Critical Crash at Tour of Catskills

Emergency crews neutralize other fields after the crash (c) Benepe/ Cyclists International

A critical crash between a rider and a motorist has marred the third day of the Tour of the Catskills.

Colby Samstag, 20, crashed into the back of a Chevy Trailblazer that had become inserted between two parts of the Category 3 group as it was making a fast descent down Route 23A, according to Deputy Sheriff G. Stewart who was on the scene and in command after the incident.

Samstag who is a student at the University of Pennsylvania suffered severe injuries to his

Emergency crews sweep up broken black glass after crash (c) Benepe/ Cyclists International

head, including his neck, his eye socket, and his jaw, and was taken to the Albany Medical Center by ambulance. A medvac helicopter emergency unit that was called to the scene from Albany refused the request due to weather.

Samstag who rides for Penn Cycling had come in 79th in the first day’s time trial stage, and 63rd in day two of the Catskill Stage Race which started on Friday August 5, and is to end today, Sunday.

Deputy Sheriff Stewart said that the motorist had possibly entered the race from a side road, and had told him that when he saw he was in the middle of a bike race, pulled to side, and stopped when Samstag who was traveling in the shoulder lane crashed into the back of the car.

It was not clear if Samstag was trying to pass the car on the right when he saw it slowing, or if he ever saw it at all.

“He wasn’t talking very much,” said Stewart who tried to find out from the rider what happened before he was taken away by ambulance. ‘He was in a lot of pain and not very coherent.”

The ground where Samstag struck back of Trailblazer (c) Benepe/ Cyclists International

It was also not clear what “side road” the motorist may have entered in from, since the last side road is the one leading from Hensonville, which is about 4 miles west of the scene.

There are however a couple of driveways on the south side of the road, but not many.

Blood was everywhere, and the back of the Chevy Trailblazer’s window was completely smashed. Shards of dark grey glass lay in pieces all around: on the ground lay Samstag’s extra tube and two cartridges. His jersey, with race number 360 pinned to the back, was drenched with blood.

It was the first half hour of the stage, and riders can reach speeds of up to 65 mph on this steep sweeping downhill section of the course.

The road was open to drivers and although police details from four different localities were stopping traffic intermittently, the road remained opened to car traffic.

Cat 3 riders in stage 3 of the Catskill Stage Race about 5 minutes after incident (c) Benepe/ Cyclists International

It was not clear how the driver, in his 70’s who with his wife was heading to church, had managed to come between the two sections of the field.

A registered nurse who stopped to help but would not give her name said that Samstag was able to speak, and was able to move his legs and arms, and was able to say that he was in a lot of pain. “That’s a good thing” she said, indicating that it meant he had possibly not seriously injured his spine or neck.

Juniors come through accident scene in stage 3 (c) Benepe/ Cyclists International

Calls to the Albany Medical Center were not answered by the time of publication, so there is no word as to the cyclist’s medical condition.

Race organizers also had not returned calls at the time of publication, though according to Dep. Sheriff Stewart, two race officials, one of whom is a doctor, had been behind the rider when he crashed, and witnessed the incident.

According to his Facebook page, Samstag is part of the Class of 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of the Brashear High School in Pittsburgh, PA. One of his favorite bicycle teams is Leopard Trek.

Dep. Sheriff Stewart described the driver and his wife as visibly “shaken,” by the incident, and said they would not be charged in the incident.

When CI mentioned the accident at a local bakery, patrons and workers there mentioned that just last week a 15-year-old girl was killed on Route 32 while driving.

A race guard who stood at the intersection of Route 23A and the left hand turn to Route 20A said, “I hope he will be okay. We will be praying for him.”

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