From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Most people trade in their bikes for more expensive wheels.
But Edgar "E.J." Juarez, one of two cycling enthusiasts killed in a head-on crash Wednesday, ditched his conventional ride for more primitive transportation.
"He didn't even own a car," said Juarez's roommate, Scott Boyer. "He rode his bike everywhere, 365 days a year."
Juarez, 30, and Jayson Kilroy, 28, were killed when a pickup truck hit them at 26th Street and Westend Avenue, police said.
They said they have no reason to suspect the bikers were doing anything wrong.
Barbara Thomas was driving the car, police say, and the 63-year-old was not wearing her required contact lenses when she tried to make a left-hand turn onto Westend Avenue from 26th Street, hitting Juarez and Kilroy. They were pronounced dead at the scene from multiple fractures and trauma.
The three cyclists riding with them were uninjured.
Thomas was under the influence of prescription drugs, but what those were won't be determined until results come in from tests, Colorado Springs Police Lt. David Whitlock said.
Thomas faces charges of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of drugs and driving with a restricted license.
At a memorial Thursday night, more than 100 cyclists showed up in front of Wooglin's Deli on Tejon Street and biked together the half hour ride to the scene of Wednesday's crash.
"E.J. was one of those people you just loved immediately," said Scott Taylor, who knew both victims through the cycling community.
A candlelight vigil was set up at 26th Street and Westend Avenue. Two bikes painted white with yellow daisies and sunflowers leaned up against the light pole.
Friends and cyclists who didn't personally know Juarez or Kilroy but wanted to pay respects stood in silence for more than 20 minutes in the rain before one by one people stood to share memories of the victims.
Juarez and Kilroy could always be seen around town on their bikes.
Friends recall Juarez going as far as Aspen - on a single-speed bike.
"Cycling was everything to both of them," Boyer said of the Colorado Cyclist coworkers.
Juarez served in the Army from 1997-2003 and turned to biking as a way to remain active after tours in countries as distant as Germany and Bosnia, Boyer said.
The suburban Chicago native leaves behind his parents and an older sister.
Kilroy, from Houghton Lake, Mich., is survived by his mother, Rita, who was unavailable for comment.
Boyer described Kilroy as a "straight-laced" guy, who didn't drink and was into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts.
People who live near Thomas' former house on North 25th Street described the women as a loner who kept to herself.
Clint Howland, who lives across the street, said the only time he saw her was when she was driving her pickup truck.
"She's lived here forever, but we've never even had a conversation," he said.
Thomas will be advised of the charges against her Wednesday.
Colorado Cyclist owner Doug Bruinsma hired Juarez and Kilroy and said the store, made up of mostly younger employees, feels like it lost family members.
Their deaths are the 13th and 14th traffic deaths this year in Colorado Springs.
Of those, 11 have involved an impaired driver, police said.
"They were just such great kids, passionate and hardworking," Bruinsma said. "It's a sad day around here."
He said Kilroy was riding a new bike and added that even knowing the two were doing what they loved provided little comfort.
"For me, it's real hard when you think how young these guys were," he said.
Another article from the Colorado Springs Gazette:
The city of Colorado Springs will explore whether any improvements are needed at an intersection on the west side where two bicyclists were struck and killed Wednesday evening, Colorado Springs' principal traffic engineer said Friday.
David Krauth said he visited the intersection of 26th Street and Westend Avenue, south of U.S. Highway 24, on Thursday. He said the Y shaped intersection, which allows southbound drivers to veer off 26th Street at a 45-degree angle onto Westend, is not ideal. He said the city does not allow such intersections in new construction and tries to fix existing ones when it does other work on such roads.
But he said he's not sure if anything can be done to make the intersection safer.
"I can't promise anything at this point," he said. "We'll have to see what we can do from an engineering perspective."
Police say Edgar "E.J." Juarez, 30, and Jayson Kilroy, 28, were killed when a pickup truck driven by 63-year-old Barbara Thomas struck them at the intersection of the streets shortly after 7:30 p.m. She was turning left onto Westend from southbound 26th Street as the cyclists were descending a hill on northbound 26th.
Police say Thomas was not wearing her required contact lenses and was under the influence of prescription drugs.
Thomas has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of drugs and driving with a restricted license.
The two men's deaths were the 13th and 14th this year on city streets. Of those, 11 have involved an impaired driver.
