Lee Helm’s bicycle rests in Blacktip Island’s booby pond after a late-night, head-on collision with cyclist Rusty Goby Wednesday. Both men have been charged with biking while intoxicated. (photo courtesy of gillfoto)
A nighttime, head-on collision between two bicyclists Wednesday night sent two Blacktip Island residents to the island’s medical clinic, filling the facility to capacity.
“Near as I can tell, Rusty Goby was racing north from the Sand Spit, and Lee Helm was headed south from the Tail Spinner,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Neither had any kind of headlamp or flashlight or signaling device, and BAM!
“They smashed into each other on that dark stretch north of Sandy Bottoms where there’s no street lights,” Marquette said. “Rusty was in a hurry to meet friends. Lee was rushing to get to karaoke. God only knows why. They hit so hard one bike flew into the booby pond.”
Medical authorities said both men were knocked unconscious, but escaped more serious injuries.
“They’ve both got some nasty road rash, and are nursing major headaches, but that’s it,” island nurse Marisa Pompano said. “They got lucky. They were both so rat-faced drunk their bones were all rubbery.
“I’m keeping them in the clinic for observation, and poking them every few minutes to make sure they don’t drift off to sleep while they’re concussed,” Pompano said. “We’re lucky no one else was hurt. I’m out of beds. We usually only get single-vehicle accident on Blacktip.”
The men were saved by a passing motorist.
“Antonio Fletcher was driving by, and thankfully he was sober enough to see them in the road in time to stop,” Pompano added. “The accident could have been way messier than it was.
Authorities say both cyclists will be charged with drunken biking, and bicycle safety ordinances will be more strictly enforced.
“A quick look-and-smell told me they had both been biking while intoxicated, so they’ll be charged with BWI,” Marquette said. “There’s been too much of this sort of thing lately. We’ll send a strong message that it won’t be tolerated.
“The bicycle headlamp ordinances on the books’ll be strictly enforced going forward,” Marquette said. “Headlamps and rear reflectors are required, and I’ll be doing regular inspections after hours and at bars.
Both bikes were totaled in the collision.
“I hauled both bikes to the dump so people can strip them for parts,” resident Clete Horn said. “One of the baskets was totally accordioned, but the other one’s salvageable. Both front rims are shot, though.”
Some in the community urged more streetlights for safety, but local officials shot that down.
“There’s no funds for more streetlights,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We have lights in the crowded areas, where they’re most needed, and that’s it.
“People on this island need to start taking responsibility for their own actions,” Cobia said. “We start putting lights on every power pole, people with think they’re in New York City.”