Crime

Bicyclist hit by SUV on East Smith Road

Investigators examine a bicycle struck by an SUV on East Smith Road near Sand Road Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 18. The 69-year-old bicyclist, who was wearing a helmet, suffered serious injuries.
Investigators examine a bicycle struck by an SUV on East Smith Road near Sand Road Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 18. The 69-year-old bicyclist, who was wearing a helmet, suffered serious injuries. The Bellingham Herald

A cyclist was in critical condition Tuesday, Aug. 18, after she was struck by an SUV on a rural road northeast of Bellingham, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Sylvia I. Woodbury, 69, was riding a bright blue Univega bike west along East Smith Road at 12:20 p.m. as a line of about four cars approached her from behind east of Sand Road, said Trooper Mark Francis.

The cars gave her some space, but for some reason, Francis said, the bicyclist swerved to her left and into the lane of westbound traffic, where she was struck by the front passenger-side corner of a dark gray Honda Pilot.

Woodbury, of Everson, was knocked off the bike. She had a helmet on but suffered a severe injury to the side of her head.

A former U.S. Border Patrol agent, Chris Ramey, came upon the crash moments later in his Toyota Tundra. He saw the Pilot driver opening her door.

“She was so panicked she couldn’t even make the call,” Ramey said.

So Ramey dialed 911 and tried to control traffic. Meanwhile the cyclist, unconscious, struggled to breathe. Ramey was instructed not to touch her. A ski patrol member passing by stopped to give medical aid until an ambulance reached the scene.

Woodbury was still unresponsive when she was rushed to St. Joseph hospital. As of Tuesday afternoon she remained there in critical condition, Francis said.

The Pilot driver, Margaret Ishii, 67, of Bellingham, and four children with her, ages 3 to 6, weren’t harmed. Other than a small dent, there was no obvious damage to the Pilot.

Troopers continue to investigate what caused Woodbury to swerve, and Smith at Sand was shut down for more than two hours. The speed limit in the area is 50 mph.

The route had far more traffic than usual Tuesday due to a closure of a stretch of Mount Baker Highway near Squalicum Lake Road. The closure lasts through September and reroutes traffic north to Smith.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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