Death on Boat Street/University District/Sun April 9/5 pm: Officer Milstead reports: "I responded to a report of a bicyclist down at the Boat Street Criterium race at Pacific Street and Brooklyn Avenue NE. Officer Shirey was working the event and called for the SFD to respond. Upon arriving at the scene I spoke with witness one, who had observed the accident. She told me that the victim had been riding S/B on Brooklyn Avenue NE approaching Boat Street when he appeared to swerve hard to the right, then fall to the left into the path of another cyclist. She said they both fell to the ground, and she saw the victim strike his head on the curb at least two times before coming to a stop. She said she immediately went to his aid and tried to hold his head steady. She claimed the victim was at first having extreme difficulty in breathing, and then stopped.
"Witness two approached me and told me that he had been in the race approximately 3–4 feet behind the victim when the victim lost control. Witness said victim did not hit anyone before he fell into the path of the other cyclist.
"Witness three stated he is a teammate of the victim and was riding behind him. He said about five laps into the race he saw the victim sitting straight up in his seat, which he knows to be a sign of fatigue. He said he saw the victim slowing as though he might be having problems with his bike, so he passed him and continued to race. He then heard a cyclist go down as they were approaching Boat Street on Brooklyn Avenue NE, but figured it was a normal crash.
"Officer Anderson spoke to witness four who stated she had administered CPR on the victim until SFD arrived. The victim was then transported to HMC by SFD's Medic One and pronounced dead by the ER staff at approximately 5:00 p.m. Officer Anderson said an unnamed doctor told her that the victim may have suffered a heart attack just prior to the crash."
The website for the organizers of the 7th Annual Boat Street Criterium bike race, Recycled Cycles Racing (www.recycledcycles.com), names a heart attack, and not a crash, as the cause of death. This is very upsetting news because the victim was young (37) and, to borrow a popular expression, fit as a horse. A death must always come to us with a good reason. We don't want any surprises. If someone eats well, exercises all the time, and has manly muscles, then they must not die like the victim died. An accident, a crash, something entirely external must be the reason for the death. It profoundly perturbs the living—particularly those of us who spend hours pumping the pedals of a stationary bike and who eat nothing but tasteless foods that reduce cholesterol levels—when we see a fit man go down like a man who has never left the couch, who eats fried foods by the bucket, and whose belly is a whole country between the head and the legs. Dying for the wrong reasons is much, much worse than dying for the right reasons.