SUV driver charged with ramming into elite cycling
1:00 pm
Fri May 21, 2010

SUV driver charged with ramming into elite cycling team

A young man from Rockwell, North Carolina has been charged with six felony counts of hit and run for allegedly ramming his SUV into a group of cyclists on a rural road Wednesday night. The incident has shaken Charlotte's tight-knit cycling community.

Around 7:30 on Wednesday night, police say 21-year-old Daniel Burton Wilson allegedly drove his SUV into a group of about 15 cyclists.

They were out for their weekly ride in Cabarrus County.

Four cyclists were taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from concussion to broken collarbone. They all survived. Wilson drove away, but later that night turned himself in to the highway patrol.

There's no indication why he crossed over the double line to hit the cyclists head on.

Word travelled quickly in the cycling community.

"It's a tight subculture which has a great deal of bonding. We all know each other," says Martin Zimmerman. He heads the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance which tries to encourage better road-sharing between cyclists and drivers.

Zimmerman says the incident Wednesday night was particularly upsetting for the community because it involved an entire group of cyclists, rather than the more typical one rider-one car accident scenario. What's more, the cyclists are part of an elite racing team that only recently lost its leader in a car accident.

"It definitely seems like there's a black cloud over the team right now with everything that's gone on," says Subaru-Gary Fisher Cycling Team member Gary Krol.

Cyclists sometimes anger drivers in the Charlotte region by riding two or three abreast and blocking lanes. But Krol thinks most accidents involving cyclists are just that - accidents.

"I hope Wednesday night was not intentional," adds Krol. "My personal take on it is in today's world drivers are more distracted than ever."

A driver talking or texting on a phone can put walkers, joggers and cyclists at risk, he says.

The alleged driver in Wednesday's incident is scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday.

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