August 11, 2014
I am saddened that you drove off and left the scene and that we did not get a chance to meet face to face.
Equally importantly, I am wondering why you passed me when you couldn’t’ see the oncoming traffic? And then why you did not brake, and you instead swerved into me?
Before I ask you the many questions swirling though my head, I must say how truly grateful I am to the two (or three?) kind other drivers that stopped immediately, called 911, and helped me through the initial shock until the ambulance arrived. Thank you also to all the first responders who took such good care of me from Paramedic’s Carpenter and Miles from the Laytonsville Fire Department, to the wonderful ER nurses, Docs, and other staff at both Montgomery General and Washington Hospital Shock Trauma Center.
I’m also grateful that it was only my bike that went under your back wheel and not my leg or worse. However, this has been no picnic.
Your careless, indifferent and illegal driving caused me three very painful broken ribs near my spine, a concussion, a yet to be fully diagnosed shoulder (that hopefully isn’t a torn rotator cuff), a sprained foot, and multiple bruises and cuts. I can’t work this week, and I can barely care for myself right now. But again, I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse.
As you approached me on Rt 108, the road was very straight. I could clearly see you in my mirror and I’m sure you could see me with my bright red and white shirt, my bright blue helmet, and the red flashing light under my seat. I was riding right next to the white line heading towards Laytonsville, following the law and not hogging the road in any way. Most of my ride that day was on low-traffic country roads, and I wrongfully assumed drivers would be willing to share the road with me for the last 2 miles of my ride on Rt 108.
What were you thinking trying to pass me as we both approached that blind hill just past Rocky Road? With the hill rising out of the road blocking our view, did you not wonder if cars were coming towards us in the opposite lane?
What was so urgent that you couldn’t wait another 30 seconds until you could see if any traffic was coming the other way? Did you not see the double yellow line in the road? Or did you think it didn’t apply to you in this case, because I was on a bike?
But then as you crested the hill and saw the red car in the other lane coming head-on, why did you turn your wheel in my direction? Why didn’t you just hit the brakes and try to drop back into our lane behind me like a normal person does when they realize they don’t have room to pass?
Maybe it was just a natural reaction to swerve away from an oncoming vehicle and back into your lane. But the manner in which your vehicle came so gradually into me makes me curious. It was as if I was being gently pushed by someone’s arm. It was so gradual that I can’t help wonder if you intentionally tried to squeeze your vehicle between the red oncoming car and me.
As your mirror and then door pushed into me, I wonder if you could see me out of the corner of your eye? Did you hear me yell out incredulously, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!” as you pushed me off the road.
Did I suddenly disappear from your view your vehicle drove over my back wheel and whipped my body sideways down to the ground?
I doubt you heard the crack of my ribs as my shoulder and head slammed into the ground. But maybe you heard the crunch of my bike under your tire and the loud pop that a modern bike frame makes when it snaps into pieces.
If not that, surely you felt your tire thump over my bike? Did you wonder if my body was caught under the wheel too?
Did you look back in the mirror and see me laying in the ditch not moving? Or did you just look straight ahead down the road as if nothing happened?
Did you brake at all afterwards, and pause for just a moment? Did you debate at all with yourself about stopping? Or did you push down on the gas without hesitation as you left me there.
Maybe you assumed the other drivers would stop for me or maybe you actually saw them rush to my aid before you left me there.
But what if it was just you and me that day? Would you have just left me there in the ditch all alone, unconscious, and in in shock?
What thoughts went through your head as you continued on about your drive? Did you wonder if I was alive or dead? Did you tell yourself it was my fault because you think people shouldn’t bike on that road anyway?
Did you tell anyone about what happened on Saturday afternoon, or is this our dark little secret?
Do you now feel relieved that I am alive? Have you thought about how you would have felt if I did not recover? What if it was you that had to make the call to my wife, or my mother, father and brother?
Those are many of the questions that have been swirling in my head since we met on Saturday. But what really astounds me, the question I keep coming back to, is why in the world did you try to pass when you couldn’t see if the other lane was clear?
If I was in a slow-moving car with flashers on, would you still have tried to pass me at such a dangerous blind spot? What if I was a farmer on a tractor? Or a rider on a horse, would you still have tried to pass me that way?
Was it because I was on a bicycle that you didn’t think about the consequences? Or was it that you just didn’t care?
I look forward to hearing from you. Montgomery County Police’s efforts to publicize the incident are raising awareness and maybe we’ll hear from you or someone else. Either way, I’d really like to know, “What were you thinking?!”
Silver Spring, MD