North Okanagan woman urges safety after sister and niece thrown from bikes - InfoNews

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North Okanagan woman urges safety after sister and niece thrown from bikes

FILE PHOTO - A mother and daughter were injured in a hit and run in the 8400-block of Buchanan Road on Friday, May 6, 2016. The yellow arrow indicates the location where they were struck.
Image Credit: Contributed
May 20, 2016 - 1:00 PM

COLDSTREAM - A North Okanagan woman who says her sister "came within an inch of her life" in a recent hit and run hopes the experience will serve as a wake up call about cyclist and pedestrian safety.

Catherine Hooper’s sister, Mae, and niece, Hannah, were thrown from their bikes May 6 after getting hit by a truck on Buchanan Road in Coldstream. Mae suffered a concussion and lower spine injury, while Hannah sustained scrapes and bruises.

Mae is now home after a stay at the hospital, but it will be a long road to recovery.

“She can walk, but it’s limited. She gets pretty sore, and gets bad headaches so she has to continually lie down,” Catherine says.

Hannah’s injuries were not as serious, but Catherine says the 17-year-old is still dealing with the trauma of the incident, including seeing her mother lying unconscious in a ditch.

“There’s that fear, it’s just going to be there for a while,” Catherine says.

Following a public appeal for tips, police have identified the driver of the truck and have recommended charges to Crown counsel.

“That was a huge relief for us,” Catherine says.

Despite the ordeal, Catherine says the family is hoping something positive comes out of what happened. A walk and ride event was held yesterday evening, May 19, to promote safety, and Catherine says roughly 40 people attended.

The night of the crash, Mae and Hannah were doing all the right things; they were staying single file on the right side of the road and were wearing helmets. But not all cyclists obey the rules of the road, Catherine says, and that has to change.

“I was driving in the evening last night and I saw three riders, one with no helmet and one with dark clothing on and no lights. Another rider was on the wrong side of the road. So I think there’s getting to be a bad rap for cyclists. There’s actually been a couple people who have told me of incidents where drivers have purposefully moved over to try and scare or actually hit cyclists with their mirror,” Catherine says.

She’s hoping to raise awareness that both cyclists and drivers need to do their part to ensure safety on the road.

“We really need to change the perception out there to get riders to be safer, as well as get drivers to be more conscious of riders and walkers out there,” she says.

According to ICBC, there was an annual average of 140 crashes involving cyclists between 2009 and 2014 in the Southern Interior alone. Between those years, ICBC identified 10 fatal crashes. Catherine for one is thankful her sister didn’t become one of those statistics.

“I’m grateful every day that she survived. I really think my sister came within an inch of her life,” Catherine says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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