Teen cyclist might have been deliberately struck by motorist, witness says

A school bus driver who witnessed the hit-and-run that injured a 14-year-old competitive cyclist says the driver of a pickup truck veered into the bike lane and appeared to intentionally hit the teen.

As Saanich police continue to look for the driver, cyclists have told investigators about a road-rage incident last month involving a similar-looking truck that could be connected to Friday’s incident.

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Paul Robinson was finishing his bus route and driving down Willis Point Road near Wallace Drive about 4 p.m. Friday when he saw Megan Barnes and a fellow cyclist riding single file on the paved shoulder. He said a grey, newer-model Dodge Dakota truck came up behind Megan and “suddenly veered off into the right-hand bike lane.”

On a straight stretch of road, there was no reason for the truck to leave its lane, he said. “That truck deliberately went into the bike lane. [The cyclists] were doing exactly what cyclists should be doing on the road. They were out of harm’s way. There’s no reason that person should have crossed that line.”

The impact sent Megan flying about five metres into the ditch. Robinson stopped his bus to help, as did two other drivers, and 911 was called.

Robinson looked back and saw the truck stop momentarily before driving west on Willis Point Road. He didn’t have time to get the licence plate number.

Robinson described the driver as a middle-age, heavy-set blond woman.

Megan suffered minor scrapes and bruises, but Robinson said the injuries could have been much worse. “She could have been killed,” he said.

Lister Farrar, Megan’s Tripleshot Youth Team cycling coach, said that while talking about the incident on Sunday, two cyclists shared a story about a road-rage incident a month ago in the West Shore involving a truck with a similar description.

“There was an aggressive driver behind them, and it swerved in front of them and then slammed on the brakes,” he said.

One of the cyclists slammed into the back bumper, then fell off the bike. The other cyclist chased   the truck and was able to take a photo of the licence plate. The incident was reported to West Shore RCMP and the information has since been provided to Saanich police, Farrar said.

Farrar said it’s deeply concerning for the cycling community that “this person is able to do this apparently twice or more and somehow they haven’t been stopped.”

Robinson hopes the driver will turn herself in. “Do the right thing. Come forward, take responsibility for what you did.”

Saanich police ask anyone with information about the hit-and-run or the driver and vehicle involved to contact them at 250-475-4321, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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