By Gemma Handy
One of the four national cyclists injured in Sunday’s road smash – which has left one fighting for his life – has spoken of the horrifying moment he was mown down by a car which then ploughed into his friends throwing them into the air.
Sean Weathered, 45, was struck first by the Toyota Vitz during an early morning ride along Sir George Walter Highway.
He watched in shock as Andre Simon, Ghere Coates and Tiziano Rosignoli were struck a second later, before the car apparently sped off, crashing into a lamppost a short distance away.
Weathered said, after running into him, the Vitz swerved to avoid a parked car.
“The guys were to the right of the car. He never touched his brakes; he just ran them straight through,” he told Observer.
The driver – who is assisting police with investigations – is said to have claimed he fell asleep at the wheel.
Cyclists and pedestrians alike have long lamented the dangers they face each day while traversing the nation’s streets and highways. The accident has once again brought their plight into sharp focus.
Weathered, Coates and Rosignoli all received treatment in hospital and have since been discharged.
But Simon, 36, remains in a critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit with a head injury and breathing via a ventilator, although he is said to be stable and showing signs of recovery.
Weathered – who is currently the top cyclist in the country’s elite class – said he himself is badly bruised, swollen and sore but recovering physically.
The emotional scars, he continued, may take longer to heal.
“It felt like I was watching a [nightmare]. I have not been sleeping well. I keep thinking, could I have done anything different? Could I have screamed harder?” he said.
“Ghere is my friend but Andre is like my brother. We ride together every morning, he’s my training partner and I saw him get hit and go up in the air twice.
“I am mentally struggling – it’s a tough place to be.”
Weathered revealed it’s not the first time he’s been hit by a car in nine years of cycling. Narrow misses, he added, are an all too familiar occurrence.
“I’ve been run off the road several times by motorists who have no respect for cyclists – but this time it was unbelievable,” he said.
Getting back in the saddle will be a challenge.
“Cycling is something I love. At my age I don’t have much of a future in it but it’s something I really enjoy doing and I’m one of the top on the island; I have not lost a race this season.
“Mentally it’s tough. But my focus now is just Andre.”
Tragically, Simon, who has a number of titles under his belt, had been training hard for the Southern Loop Road Race which had been scheduled for this Sunday but has been cancelled due to the accident.
He had recently returned to the sport after time spent in the US.
“If you saw his form from where he started to where he is right now, I guarantee he would have been on the podium at the next race,” Weathered continued.
“He’s been training hard for the last three weeks.”
It is hoped Simon’s physical fitness will stand him in good stead for a recovery.
“Andre is physically strong and determined, traits which have brought him a lot of success racing,” said fellow cyclist Alistair Savoury.
“He has been making his way back in the sport and was improving at every outing. It has been a massive, massive shock to see a former national champion now fighting for his life,” he told Observer.
“Sean and Ghere are also two of the top riders right now which is what makes this all the more devastating.”
Rosignoli is on bed rest at home with a fractured vertebra.
“It could have been much worse,” he told Observer, adding, “I am still having nightmares about the accident. I didn’t hear anything, I just felt this big smash and then there were pieces of bike and car flying all over and two riders in the air.”
Earlier this week, President of the country’s Cycling Federation, St Clair Williams, reiterated pleas for motorists to show greater consideration to road users on two wheels.
Those calls were echoed yesterday by Weathered.
“For some reason, some motorists seem to think we don’t have the right to be on the road; that’s the real sad part about it,” he said.
“Sometimes they pass so close it feels like the breeze is pushing you off the road. I wish it didn’t take something like this to happen for persons to wake up and see the reality of this.
“My biggest hope is that Andre doesn’t lose his life. I also hope it’s a lesson for motorists,” Weathered added.
“Whether pedestrians, motorists or cyclists, everybody shares the road and we need to respect each other.”
Police spokesman Inspector Frankie Thomas told Observer yesterday that, in addition to speaking with the driver, officers were also interviewing witnesses to Sunday’s accident and recording statements.