Woman hurt in Cedar Rapids bicycle crash dies

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A bicyclist hurt in a collision with a pickup last week in Cedar Rapids has died, police said.

Susan M. DeSotel, of Cedar Rapids, died Monday at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. She was 51.

DeSotel was southbound on C Street SW around 6:30 p.m. Thursday when an oncoming pickup turned into her path at Wilson Avenue Drive, police said. DeSotel was thrown off her bike, hitting the pickup and then the pavement.

Sgt. Daniel Jabens said DeSotel suffered head trauma even though she was wearing a helmet.

DeSotel, a member of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association, took the route she was taking Thursday often, and grew to love the hill where the accident happened, friends said.

“She was a very avid biker,” said Bill Phillips, a friend of the family. “If she wasn’t working or sleeping, she was on the bike.”

DeSotel had worked at Quintrex Data Systems in Cedar Rapids for 22 years, most recently as a quality assurance specialist. It was there she met one of her closest friends, Kendra Lown, of Walford.

Lown said DeSotel regularly took an evening bike ride south to Solon or north to Center Point.

“It depended on which way the wind was blowing,” Lown said. “You’ve got to have that tailwind on the way back.”

The driver of the pickup, Robert H. Fleming, 55, of Alburnett, was not injured, police said.

Sgt. Cristy Hamblin said Fleming may be issued a traffic ticket, but would not be charged with a serious crime.

Another bicyclist was seriously hurt Monday morning in Cedar Rapids, authorities said. Phil Abodeely, 60, suffered life-threatening injuries when he crashed on 30th Street SE.

Two motorists discovered Abodeely bleeding after he apparently struck his head on the pavement. Richard Varnum, a neighbor who called 911, said it appeared Abodeely had been lying there for at least 10 minutes.

Attempts to confirm his medical condition Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Experienced bicyclists said the serious accidents are highlighted, but close calls happen regularly. Larry Howe, of Cedar Rapids, said many motorists don’t leave enough room when they pass bicycles. He recommends at least 3 to 5 feet.

“On every long ride, there will be somebody who passes too close,” Howe said. “Not where they meant to buzz you, but where I felt encroached upon.”

Howe said bicyclists and motorists share the responsibility to use the road safely. He has a blinking light on his bike and wears a helmet, bright clothing and a rear-view mirror to stay safe.

“It’s important for drivers of any vehicle to be fully focused on driving their vehicle and to not be distracted,” Howe said.

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