KAILUA-KONA — A professional athlete suffered serious injuries after he struck a vehicle on the cycling course of the 39th annual Ironman championship, Saturday morning.
The accident occurred around 11 a.m. Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner said the cyclist was traveling toward Kona on Queen Kaahumanu Highway when he broadsided a vehicle crossing the highway from Waikoloa Road.
According to the Ironman Track app, the athlete was 75 miles into the 112-mile course and had four hours of race time when he was last tracked at mile marker 76.
The cyclist was taken to North Hawaii Community Hospital. Wagner said the cyclist was reported in serious condition around 1 p.m. By 3:30 p.m., his condition appeared to be improving.
Janey Brink said the accident happened right in front of her while she was cheering the athletes on from the highway with family and friends. She said the cyclist was going full speed when the vehicle pulled in front of him in the intersection.
“I’ve never seen a body go through what his body went through,” Brink said. “He came out of his clips.”
Brink splits her time between Hawaii Island and Albuquerque, New Mexico. She said she came to visit with her husband and friends, specifically to watch Ironman.
Brink said police used her umbrella to cover the cyclist. Officials also asked they stay around so they could talk to them about the crash.
“No one ever came to talk to us and we stayed for a long time,” Brink said.
Wagner said there were some cones in the area where the crash occurred but there are also several police officers directing traffic at the intersection. The accident is under investigation.
Brink said those directing traffic were allowing cars to cross the intersection two or three vehicles at a time.
“We couldn’t understand why cars in that intersection were still moving,” she said.
Brink said the riders had no idea there was an incident in the intersection and that it was another incident waiting to happen, almost.
“This rider, he could do nothing,” she said. “These riders need to have a clear path and that intersection was not clear.”
There was another collision on the cycling course involving a pedestrian and a competitor. Wagner said the cyclist picked up his bike, but went out of view of the cameras that watch the course. Wagner wasn’t sure if the cyclist continued on, but it appeared that way.
Wagner said Saturday evening no other collisions on the course were reported.
Original West Hawaii Today article HERE
A YouCaring page has been started to support Matt and his family. You can find the link HERE.