Iowa City police officer stresses bicycle awareness after collision with SUV

Hayes: 'There was somebody watching out for me that day'

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IOWA CITY — An Iowa City police officer said she is lucky to be alive after being hit by a truck earlier this month during a training ride.

“There was somebody watching out for me that day,” said Ashten Hayes, Crime Prevention Officer with the police department. “To come out alive is remarkable, but to come out with no broken bones is a huge thing.”

An endurance athlete in addition to being an police officer, Hayes said she went out Friday, Aug. 12 for an 80-mile bike ride as part of her training for an Iron Man race next month in Wisconsin. Hayes’ route took her through North Liberty, Coralville, Iowa City and southwest of Iowa City.

Hayes said she was on Black Diamond Road, north of Frytown in rural Johnson County, and preparing to turn on to Old Yoder Road. She said she was wearing brightly colored clothing, a black and lime green helmet and had blinking lights on her shirt and bike.

But, she said, a northbound motorist driving a Toyota 4Runner SUV on Old Yoder Road still didn’t spot her. As she turned onto the road, he rolled through the stop sign, she said.

“My entire left body was hit by his front passenger light; the grille and the light part of the car,” she said. “My head bounced off the hood of his vehicle and I flew into the middle of the highway.”

Her carbon fiber bike snapped in half and her wheel broke, Hayes said.

“My bike is mashed potatoes,” she said.

Hayes said the driver checked on her and called 911. She was taken via ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Somehow, she managed no broken bones, only severe bruising and several hematomas.

“It’s like having two tennis balls in my shin right now,” she said.

Hayes returned to work on Aug. 17 and was back in uniform Tuesday. Now, she’s using the experience to remind cyclists, motorists and pedestrians to take caution when out on the road.

“Stay alert,” she said. “Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings.”

Hayes said cyclists should wear helmets and bright clothing and equip themselves and their bikes with lights.

“I don’t care if you’re lit up like a Christmas tree,” she said.

She said everyone also needs to put their cell phones down and avoid other distractions.

Hayes said the Iowa State Patrol investigated the crash and the driver was cited.

“He was a very nice gentleman,” she said, adding that there was nothing intentional about the crash. “It was completely an accident.”

Despite the crash, Hayes said she doesn’t intend to stop training and hopes to still compete in her upcoming races.

“People are not going to stop doing what they love for fear of being struck by a vehicle,” she said. “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do what I love.”

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