Woman faces charges in one of two bicycle hit-and-run accidents in Raleigh

From staff reportsJune 3, 2012 

Linda Thomas Banks

— Police were searching Sunday for a 2000 to 2004 black Chevrolet Monte Carlo that lost its right-side rear-view mirror when it hit a bicyclist on Hillsborough Street near Ashe Avenue at about 1 a.m.

Saturday evening, officers charged Saturday evening that a woman was driving while impaired when an SUV she was operating came up behind a bicycle on Falls of Neuse Road, hit it and threw the rider over 100 feet, and drove off with the bicycle hung up on the front.

In the first incident, Linda Thomas Banks, 48, of 401 Sawmill Road was going the same way that Jason A. Epstein, 28, was riding near Morocroft Drive when the accident happened about 7:50 p.m., police said. They estimated that Epstein was thrown 123 feet while the 2005 Ford SUV drove off with his bicycle stuck on its front end.

The bike fell off when the SUV was turning onto an entrance ramp to Interstate 540, police said.

In the later accident, Donald L. Lowry, 23, was knocked off his bicycle by the Monte Carlo, which did not stop. He received a concussion, police said, but his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

Banks was charged with felony serious injury by vehicle, DWI, having a fictitious registration plate and failure to register a vehicle, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. The police accident report says she also was cited for not having insurance.

In the report, investigators cited alcohol, inattention and failure to reduce speed as factors in the accident. They estimated the SUV was traveling at the 45 mph speed limit and Epstein was going 16 mph.

Epstein was hospitalized and reported to be in stable condition. Police said doctors told them that he probably would have suffered more serious injuries if he had not been wearing a helmet.

Police said that the number of vehicle-bicycle accidents in the city is running well ahead of last year. From January through April of 2011, 18 bicycles were struck. This year, 25 were hit in the same four months.

Police speculated that the difference might be due to nicer weather encouraging more people to ride this year, higher gasoline prices encouraging more pedaling or more driver inattention to the two-wheeled vehicles on the road.

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