Cyclist Fatality Highlights Dangers for Young Cyclists

A 19-year-old cyclist was killed in Saugerties, NY on October 14 possibly while trying to turn off a major roadway onto another road leading to his home.

Michael Wiley, 19, died while trying to take a left hand turn on Route 32 in Saugerties, NY, when the driver behind him struck him. He was subsequently struck by several other cars behind that driver.

The man, Michael A. Wiley, who really had the face of a boy, was cycling south on Rte. 32, and possibly while attempting to take a left hand turn, was struck by a 2004 Dodge Caravan operated by Ender Kaya, 40, of East Moriches who was also traveling southbound.

What was not included in the limited news coverage of this horrible crash is that several vehicles following Mr. Enders car–also ran over Mr. Wiley, insuring his death.

News reports of the crash have focused on the fact that Wiley was riding the middle yellow line, and was not wearing reflective clothing or using lights at around 7:30 P.M.

Saugerties Police have not yet completed their investigation, which is expected shortly. However, unofficially they have stated that there is no sign of criminality on the part of the driver, such as texting or using a cell phone while driving, both illegal in New York State.

But no note has been made of the fact that cyclists are required to follow the rules of vehicular traffic–thus Wiley was following the rule of the law when he attempted to turn from the double yellow line. The vehicle behind him failed to stop.

Most mature cyclists know, however, how difficult it is for drivers to see us in the dark, and wear reflective clothing once the seasons change. Was Wiley aware of this? Or could he just not afford such clothing?

Perhaps he did not even own a car, or this was just his favorite mode of travel. Or perhaps Wiley just thought the driver would see him and follow the rules of the road by stopping. Or maybe the driver was texting. So far no there is no word from the Saugerties Police Dept. on what exactly occurred.

Second hand reports from neighbors say that workers at the local Elk’s Lodge bar which is situated near the crash scene have been telling people in the area that Wiley was “drunk” and was “weaving in and out of traffic.” However, if the owners at that bar were serving Wiley alcohol to the point that he was too intoxicated to ride home, they might also be liable in his death.

Wiley has worked as a volunteer at Opus 40 for much of his teenage life. The sculpture park Opus 40 is one of the enduring symbols of the Woodstock-Saugerties area, a beautiful rock structure created by hand by Harvey Fite. The park’s artistic director, Tad Richards, has mounted a campaign to raise money for Wiley’s family who could ill afford the sudden death of their eldest child.

Wiley’s family “has five other children, ages 5-16, and needs help with funeral expenses. Anything raised above that will go to further the education of his brothers and sisters that he loved so much,” wrote Richard’s on the fundraising site.

This author has plenty of experience riding a bicycle on Route 32, where even in the daylight drivers routinely disobey traffic rules and ride on the left as I have attempted to take a left hand turn.  The location of the crash–at the intersection of Old King’s Highway and Route 32, is also a location where drivers routinely speed. But the speed limit is enough to kill a cyclist struck from behind–55 mph when drivers travel at normal speed. Even today, I witnessed at least one driver texting while driving in the area.

Wiley was a graduate of LaSalle School, Albany this past year. According to his obituary,  Michael was preparing to enter college and study business. “His dream was to operate his own woodworking shop. Michael was inspired by nature and loved pets,” reads his obit.

He is survived by his mother Chastity Martinez, and stepfather Maximialliano (Max) Martinez 111 of Saugerties. His Father Johnathan Long of Vermont, his sisters and brothers Sirina Wiley, Maximialliano Martinez IV, Alejandro Martinez, Arrianna Martinez, Isabella Martinez., and Vanessa Vieira. He is also survived by his maternal grandmother, Cindy Erwin, and paternal grandmother Nilda Ochoa, uncle, Michael Wiley, and aunt, Tammy Gritman.

If you have more information about this incident, please email the author, jbenepe@msn.com.

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