Cyclist escapes death in collision

A bicycle and chunks of helmet mark the scene of a hit and run collision on State Route 305 Tuesday afternoon. - Tad Sooter/Staff Photo
A bicycle and chunks of helmet mark the scene of a hit and run collision on State Route 305 Tuesday afternoon.
— image credit: Tad Sooter/Staff Photo

A Bainbridge cyclist was at home recovering from injuries this week after being airlifted to Harborview Medical Center following a hit-and-run collision Tuesday on State Route 305.

Bainbridge Police Deputy Police Chief Mark Duncan said cyclist Mark Seawell, 60, had sustained only a concussion, scrapes and bruises in the accident that tied up commuter traffic for hours Tuesday.

Following the incident, Bainbridge Police arrested a 23-year-old Poulsbo woman suspected of hitting Seawell with her truck and fleeing the scene.

Georgia Leigh Zimmerman was arrested nearPoulsbo soon after the accident, and arraigned in Kitsap Superior Court Wednesday afternoon on a charge of hit and run. She was released on personal recognizance.

The collision took place just after 2 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Hidden Cove Road. Duncan said the roadway was dry at the time of the accident.

According to Bainbridge Police, Seawell had pedaled across the highway from the northbound shoulder and into the left turn lane in order to turn west onto Hidden Cove Road.

According to a probable cause statement filed in court, witnesses told police that the cyclist impacted the passenger side of a blue, full-size truck which was also driving north in the left-turn lane. Witnesses said the cyclist fell under the truck and the right rear wheel of the vehicle rolled over his head.

Witnesses also told police that the driver of the truck stopped her vehicle and got out to check on the cyclist, but left the scene as sirens were heard approaching.

Duncan said there were Bainbridge officers already on the north end of the island, and they were alerted that the truck had fled the scene. Police arrested Zimmerman at the intersection of SR-305 and Totten Road.

Police said there was an odor of alcohol on Zimmerman’s breath, her eyes were bloodshot and a half-empty bottle of tequila was visible in the front seat of the truck.

Duncan said Zimmerman told police that she had gotten lost on her way to the Seattle ferry and was attempting to make a left turn at Hidden Cove Road, after she realized she was going the wrong direction.

The probable cause statement said Zimmerman admitted to having been at the scene and said she had seen the cyclist fall down beside her vehicle, but denied hitting him with the truck. Police investigators said evidence at the scene suggested Seawell lost control of the bicycle after it was hit by the truck.

Police and aid found Seawell lying unconscious in the left-turn lane beside his bicycle. He was loaded into an ambulance and regained consciousness as he was driven to the Bainbridge Fire Department’s helicopter pad to be airlifted.

Seawell received care at Harborview Medical Center and was released Wednesday morning.

He told KING 5 News that he remembered seeing a vehicle approaching from his left when he was in the turn lane.

“As a biker knows, when you see something like that it’s a really bad thing. It shouldn’t have been there and it shouldn’t be overtaking me. I should have been the farthest left of everybody,” he said.

The next thing he remembered was waking in the ambulance, wondering what had happened. He said he hoped the driver learns from her mistake but has no hard feelings, and he credited his $50 helmet for saving his life.

Seawell’s helmet, despite shattering, had absorbed most of the truck’s impact and likely saved him from a skull fracture Duncan said. Police found about 20 pieces of the helmet scattered around the bicycle.

“The bicycle helmet clearly saved his life,” Duncan said. “The bicycle helmet was in a multitude of pieces but his head remained intact.”

Bainbridge Police closed 305 from Day Road to Hidden Cove Road following the incident, and traffic was backed up for miles on detours around Phelps Road and Manzanita. The highway was reopened at about 5:30 p.m.

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