Cyclists on lookout for hit-and-run driver

Curtis Martell, director of the Free State Racing Team of Lawrence, shows a bicycle that was destroyed when a pickup truck driver ran a cyclist off the road.

Curtis Martell has been riding bikes in Lawrence for 15 years. He says he moved to the area because it’s so bicycle-friendly.

But Thursday night, he says, he witnessed someone being anything but friendly to his group of cyclists. “There were seven of us riding our bikes, riding along in a single-file line, and a black truck came up beside us and started to yell,” Martell said.

The group was traveling in the area of the 1000 section of East 1400 Road in the county.

Martell said words were exchanged between the angry driver and his group, and then one of the bicyclists was struck. “We were traveling about 25 miles per hour; it all happened really, really fast,” he said.

Martell said the driver was apparently upset that he had to share the road with the bicyclists and appeared to have intentionally hit the lead rider, who fell from his bike. The injured bicyclist had scrapes to his back. His bike, his helmet and his clothes were all damaged.

Martell said the driver didn’t stop, but instead took off down the road.

The driver was described as a white male in his 40s, with dark blond, shoulder-length hair. He was reportedly driving an older model, four-door, black Chevy truck.

Martell said he’s confident, with the help of the public, that the driver will be arrested. “We’re going to patrol that road and that area,” he said. “We’re going to look for that vehicle; and if I see it, I’ll recognize it, and we’ll report it.”

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 843-TIPS.