June 28, 2011
The flowers and cards of condolence seem slightly out of place on the counter at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
They're there in memory of William Byas, an employee who was killed in a hit-and-run crash while riding his bike home from the fast-food restaurant on South Circle Drive near Verde Drive early Saturday morning.
“I was kind of in shock,” said Richard Jones, the assistant manager of the Popeyes where Byas worked. He said Byas was a giving person, often buying food for those who were unable to pay.
“He’d do anything for anybody,” said Jones. “If anyone needed anything, he was there for them.”
Byas held two jobs and biked to both. He made sure his bike was properly lit, Jones said. He had worked at the Popeyes for about a year and took the same route home.
Byas hasn’t been the only cycling victim in the area. Last year, John Smalls, a server’s assistant at a Denny’s restaurant, also was struck by a hit-and-run driver about a half mile farther south on Circle at Monterey Road while riding his bike home from work early in the morning.
Smalls was badly injured but survived. The driver who hit Smalls also fled and has never been identified
Colorado Springs City Council member Tim Leigh, a proponent of bicycle safety, said the incidents shows a need for greater public awareness and vigilance.
“Once is random,” Leigh said. “Twice might indicate it might not be a safe place to ride their bike.”
While Leigh believes Colorado Springs should have more bike lanes and safety features for cyclists, he admits that not every road should have a lane for bikers — roads with high speed limits or heavy traffic might not be appropriate for bike lanes.
“It’s hugely unfortunate,” Leigh said. “But I don’t know what you can do.”
The driver suspected of hitting Byas, Mark L. Doutt, had two prior DUIs, one in 1987 and one in 2006. It is not known if Doutt was drinking before the incident. The driver who struck Byas left him to die by the side of the road, something Jones said was unacceptable.
“I know people make mistakes,” Jones said, “But you don’t leave someone there like that.”