Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Hit and Run

1st July 2006




I was the victim of a hit and run accident on Friday on my way home from a meeting at Birmingham Southern. Fortunately, I’m OK. The first picture above shows what is left of my bike. The front fork was sheered in two cutting through the bicycle computer wire attached to the front wheel. Fortunately, I think I was airborne as soon as the car hit my front wheel and my leg may have hit the car with a glancing blow because it is the sorest part of my body. I did a complete flip as I saw the ground spin 360 degrees before landing flat on my back cushioned by a loaded backpack containing shoes and clothes from the meeting I had just been to at Birmingham Southern University. I also somehow managed to bruise both sides of my other leg which never came into contact with the car.

So what happened? That’s the second picture. I was riding my bike on Montevallo Rd heading south in the direction pointed by the green arrow. I was riding with the flow of traffic several feet from the shoulder as I had just passed through an intersection and wanted to be as visible as possible. (Note: if you ride too close to the shoulder, this reduces your visibility to motorists who are typically looking at the center of the traffic lane for cars.) The car which hit me was traveling north in the direction pointed by the red arrow. The yellow arrow indicates the entrance to a Shell gas station. This is where the accident occurred. The car traveling north must not have seen me or must have assumed that I was going to yield to him as he was making a left turn into a gas station. I don’t know. Judging by the angle and speed with which he was trying to enter the gas station, it was clear that he was trying to cut in front of me (or perhaps a car behind me?) to get into the gas station. I was going about 20mph and the car heading north was going possibly the same speed. I had no time to react. I didn’t even see him until his car was coming almost head on into me in my lane. I knew that he was going to hit me and there was absolutely nothing I could do but tuck and roll as soon as I was flying through the air. I remember several things very vividly about the moment of impact and the first 30 seconds afterwards:

  1. Seeing the driver and the car coming almost straight at me in my lane
  2. Hearing one or two people screaming close by in the parking lot of the gas station simultaneously …
  3. … as I was flying through the air and seeing horizontal flip through 360 degrees
  4. Being conscious and waiting for the moment of impact with the ground
  5. Assessing whether I was hurt instantly after impact with the ground
  6. Getting up almost immediately and approaching the car which hit me to find out what on earth had just happened
  7. The driver mouthing the word “sorry” through a closed window
  8. Finally and most importantly, 1D3303Y, the license plate number of the car as he drove off

The gas station was full of people, and three different people actually saw the whole thing. A young man and his mother (I think she may have been the one screaming) were first to reach me, and then another man named Paul who saw the accident dialed 911 and handed me the phone so I could give them the license plate number right as the guy was practically peeling out of the gas station. Paul stayed with me until the police came to make sure I was OK and to let me use his cell phone to call someone to come pick me up. He even called me later that evening to make sure I was OK. Paul, you are awesome. Thanks so much man!

When the police came, they took down all the information and said a hit-and-run detective should be contacting me shortly. The policewoman seemed to think that because I got the license plate number, they should be able to track down the person and hold him accountable for what he did.

I first called Kristine to let her know I was OK and to see if she could come pick me up, but she had never been to this part of Birmingham, and it wasn’t exactly easy to give instructions on how to get there. So she suggested I have my dad come pick me up. I called him and he came over, but by now it was rush hour traffic and it seemed like it was forever before he made it. Paul had already left, so I had to ask a couple people at the very busy gas station if I could borrow their phone to call and direct him how to get here in case he was lost. He made it and we made it home.

So right now I’m not sure if my bike is fixable. At first glance, it looks like at a minimum the front fork and front wheel (and bike computer) need replacing. That will cost at least $500. But the rest of the bike needs to be examined very carefully to make sure there aren’t any cracks or stress fractures caused by the impact with the car. My insurance company has already told me they won’t pay for any damages to my bike because “it’s not a vehicle and even if it was it would have to have its own policy.” I’m very disappointed with them, even if it is impressive how quickly they got back to me after we called them yesterday.

I got my Specialized Allez into working condition and rode it this morning. I felt pretty good, but cut the ride short when my left leg (the one that hit the car) started throbbing and feeling all the bumps in the road. Here’s some pictures from the ride.

View of Samford University from Hwy 31 at the
crest of Shades Mountain

View of Ruffner Mountain from the same spot

11 Responses to “Hit and Run”

  1. Anna DeLaRosby Says:

    I have tears in my eyes… We’re so glad that you are ok!!!!!! Thank God for His protection…

  2. Kristine Toone Says:

    I’m so very thankful he’s ok too! *grumble, grumble*… not a vehicle?!? My husband rides more miles on his bike for work and in lieu of driving places than most people drive their “vehicle” in a week! If his bike isn’t a vehicle, what is it?? Hopefully, we’ll get something worked out, though…

  3. Corrie Says:

    Wow!!! We are so glad that you “landed” safely and are physically [mostly] okay. I am very impressed that you had the presence of mind to get the license plate number! Keep us updated with the developments with your bruises, your bike, and the hit-and-run guy.

  4. Anna DeLaRosby Says:

    In light of this adventure, Hal and I are wondering about safe biking tips…. We’ve been riding alot more with our new bikes, and want to be safe. For instance, we didn’t know the little tip about riding further from the shoulder near intersections… what else should we know?

  5. Brian Says:

    Well, I’m glad you asked. This is an excellent site: bicyclesafe.com   I am also putting together a website for the Birmingham cycling community that will also have some general tips. I’ll post a link to that too once it’s ready.

  6. Brian Says:

    I forgot to mention that the accident I was involved in was a more serious version of “The Left Cross”. It’s collision #6 on the bicyclesafe.com website. Mine was more serious because the driver was not making a 90 degree turn into me, but rather speeding trying to cut the corner at a more head-on angle. I was very lucky.

  7. Brian Says:

    The most important thing I could recommend to anyone is NEVER ride on the sidewalk. You’ll see that reiterated over and over again on the bicyclesafe.com website and I concur wholeheartedly.

  8. Robyn Joy Sjostrom Says:

    Praise the Lord that you were wearing a backpack and that you were able to get the license plate #. How scary! You’re a trooper Brian. Most people who go through something like that never want to ride again. Question- Did your feet clip out of your pedals when you went flying? I only wonder because I fell while riding last week and the bike came with me (feet did not clip out) and fell on top of me. It’s kind of a freaky experience because you feel trapped. How do you avoid this?

  9. Brian Toone Says:

    I did clip out of both pedals. I was already free of the bike by the time I was sommersaulting through the air. I don’t, however, remember clipping out. I must have just done it instinctively. My groin area is a bit sore which might be from twisting both legs very quickly to clip out. I don’t consciously remember doing that, though.

  10. Dena Koehn Says:

    Yikes! Glad God saw you through it! Any news yet on if they caught the person?

  11. Brian Toone Says:

    I just called the Birmingham Police, and they told me that the only way they will track down the guy is if I am willing to press charges and an investigation is conducted. I told them that if that is the only way to find the person who hit me, then I am willing to press charges and that I can possibly identify him. So they are now going to do an investigation, and they will get back to me once they find out something.

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