32-5A-260 – Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.

    Universal Citation: AL Code § 32-5A-260 (2013)
    Section 32-5A-260
    Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.

    Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
    (Acts 1980, No. 80-434, p. 604, §12-102.)
    ———————–
    2013 Code of Alabama
    Title 32 – MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC.
    Chapter 5A – RULES OF THE ROAD.
    Section 32-5A-263 – Riding on roadways and bicycle paths; right side signalling.

    Universal Citation: AL Code § 32-5A-263 (2013)
    Section 32-5A-263
    Riding on roadways and bicycle paths; right side signalling.

    (a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.

    (b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

    (c) Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.

    (d) A person riding a bicycle may give a hand signal for a right turn by extending his or her right arm and hand horizontally on the right side of the bicycle. A child under the age of sixteen shall not be required to comply with the right side signalling.
    (Acts 1980, No. 80-434, p. 604, §12-105; Act 2012-220, p. 398, §1.)

  • Tragic

    I personally know the man driving the car. This was a tragic accident. It wasn’t about bikers right of way. It was an accident. He didn’t see them for the sun. He is terribly devastated! This has effected his life just as well as the victims.

      • Tragic

        Read the articles. He wasn’t speeding or drinking. Going around a curve, sun in your eyes, yeah, you can’t see. I don’t think anyone would deliberately run over someone, moron.

    • Betty

      Steve Parker was not devastated enough to call Jamie’s widow or Mannon’s wife and say I’m sorry. Go to the accident site; it did not happen on a curve and there where many trees over the road to stop the sun from blinding the driver.

  • Jewced

    Good laws aren’t good because they SOUND good. Good laws are good because they WORK. Obviously, the biking laws are not good laws. It’s time they be re-evaluated. What gets me- there are so many safer places to ride a bike other than a main road. Why risk everything given the statistics? This is akin to sleeping with a hooker without wearing a condom. Sad part is there is little to no sympathy for the driver- he didn’t hit the bikers on purpose- his life will forever be changed too- all because they wanted to exercise the right to drive on a main road. How many more people must die for a hobby?

    • M the Driver

      Let’s look at is this way…
      Some Cyclists are a-holes who think that they can do whatever they want on a roadway.
      Some Drivers are a-holes who think that they can do whatever they want on a roadway.

      Here’s the difference. A cyclist with bike weighs (on average) just under 200 lbs. A Driver with car weighs (on average) just over 2500 lbs. This isn’t about right and wrong, this is about physics and taking responsibility for one’s actions. If a cyclist is obeying the law (which Another Mike was kind enough to provide) then anyone that hits them is, by definition, breaking the law. That’s it, finito, the end. Law breakers deserve to be punished in proportion to the result of their unlawful behaviour. If this guy is determined to have caused the cyclists death, then he gets to be tried, by a jury of his peers for the charge of manslaughter.

      Now that we have established that fact, a 2500 lb vehicle running into a 200 lb cyclist will ALWAYS win. That means that if you’re driving a car (as I do every day) and you hit someone, they are very likely to die. The difference between me and some of the other posters here is that I know this, and I believe it is my duty as a driver to watch out for those whom I may kill (if I remember right, this was covered in driver’s ed on day 1?). If that means that it takes me 2 minutes longer to get where I’m going, so be it.

      The position some of you have taken can just as easily be changed to “Those kids playing in the street knew the risks of playing in the street so I was justified in running them down.” That’s a pretty shitty way to think.

      Yes, there *may* be other paths for the cyclists to take that aren’t main roads, but main roads are better maintained and are safer for riding (less chance of pot-holes and glass and sand/gravel causing a crash). So you get a safer road with careless drivers… kind of a lose-lose. Thankfully, MOST drivers really do care and aren’t the a$$holes that ruin it for the rest of us.

      • M is correct.

        This is the best post about driving a car I have EVER read. What you said is the bottom line. When you are in a car YOU are responsible for any possible harm you could cause to anyone or their property. The best post!

