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Sat, Aug. 17

Bicyclist critical after 89 accident; driver fell asleep at the wheel

Courtesy Conrad Jackson/Prescott Fire Department<br>
The scene of a collision Monday morning involving a bicycle and car. DPS investigators say the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

Courtesy Conrad Jackson/Prescott Fire Department<br> The scene of a collision Monday morning involving a bicycle and car. DPS investigators say the driver fell asleep at the wheel.

A driver told police he fell asleep at the wheel after working all night before he hit a bicyclist on Highway 89 south of Prescott.

The bicyclist, Frank Colella, 54, was flown to John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital in Phoenix, where he was in critical condition Monday afternoon.

The collision led to the temporary closure of the highway at 8:30 a.m., but the road was reopened to traffic at 10:52 a.m., DPS spokesman Carrick Cook said.

At 8:15 a.m., DPS received a call that a Jeep Cherokee driven by James Baskit Tucker, 21, had struck Colella who was riding a bicycle at milepost 307 on Highway 89, Cook said.

When Prescott Firefighters and Life Line Ambulance paramedics arrived they found the bicyclist unconscious on the ground with significant injuries and immediately requested that a helicopter take him to a trauma center, Prescott Fire spokesman Conrad Jackson said.  

Passing motorists stopped to help as well as an Arizona Department of Transportation sign crew that had been working nearby, Jackson said.   

The bicylclist was wearing a helmet, and "it was obvious from the scene that the helmet helped reduce the level of his injuries," Jackson said.

The helicopter arrived at 8:45 a.m. and took Colella to a Phoenix hospital. Tucker was not injured.

Late Monday afternoon, Susan Fuchs, spokeswoman for John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital, said Colella is in critical condition.

Tucker told an officer that he had been up all night and was driving home from his job, headed south on 89, a DPS spokesman at the scene said.

"He fell asleep, popped the edge of the roadway, and hit the bicyclist," the DPS spokesman said. "The bicyclist contacted the windshield and was dragged for about 10 feet. The bicyclist is going to survive."

No alcohol, drugs or criminal intent were involved, the DPS spokesman said.

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