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Transplant Athlete
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
  Dr. Bob Breedlove

I just finished reading the November issue of OUTSIDE magazine. I bought the Mag after Cat Berge commented on the article on the Topica Listserv.

I was racing 4 person RAAM in 2005 when I heard that Dr. Bob Breedlove was killed in Colorado. We weren't given much information at first, just a mandate that the follow vehicle had to be behind the rider at all times (where previously, we could leapfrog during the day). Later, we were told that the rule change was prompted by Breedlove's death. I had never met Bob, but I knew of him. After the race, news came in drips and drabs. I was convinced then that the 15 year old unlicensed driver was to blame and after reading this article by Alan Prendergast, I'm even more convinced it was the 15 year old's fault.

Bob was an experienced rider, someone who knows how to handle a bike. Those types of riders don't make mistakes like crossing into a lane of oncoming traffic.

Then there's a 15 year old unlicensed driver. Growing up in New Jersey where the driving age was 17, but you could get a permit at 16ish, I've never actually met a 15 year old who drove on highways. Let's talk about the 17 year old drivers I knew. Several totaled cars, several totaled several cars, and none of them obeyed the speed limit voluntarily. I myself got warnings twice for speeding back then, no accidents though.

So, I find it easier to believe a 15 year old unlicensed driver on a downhill turn leading into a long straightaway would be exceeding the speed limit enough to cause him to cross the centerline. Also, I doubt a 15 year old would know how to take a turn properly, and I'm not talking about just getting around the turn, I'm talking about braking before the turn to center the vehicle, starting outside, hitting the Apex and accelerating out of the turn to the outside. A 15 year old would try to take the turn at high speed in the center of the lane, maybe drifting in to the Apex and then out as far as he needed to make the turn (a recipe for disaster). Alan Prendergast found out that seven months before the accident, the 15 year old had rolled a Hyundai off the highway not far from where Bob was killed, I'm guessing speed was a factor, BUT, the kid admitted to drinking a beer before he launched the Hyundai 60 feet into the rough.

Accident reconstruction experts hired by the Breedloves' and independently hired by Outside Magazine note numerous flaws in the Colorado State Police report. Without seeing more photos and a survey(physics has the answers) of the crash scene, I can't say for certain what happened, but the damage to the truck certainly looks like a head-on collision, which is inconsistent with the kid's story. Read the article for yourself and let me know what you think.

The kid paid $200 in fines and court fees and did 24 hours of community service for killing a cycling legend. I know in my heart that the kid was at fault and that his reckless driving had repercussions far beyond the Breedloves, It affected Bob's co-workers, his riding buddies, it affected all future RAAM riders and the race itself. I hope the Breedloves can find justice for Bob.

P.S. New Jersey is one of several states that implemented a staged licensing process that gradually increases driving privileges from the age of 17 to the age of 21.

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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