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Cyclists injured in Belize as driver crashes into group preparing for race

Two women from US group remain in hospital after incident yesterday, one in serious condition

Six cyclists from the United States, four of whom were due to take part in a race in Belize tomorrow, were hit yesterday by a pick-up truck driver while out on a training ride for the event, leaving one in a serious condition in hospital and another with a suspected broken wrist.

All of the riders needed hospital treatment after the crash, with the two worst hurt being Lory Harkey and Jacqueline Flynn, both of whose husbands were also in the group as they prepared top ride the 88th Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic with Team Starlight, reports 7 News Belize.

The incident, involving a Toyota pick-up track driven by a 74-year-old man, took place on the George Price Highway at Hattieville, just outside Belize City, with the president of the country’s cycling federation, Deon Leslie, one of the first on the scene.

Speaking at the hospital where the riders were taken, he said: “Lory took the brunt of the hit. She was behind everyone in the group, riding, when a Toyota Tacoma hit her from behind.

“Her head smashed into the windshield, which broke it and caused extensive damage to her bike. After that, then proceeded to knock down all of the five riders on the side of the road.

“Everyone has minor scrapes and bruises, so we still brought them here just for observation. What the riders were telling me, is that the road was clear, they were on a straight, there was no oncoming traffic, so they’re still puzzled of how it happened and how the driver managed to knock down Lory."

Mrs Harkey is reported to be in a serious condition in hospital, although her injuries were not specified in the report.

Sergeant Keith Clarke, the officer in charge of Hattieville police confirmed that investigations had been carried out at the scene and that the motorist involved, Denton Hendy, would face charges, although his version of events differed from that of the cyclists.

"Obviously Mr Hendy's statement is quite different from the initial statements we got from the cyclists,” he said.

“Basically Mr Hendy is claiming that the cyclists were in the wrong, where I think he mentioned they were riding two abreast and he is claiming that Mrs. Harkey simply turned, these are the words he used, into his vehicle and he was unable to avoid hitting her."

Mr Leslie added that the incident had cast a shadow over Saturday’s race and had “saddened” those involved with the event.

“Everyone's on that hype, building up the suspense come Saturday morning and this is something which basically deflates all that emotion and excitement that we were feeling,” he explained.

“This evening we'll have the formal parade around the city where I know people always come out and line the highways and roads to see the foreign cyclists along with the local cyclists.

“It does cause a dampener to the moods and the spirits coming into the race,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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