I had really hoped to make it to last night’s Piedmont Cyclist Awareness Ride but the constraints of work just didn’t make it possible. Thankfully, dozens of other cyclists showed up to raise awareness of cyclists on our roads and to pay tribute to Gary Caldwell and Eric Johnson who were injured on this same road last week. The Piedmont-Surrey Gazette, which has followed the story closely, put together this video piece on the event:
I’ve received numerous questions and have a small amount of new information regarding the crash on Monday that involved Pastor Gary Caldwell of the First Baptist Church of Piedmont and church staff member, Eric Johnson.
Pastor Still in Serious Condition
From comments, emails and news stories, it seems that Mr. Caldwell suffered several broken bones and lacerations including a broken vertebrae, ankle and pelvis and loss of his right ear. Additionally, he experienced a torn/ruptured artery and some bleeding on the brain that has lead to several “minor strokes” which in turn have lead to short and long term memory loss. From official reports, he is still listed as being in serious condition.
However, according to the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette, who have covered this story closely, he has shown some marked improvement:
“We consider the last 24 hours to be miraculous,” McCown [Associate Pastor] said. “From being a very grave situation and thinking he might not survive the accident, to hours later him being able to open his eyes and communicate with the family. That’s a miracle.”
Several first responders said Caldwell’s condition was grim and one rescue worker said he was not sure he would make it on the ride to the hospital. However, Caldwell’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious, and while doctors are still closely monitoring his health, Caldwell’s progression in the first 24 hours was a reason to rejoice for the congregation of Piedmont’s largest church.
Additionally, according to the church’s update page (which is being updated very regularly) it appears that his broken bones will not require surgery:
Dad had an uneventful night. Mom and I have talked to him this morning, and he is still forgetting what happened pretty quickly after we tell him. The ortho doctor does not think Dad will need surgery for his broken neck, ankle, or back. We are so thankful for this news, especially considering that he was literally hit by a truck. Love you guys! Please keep praying!
Mr. Johnson’s injuries seem to have been much less severe in comparison. He was treated for a bad case of road rash including the removal of some embedded gravel and was released from the hospital on Monday.
Police Investigation Continues
Several people have written expressing dismay that the driver was not ticked at the scene. From what I have been able to ascertain, this is quite common in cases involving serious injury. If a citation was issued and the fine paid by the driver and then later greater negligence was discovered, it is possible that the driver could not be charged due to double jeopardy. However, the police are continuing to investigate the accident and the results will be turned over to the district attorney who will decide what charges may be filed:
Police are attempting to recreate the accident based on eyewitness accounts, photographs from the scene and evidence, which included pieces of a bike helmet that were found as far as 50 feet away from the point of impact.
According to a Piedmont officer, no charges have been filed at this time and the results of the investigation will be turned over to the district attorney’s office.
Cyclist Organizes Awareness Ride
Ric Corman, a Piedmont cyclist, has organized an awareness ride for Monday, March 12th from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. A large number of area bicycle clubs and shops will be participating in the ride and riders of all stripes are encouraged to join in to bring awareness of cyclists on metro roads. Full details on the ride can be found at the event’s Facebook page.
Additional Story Links
Since this story first broke, numerous media outlets have published additional information on the case:
Gary Caldwell, senior pastor for the First Baptist Church of Piedmont and church staff member, Eric Johnson, were struck from behind by a Ford F-150 pickup while cycling near 150th Street and Piedmont Road today around 12:45 PM. As of this afternoon, Mr. Caldwell is listed as being in serious condition and Mr. Johnson was listed as being in good condition.
Police are investigating the case but the driver was not ticked at the scene. Police say they will turn over their investigation results to the District Attorney for review.
Below is a video report for Piedmont Today:
Additional information can be found in the following stories: