A Watertown man was listed in fair condition at Massachusetts General Hospital Thursday afternoon after he became pinned under a garbage truck following a collision with that occurred while he was riding his bike on the outskirts of Edgartown.
William Cress, 64, who owns a home on Down Harbor Road in Katama, was transported to the Boston hospital by ambulance from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Tuesday afternoon.
According to Edgartown police officer Michael Gazaille, a Bruno’s garbage truck was traveling south on Katama Road when the driver made a left-hand turn onto a road across from Katama General Store. The accident took place at about 12:45 p.m.
Mr. Cress was riding on the bike path, Officer Gazaille said, and the garbage truck and bicycle collided. Mr. Cress was pinned under the truck for 15 to 20 minutes. Police later could not speak to the extent of injuries, but reports coming over the police scanner at the time of the accident indicated that Mr. Cress sustained serious injuries to his arms.
A spokesman for the Vineyard hospital later confirmed that the patient was being stabilized there. Medflight was grounded due to weather conditions and preparations were under way for a transfer by ambulance to a Boston hospital, spokesman Rachel Vanderhoop said.
The truck driver, Kevin O’Donnell from Oak Bluffs, was cited for failure to yield at an intersection, Officer Gazaille said. It appeared that Mr. O’Donnell did not see the biker coming up the bike path, he said, and the biker was likely cut off and went under the truck, becoming pinned.
Police said Thursday that they have not had a chance to talk to Mr. Cress to get his account of what happened.
A news account of the accident published on the Vineyard Gazette website touched off a wide-ranging conversation about bicycle safety and summertime traffic hazards on the Island.
Edgartown police chief Antone Bettencourt said that people on the bike paths have the right of way, but he said he did not believe the driver of the truck acted recklessly.
“We’re pretty sure that the garbage truck driver used a lot of caution to make that turn,” the chief said, adding that he stopped in the street prior to turning. “It was not a deliberately fast turn,” he said.
“He just didn’t see him,” the chief continued, noting that the area around Katama General Store is a busy thoroughfare, with cars backing in and out of driveways. Katama Road is also the main route to South Beach in Edgartown. Chief Bettencourt said the best advice for bikers and drivers is to use extra caution during the summer months. “Triple-look in certain areas,” he said. Phil Hughes, the owner of Wheel Happy bike shops in Edgartown, said he tells bicyclists to “follow rules of the road and always be aware of vehicles.”
Some bicyclists think they have free reign once on bike paths, which Mr. Hughes said isn’t true; there are stop signs dotted along Island bike paths.
Mr. Hughes said there is often tension between bikers and cars.
“I see it,” he said. He said this is especially true with those who bicycle on the road.
“Accidents are possible but they could be avoided,” he said.
“I think if some people — not [just] the driver, not [just] the biker — exercise common sense.”