Cycling community devastated by fatal accident

Published 07/08 2013 06:12PM

Updated 07/08 2013 06:46PM

CHARLESTON -- Cyclists are heartbroken to hear about a fatal hit-and-run. A car hit five riders Saturday night. One of them died.

It happened just north of Bent Tree Golf Course. 21-year old Samuel Meadows is accused of aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

Three of the riders were brothers. The youngest, 16-year old Leonard Beachy, was killed. It's a tragic end to a weekend road trip.

Coles County riders have room to roam around Charleston. Workers at a bike shop there say they see plenty of people come to check gears and change tires. They couldn't believe what happened to one of their own this past weekend.

"We ride different bikes, we ride different styles, we ride different roads, but at our root, in our DNA, we're all cyclists," said Brendan Lynch, who is the advocacy director at Bike & Hike. 

Five riders were taking a country road home to Crawford County after stopping at a horse show in Arthur. That's a 200-mile round-trip trek, but the ride ended 70-miles short.

"The individuals were riding in a single file line," said Coles County Sheriff's Department Detective John Clough. "So when they were hit, they were just kind of mowed over as they went." 

The last one in that line died. Clough says the riders didn't do anything wrong.

"They were all wearing helmets," said Clough. "They were all wearing reflective clothing. All the bikes were equipped with a headlight and blinking red lights on the back. And they were all in working order because most of them were still on when I got there at the scene."

Clough says a drunk driver was going at least 55 mph when he hit them, and kept right on going.

"When an incident like this occurs, it's a sad one," said Lynch. "We feel it viscerally and we feel an emotional response in connection to the unfortunate people involved and certainly our thoughts and prayers are with them."

Three of the riders were taken to the hospital Saturday. One was treated and released that night. The fourth rider was taken to Carle's Trauma Center. He's still there. No word on the conditions of any of the other riders.

The suspect in this case, Samuel Meadows, was officially charged Monday. Investigators say his parents turned him in. He's due back in court August 20.

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