Krauth said his department looks closely at intersections where fatal accidents occur, as well as those that rank high in the city's annual list of high-accident locations.
The city also looks closely when traffic flow changes on a road, he said, and that might apply to 26th Street, which has seen an increase in bicycle traffic and which will soon be the site of a trailhead into Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
"We very seriously do look at what can be considered correctable situations," he said. "But this was not a correctable accident. We don't know precisely why this accident occurred."
He said motorists who are traveling south on 26th Street do not have an obstructed view at the intersection, and they are able to see far enough up 26th to spot oncoming traffic.
He said engineers will have to examine angles at the intersection and drainage and grade issues to see if it is possible to put in a more traditional 90-degree turn off 26th onto Westend.
He said a stop sign at the intersection is unlikely because there is a low volume of traffic out of Westend.
A later article specifies the driver's charges:
A 63-year-old Colorado Springs woman was under the influence of morphine and barbiturates when she plowed into and killed two bicyclists in August, according to court testimony Thursday.
Barbara Thomas will stand trial on two charges of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of drugs, 4th Judicial District Judge Gilbert Martinez decided Thursday after hearing the evidence against her.
Thomas was driving a Ford F-350 on 26th Street on Aug. 6 when she turned left onto Westend Avenue, ramming bicyclists Edgar “E.J.” Juarez, 30, and Jayson Kilroy, 28. The men died of massive internal injuries, according to the El Paso County coroner.
From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
We've all seen white crosses erected along roadsides or at intersections as memorials for victims of wrecks.
there's a new type of memorial that's attracting the attention of
motorists and bicyclists who cruise the Springs' west side. It features
two "ghost bikes" - frames and wheels painted a stark white. And they
are a haunting sight when they appear in your headlights at night.
(See photos on my Side Streets blog at Gazette.com.)
ghost bikes are chained to a utility pole at 26th Street and Westend
Avenue at the spot where two bicyclists died in August. The ghost bikes
have flowers entwined in their spokes. A cycling jersey, water bottles,
shoes, gears and pedals are scattered around. A handmade wooden case
includes photos of the victims.
The bikes are a tribute to Edgar
"E.J." Juarez, 30, and Jayson Kilroy, 28, who suffered massive internal
injuries and died Aug. 6 when, police say, they were run over by a
pickup truck driven by Barbara Thomas.
Police say Thomas, 63, was
under the influence of an illegal cocktail of morphine and barbiturates
when she plowed into a group of five bicyclists coming down 26th
Street, striking Juarez and Kilroy.
The shrine was erected to
remember Juarez and Kilroy and to provide a place for their friends to
gather since both were buried out of state.
"It's important for the
grieving process to have a place to go, to be with them, and that
seemed like a natural place," said Scott Boyer, a longtime friend of
both victims. "We've all ridden up and down that hill at some time.
It's a place that has resonance in the cycling community."
friend of the victims, Chris Fiedler, painted the victims' names on the
pavement nearby. He's glad people are noticing the ghost bikes.
a very powerful image, and I hope it elicits that feeling," Fiedler
said. "We want people to know what happened there. It was such a
But it's more than just about preserving a memory. The ghost bikes are a warning, as well.
is a huge thoroughfare for cyclists on their way to Cheyenne Cañon,"
Fiedler said. "The ghost bikes are a cautionary sign that cyclists are
out there. And everyone needs to look out for them."
Boyer and Fiedler hope the ghost bikes and wooden shrine become a permanent fixture at the intersection.
And, despite some complaints that such roadside shrines are inappropriate, it appears the ghost bikes are going to stay for now.
are about six roadside memorials around town," said Ken Lewis, the
city's code enforcement administrator. "Mostly crosses and flowers and
pictures. I've never seen the ghost bikes before."
They can stay, as long as they don't obstruct visibility of motorists or street signs or traffic signals.
get calls from people who yell at me and say that stuff belongs in a
cemetery, not along a city street," Lewis said. "But as long as it's
not a traffic hazard, we're leaving them alone."
That's fine with west-side neighbors of the ghost bikes.
me, the bikes are a reminder how fragile life is," said Les Wagner, who
heard the wreck and ran to the scene to find the victims sprawled in
"That memorial is a reminder of what happened, and it
brings attention and awareness of the need for drivers and bikers to
slow down," Wagner said.
"I hope they leave it up, and I know the neighbors agree with me."
Photo by Bruce Thomas