A Joplin-based bicycle safety advocacy group is rallying support for three British cyclists who were hit late Monday afternoon three miles east of Carthage on Highway 96 while on a cross-country fundraising trip.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the three-rider bicycle was hit from behind by a pickup truck driven by Andy Young, 41, of Carthage.
The three cyclists are from Chester and Wrexham in Britain, and were riding from Chicago to Los Angeles to raise funds for three charities: Cheshire Young Carers, Cancer Research UK and the Mark Evison Foundation for Young People, named after a soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Ewan Stott, 24, a business management student from Oxford Brookes University, is an experienced cyclist who has raised money before for charity. James Watkins, 18, is studying sports and exercise science, and is a global adventurer. Will Corran, 24, who has a degree in sports and materials science, rounds out their team.
Two of the cyclists were dismissed from Mercy Joplin Hospital, while the third remains hospitalized, according to Frank Thompson, who heads the LOOK4States group.
The group’s mission is to create awareness about cycling and running in hopes of ending accidents; last month, the group dedicated a ghost bike in Pittsburg in honor of cyclist Rhonda Thompson, who was hit by a car and killed a year ago. They also dedicated a ghost bike earlier this year in Joplin in honor of Larry Jones, a fellow cyclist who also was killed last year.
Frank Thompson said Tuesday night that the British cyclists lost all of their personal items in the accident and that the bike was destroyed. LOOK4States has started a GoFundMe fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/cycle66home, with the goal of raising $4,000.
Thompson said a doctor provided a place to stay for the two cyclists who were injured but did not require hospitalization, and LOOK4States is organizing other host families to provide them lodging in coming nights.
“I was just really saddened,” said LOOK4States member Rhonda Thompson, who is Frank’s wife and no relation to the deceased rider. “They’re trying to do a great thing, something they love. They’re riding their bikes, raising money for charity, visiting our country, and this is what happens. It’s a tragedy. It really is.”
According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, funded by the Federal Highway Administration and housed within the UNC Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, nearly a third of all injuries involving bicycles are caused when cyclists are struck by vehicles.
“This looks bad on all of us,” Rhonda Thompson said. “The ultimate goal (of her organization) is for there not to be a need for our group.”
Globe staff writer Jeff Lehr contributed to this report.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 621 American cyclists died in motor vehicle crashes in 2010. In 2011, there were 680 deaths; in 2012, there were 722; and in 2013, there were 743.
The number of estimated bicyclist injuries in 2013 was 48,000.