NOCATEE, Fla. – Two bicyclists remain in the hospital after they were hit by a suspected drunk driver, according to St. Johns County sheriff’s deputies.
The high-speed collision happened around 8:40 a.m. Saturday on Palm Valley Road at Davis Park Road in Nocatee.
Investigators said Caleb Richter, 20, was speeding when he hit swerved around another car and hit the two cyclists, who were riding on the road legally with traffic.
“It was bad. It was real bad,” said David Wilson, a competitive cyclist who was riding in the area at the time and saw the aftermath of the crash.
He noticed his friend’s green helmet in the street and feared the worst.
“It’s definitely a hard scene to roll up on,” Wilson said. “It’s one of those that you have a fear about every time you ride.”
Paramedics were working on his friend and another man. Neither has been publicly identified due to Marsy’s Law.
It was clear they’d been hit by a red Infiniti sedan. Deputies said Richter, the driver, was detained at the scene and later taken to a nearby church for a field sobriety test.
In his arrest report, deputies wrote that Richter was cooperative and admitted to drinking the night before. He was wobbly, slurred his speech and his eyes were bloodshot, deputies noted.
“I was driving as fast as I could to the bridge to (redacted) and I swerved around another car and hit the bicyclist,” Richter said, according to the report.
Investigator said Richter’s blood alcohol was .168 — twice the legal limit. They arrested him, and as of Monday afternoon, Richter remained in the St. Johns County jail on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges of DUI.
The bicyclists were airlifted to the hospital. Wilson said both had many broken bones and his friend was in particularly bad shape.
“I think he’s got many weeks ahead of him. I can’t give a lot of the details, but I know that ... he has some serious injury said he’s gonna be able to work through,” Wilson said. “All in all, he is in good spirits considering what happened.”
The other man appeared to have multiple fractures and abrasions.
Wilson said it’s a reminder to watch out for bikers and share the road.
He often rides hundreds of miles per week and has personally had close calls like one in the same area with a dump truck. He said some of the encounters have been accidental while others have been fueled by road rage.
“We do our best to be visible and stay as safe as we can, but it only takes one car,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t have to be a crazy accident. One person not paying attention can send multiple people to the hospital or maybe worse.”