Conflicting reports have surfaced in the aftermath of the death of a young cyclist who was hit and killed by three drivers on October 14, in Saugerties, NY.
The cyclist Michael Wiley, 19, of Kingston, NY, was said to have been “riding in the middle of the road on the double yellow line,” according to some witnesses, said Saugerties Police. Other word of mouth reports said to have come from a local bar situated about a mile from where Wiley was struck on Route 32, said that Wiley was “drunk” and “all over the place.”
But in interviews with Wiley’s friends and associates, a different profile of the young man has surfaced. For one, he was known as a responsible young man who had worked for Opus 40, a local museum, since he was 7 years old, and was not even known to drink, said a friend who wished to remain
anonymous because of a pending civil lawsuit against the drivers. He was also known to be rational at the time of the incident and to have a positive history of bicycle handling skills.
At the time of the crash, the source said it was “dusk,” and not dark, a point of contention with Saugerties Police who told CI in an interview that it was “dark,” and made a special note in their crash report that the cyclist “was operating in in the southbound lane without safety equipment, (i.e.,: lights, reflectors or helmet.)”
Wiley’s blood was subjected to a toxicology analysis post death, though none of the drivers, including the first driver to strike Wiley, Ender Kaya, 40, of East Moriches, NY, were given alcohol or substance tests. According to Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra, “the investigation placed the cyclist in the center of the road at the time of the incident,” though no reason has been given so far for what some consider a certainly irrational move.
The report simply states that Kaya, described as Vehicle 1 in the report, “attempted to avoid striking vehicle 2 [Wiley, the cyclist] however reports while attempting to maneuver into the northbound lane, V2 veered left, resulting in V1 striking V2.”
Chief Sinagra said the investigation is still pending on whether Wiley had moved to avoid something, or was attempting to turn when he
was struck by the southbound-traveling Dodge Suburban.
Chief Sinagra said department’s decision not to test either Kaya, or any of the three other drivers for substance use, was based on their professional observation that none of the drivers showed “any indication,” of substance use.
The circumstances of Wiley’s death are particularly gruesome, and could come to bear in a civil lawsuit, if there is one.
After Kaya struck Wiley traveling south, he was said to have stopped his car on the curb, and placed a call to emergency services. While he was sitting in the car, two other drivers struck Wiley.
Those drivers, first Daniel Coughlin 22, of Palenville, NY, followed by Elaine Baskin of Holyoke, MA, were traveling northbound, and struck Wiley because he was now lying in the northbound lane. Baskin told Saugerties Police that another vehicle in front of her swerved to avoid Wiley but she was unable to, according to the police report.
Saugerties Police were unable to identify the type of bicycle that Wiley was riding. However, they have indicated that the cell phone belonging to Kaya was taken and is being analyzed. A subpoena was required to obtain the cell phone records, and the analysis will be presented in the final investigator’s report.
Wiley was said to have left his girlfriend’s house north of the crash location on Route 32 and Old Kings’ Highway, and was pedaling to meet his mother some 3 miles down the
road, at the local Hess station. His friends have said he was offered a ride by his father, but that he declined and said he would rather ride his bicycle, and that there had been no party or drinking before hand.
Chief Sinagra also indicated that the cars’ black boxes will not be analyzed for crash data. He told CI that such analyses are “not routinely done,” partly because they “have to be sent out of the country” for analysis, which is costly. He also said often the results are not clearly indicated.
Wiley was declared dead at the scene of the crash. The investigation is still pending.
“It’s a loss of life,” said Sinagra. “We will check under every stone,” and all information “will be completely and thoroughly evaluated.”