Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 42
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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Weather Forecast

Fatal Cycling Accident Spawns Investigation as Well as Renewed Effort for Bike Safety

Matthew Hersh

A Princeton Township woman, riding her bicycle along Terhune Road, was struck and killed last week, initiating a county-led investigation, as well as sparking calls by Township Police for increased awareness when it comes to bike safety.

The woman, Dominique Wenzel, 59, of Ewing Street, was struck by a 1990 Jeep Wrangler last Wednesday, just after noon, at the intersection of North Harrison Street and Terhune Road, suffering head trauma caused by the impact. She was transported unconscious to the Helene Fuld Trauma Center in Trenton where she later died.

Ms. Wenzel’s obituary appears in today’s Town Topics.

The accident is still under investigation, but Township Police say that Ms. Wenzel, who was not wearing a helmet, appears to have missed a red traffic signal, and was subsequently struck by the Jeep. The identity of the driver of the Jeep has been withheld pending the outcome of the case. The Township Police are conducting their investigation in conjunction with the County Prosecutor’s Office.

Princeton Township traffic safety officer Sgt. Thomas Murray, who is heading up the investigation, said the Jeep appears to have been going the speed limit, 30 miles-per-hour, and the car had stopped after striking Ms. Wenzel.

No charges have been filed, Sgt. Murray said.

Sgt. Murray could not speculate that any injury could have been avoided, considering that the investigation indicates that the motorist did not have an opportunity to swerve or stop before striking Ms. Wenzel, but he did say that “protective equipment would have bettered anybody’s chances.

“But it’s hard to say if anything would have saved her life,” he said.

Ms. Wenzel’s injuries were “primarily limited to head trauma,” Sgt. Murray said.

The incident, however, opens the discussion of bike and pedestrian safety, Sgt. Murray said. “In general, as far as pedestrian and bicycle safety is concerned, it’s important to slow down and know what’s taking place around you. Nobody should assume anything, because you never know what the car is going to do.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said, pointing to a recent auto accident involving a struck bicyclist where the car had stopped at a stop sign. Thinking the driver had stopped to yield, the cyclist proceeded, and the car, its driver not having seen the cyclist, struck the rider. No major injuries were sustained, “but that’s an example of a case where people assume that the motorist actually sees them,” Sgt. Murray said.

Cycling accidents are not particularly high in the Township, nor are this intersection a hot spot for accidents, Sgt. Murray said.

Township Police encourage that cyclists wear as much protective gear as possible, and to be increasingly vigilant in darkness and inclement weather.

For more information on bike and pedestrian safety, call Sgt. Murray at (609) 921-2100, ext. 879.

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