More than 24 hours after being struck from behind by a motorist, two Sonoma cyclists were recovering from extensive injuries, one in an intensive care unit at a Napa hospital and the other at home.
But in an unexpected turn, the 69-year-old driver behind the wheel of the 2001 Pontiac that hit the cyclists apparently collapsed in his driveway Tuesday and died, Napa County Sheriff's officials said.
Norman Pierce was found lying in his driveway at 1:50 p.m. Tuesday by his landlandy at his Olive Hill Lane home in Napa, Capt. Tracey Stuart said.
There were no obvious signs of how he died and an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause, Stuart said. CHP officials said he reported no injuries in Monday's collision.
Pierce crashed into Beatrice McIntosh, 67, and Jean Behse, 72, at about 12:40 p.m. Monday on southbound Highway 29 outside St. Helena.
McIntosh, known as Bea, was thrown from her bicycle and suffered massive internal injuries and broken bones, her husband, Samuel, said.
Behse returned home Tuesday with a broken scapula as well as cuts, bruises and pain, said Bill Thomson, her husband.
With Pierce's death, grief "is getting deeper and deeper" over the crash that caused both women great injury, but particularly McIntosh whose state remained fragile, Thomson said.
"We're all hoping, greatly," he said.
McIntosh, heavily sedated, showed positive signs despite the severity of her injuries, Samuel McIntosh said.
"Neurologically, she can move her arms and legs," he said as he prepared to return Tuesday to Queen of the Valley Hospital to be with his wife.
Investigators have not determined what caused Pierce to crash into the cyclists, CHP Officer Lisa Paulson said.
McIntosh and Behse were riding with two other members of the Sonoma Valley Newcomers Club on a regular 20- to 25-mile ride held every second Monday of the month, Thomson said.
The group had ridden from St. Helena to Calistoga, where they had lunch.
They were on the return trip and riding on the shoulder of southbound Highway 29 near Ehlers Lane when they were hit north of St. Helena, CHP officials said.
The Pontiac first struck McIntosh, the CHP said.
She was thrown from her bike and possibly struck a utility pole, suffering "massive internal injuries, multiple broken bones, crushed pelvis, broken ribs, cracked vertebra," among other injuries, her husband said.
Pierce then hit Behse, who also was rushed to Queen of the Valley and has no memory of the crash.
"She remembers absolutely nothing about it," Thomson said. "The first memory she has is waking up in the hospital."
Investigators so far have ruled out alcohol and medical conditions as factors in the crash, Paulson said.
"As far as why he swerved, we don't know at this point," Paulson said.
Both Behse and McIntosh are avid cyclists.
"When we ride we're always careful to ride in single file, what with with cars whizzing by," Samuel McIntosh said.
The couple moved to Sonoma from Menlo Park about 10 years ago after Beatrice McIntosh retired from a career in radiation therapy.
She worked at Cline Cellars in Kenwood and Arrowood Vineyards & Winery in Glen Ellen before retiring again not long ago, her husband said.