4 cyclists hospitalized after being hit by car from behind

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4 bicyclists are in the hospital after being hit from behind by a car

Four experienced cyclists are being treated at WakeMed Hospital after authorities say they were thrown from their bikes after being hit by a driver.

The collision happened Saturday afternoon around 2:45 p.m. on Massengil Pond Road near Sue Drive.

Highway Patrol said two of the victims suffered head injuries.

The victims were listed in the following conditions at WakeMed:

Joel Lawrence, stable
Lynn Lashley, critical
Christopher Graham, stable
Mike Dayton, critical

The group was out on a 124-mile ride. Dayton is a well-known cyclist. He spent years on Raleigh's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

The accident shocked many in the biking community.

"I'm worried about my friends and how they are, and how badly they're injured," said Jerry Phelps. "All four of them are fantastic cyclists, very experienced. I'm guessing between the four of them they have a quarter of a million miles of riding together."

Highway Patrol said the victims were hit from behind by 50-year-old Donnie Williams.

"It happened so quick," said Williams, as she was sobbing on the side of the road soon after the accident.

The entire right side of her windshield was smashed in.

Williams said when she saw the cyclists there was another car coming in the opposite direction and there wasn't room to move over. Authorities said the the four cyclists were riding in a single-file line.

"It started in the middle of the road right there and then I pulled up here to get out of the road," said Williams.

"Why didn't she slow down? Why did she try to pass when it wasn't safe. The two seconds she would have saved passing them wasn't worth it. Just absolutely not worth it," said Phelps.

The Highway Patrol said all the victims were wearing reflective gear as they were riding.

Charges are pending against Williams but authorities said alcohol and speed were not factors.

Cyclist disputes driver's account
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One of the injured cyclists said he doesn't recall a car coming in the other direction

One of four cyclists hurt Saturday when a car plowed into the back of their group is disputing the account of what happened from the driver that hit him.

Bicyclist Joel Lawrence, 57, suffered non-life threatening injuries when Williams hit him Saturday afternoon around 2:45 p.m. on Massengil Pond Road near Sue Drive in the Angier area.

Lawrence is still recovering from some bruised ribs, scrapes, and injuries he described as minor compared to his friends'. He was able to walk to the ambulance after the crash.

Fellow cyclist Chris Graham, 34, was also treated and released from WakeMed with a broken leg and other injuries. But two others in the group were not so lucky. Lawrence said Lynn Lashley, 57, has had surgery and Mike Dayton, 60, is still unconscious. They both reportedly suffered head injuries.

In a phone interview Monday, Lawrence said he didn't recall a second car coming toward them when he and the other cyclists were hit.

"We were hit from behind, so what you typically do is you hear the noise of the car passing you," Lawrence explained. "And I use a mirror and a lot of times look back - sometimes they're quiet. And I do not remember- and I don't know if it's just because of the event or whatever- do not remember hearing the car. And I don't remember a car coming toward us either. That's what the driver said- there was a car coming toward and she couldn't get around us. And I don't know why she couldn't put on the brakes or avoid us the other way."

The Highway Patrol is consulting with the Johnston County District Attorney's Office on possible charges against Williams. Troopers said alcohol and speed were not factors and has ruled out texting as a factor as well.

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