Local sports enthusiast and Columbus resident Michael A. Watkins has had to postpone his plans to join the Air Force after a SUV struck him and threw him from his bicycle on Yorkville Road on Sunday, Nov. 20, at about 6:45 p.m.
The 21-year-old Malco Cinemas employee was riding home to 38 Petersburg Road when a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban that was also traveling East, hit him with its side-view mirror. The driver of the car, Ashli Holliman, 26, of 55 Sleepy Fawn Parkway in Columbus said that she didn’t see the cyclist. Her two children, ages one and three-years-old were in the car with her. None of the vehicle passengers were injured.
“I was just biking home like usual, and well, I just got hit,” said Watkins to The Packet in a later interview. “It was hard to understand at first what was happening, but as I was falling I knew I had been hit by a car. It came from behind and I landed on the ground… I moved and I got my bookbag off of me. As soon as I stopped moving, someone had already stopped and he happened to be a 911 dispatcher. A lot of people stopped and were trying to help and were asking what happened to me.”
Watkins, who was taken to BMH-GT for lower back pain and a left elbow injury, was driving with the direction of traffic, and wearing a helmet. He said he was riding on the outside of the outside right line and most people went around him but the woman who was driving the SUV had not noticed him.
“She said she didn’t see me. I was just as worried about her as I was about myself. At that point I knew I was going to be okay eventually, but she was very upset about it,” he said.
He was struck on the elbow with the side view mirror, which flew off the vehicle and was laying on the ground on-scene. The impact tore his elbow open, and the laceration required six stitches, all of which have been taken out now. Watkins says there is still some pretty severe bruising, but he realizes how lucky he is that it wasn’t much worse.
“I realize how fortunate I was,” said Watkins who says he only regrets the timing of the incident. “I was supposed to leave for basic training today (Nov. 30) in San Antonio, Texas.” I have to start processing over again.” He says he might be able to get back into the program as early as January, but that it could be as late as April. “That was the worst part of it, was the timing,” he said. “I got my job back (at Malco), but I’m looking forward to getting to leave for basic.”
Has not gotten back on his bicycle yet, though he plans on it eventually. “I haven’t had the courage to get back on it yet, but I will.”
No one was charged in the incident and there are no street lights in the area. Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and BMH-GT responded to the scene.