Newsflash for March 16, 2003
Rider dead in stage 2 of Tucson Bicycle Classic
By Kristy Scymgeour and John Stevenson
Stage two of the Tucson Bicycle Classic was affected by tragedy yesterday when Garret Lemire, a 22-year old rider with the Los Angeles-based KB Home team was killed in a head-on collision with a motor vehicle.
Garret had swerved to avoid a crash - reportedly caused by a flat tyre - involving five other riders on a descent in the 105 mile Gates Pass Road Race stage of the three-day event. According to Cyclingnews' contacts at the race, the Tucson Bicycle Classic was operating under rules intended to keep competitors in their lane, but Garret had no choice but to swerve to avoid the previous crash.
The other five riders involved are all said to be in serious condition, with one having been airlifted out immediately and the other four currently hospitalised.
Race promotor Stephen Bohn told Cyclingnews, "This is the worst possible thing that can happen in sport, it is a horrible loss and everybody is devastated." Bohn said that the car Garret struck was moving very slowly, and was as far to the right as possible. Two motorcycle marshals were on the scene immediately, and "everything that could be done was done as quickly as possible."
Bohn added that the race had all the necessary permits and had police officers patrolling and people on every intersection. He also stressed that the race has been run with a high level of safety for all of its 18 year history.
When Cyclingnews contacted Stephen Bohn he had just spoken to Garret Lemire's father who had simply commented, "I know Garrett died doing what he loved best."
In a statement on the race website, Stephen Bohn and his staff have offered their condolences to Garret's family, friends and team-mates. Everyone at Cyclingnews also extends their deepest sympathies to those who knew Garret.
Sunday's third stage will have shorter race distances in tribute to Garret Lemire, and each race will start with a moment of silence and one memorial lap dedicated to him.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)