SUV driver hits bicycle rider, drives away

Bicyclist struck by fleeing driver of ne side

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A Grand Rapids man remains in serious condition after being struck by a hit-and-run driver late Thursday while riding his bike home from work.

Nicholas Szczepaniuk, 32, suffered four broken vertebra along with injuries to his knees and pelvis in the 11 p.m. hit and run on Fuller Avenue NE at Int. 196. He remained in serious condition Friday at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

“I guarantee they knew they hit him. You can’t miss dragging somebody,'' said Michael Santo, executive chef at Social Kitchen & Bar where Szczepaniuk works as a cook.

"I just hope he realized what he did,'' Santo said of the fleeing driver. "I think this is something where you should step forward. He potentially ruined somebody’s life.’’  

Just last week, Szczepaniuk escaped injury when an inattentive driver turned in front of him, causing Szczepaniuk's bike to collide with the side of the vehicle, Santo said.

Michigan State Police say the fleeing motorist from Thursday's accident was driving a 2002-2005 maroon Ford Explorer. It should have damage to the front grill along with green paint transferred from the victim's bicycle. The SUV was last seen heading east on Int. 196 from the Fuller Avenue entrance ramp.

Investigators say Szczepaniuk was riding north on Fuller when he was struck by the southbound SUV as it turned onto the entrance ramp. The SUV dragged the bike down the eastbound ramp as it fled, state police said.

Leaving the scene of a personal injury accident is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Szczepaniuk splits his time between Social Kitchen on Ionia Avenue SW and a second Grand Rapids restaurant, where he also serves as cook, Santo said.

“Probably the last two years, his whole life is peddling,'' Santo said of Szczepaniuk. "There’s way more peddle bikes on the road and people just aren’t paying attention to them anymore.''

Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Michigan State Police at (616) 866-6670.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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