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Trek store employee among the injured when motorist hits cyclists in Phoenix area

Published March 1, 2023
Two cyclists killed and 11 hospitalized. Supporters launch a crowdfunding page for victims.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (BRAIN) — Trek Bicycle Store West Phoenix sales and service employee Mike Smith is recovering from surgery in intensive care after being injured when the driver of a pickup truck ran into the back of a group of cyclists he was riding with on Saturday.

Two cyclists were killed, and 11 taken to the hospital, with four remaining there, one in critical condition. A GoFundme page has been established to help with medical bills. Smith, 65, suffered a broken pelvis, multiple broken ribs, lacerations, and severe road rash. As of Wednesday afternoon, $122,659 of the $150,000 goal has been raised.

"We were on pins and needles here," Brian Abraham, Trek Bicycle Store co-owner, told BRAIN on Wednesday about Tuesday's surgery. "The doctors said it was a great success. It didn't have to be as invasive as what they had previously thought. He's still in very good spirits, which is pretty much what we would expect from him. He's always been a good guy and just a great all around person."

Smith has been with Trek for about nine years, at first part-time after he retired, and then full time. He recently began working less, about three to four days a week, Abraham said.

One other industry professional, Josh Wight, 45, who works at Santini USA, was among the group but not injured. The West Valley Cycle group holds Saturday rides divided among three sub-groups that leave from the Santini USA parking lot, said Steve Medcroft, Santini USA managing partner.

Medcroft said the group ride has been active for 20 years, with the cycling club consisting of about 2,000 members. "We generally draw between 75 to 150 riders on a Saturday ride. We get visitors from out of town to join the ride."

One of those visitors, Dave Kero, 65, from Negaunee, Michigan, was one of the victims. The other, Karen Malisa, 65, and a retired school teacher, was a West Valley Cycle group member.

"She's super social, most social, most friendly, most outgoing, one of those kinds of riders," Medcroft said. "She was riding five, six, seven times a week. A core part of the group."

The driver — Pedro Quintana-Lujan of Phoenix, 26 — was taken into custody Saturday and charged with two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault, 18 counts of endangerment, and two counts of causing serious injury or death by a moving violation, Goodyear police said. He told police his "steering locked and the truck started drifting" into the group of about 30 B riders.

On Tuesday, Quintana-Lujan was released from jail, with the Maricopa County Attorney's office announcing the case will be referred back to Goodyear for more investigation.

"The deaths of the two cyclists and injuries suffered by others that morning is an unimaginable tragedy," said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell in a statement. "The police need time to complete their investigation. It is critical before making any charging decision, and triggering legal time constraints, that a full investigation is completed and provided to prosecutors for review."

Medcroft, who did not take part in Saturday's ride, said the group won't ride this week.

"We're all struggling with this," he said. "I've heard a lot of riders, including myself, who have a real hesitation to go back on the road. We're talking about gravel riding, mountain bike riding, indoor riding, and looking for all kinds of alternative ways to do the same thing. Right now, we're focused on two things. One is the hope that people who share the road with us see us as human beings. Yes, we know we annoy them. Yes, we know they feel we're in the way at times.

"The other thing we're focused on is to rally around these people who are hurt and need to heal, and that's what the GoFundMe is about: putting a pool of money together to distribute it evenly and help them with what's going to be a flood of medical expenses."

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