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Be Aware and Alert of Vehicles When Biking

Story last updated at 1:42 a.m. Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cycling partner recalls horrifying moment of friend's hit-and-run fatality BY d. LANCE LUNSFORD AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

Kedric C. Hobbs (pictured), 20, spoke several times about the agony of possibly getting struck by a car

while cycling. He and cycling partner Luke Thornton, 20, had been riding together for about a week until Monday night when a red pickup - allegedly driven by 32-year-old Jason D. McInroe - struck Hobbs, killing him.

On the side of the road, in the 7800 block of Fourth Street's dusty shoulder, hornton held Hobbs in his arms, having unsuccessfully felt for a pulse in the moments after the accident. He could do little but yell Hobbs' name until ambulances arrived on the scene. The two were pedaling - about four miles into an 11-mile bike ride - when at approximately 6:30 p.m., the red pickup came barrelling through, striking Hobbs. Thornton had just been talking with Hobbs about Valentine's Day weekend and efforts to snag a date. "He flew about 10 feet before he hit and just started rolling ... for about another 5 feet," said Thornton. "It was just completely shocking. I was just talking to the guy." Thornton shrugged off concerns that perhaps it was impossible to see Hobbs pedaling on the road.

According to the National Weather Service, the sun set at 6:25 p.m. Monday. A NWS official also reported light midlevel clouds and high-level scattered clouds. The two were gearing up for a triathlon race - a three-tiered event involving biking, running and swimming. For Hobbs, it was normal, said Thornton, to be outside all the time, enjoying athletics. He never jogged inside. And he never used an indoor stationary bike. Hobbs, who moved from his home in Roswell, N.M., to study landscape architecture at Texas Tech, was known as a good student focused on graduating and managing a business of his own. Thornton met Hobbs in Tech's Campus Crusade for Christ. The two also taught a Bible study group for male students where, Thornton said, Hobbs had a special knack for taking something too serious or tragic and making a joke out of it to lighten the mood. "He could just read people really well and always knew when something was wrong," said Thornton.

A little of Hobbs' attitude has rubbed off a bit on Thornton and Hobbs' other friends, adding to their settling attitude even in the face of severe tragedy. Other witnesses to the accident have not fared as well. Without the assistance of a good Samaritan, the man who allegedly struck and killed Hobbs on Monday could still be on the run. The 28-year-old witness was driving in the 7800 block of Fourth Street when he passed the bicycling pair. As he passed, he told police, he glanced in his rear-view mirror over surmounting suspicion of a fast approaching pickup from behind. Just as he did, he saw the pickup strike Hobbs, launching him from his bike and into the air. Now, it's a vision the witness has not been able to lose since the accident. "Every time I tried to sleep, I just saw him flying and the truck," said the witness in an interview Wednesday.

He wished not to use his name in fear of retribution. In the moments after the accident, the Samaritan managed to focus. "As soon as I saw him get hit, I instantly called 911," said the witness, who said he then stepped on the accelerator. Reaching speeds up to 80 mph, he followed the pickup allegedly driven by McInroe, a construction worker who was assigned to a company vehicle matching the description of the one that crashed into Hobbs. "I just did it without thinking," said the witness. McInroe was arrested at about 11 p.m. Monday at his home, the truck parked outside with damage to its front right area. McInroe, according to Lubbock County Jail records, was in custody Wednesday on charges of failure to stop and render aid. Bond was set at $100,000. Thornton said the Samaritan, once back on the scene, was visibly shaken and upset over what he had witnessed. The man's 1-year-old son and pregnant wife were in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Police reports indicate witnesses said Thornton was riding along the shoulder of the road, traveling west. Reports also indicate Hobbs was riding to Thornton's left inside the westbound lane. t 766-8795


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