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Friday, January 25, 2008

Bicyclist's death ruled an accident

Before sunrise the morning of Dec. 20, 2007, Gerald Bickel was riding his bicycle to work on Illinois Route 111 in Pontoon Beach, Ill. Bickel's ride ended in tragedy when a pickup truck struck him from behind, killing the cyclist.

On Wednesday, a Madison County coroner's jury ruled Bickel's death was accidental.

The accident took place at 5:15 a.m. on a unlit section of Route 111. While the highway is in the village of Pontoon Beach, the roadway is surrounded by trees and farmland.

"It's so dark you can stand on the side of the roadway and you can't see until somebody is right up on you," Pontoon Beach police Capt. Daniel McKinney is quoted as saying in the Edwardsville Intelligencer. "In some instances you can't see anything until they pass you. I myself have traveled the road and not noticed people until it was too late. They were right along side me, and it was totally dark. It's not lit in any way, shape or form except by the moon."

Bickel, a 63-year-old former carpenter, was wearing dark clothing, and his bicycle did not have any reflective material, McKinney told the coroner's jury. He also said the driver of the truck did not see anything until he hit Bickel. Police found no evidence that either man had been drinking or using drugs.

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