Russ Harkay Accident Update



Russ Harkay Accident Update

I received another email update from Russ.  It’s now eleven days after his bicycle accident and he has yet to be interviewed by the police to get his side of the story, what could they possibly be waiting for?  I’d like to believe that police take every accident seriously and all are treated with the same diligence, but I’m struggling with why the facts seem to disagree with my utopic view of justice.  Russ has now placed two calls to the Westerly police department asking to be interviewed, both times he was told that that they would call him back and arrange to come out for an interview, but he has yet to hear anything.

Russ relates what a huge impact this has had on his life

my level of activity not just as someone who trains regularly but that as a competitive athlete. It is that
which has been taken away from me, at least for some time at best. I race bikes and skis. Cycling started as cross-training but has become a passion. residents here usually see me riding 25-50 miles on a daily basis. When the
accident occurred, I was following my usual warm-up route of 15 miles. I’ve been a USAC member and raced in that capacity, raced a 53-miler in the mountains of VT this summer, and ski race with USSA, including the national
level. I was a competitor as a Nordic racer in the 70’s-90’s. Nationally ranked and some Olympic aspirations.

The injury is unfortunate in that I am not just hurt, but at my age, one’s level of training goes fast when disabled. Further, I am not some couch potato who doesn’t know the rules of the road! I was riding exactly as
I should be, put on three strobe lights when the sun started to set, and my helmet in all likelihood saved my life (as has my ski helmet when I crashed racing a downhill once)

In the blink of an eye Russ’ life was forever changed, yet the driver of the automobile is still without any sort of citation.  The official police report states that Russ

received a concussion and “a few bumps and bruises”

However, since our last update, Russ has now visited with multiple doctors who believe that the injuries

are clearly due to being struck by a car and not falling to the ground, as the witness for the driver contends.

he now has

a Siamese twin about the size of a watermelon on my hip, cannot walk, and an abdomen and groin full of pooled blood

I’m working on getting a copy of the police report to post and any other news articles.


  • MattyCiii
    Aug 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    This is saddening and sickening that a citizen is grievously injured and the first responders of the legal system care so little.

    What can any one of us do to help?

  • Paul Martens
    Aug 25, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Maybe we should all send an email to the Westerly town manager,demanding action? His name is Steven T. Hartford, his email address is

  • Aug 25, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Paul, excellent idea. I can't see that this would cause any problems. The cycling community can't sit idly by as we mostly did with the Frank Cabral case.

  • Bill Lewis
    Aug 29, 2010 at 5:13 am

    It.s too bad to have to deal with the police anywhere, but Westerly cops have a rep as asshats.

    The police here in Newport have pretty much the same attitude about bicyclists, I think they are lazy and want things to go away without much effort as they get paid whether they work or not.

    Does anyone have more info on what Russ' total injuries are? And just for the record helmets do not protect against concussions as this results from the brain hitting the inside of the skull.

  • Labann
    Aug 30, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Bill is getting stats on motorcycle helmets confused with bicycling helmets, which crumple upon impact. From anecdotes from friends and personal experience, bike helmets do work, and they are better than nothing, certainly. If Bill doesn't want to wear one, it's his prerogative, but what's his agenda bashing them on a public forum?

    Do you know what emergency room responders and paramedics call riders who don't wear helmets? Organ donors. If not for seatbelts, all motorists would be required to wear them, as do NASCAR drivers. Probably would interfere with vision, although many don't seem to care that others ought to be seen and treated with respect.

  • Bill Lewis
    Aug 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Sorry Allen, motorcycle helmets work because they are hard shelled and thick.

    The guy has a concussion, the bicycle helmet didn't save his life just a scalp wound.

    How about you go to a helmet manufacturers web site or even the packaging and show my where it says the helmet will prevent a serious injury. And a concussion is serious.

    All a bike helmet does is prevent scrapes and bumps. You seem to have plenty of time, do some reading.

    In all likelyhood this accident might not have happened if Russ had not been in a bike lane and just took the lane. Drivers aren't looking for us in the gutter even with flashing lights on.

  • Labann
    Aug 30, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I don't much care what mfg'er say on their websites; do you believe any of that propaganda? Or are you just trolling for some rise to your blatant falsehoods?

    When I was slammed at 20 mph by thugs with baseball bats at night on the bikeway, luckily I had my head down and helmet took all the hit. I rode away with no concussion only to later discover helmet split in half. From the other hit, my entire bicep without body armor was deep bruised from elbow to shoulder, which healed after 6 months. Probably would have been killed if not protecting my head.

    Statisticians long ago concluded that fatalities in biking collisions have remained low due to helmets and usually are limited to riders without (around 95%). But I'd encourage you to do whatever the hell you like, since your skull seems denser than most.

  • Dennis
    Sep 3, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I took your advice and sent an inquiry to the Town Manager…

    Mr. Hartford,

    I've been following the story of Russ Harkay and his recent collision in Westerly. Today I had the pleasure to review the police report submitted by Officer Kristen M. Kyhos (Ref: 10-588-AC). This report describes two vehicles involved in a collision, one of the vehicles making a left turn after a stop. Neither operator was cited with a violation.

    Could you please explain the justification for a "no violation".

    Dennis Taylor

  • Ted Lewandowski
    Sep 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Strobe lights are illegal for bike use in Europe – specifically in Germany because they actually attract intoxicated drivers TOWARDS YOU – surprised this is not an issue at all here in the States.

    Not saying that the strobe lights were a factor in this accident – but I hate to think if they were.

  • Sep 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm


    Interesting comment about the flashing lights. I've always run my lights on strobe, thinking it would be more likely to catch the attention of a driver. Might have to rethink this one…

  • Jan 14, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Sorry to hear about this accident as well as the lack of response by the authorities. We wish you a speedy recovery and return to your regularly scheduled life.