A 12-year-old student bicycling south from Buddy Taylor Middle School this afternoon was struck and injured by a vehicle at the Belle Terre Parkway-Pritchard Drive intersection in Palm Coast.
The boy, who was bleeding from the head at the scene, was taken by ambulance to AdventHealth Palm Coast with non-life-threatening injuries. The incident took place just before 1:45 p.m. Larry Earl Reneker, 71, of Flagler Beach was at the wheel of the 2010 Toyota Camry that struck the bicycle.
A Flagler County Sheriff’s spokesperson said driver was issued a citation for failing to yield at a crosswalk. (Before he was identified, the driver in an earlier report was incorrectly referred to as a woman.)
According to the sheriff’s crash report, Reneker was stopped at the stop sign on Pritchard, waiting for a break in traffic on Belle Terre to make a right turn, going north. The cyclist was traveling south on the path on the east side of Belle Terre. He stopped at the path’s stop sign. When the cyclist saw that the Camry was stopped, he proceeded on south. He was in the painted crosswalk when Reneker pulled forward, colliding with the bicycle.
Reneker told the investigator that he had initially looked left and right but was concentrating on traffic approaching from the left, and did not look right again before proceeding forward, according to the crash report. The report states the boy had “scratches and swelling, abrasions on the left elbow, and a possible broken leg.”
“I do know he was not wearing a helmet and he had some scrapes on his face,” the spokesperson said of the student. “He was complaining about his leg hurting.”
Administrators at Buddy Taylor Middle were contacted, as were the boy’s parents, one of whom rode with him in the ambulance. Earl Johnson, a senior member of the superintendent’s staff, was at the scene. “It does not seem like it was serious injuries,” the spokesperson said.
Belle Terre Parkway northbound was reduced to one lane in the area of Pritchard, but the scene was cleared within an hour of the wreck. The Palm Coast Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue, the Palm Coast Fire Police and the sheriff’s office were at the scene.
It was the first crash involving a child on a bike on Flagler streets since September 2016. That September crash took place on a Saturday in a residential neighborhood, outside the scope of school hours. But today’s crash brought back memories of the 2015-16 school year, when seven Flagler County students were involved in collisions with vehicles during morning or after-school hours, most of them on bicycles, one of them, a 7-year-old girl. The 7-year-old girl was crossing a street while awaiting a school bus and was killed by a passing car. All the other collisions involved cyclists, and resulted in minor injuries.
The crashes prompted school and Palm Coast officials to launch awareness campaigns and redesign a few bus stops. A traffic-safety committee continues to meet monthly, with School Board member Andy Dance leading it. The majority of crashes between vehicles and students on bikes were due to driver error, however, not student error.
Jason Wheeler, a school district spokesman, noted the long span of time since the last crashes as reflective of safety efforts since, but said today’s crash is a reminder to drivers and riders to be cautious, and for drivers to be especially aware of foot and bicycle traffic at the start and the end of the school day.