August 7, 2008
Most people trade in their bikes for more expensive wheels.
But Edgar "E.J." Juarez, one of two cycling enthusiasts killed in a head-on crash Wednesday, ditched his conventional ride for more primitive transportation.
"He didn't even own a car," said Juarez's roommate, Scott Boyer. "He rode his bike everywhere, 365 days a year."
Juarez, 30, and Jayson Kilroy, 28, were killed when a pickup truck hit them at 26th Street and Westend Avenue, police said.
They said they have no reason to suspect the bikers were doing anything wrong.
Barbara Thomas was driving the car, police say, and the 63-year-old was not wearing her required contact lenses when she tried to make a left-hand turn onto Westend Avenue from 26th Street, hitting Juarez and Kilroy. They were pronounced dead at the scene from multiple fractures and trauma.
The three cyclists riding with them were uninjured.
Thomas was under the influence of prescription drugs, but what those were won't be determined until results come in from tests, Colorado Springs Police Lt. David Whitlock said.
Thomas faces charges of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of drugs and driving with a restricted license.
At a memorial Thursday night, more than 100 cyclists showed up in front of Wooglin's Deli on Tejon Street and biked together the halfhour ride to the scene of Wednesday's crash.
"E.J. was one of those people you just loved immediately," said Scott Taylor, who knew both victims through the cycling community.
A candlelight vigil was set up at 26th Street and Westend Avenue. Two bikes painted white with yellow daisies and sunflowers leaned up against the light pole.
Friends and cyclists who didn't personally know Juarez or Kilroy but wanted to pay respects stood in silence for more than 20 minutes in the rain before one by one people stood to share memories of the victims.
Juarez and Kilroy could always be seen around town on their bikes.
Friends recall Juarez going as far as Aspen - on a single-speed bike.
"Cycling was everything to both of them," Boyer said of the Colorado Cyclist coworkers.
Juarez served in the Army from 1997-2003 and turned to biking as a way to remain active after tours in countries as distant as Germany and Bosnia, Boyer said.
The suburban Chicago native leaves behind his parents and an older sister.
Kilroy, from Houghton Lake, Mich., is survived by his mother, Rita, who was unavailable for comment.
Boyer described Kilroy as a "straight-laced" guy, who didn't drink and was into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts.
People who live near Thomas' former house on North 25th Street described the women as a loner who kept to herself.
Clint Howland, who lives across the street, said the only time he saw her was when she was driving her pickup truck.
"She's lived here forever, but we've never even had a conversation," he said.
Thomas will be advised of the charges against her Wednesday.
Colorado Cyclist owner Doug Bruinsma hired Juarez and Kilroy and said the store, made up of mostly younger employees, feels like it lost family members.
Their deaths are the 13th and 14th traffic deaths this year in Colorado Springs.
Of those, 11 have involved an impaired driver, police said.
"They were just such great kids, passionate and hardworking," Bruinsma said. "It's a sad day around here."
He said Kilroy was riding a new bike and added that even knowing the two were doing what they loved provided little comfort.
"For me, it's real hard when you think how young these guys were," he said.
Gazette staff writer Carlyn Ray Mitchell contributed to this report.