Location: Wichita

Race Across America Cyclist Struck By Car in Kansas

Diego Ballesteros CucurullYesterday morning, just before 7am, a cyclist was struck by a car near the Sedgwick/Butler County line just east of Wichita. The cyclist was riding on the shoulder of the road when a car drifted out of the traffic lane and struck him from behind.

The cyclist was later identified as 36-year-old Diego Ballesteros Cucurull of Spain, who was participating in the Race Across America (RAAM) as part of the 4-person COANFI Desafio ASPANOA relay team.

Diego was life-flighted to Wesley Medical Center in “extremely critical condition”. Deigo was later upgraded to “serious condition” and remains at Wesley. RAAM reports that Diego underwent surgery at Wesley, and “his prospects for a full recovery are good”.

The COANFI team has withdrawn from the race.

The Race Across America started in California six days ago and will end in Annapolis, Maryland. The route through Kansas included time stations in Ulysses, Montezuma, Greensburg, Pratt, Maize, El Dorado, Yates Center, and Fort Scott. The race has been run since 1982, and riders compete in several classifications, including solo men and solo women, as well as 2-person, 4-person, and 8-person relay teams. Racers ride around the clock, sleeping when they can. Even for the riders on relay teams, RAAM is an incredible athletic challenge.

Here is a well-done video from KAKE TV in Wichita:

According to the reporter, RAAM rules require a chase car to follow behind cyclists at night, to shield them from traffic, but a chase car is optional during daylight hours. In this case, Diego’s car had driven a few miles ahead in anticipation of switching riders on the relay team.

As you can see from the video, the road here, Highway K-254, is a four-lane divided highway with wide shoulders.

Although rumble strips can be troublesome on roads with narrow shoulders, this is one situation where they might have made a difference.

The KHP crash report lists the driver as Keith J. Swoverland, age 22, of Wichita. There is no word yet on charges. According to RAAM: “Our understanding is that in cases like this the driver is not cited. The Kansas Highway Patrol turns the information over to the DA. The DA then decides what action should be taken. We’re confident action will be taken. Owing to the seriousness of the case, it’s not a simple speeding ticket.”

According to preliminary comments from the Kansas Highway Patrol, “By all indications, texting was not a contributing factor. The driver looked away from the road and veered onto the shoulder, striking the cyclist.” The speed limit on that stretch of K-254 is 70 mph, though patrol officials said they do not know for sure how fast the car was traveling when it struck Ballesteros.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

7 responses to “Race Across America Cyclist Struck By Car in Kansas”

  1. David Williams says:

    Kake did a nice job on their version of the story. KWCH actually put that dumb A.. redneck on the story they did. They might as well have said it was this cyclist fault because he was on a busy highway. I understand the news wanting to get “both” sides but both sides on this issue should not include mr mullet. They interviewed a cyclist from Wichita and some random guy at a gas station? Great reporting KWCH. Kake story was comprehensive and informative letting the public know more cyclist would be coming through and how a car should pass a cyclist.

  2. Sean says:

    The lack of skill of today’s motorists is really quite frightening. 254 has wide travel lanes as it is, but Bubba couldn’t even manage to stay off of the shoulder. Naturally, nothing is going to happen to Bubba. No one cares about cyclists and it’s become kosher to flee the scene of a car-bicycle collision without any repercussions.

  3. tessa says:

    My sincere sympathy to the cyclist that was hit by an inattentive driver. The driver should face charges.

    I hafta tell ya, cyclists have an enormous entitled attitude on the roads and highways. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been delayed and forced into dangerous situations due to a cyclist who rides in the highway when there is plenty of good shoulder room, or riding side by side or right on the center of the highway. Recently in Colorado on a narrow backroad (Road G, Cortez, CO) the racers came through and the chase car rode across the middle of the road preventing passing. Ya’ll talk about sharing the highway and I don’t have a problem with that, but it looks like you want the whole thing and to hell with anyone in a car who has somewhere to go. You don’t know what’s going on in the vehicles and to assume it’s okay to slow the whole world down to your bike speed is arrogant and rude.

  4. Randy says:

    @tessa: I believe you, and no doubt some cyclists are not as considerate as they could be, but that’s not been my experience.

    The vast majority of the cyclists I see and ride with observe the rules of the road, are very sensitive to other roadway users, and do their best to make themselves as easy to pass as possible, while still maintaining safety.

    Unfortunately, sometimes highway shoulders are not safe to ride on due to debris, rumble strips, or broken pavement. And riding too close to the right edge of the roadway can tempt motorists to attempt unsafe passes. It’s no fun being stuck behind a slow cyclist, but it’s better than hurting or killing someone.

  5. Sean says:

    Nice red herring, Tessa. In case you didn’t bother to read the article, the victim of this collision *was* riding on the shoulder of the highway. But in your way of thinking, he probably shouldn’t have been out there at all, right?

  6. shaun says:

    Your all retarded I know The driver of the car. The dude on bike should of had lights and vest. Takes the effort of everyone to be safe. Just remember that.

  7. Randy Rasa says:

    @shaun Lights and a vest don’t do much to protect against an inattentive and negligent driver who can’t manage to stay off the shoulder.