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Wednesday 19 June 2019
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Nowhere safe for cyclists

Madonna Wheelers rider killed in Wallerfield hit-and-run

The mangled bike of Madonna Wheelers rider Aaron Thomas who was killed in a hit-and-run in Wallerfield yesterday.
The mangled bike of Madonna Wheelers rider Aaron Thomas who was killed in a hit-and-run in Wallerfield yesterday.

Nowhere is safe.

That is what members of the cycling community are lamenting, after yet another cyclist, Aaron Thomas, was killed in a hit-and-run incident.

Aaron Thomas, on a morning ride with Madonna Wheelers Cycling Club, was hit yesterday by a driver who, according to witnesses, swerved off the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in the Wallerfield area, slammed into Thomas and sped off. This is the second fatal accident involving cyclists, after two Slipstream riders, Joe Brown and Joanna Banks, were killed when a car ran into them on the Beetham Highway on November 10. Several other riders were injured.

“The general feeling is total sadness,” said one member of Madonna Wheelers Cycling club, “People (cyclists) don’t want to go on the road at all. And it is not to say that you could only train in an enclosed area.

Even the people who are practising for the short events, the sprints and so on, and those practising for Olympic events would need some road work done. Cumuto is a wide road.

The man swerved onto the shoulder. You just don’t know where is safe again. The entire fraternity is wondering whether cycling makes sense anymore.”

Coach Joseph Charles-Walcott recounted the incident, saying he was escorting Thomas as he and three other riders from Madonna Wheeler were on a regular Saturday ride at about 7 am.

He said they were coming out of Cumuto and about to turn left on the highway. Thomas was about 60 metres ahead of them, so he broke the corner first. But when Charles-Walcott and the rest of the group reached the corner, they saw Thomas and his mangled bicycle on the side of the road.

“Drivers told us they heard the impact,” Charles-Walcott said. “We just saw some other vehicles stopped on the other side of the road. The first thing came to my mind was that it was a traffic accident between the other two vehicles that had stopped. I didn’t expect it would be Aaron.

“Then we realised that Aaron was on the side of the road off the shoulder. His bike was in pieces.”

Members of the group tried to resuscitate him, as well as other cyclists led by Michael Phillips, but it was too late for the cyclist. He died on the spot. Police are now searching for the driver, however police found the vehicle – a white Nissan Navarra – abandoned in Wallerfield. Newsday was told that Thomas a Route 2 Maxi Taxi driver, rode with the group for ten years but was only made an official member last month.

Former TT Cycling Federation president Michael Phillips once again pleaded with drivers to be more aware on the road.

“You still have people driving under the influence of alcohol, and you have people that are distracted, you have people speeding, and you have people driving on the shoulder.”

Phillips said “People are desensitised to how narrow a margin of error people have. We are heading on a road going 50km an hour and cars are driving past us at the same speed but only three or four feet away. If it is we have to sit and think what could happen if this person veers three degrees in their steering to dodge something, what could happen is tragedy,” he said.

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