A Modesto man is suspected of driving under the influence, hitting a bicyclist and then leading police on a six-mile pursuit. At the end of the chase, 29-year-old Emiliano Maldonado Jr. was arrested. The 51-year-old bicyclist, whom Maldonado allegedly struck, dragged and then left on the street, suffered severe injuries in the hit-and-run accident, but is expected to survive, the Modesto Bee newspaper reports.
According to officials, the bicyclist was following the rules of the road and was using his hands to signal as he headed North on Crows Landing Road Friday morning. He was trying to merge across traffic when the pickup driven by Maldonado hit him. Maldonado then reportedly made a U-turn dragging the bicyclist under the truck. However, the bicyclist managed to break free and Maldonado fled the scene. Police suspect Maldonado was driving under the influence. Officials are looking for more eyewitnesses who saw the bicycle accident.
The name of the victim was not released. But we are glad he is recovering and did not suffer fatal or more serious injuries. This accident could have turned out a lot worse and we’re certainly thankful that it didn’t. California leads the country in the number of bicycle accident deaths as well as injuries. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in the United States 662 people died and 48,000 people were injured in bicycle accidents in the year 2002.
The numbers also show that 2 percent of all traffic fatalities and 2 percent of all traffic accident injuries were the result of bicycle accidents. Also, alcohol was reportedly a factor for the driver or the bicyclist in one-third of the bicycle accidents.
This accident in Modesto was horrible at so many levels. First, the driver was possibly intoxicated. Secondly, he struck a bicyclist who was following all the rules and trying to merge into traffic. And thirdly, he dragged the bicyclist and then left him broken and injured on the street. We hope this driver is prosecuted and given the punishment he deserves. But we also believe that it would be in the victim’s best interest to retain a personal injury attorney who will help protect his rights and get him the compensation he deserves and probably needs to pay his medical bills and compensate for loss of wages during the time he is disabled.