By ANNIE KINNINBURGH
A student bicyclist struck a 3-year-old child near Simpson Library on Oct. 26 during UMW’s annual Halloween event designed to help community children trick-or-treat safely.
The child’s mother and grandmother attempted to restrain the student cyclist, but he broke free and rode off on his bike without checking to see if the child was hurt.
According to the police report of the incident, the bike’s back tire hit the child in the chest and knocked him back. The student fell off his bike after it struck the child.
Senior Jenny Taylor, who was leading the group of about eight children, said the biker had plenty of time to see them, but did not brake until he was about 10 feet away.
“As he got closer I realized he wasn’t slowing down,” she said. “It was honestly one of those surreal moments that you can’t believe are happening.”
The child, whose name was not released by police because he is a minor, was shaken but unhurt. His mother and grandmother, who had attempted to hold back the cyclist, were considerably more upset, Taylor said.
“The little boy was alert and didn’t seem to have sustained any injuries other than a few nasty bumps on the head,” she said. “The grandmother was especially concerned that this incident happened.”
The event was immediately reported to campus police. When Sergeant Joseph Samuels and Officer Kelly Ernst arrived on the scene, Samuels said that their primary concern was getting the child medical care.
“We offered to call the rescue squad, but the mom and grandmother were more shaken up than he was,” he said. He added that the boy seemed more interested in the police uniforms than in going to the hospital.
The mother declined medical care for her son and could not be reached for comment on the incident.
Descriptions of the cyclist are vague, with the official police report describing him only as a white male with dark, short spiky hair, wearing a gray shirt over a white shirt and khaki shorts.
Samuels said that if the student had been apprehended that day, he could have been charged with disorderly conduct because the altercation involving the parents could be classified as a riot. However, any charges would be determined by the Commonwealth Attorney.
According to Samuels and Ernst, concerns about student cyclists are not new, but such an incident has not occurred for several years.
“In the seven years I’ve been here I can’t remember an incident with someone being run over, but I do know we see a fair number of complaints,” Samuels said.
“I think we have all feared a biker whizzing by at one time or another,” Taylor said. She added that although students are used to the cyclists, most people from the community aren’t.
“I think it is easy for us students to forget that the community uses the campus as well, and that on any given weekend there are families here,” she said.
Freshman Channing Smith agreed, saying that the covered walkways around Simpson Library and the Eagle’s Nest are especially dangerous.
“The pathway is too thin,” he said. “I’ve almost been hit by bicyclists too many times to count, especially near the Nest.”
Lindsay D’Adamo, the student director of Community Outreach and Resources (COAR), which sponsored the event, said that the program is designed to allow children to trick-or-treat in dorms accompanied by parents and a student guide, and was advertised as a safe event.
“My COAR staff and I had worked since the beginning of September to plan this event,” D’Adamo said. “The incident was unfortunate and we were really disappointed that it happened. I really hope it can spark some sort of bike safety movement around campus.