The thought of getting outside and enjoying warm weather sustains many Madison County residents during long, cold Indiana winters. For some, bicycling in the neighborhood, along trails or out in the country is a favorite warm-weather pastime.
But even a short, just-for-fun bicycle trip can quickly turn into a terrible tragedy.
Suncerria Uditsky, 12, went out for a bike ride with her dad along Scatterfield Road the evening of April 11. She was hit by a car and did not survive. The motorist, Robert Scharnowske, 65, of Anderson, told police he looked at a sign near the road. When he looked back to the road, Uditsky and her father, Marcus, were just in front of him.
Scharnowske swerved and missed Marcus Uditsky but struck Suncerria.
While nothing can mitigate the tragedy of Suncerria’s death, it could serve notice to other cyclists and motorists to be extra cautious.
About 600-700 cyclists are killed in accidents each year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 50,000 cyclists seek medical attention for injuries annually. Nearly 30 percent of those injuries result from bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.
The rules of thumb for bicycle safety are mostly common sense. Wear a helmet. Ride with, not against, traffic. Use hand signals to indicate turns. Wear reflective clothing for good visibility. Avoid high-traffic areas, particularly when there is little or no daylight.
Just as importantly, motorists should be on the lookout for bicyclists, respect their right to the road, and pass slowly and carefully.
Suncerria’s father donated her organs so that others might live. At Highland Middle School, students participated in a fundraiser and remembered her last week as a new friend. She had moved to Indiana from Minnesota two weeks before her death.
Suncerria is no longer with her schoolmates in body, but perhaps her spirit and the story of her untimely death will inspire others to drive and cycle with caution.
All of us should be determined that a nice bicycle ride on a warm Madison County day be a fun outing, not a dangerous undertaking.
More online To read The Herald Bulletin's recent article about Suncerria Uditsky and Highland Middle School students: ttp://bit.ly/RFTpLD