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Bicyclist who fell in road is run over by vehicle and killed in Smithton

Bicyclist who fell in road is run over by vehicle and killed in Smithton

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SMITHTON • A bicyclist on his way to work early Tuesday was killed after he fell off his bike and was run over by a vehicle, police say.

John Fudge, 39, of Belleville, was struck at about 5:30 a.m. on Douglas Road, about 200 feet west of Route 159.

Smithton Police Chief Brian Vielweber said it happened just before daybreak and the driver didn't see Fudge in the road. 

The driver, a 54-year-old man from rural Smithton, stopped after realizing he struck something. But he didn't know it was a person until he got out of his vehicle.

"He was very distraught," Vielweber said of the driver. "There is no indication, at this particular point, that another vehicle was involved or that there was any wrongdoing on anyone's part."

The driver was cooperating with investigators. No charges are planned because the chief said it appears to be an unfortunate accident. He said the driver will be stopping by the police station to talk with investigators again, later Tuesday.

Vielweber said it's not clear why Fudge was in the road in the first place.

Fudge was riding a motorized bicycle to work, as he usually does, to save money. The bike is equipped with a small horsepower engine. Fudge works in construction.

He was riding west in the eastbound lane of Douglas Road. Again, that could have been his routine, police say. Vielweber said investigators were told by those who knew Fudge that Fudge did this so he could see oncoming traffic. In Illinois, state law requires bicyclists to ride in the same direction as other traffic.

A woman driving along saw Fudge in the road and stopped to help. She pulled off the roadway, onto the shoulder of the westbound lane. She approached Fudge and talked with him. He asked for help.

"We're not exactly sure how, but he somehow ended up in roadway on the pavement," the chief said.

As the woman turned away to call 911, the other vehicle came up and ran over Fudge.

Douglas Road is a two-lane county highway with a stripe down the middle and shoulders on both sides. Vielweber said there is a slight grade in the pavement there, and it was dark outside. The car that struck Fudge had been slowing down as it approached Route 159. 

After striking Fudge, the vehicle stopped within 50 feet.

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