A 70-year-old Washington man died Monday as a result of the injuries he suffered after being struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on Montana Highway 2 the day before, Montana Highway Patrol officials said.
Around 2 p.m. Sunday, the man was reportedly riding his bike on the shoulder of Highway 2 just south of the crossroad with Continental Drive.
A motor home driving in the same lane as the cyclist came up behind him while navigating a curve near mile marker 79 and reportedly slowed down but could not move over on the two-lane highway as another vehicle was oncoming, MHP officials said.
The cyclist was hit with the side view mirror of the motor home, causing him to crash. MHP officials said the man died as a result of his injuries early Monday morning.
Neither alcohol, drugs nor speed were suspected factors in the incident. All occupants in the motor home were wearing their seat belts and the cyclist was wearing his helmet, MHP officials said.
This fatal incident comes less than a week after an 11-year-old boy riding a bicycle in Livingston was struck and killed by a pickup truck, and about two weeks after a 9-year-old boy was struck and killed while riding a nonmotorized scooter in a hit-and-run east of Hamilton.
These recent fatalities on Montana roadways bring back painful memories for Butte native Gina Evans, a local mountain biking enthusiast who was struck by a truck nine years ago while pedaling her bicycle on Continental Drive.
“I know it happened in 2010, but to me it still feels like just yesterday,” Evans said. “It’s one of those summers I don’t want to remember but am thankful I lived through not to remember.”
Evans said what she does remember of the near-death experience is hearing the revving of a diesel truck behind her and the snap of its rearview mirror as it hit her shoulder, catapulting her into the pavement ahead.
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On the Sunday of the recent fatality, some of Evans' personal crash memories came rushing back.
She was shuttling mountain bikers out of Butte when she heard through word-of-mouth what had happened to the 70-year-old cyclist, thought to be traveling the Tour Divide race trail that runs 2,745 miles from Canada to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It hits home in a way you can’t relate to unless you’ve been through something like this,” Evans said of the recent fatality. “I just hope people realize there are people out being active and wanting to create healthy lifestyles … we’re all pedestrians at some point.”
Since her near-death experience, Evans said she’s advocated for bike safety and awareness both at the local and state levels, particularly pushing for the expansion of roadway shoulders to create more room between recreationists and motorists during past Montana legislatures.
Evans said she is extremely saddened and frustrated by the recent string of cycling-related fatalities on Montana roadways, and hopes they send a message to state legislators.
“I would hope the Legislature would jump on the bandwagon to promote bike safety,” Evans said. “It’s not if it (a cyclist fatality) happens, it’s when it happens … but if everyone plays by equal rules, maybe there will be less deaths on Montana roads.”
Evans said she and a few area cyclists plan to hold their own memorial ceremony for the 70-year-old Washington man struck and killed sometime next week.
Butte-Silver Bow County Coroner Lori Durkin said Wednesday afternoon that the man's name would be released as soon as MHP officials confirmed with her that their investigation into the fatal incident was completed.