Colby Samstag, the 20-year-old cyclist who crashed two weeks ago in the Tour of the Catskills is out of danger.
He left the Albany Medical Center with his father about two days after the incident which left him seriously injured on August 7.
“Colby is doing well these days. We visited with him last night to deliver some goodies and chicken soup. He is in good spirits. His face took the worst of it. Still with stitches,” wrote a friend with the pen name Rauterkas.
“He is on the mend. Keep those prayers coming,” he added.
Samstag published photos of his face after returning home. The photo shows how he looked after surgeons had spent about 12 hours trying to repair the multiple gashes to his face, right eye socket, and neck.
The University of Pennsylvania student crashed into the back of a Chevy Trailblazer that had turned onto the road and inserted itself between two parts of the field. When the driver saw he was in the middle of the race, he pulled to the side and stopped, and Samstag flew into the back of the car.
It was not clear why the driver had turned onto the road, nor why Samstag went into the back of the glass window, which was darkly tinted. It is possible that the driver stopped in front of Samstag, and the cyclist did not have time to stop.
Although New York State traffic law no longer allows for dark tinting on side windows, statute §375 (12-a)(b)(4) allows for the rear window to be tinted to any darkness.
But if the rear window is tinted darker than the allowable 70 percent “light transmittance,” the vehicle must have two side mirrors, allowing the driver to see the road and any traffic conditions behind him, according to EHow.com.
There was no indication that the driver, who is in his 70’s and was on his way to church with his wife, did not have two side mirrors. However, the dark windows may have played a role in the incident, given the fact that the race was in progress, and the riders were randomly spread out, unlike the bulk image of a motor vehicle which provides fewer mirror blind spots.
There was also a disconnect between officers on the scene and cyclists about which part of the road was safe to use, and if the Chevy Trailblazer was mistaken for a race vehicle which has the same profile.
“We were told [by race organizers] that we should use the main lane and the shoulder, and that we should move over to the shoulder when a race vehicle is passing,” said one rider who declined to be identified for this article. “At the very least in a road race we should have full use of the shoulder,” said the cyclist.
But Dep. Sheriff Stewart in his interview with CI, said “I don’t know why he [Samstag] was traveling in the shoulder: he was not supposed to be there.”
Phone calls to the organizers, who could shed some light on the understanding that riders have, and about this crash were not answered.
Messages of concern about Samstag have been posted on his Facebook site, as well as on the Linked In board for University of Pennsylvania graduates and students.
Meredith Uhl, also a University of Pennsylvania graduate was in the women’s cat 4 race that day and passed the scene of the crash about an hour later.
“At the start they announced that there was a crash and may be some rescue vehicles on the course, but you always hope that they are sending out an ambulance out of an abundance of caution and that everyone walked away. The scene was clear by the time we went by, so I assumed/hoped everything was fine. Glad that he seems to be on the mend, though I’m sure recovery will be difficult,” she wrote on LinkedIn.
The 26-year-old started racing in June, and the Catskills race was her first stage race,
which she finished.
Well wishers for Samstag’s recovery continued to write in to CI: “To My Fellow Cyclist…I was in the Cat4 A group behind you, Bib # 465. I along with my family have said a Prayer for you. We Pray for a Full and Speedy recovery,” wrote Paul Sulse.
Uhl also suggested that the community start a fund to collect money to defray Samstag’s medical expenses and the cost of replacing his equipment. Calls to Samstag’s family at the time of publication had not been answered.