Sunday, April 14, 2024

Siskiyou Velo

Southern Oregon's Premier Cycling Club


by Jeff Roberts on Oct, 15 2021


     LAST RIDE:  JULY 3, 2021


I never met Sue, but when Membership Chair, Matt Walker described her as a slender woman who wore a multicolored, fluorescent cycling outfit on a bicycle painted the same, I realized I had seen her on the road many times.  She was always riding alone, smiling as we exchanged waves.

Club members Elizabeth Zell and Jean O’Donnell told me Sue was a dedicated athlete who previously participated in running events and triathlons.  She stayed in excellent physical condition by swimming and lifting weights at the YMCA in Ashland.  But most of all she was the consummate bicyclist, riding her bike almost every day according to her neighbor, John Slawta of Land Shark Bicycles.

Local news media had very little information about the collision which ended her life.  I contacted members of Jackson County Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team to learn more.  They could not provide a lot of details because of the likelihood of criminal prosecution, however I did not ascertain the following:  At about 6:30 am on July 3rd, Sue was westbound on Pioneer Road from Colver Road when she was overtaken and struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Lucas Patterson, 18 years old, who then drove away.   Patterson returned to the scene later and was arrested for Hit and Run with Injury and Reckless Driving.  Police suspect Patterson was driving while impaired (under the influence) and they are awaiting lab test results.  The Police emphasized Sue was riding legally and did nothing to cause the accident.  In their words, “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The Police also told me, “Pioneer Road is a very dangerous road for bicycling.”  I asked what led them to that conclusion and they said the road was narrow with no shoulders and a drop off on each side for drainage.  I pointed out the pavement is good, visibility is excellent, traffic is light and although there are no shoulders, the traffic lanes are standard width so there is plenty of room for vehicles approaching from the rear to pass safely.  In my view, Pioneer Road is a safe road to ride on as I often do.  Any danger for cyclists there is due to dangerous drivers, not a dangerous road.

This is another sad story about a cyclist killed under circumstances that defy logic.  She was riding early in the morning on a lightly traveled country road with the sun at her back. The pavement was dry and in good condition.  Yet she was struck from behind a vehicle driven by a young man. Though the cause of his actions are yet to be determined, ultimately there is no excuse for what happened to Sue.  We lost one of our own and it could have been anyone of us.


John Fries

Siskiyou Velo Board Member

Leave a Comment