DENVER — Just three blocks away from where one Denver cyclist was hit and killed, another one is thankful to be alive.
A driver hit Jim Hamilton last Tuesday while he was riding his bike near 16th Avenue and Syracuse Street on the city's east side. Denver Police report the driver didn't stop. Hamilton was rushed to the hospital.
"They said I had a separated shoulder, three broken ribs, four fractures in my face and an injury to my carotid artery," Hamilton said sitting in his Central Park home on Monday. "I’ve broken one bone in my life in ninth grade and never since then."
Hamilton said he was riding down Syracuse Street near 16th Avenue around 5:45 Tuesday morning when he saw a car approaching the intersection.
"It was dark. I had lights on. I had my helmet on," he said. "Next thing I know I hit the top of the car, then I remember hitting the pavement, and that’s it."
A woman spotted Hamilton in the middle of the road. Shortly after, cyclist Craig Wu rode upon the scene. He began to direct traffic as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
"Jim was just laying there. He was conscious but he wasn’t really able to talk," Wu said. "There was a very, very similar fatality on this road, three blocks away on this road, like a month ago from another member of the community that resonated through all of us."
In August, cyclist Steve Perkins was hit on his ride down Syracuse Street. Like Hamilton's situation, the driver did not stop. But unlike Hamilton, Steve did not survive.
A ghost bike now sits at that intersection and serves as a solemn reminder.
"Every time I pass the ghost bike, I pause and think," Wu said. "I think it's just getting scarier and scarier to ride your road bike on the road. It's a lottery as to who gets hit next on this road."
Hamilton is not sure if he will get back on a bike. He and his wife Sarah Williams are just thankful he's alive.
"We just want to spread awareness to everybody else so that this doesn’t happen to anybody else," Williams said.
The couple hopes drivers pay better attention to cyclists on the road. As they stress, the simplest steps can make a world of difference.
"Follow traffic laws, number one, and have a conscience. If you make a mistake and hit somebody, stop, call 911, make sure they’re OK," Hamilton said.
"Just slow down and not be in a hurry. Everything else can wait," Williams said. "You don't want to hit a cyclist. You don't want to take a life."
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