  • Country Boy 2

    Dying while doing something you love is the epitome of love for your activity. Any intelligent human knows, understands and accepts the possibility of mishaps that can occur during their activity. Sorry he is dead now but he knew he could die riding a bicycle on a road. They all accepted it and now are realizing the true extent of love for their activity. Their only problem was disbelief…disbelieving that “IT” won’t happen to you is their downfall. She realizes that extent now and apparently is making the decision that “IT” ain’t worth it. Perhaps she loves something even more, perhaps something actually worth dying for. I hope she takes her bicycle to one of a number of off-road trails and greenways in this area and rides her heart out, like me. Sure, a widow-maker could fall from a tree and kill you but, even I take that chance over a several thousand pound lethal weapon controlled by another human. Join Rails-to-trails and help build a network without ANY motorized vehicles.

  • Twotom

    Not so fast, Country Boy 2. I acknowledge the personal risk I take when I lawfully ride my bike on the road. Like I don’t take significant risks when I drive in a car? 30,000 – 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US annually? The number one cause of death for our children and young adults? What about the fact that people who bicycle regularly are much healthier than the average American, with much lower rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension? There is even strong evidence that bicyclists are mentally healthier. You clearly want more rails-to-trails, and so do I. But they will never substitute for our roads which belong to us all. Road cycling is worth it.

  • Kristy

    So blessed to live in beautiful Santa Barbara, where people ride with children on their bikes, and don’t have to worry. I forget, after being here a while, not every place is this blessed. We can be car free, walk and ride bikes, even skateboard and not have to worry! Sad not every city was built with this kind of planning in mind. If a car hit a biker here, there would be full prosecution of the law and community outrage!

  • Kristy

    So blessed to live in Santa Barbara, where people are encouraged to ride their bikes and can safely ride with small child seats on back.

  • phasedCycle

    Roads are believed to be designed for cars and not for bicycles. Motorists think they own the roads. Getting in the way of cars is supposedly an invitation to certain death, because car drivers are expected to run into anything that is slower or more vulnerable. Motorists who claim that they may not be able to avoid running down a slow cyclist from behind quickly abandon that argument when they realize they are arguing the case for their own incompetence. Avoiding a rear-end collision with a slower vehicle traveling in the same direction is the easiest traffic task required of drivers of vehicles. Failure to avoid rear-ending slower road users indicates a driver’s gross negligence, failure to drive within his sight distance, failure to maintain control of his vehicle, or lack of basic fitness as a driver. Such drivers are a threat to the safety of everyone else on the road and not just to bicyclists in particular.

  • Lotus

    I nearly hit a cyclist this week…. on a windy country road in Hazel Green… in the dark. It’s a blind spot in the road and didn’t see him until I was almost on top of him. He had a small light on the front of his bicycle and I didn’t see him until I was driving by him within only a few feet.

  • A lice

    We need to go back to cyclist facing traffic, at least then they have a chance. With your back to traffic and wearing a helmet and vehicles getting quieter your chances of getting hit increase.

    • M is correct.

      oh my! you just have no idea how stupid that is. Cyclist who ride on the road can average a speed of 15-20 mph. if they are riding on the road with a posted speed limit of 45 then the closing speed of a car approaching from behind the cyclist going WITH traffic (which is the law) is 25-30 mph. If the cyclist goes against traffic…not good. The closing speed would be 60-65 mph. little to no chance of evasive action by either the cyclist or the motorist. Riding with traffic is not only the law it is safer. Please don’t ever suggest that again. Not trying to be jerk, just saying.

  • brad

    I drive professionally and am constantly amazed at the careless attitude of so many drivers. No matter if its a cyclist, walker or another motorist stopped on the side of the road, there are way too many drivers who just seem unwilling to move over just a little or slow down just a little to allow for a safe passing situation. I spend a lot of time in Seattle and the number of bike riders there outnumber those around North Alabama 50-1. I witness much more respect and concern for other people’s welfare there than I do around here. WWJD?

  • David

    I ride a bicycle as a fun way to stay fit. My home is in the Shoals, but I am visiting my daughter in California. The mindset here is totally different. Biking and walking is encouraged, at home, it’s like how dare you! Cyclist commonly share the roads with motorists on roads with bike lanes and those that are not. You are expected to share the road with people who choose to ride bikes instead of drive cars. The bottom line as others have mentioned is, when I drive an automobile I am responsible.

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