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The Sanpete Messenger

Accident victim asks motorists to watch out for bicycles

‘Sometimes cars come so close it feels like the wind of their passing could blow me over,’ Spring City woman says

SPRING CITY—Last month on a Friday morning, Spring City resident Stephanie Griffiths’ life changed forever.

Griffiths set out on a bike ride that was supposed to take her to Chester the morning of July 22, but just west of the Spring City cemetery, her bicycle was struck from behind, throwing her more than 20 feet through the air.

Stephanie Griffiths

According to a report by Utah Highway Patrol (UHP), a Toyota Venza struck Griffiths while she was traveling westbound at mile marker 5 of US-117. UHP said two vehicles came up on Griffith from the rear. The first vehicle safely swung around the cyclist.

The driver of the second vehicle didn’t see the bicycle until it was too late. The Highway Patrol estimated the vehicle was traveling between 40-45 mph at the time of the impact.

According to the driver of the first vehicle, who saw the accident in his rear-view mirror, Griffiths was thrown through the air more than 20 feet before slamming into the ground, where she sustained serious injuries.

Griffiths said she doesn’t remember much about the accident. She remembers the impact and flying through the air.

According to Griffiths’ memory of the incident, she landed on her back in so much pain she couldn’t move. She remembered a man standing over her and saying he was sorry. She remembered the highway patrolman administering first-aid, and being loaded in the ambulance, “and pain,” she said, “so much pain.”

Griffiths said the medical staff at the Sanpete Hospital did all they could, but some of her injuries were so serious that she was life-flighted to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. When they loaded her in the helicopter, all she could see was white, and she thought she was dying.

The next day, doctors told her that that she had suffered a severe concussion and lacerations of the scalp so severe that she required two units of blood. Her right ear was nearly torn off. Her scalp required 14 staples to close and 15 sutures to reattach her upper ear. She also suffered a compressed disk, a fractured breastbone and a fractured ankle.

Mangled bicycle after the accident.

According to UHP, the driver did not leave the scene of the accident but stopped to render assistance. The accident report cited no driver impairment or distraction at the time of the accident. Another UHP officer did report that the driver had a driver’s license restriction that limited him to driving only on roadways posted for 45 MPH or less. The speed limit where the accident happened is 60 MPH. The driver’s vehicle was properly insured.

Three weeks after the accident, Griffiths’ hair was just beginning to grow back after being shaved by hospital staff to treat the lacerations. She said she was still very sore despite the time it’s been since the accident.

Photo of Griffith’s head taken in the hospital shows severe lacerations. She also suffered a concussion.

Griffiths said that the hospital told her she would require back surgery, but she refused. “I know too many people who’ve never been that same after that kind of surgery,” she said, “so if I can still get around, I’m not going to do that. Still, I’m 57 years old, and I don’t know if I will ever be the same.”

As a former resident of West Valley City where cyclists on the road are far more common, Griffiths asked for Sanpete County residents to be aware of how important it is that rural drivers watch out for bicyclists. “People in small towns aren’t used to that and sometimes they just don’t seem to see us,” she said.

Griffiths said she rides all the time between Spring City and Mt. Pleasant in addition to her regular rides between Spring City and Chester. “There have been several times when I’ve nearly been run over,” she said. “People drive by so close that sometimes it seems like just the wind of their passing could blow me over.”

“I don’t have a lot of money,” she said. “I use my bicycle for two reasons: first to stay fit, and second, so that I don’t have to buy as much gas for my truck. This time it nearly cost my life.”

County Attorney Kevin Daniels has not determined if criminal charges are war- ranted and is still reviewing reports. Citations were not issued at the time of the accident.

Griffiths says she has retained an attorney to represent her in the case.