The driver of a dark blue Dodge Ram pickup veered toward a small group of cyclists ahead of him on a rural road southwest of Petaluma on Saturday, and in a chilling scene caught on video by a passing motorcyclist, he then plowed straight into the riders, CHP officials said.
The man drove away, leaving behind on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road four injured male riders, one of them grievously hurt and later airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
Late Saturday, CHP investigators were still trying to identify the driver involved. They said his action appeared intentional.
“If indeed he intentionally swerved, then that is an egregious thing to do,” CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said. “We haven’t had the chance to speak with this individual yet, which is obviously something we want to do. We want to know his side of the story.”
The hurt riders were part of a larger group ride, including some 1,300 cyclists, that began the day in Marin County and traversed roads in southern Sonoma County. The victims were not identified Saturday and their medical conditions weren’t disclosed. The man flown to Memorial Hospital sustained “major injuries,” according to the CHP.
The riders’ damaged and destroyed bicycles were strewn for yards along Point Reyes-Petaluma Road on a stretch just east of the Marin French Cheese Co.
The route is a popular one for cyclists, especially on weekends, when it draws dozens or more riders in groups or on their own.
The collision follows other road-rage encounters involving motorists and cyclists in the North Bay, with rural routes that make it a destination for riders throughout the Bay Area, state and beyond.
In 2015 a motorist crashed into a cyclist on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, about 5 miles southwest of Saturday’s incident. And authorities have yet to identify the driver in a 2010 hit-and-run crash during Sonoma County’s largest group ride, Levi’s GranFondo. Witnesses in that case said the driver’s actions appeared intentional.
“I would just say to anyone who is feeling impatient on the road, nothing is worth this,” said Jim Elias, executive director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, who was participating in the same group ride Saturday and arrived minutes after the crash. “An automobile should never be used as a weapon.”
The CHP released video stills on Saturday of the pickup reported to be involved and asked the public’s help identifying the driver and his vehicle, an older model crew cab Dodge Ram in midnight blue, with custom black rims and a lifted suspension. Its wheels protrude out past the body of the truck. The front license plate was on the dashboard near the driver, who witnesses described as a white man, about 20 to 35 years old, with brown hair, a crew cut and a stubble beard, Barclay said.
The collision caused the glass on the passenger side mirror to fall out.
The pickup struck the cyclists about 11:45 a.m. on westbound Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, just west of Hicks Valley Road, in northern Marin County.
They were less than 10 miles from the finish line of the Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin, a multidistance group ride that raises money for the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. The four cyclists were either on the 100- or 70-mile route, said Elias.