Cyclist critically injured in Emigration Canyon identified

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EMIGRATION CANYON, Utah -- A 35-year-old Cottonwood Heights man remains in critical condition Wednesday afternoon after he was hit by a driver while riding a bicycle in Emigration Canyon.

It happened during the morning commute, just past Ruth’s Diner.

Police later identified the victim as 35-year-old Joseph Spataro of Cottonwood Heights. Officials said Thursday Spataro remains in critical but stable condition.

“In the early mornings you have people flying down, going to work going usually too fast,” said Taylor Baldwin, who often commutes up the canyon.

Police said the 17-year-old driver was heading down the canyon when she went over the line and crashed into a cyclist heading up canyon.

Investigators said the driver wasn't impaired, and speed doesn't appear to be a factor.

“We don't know exactly what caused the driver to veer over into oncoming traffic. We are going to look at all the possibilities,” said Lt. Justin Hoyal with the Unified Police Department.

Emigration Canyon is a high traffic area for both cars and bicycles. Cyclist Paul Gilmore said he’s had some close calls with cars, but he said often the blame should be shared.

“Cyclist have to do their part to stay out of the way, the car drivers are the 800-pound gorilla in any encounter,” Gilmore said.

Police diagrammed the scene to determine the speed and braking pattern of the driver, but they said the investigation may be hindered because someone drove off with a key piece of evidence.

“Apparently, shortly after the accident had taken place, a Good Samaritan took the bike to the victim at the hospital,” Hoyal said.  “It's one of those things that we would ask people to leave evidence at the scene, as it is critical to the investigation.”

As of now the driver has not been cited for the crash. The bicyclist is in critical condition but is improving at University Hospital.

4 comments

  • KimberG (@KimberG)

    If the driver isn’t cited, it’s going to be another example of cyclists not being treated like humans. Even the quote about cyclists having to do their part? Inappropriate. The car must stay in the lines and a cyclist shouldn’t have to worry about a car drifting out of its space. Legally a cyclist is a vehicle, and cars MUST give 3 feet of space.

    If the car had crossed the line and hit another car, charges would already have been filed. Why is it less serious to hit a cyclist, where the health repercussions are going to be greater?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/opinion/sunday/is-it-ok-to-kill-cyclists.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

  • Rob

    This has to be a joke. The driver crosses over, across the opposite lane of traffic all the way over to the bike lane and hits a cyclist and is not cited? How is that possible?

    The comment from the supposed cyclist is just stupid as well. Please explain to me how the cyclist did anything wrong?

    Come on SLPD, get your act together.

  • Kym

    This driver needs to be cited!!! They were at fault, it’s obvious! Why make it more complicated then necessary in this situation!

  • louie

    I have been hit by bikes 9 times in emigration canyon as a pedestrian.
    the bikes are the most careless and inconsiderate drivers in the canyon and have no insurance. I take my life in my hands to walk on the north side of the road because they race at 30 mph downcanyon racing as fast as they can. Bikes should be banned in emigration because they drive so wrecklessly and inconsiderately. Bikes are wrecking the canyon irresponsibly. Overrun by racing bikes.

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