Flagstaff community mobilizes to support cyclists after fatal truck crash
Flagstaff Police said a tow truck turned on a red light and crashed into a group of cyclists on Friday.
FLAGSTAFF, Arizona – It started as a hike with a group designed to build community and promote safe cycling. But, in an instant, everything changed.
“I was just a few bikes away from crossing the intersection so I saw it all and could even feel the wind off the truck,” said Nick Jones. “He entered the intersection so quickly.”
He talks about a tow truck carrying a moving truck that Flagstaff police said turned on a red light and crashed into the group of cyclists on Friday.
It happened at the intersection of Butler Avenue and Beaver Street. The crash injured five people and killed 29-year-old Joanna Wheaton, police said.
“It would be tragic no matter what, but it hits us even more because he was one of the shining stars in our community,” Jones said.
Even without this shining star, the community immediately took action. Business after business is now offering to donate the proceeds to help the injured.
“I think we’re all in the same boat, just blown away,” said Rae Hernandez.
Like many tight-knit Flagstaff, Hernandez knows seriously injured people and in hospital.
“They will heal for a while and they will need help.”
The small business owner is leading one of many fundraisers to help, a joint effort that raised more than $ 100,000 on Monday afternoon.
“It doesn’t surprise me, for sure,” Hernandez said. “Flagstaff has a way of coming together in a crisis.”
It’s a crisis that continues if you ask Nick Jones.
“There is a huge problem in this country with the infrastructure and traffic law enforcement is placed solely on the comfort of the car rather than the safety of pedestrians and cyclists,” he explained. .
The driver of this tow truck, Normand Cloutier, 58, is now accused of causing death by a movement violation.
Jones is hoping this is a red flag to reduce speed and build better bike lanes. His cycling community was naturally still shaken.
“It’s scary to think of going back to it now because I know nothing has changed systemically since Friday night to ensure that something like this is avoided in the future,” he said. . “And that’s a scary thought.”
There are several fundraisers to help all those affected by this accident and their long road to recovery:
RELATED: Tow Truck Hits 6 Cyclists, Kills 1 After Running Red Light In Flagstaff
Up to speed
Keep up to date with the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today!