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Teen cyclist from Victoria killed in collision with car during Ride to Conquer Cancer

A teenage cyclist from Victoria was hit by a car and killed during the final leg of the Ride to Conquer Cancer on Sunday in Washington state. The 16-year-old died in Arlington, Wash.
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A cyclist participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer has been killed in Washington.

A teenage cyclist from Victoria was hit by a car and killed during the final leg of the Ride to Conquer Cancer on Sunday in Washington state.

The 16-year-old died in Arlington, Wash., 65 kilometres south of Vancouver, on the second day of the two-day annual fundraiser.

The teen was riding in a pack of cyclists including his mother and uncle. He was passing other riders when he fell off his bike into the path of a vehicle on Smokey Point Boulevard at about 9:20 a.m., said city police spokeswoman Kristin Banfield.

Paramedics tried for 40 minutes to revive him, Banfield said. An air ambulance was standing by, but the teenager was pronounced died at the scene.

Shane Devine, 24, of North Vancouver said he was leading the pack of about 100 riders with the teen close to the back of the pack as the slowing cyclists formed a glut as they approached a left-hand turn.

“What I’ve read on certain articles was that he basically was trying to pass ... but he was in no way in the wrong,” an emotional Devine said. “He wasn’t passing erratically, he wasn’t biking erratically.”

“Whatever happened he lost focus ... he swerved into the oncoming lane as the other car was travelling toward him,” he said. “He tried to swerve back into the lane, clipped a tire, fell and just freak accidentally fell as the car was passing him.”

One of his teammates at the back of the pack rushed over to the teen and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived, Devine said.

The area is mostly rural with some residential areas. The driver, a local woman in her 50s, was returning home from church and was driving “well under” the 55 km/h speed limit, Banfield said. 

Neither the name of the boy nor the name of the driver has been released.

Staff and volunteers from the B.C. Cancer Foundation, which puts on the event, spent the day with the teen’s family, said CEO Doug Nelson.

“All who are associated with The Ride to Conquer Cancer have been deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of the rider,” Nelson said in a statement. “This has been a very sad day for The Ride community and our supporters.”

Erik Dierks, the foundation’s vice-president of development, said the ride continued despite the tragedy.

“There were riders who were approaching the finish line at the time this happened. There were riders who were behind the accident, and we travelled 194 kilometres today,” an emotional Dierks said by a cellphone from the side of the road.

He said he was been notified of the death by a crew member at a pit stop along the route.

More than 2,600 cyclists participated in the B.C. ride by travelling over 200 kilometres from Vancouver to Seattle. During the past five years, about $39 million has been raised for cancer research by the ride, Dierks said.

This was the first fatal accident in the ride’s history.

“That commitment to the cause is shown in the faces of our riders as they carried on through to the finish.”

The route avoids major highways, Dierks said. Participants must wear helmets and are required to watch a video on safety during registration.

“We do on occasion share the road, as do cyclists every day. But we ensure we’re going on roads where we run the least risk of encountering other vehicles or being in an unsafe situation.”

Many riders crossed the finish line early Sunday morning, with the final group finishing in the late afternoon.

Badly shaken by the incident, Devine and the rest of his team finished the race, walking past the finish line as a show of respect for the fallen rider.

“We were there for the same reason he was there for,” Devine said. I’m sure he wanted us to finish the race, so we did it.”

With a file from Mike Hager