Illinois blind cyclist killed

David and Cindy Combs were riding theirtr tandem bicycle to choir practice west of their hometown of Champaign, Illinois when they were hit from behind by Errol Maul of Tolono, according to the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette. Police believe Maul was reading a map when he struck the cyclists. He was ticketed for “failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.”

David, who is in critical condition at Carle Hospital, has physical impairments while his deceased wife Cindy was blind. David could see well enough to captain, and the couple used a tandem bicycle to get around everywhere, including to their hospital appointments and to work. Their disabilities left them unable to drive and they depended on their bicycle for transportation.

The collision happened on the Bondville Slab north of Interstate 72; this road is straight as an arrow and absolutely flat. This time of year there’s no tall corn to obstruct sightlines. A pair of disabled adults on a tandem bike was likely the tallest thing in the vicinity, and Dave and Cindy always rode with a big orange flag waving over their bike.

Illinois country roads are narrow but lightly traveled — there’s plenty of room for a driver to pull over to the opposite lane to pass. You’d think a farmer’s son from north of Rantoul would know to at least watch for farm tractors on those narrow roads. The driver is a crop insurance specialist for Farm Credit Services of Illinois. (To be fair, I don’t know that there’s much tractor movement right now — ground is maybe still too soggy for field work?)

Sue in Champaign knows the couple and writes a little more about them here. They were apparently well known to others in their community who says the couple had a wonderful, loving relationship. They mourn Cindy’s passing, as do I.

6 Comments

  • March 9, 2011 - 12:31 am | Permalink

    That’s a huge amount of awful.

  • Anonymous
    March 9, 2011 - 2:09 am | Permalink

    This one hits particularly close to home. There were three cyclists from Champaign-Urbana in my LCI course in January. While none of them were related to the cyclists involved (or Sue), I’m pretty sure at least two of them have commented on the story. Comments I’d have been proud to make myself.

  • March 9, 2011 - 4:57 am | Permalink

    If someone runs with a truck/car/etc. over a police car is a “homicide attempt”, if it´s over a pedestrian/cyclist it´s an “accident”.
    It´s the same vehicle, ergo “weapon”.
    Cheers for your excelent page.

  • Ron
    March 9, 2011 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Howdy–

    I once witnessed a collision where a cyclist was hurt seriously enough to spend a couple of days in the hospital under observation. The driver had taken an abrupt turn, without signaling, from the traffic lane instead of the turn lane, and left-hooked the rider. There was no way she could have avoided slamming into his trunk. When he first got out of the car, he said he didn’t think she was going so fast–he was obviously trying to beat her and other oncoming traffic to make a last-minute turn.

    By the time the police officer arrived, he’d changed his story to “I didn’t see her,” which the officer bought, despite two very agitated witnesses who heard him say otherwise. He was cited for an improper left turn.

    I confronted the officer, insisting that what I had witnessed was reckless driving. The officer told me that because of the onerous consequences of reckless driving (oh, no–someone might lose their driving privilege), the standard of proof is set very high. He said he’d have to see a wanton or willful disregard for human life, according to the law.

    I told him that’s exactly what I saw. Not only that, I see it every freakin’ day. Reading a map instead of watching the road is reckless. I don’t think we need any more proof than this.

    Ron Georg
    Corvallis

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  • May 6, 2011 - 1:56 am | Permalink

    This is a sad news. Careless drivers are found anywhere. With those many bricks and walls that can be hit, why should it be him?

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