A Washington, D.C., cyclist and well-known reporter for Science Magazine was struck and tragically killed by a five-ton National Guard transport vehicle being used to block a D.C. intersection for an approaching motorcade. The accident happened not far from the site of a Nuclear Security Summit being held in the Capital. The victim, 68-year-old Constance Holden of Northwest Washington, was pronounced dead at the scene. She reportedly was heading home from her office at the end of the work day.
Living and working in the Baltimore area, I and the other Maryland injury lawyers at our office know that bicycles make up a percentage of vehicular traffic in Maryland, Virginia and the District. As tragic as this bicycle accident was, it’s not the only one and sadly will not be the last.
Bicycle and motorcycle crashes, whether caused by the driver of a passenger vehicle or commercial truck, can be serious at best; fatal at worst. Like the one reported here, the odds of a rider being killed by a large motor vehicle are quite high. For those who survive such encounters, bodily injuries can range from cuts and bruises to broken bones and traumatic head or spine injury. Hospital costs for such extensive injuries can run in the tens of thousands of dollars.
In this particular case, a motorcade was on its way through the D.C. streets at the same time that many commuters were heading home from work. Among them, Holden was on her bike just after 6pm as she attempted to cross the intersection of 12th Street and New York Avenue. According to news accounts, a police officer told her to move back. As she did so, one of two National Guard trucks struck the woman.
Witnesses said that the height of the large trucks made visibility difficult. However, there reportedly was a ground guide on foot working to direct the larger vehicles, but that individual apparently missed the impending collision.
The D.C. National Guard reportedly has been part of the security contingent for motorcades such as the one that day, however at the time of this accident this was reportedly the largest gathering of world leaders in the city to date, which may have contributed to the potential for tragedy. The commanding general in charge said that there had never been a deadly accident such as this in the past.
Holden, also a talent artist in her private life, had been a reporter for Science since 1970, according to a statement from the journal’s publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among her awards was one from the National Mental Health Association for stories she wrote in 2003 on new developments in understanding and treating schizophrenia, depression and other mental health issues.
Bicyclist Killed in Collision With Guard Vehicle, MyFoxDC, April 13, 2010