CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One moment, 21-year-old Haley Riggins was enjoying the scenery on a bike ride. The next, she felt like she was “floating.”
Riggins and 20-year-old Alex Melling were struck and injured on Wednesday, May 3 by an unidentified driver who they say took off after the crash. The incident happened just before 10:30 p.m. on Rossview Road in Clarksville.
Despite having some “close calls” on the well-trafficked road before, last week’s crash left the couple in shock. That evening, Riggins and Melling had been out catching Pokémon on the Pokémon GO app.
They were heading back home on one bicycle when a grey or silver van traveling eastbound on Rossview Road struck them from behind.
“I don’t directly remember getting hit,” Riggins said. “But from what I can remember, one moment I was on the bike, and I was enjoying the scenery and then the next thing I know I feel like I’m floating and my music kind of cuts out.”
While the driver responsible continued down the road, another person who witnessed the crash pulled over to help. Riggins said the man grabbed a spare shirt from his car and tucked it under her head while waiting for medics to arrive.
“I think I was more in shock because all I felt was the floating and the music cutting out,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was in pain until he did that, and I touched the back of my head and realized I was bleeding.”
It “wasn’t terribly long” after the crash that first responders arrived, Riggins said. She recalled hearing the sirens as an ambulance pulled up and “asking if the sirens could be turned down because the noise was hurting (her) head.”
Melling and Riggins were taken to a hospital before being released the following day. Melling suffered some bruising and a dislocated knee, while Riggins may have to have surgery for a broken ankle.
Riggins also had a large cut on the back of her head that required three stitches and six staples, a gouge in her left arm and large amounts of bruising and road rash along her left side.
“This wasn’t just some bump these kids off the side of the road, and they got a couple of scrapes and a couple of bruises,” said Courtney Lilly, Riggins’ mother.
The crash left Riggins and Melling feeling “very frustrated and very angry.” In addition to their injuries, the bicycle they were riding was totaled, several items they were carrying in a backpack were destroyed, and they now have several medical bills.
“I had to push back starting college for I don’t know how long, and the doctor said I might need to get surgery on my ankle, but they’re not entirely sure just yet,” said Riggins, who added that she and Melling plan to press charges.
Clarksville Police are continuing to look for the suspect vehicle, which may have been a GMC, Chevrolet or Nissan. Melling said the van likely has damage to the windshield and the right front headlight. The van may also be missing a side view mirror.
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In addition to finding the driver responsible, Lilly said she hopes that the incident highlights the need for more pedestrian-friendly roads that include sidewalks, more lighting and a wider area for people to bike and walk.
“I would really like some sidewalks on that road or for it to be more well-lit, or it to be widened in that area, or something because that’s a dangerous road and there’s a lot of people that travel on it,” she said.
The road has been a problem area that county commissioners have noticed. Jason Knight is one of them, and he explained how he’s been working with community members to implement changes after concerns were raised about the road.
“With our growing community we’ve seen a lot of traffic accidents ramping up here with the increased population and increased traffic, but the infrastructure hasn’t really caught up to the growth that we’re having,” said County Commissioner Knight.
The road is already part of a future plan for Clarksville to widen certain roads and ensure traffic is not congested. The full plan is on the city’s website; you can click here to see when and where these changes are set to begin.
Anyone with information or additional footage of the incident is asked to call 911.