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Newton cyclist seriously hurt after being hit, dragged by car in Natick

Posted by Leslie Anderson  November 20, 2009 03:05 PM

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A 30-year-old Newton bicyclist underwent surgery Friday for serious injuries he sustained when he was hit by a car and dragged more than 800 feet in Natick Wednesday evening, police said.

The Newton resident, who has not been identified by Natick police, was riding his bike just before 7:30 p.m. westbound on Route 16, almost directly in front of the South Natick fire station, when he was hit by a 2002 Volvo turning into the roadway, authorities said.

The female driver didn’t realize she had hit the cyclist, and was alerted by a motorist who flashed his lights and honked his horn to get the woman’s attention, said Natick police spokesman Lieutenant Brian Grassey.

By the time the Volvo pulled off the main road onto Water Street, the car had traveled 860 feet and the bicyclist, who was entangled underneath, suffered “trauma consisting of burns from engine and exhaust system as well as the road surface,” said Grassey.

No charges have been filed against the driver. The accident scene, evidence, and witness statement need to be scrutinized, said Grassey, and that could take up to seven days because of the volume of information. He said it appeared the bicyclist had both front and back lights on his bike.

Marco Kaltofen, who lives on the side street where the Volvo stopped, heard the scraping of the bicycle as it came down the roadway. “You could hear the metal sound,” he said. He and his wife went outside and found the driver screaming hysterically.

Within moments, the Natick Fire Department arrived from Station 2, which is less than one-fifth of a mile from where the Volvo stopped. The firefighters on the scene used the Jaws of Life to lift the car off of the bicyclist, said Fire Department Chief James Sheridan.

After putting the car on blocks, firefighters slid the bicyclist out and immobilized him on a board. He was then med-flighted to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

“They saved the guy’s life,” said Sheridan.

The bicyclist underwent surgery Friday, police said. Sheridan said later in the day that he is expected to survive.

A day after the accident, black scrape marks could be seen on Route 16 along the path where police said the bicyclist had been dragged.

Kaltofen didn’t want to say much about the details of the accident. “We were right with those people and it was pretty tough,” he said. But he was unequivocal in his praise of the Fire Department. “A lot of things happened,” he said, his voice choked with emotion, “and the firefighters did a fantastic job.”

David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, an organization that pushes for bike-friendly education and legislation, said he can remember only a few bike accidents that were as bad as this one. “It’s rare even when we do hear reports of crashes that we hear something quite as horrific as what’s coming out of Natick.”

Watson said that many Boston cyclists use roads west of Boston because they feel rural and are accessible from Route 9. “Even though there’s a bit of a country feeling, they do often get a fair amount of traffic,” he said.

At Landry’s Bicycles in Natick, sales associate Spencer Palmgren said people who heard about the accident have felt compelled to buy lights for their bikes. Others have been trying to come to grips with the accident. “They’re just kind of in disbelief about the whole thing,” he said.

Palmgren grew up in Natick on Route 16. “I’ve always found it to be pretty safe,” he said. “The shoulders are pretty broad.”

Megan McKee can be reached at megan.mckee@gmail.com.

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