Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hit-and-Run Collision by Drunk Driver Kills IL Bicyclist and Injures Four Others

One of the most senseless and tragic bicycle accidents in Illinois history has left an Illinois teenager dead and four others injured. A Flat Rock, Illinois teenager identified as 16 year old Leonard J. Beachy passed away on July 6, 2013 as a result of injuries he sustained when an allegedly intoxicated motorist struck him while he was on his bike in Charleston, Illinois. At the time of the fatal collision, Leonard was riding with 27 year old Truman Beachy, 24 year old Jonathan Beachy, 19 year old Timothy Zehr, and 20 year old Javin Lehman. All of the bicyclists were injured in the hit-and-run collision. 
Immediately prior to the collision, the five bicyclists attended Horse Progress Days, a trade show featuring horse-powered farm technology in the Arcola, Illinois area. All five bicyclists are members of the Crawford County Amish community. They were riding home from the trade show on their bicycles in a single line heading southbound on Lincoln Highway Road, also known as South 4th Street. At approximately 9:10 p.m., the group was suddenly struck from behind by a motorist in a light colored vehicle who was also traveling southbound on Lincoln Highway Road. Leonard, who was the last bicyclist in the line, sustained the brunt of the impact. 
The Coles County Sheriff's Department responded to the scene. All five bicyclists were transported to area hospitals. Tragically, Leonard Beachy was pronounced dead at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center as a result of injuries he sustained in the collision. The conditions of the other four bicyclists remain unknown, but they are reportedly expected to recover from their injuries. 
The motorist responsible for the accident fled the scene. Fortunately, the Coles County Sheriff's Department was able to located his 1995 mint green Ford Taurus less than 3 hours after the accident, just after midnight on the morning of July 7, 2013. The driver, identified as 21 year old Samuel Meadows, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Driving Under the Influence and Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury/Fatal Accident. He is being held at the Coles County Safety and Detention Center. 
Under the Illinois Vehicle Code, motorists are required to leave a minimum of three feet of space when passing a bicyclist. Section 5/11-703(d) of the Code specifically states "The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or an individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual." Therefore, even if the driver had not committed the obvious crimes of driving drunk and fleeing the scene of an accident, he is still in clear violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code for driving much too close to the bicyclists while attempting to pass them.  
We are deeply saddened to learn of this extremely unnecessary collision. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Leonard Beachy at this very difficult time. We wish the rest of the bicyclists injured in this collision a quick recovery.