Portage Police continuing to investigate after fatal bicycle crash
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The family of the bicyclist killed in a crash on Portage Road Monday night are searching for answers while police continue to investigate the cause of the crash.
Both the bike and the pickup truck were headed north on Portage Road when the pickup hit the cyclist from behind.
The white Chevy pickup truck crumpled the bike and the rider, 20-year-old Jeremy Smith of Kalamazoo Township, died at the scene.
Smith’s brother-in-law, Justin StClair said, “He pretty much passed away as soon as he was hit so we are thankful for that, but I wish he could still be here.”
The family believes Smith was on his way to his sister’s house to help StClair do some yardwork when he was killed.
St. Clair said, “Anytime someone needed something he was always there, no matter who he was with or what he was doing, he was out to help people.”
The crash occurred around 6:30 p.m. Monday and at the time, police say, driving conditions were ideal.
Lt. Matt Wolfe says Portage PD is trying to figure out who was at fault. “We don't know exactly what happened.” Wolfe says, “We have to determine if the bicyclist drifted into traffic or if simply the motor vehicle operator did not see the cyclist.”
No charges have been filed against the 20-year-old driver from Hartford at this time and no tickets were issued at the scene.
Wolfe said Portage PD is working to pull information from the computer inside the pickup truck to determine the driver's speed at the time of the crash.
“We are also doing a very analytical reconstruction of the accident scene using digital imagery, laser imagery, that type of thing,” said Wolfe that could take several weeks to complete.
If police find the driver was at fault but no criminal activity occurred he could be charged a moving violation causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of one year behind bars.
StClair said, “I hope it was just an accident, I hope he was perfectly aware of what was going on and he just really didn't see him.”
A group of Smith’s friends gathered in grief outside of StClair’s house Tuesday before heading over to the scene of the crash.
“It feels like a major part of my life is gone, my whole outlook on life has changed. It doesn't feel the same without him,” said Brandon Wanger, one of Smith’s closest friends.
Friends say Smith was always on the go and everywhere he went he took his bike.
“That's all he ever did was ride that bike,” said Wanger, who described Smith as an experience and safe bicyclist.
“I miss you Jeremy, I'll see you one day,” Wagner said.
While the family waits for answers, StClair started a GoFundMe page to help the family pay for Smith’s funeral.