'Speed Kills' - Bike loses control on the Sammamish trail - Users express concern over no policing

Wife of husband who was killed in a bicycle accident along a Sammamish trail warns of the dangers of riding too fast

November 25, 2002

By Emily Langlie

SAMMAMISH, WA- It is both difficult and comforting for Pat Freund to walk a stretch of the Sammamish trail where just a few months ago her husband George was killed in a bicycle accident as they rode together.

"I saw the bike rider lose control," she said. "I could tell that he was losing control and the bike flew across the bridge and that was right in front of George."

Fifty-five-year old George Freund, a devoted father of four and husband, was airlifted to Harborview, but he never regained consciousness from massive head injuries. His bike helmet couldn't save him.

"No, I never would have thought of this as dangerous," Pat Freund said. "Being off the street and away from cars made me feel safe."

But spend any time on the trail and you'll see bicyclists speeding by. With a radar gun, we clocked riders going 20... 22 miles per hour. The posted speed is 15 mph and in some places, it's 10.

"Not only do they go fast, they go by in pairs and threes with no regard for pedestrians," said Carol Arnuado. "And you ask if it feels unsafe and not only does it feel unsafe to me."

One jurisdiction, Lake Forest Park Police, does try to enforce speed limits, but few others do. Commander Scott Drown fears there will be more fatal accidents.

"Speed kills, it's a simple matter of physics," said Drown. "You can only stop in a certain amount of distance."

So how many serious accidents are there on the bike trails? No one knows. Police departments don't keep that data. And most shocking of all -- we found that in the Freund case and at least one other serious accident ,the medic crews never called police to investigate what happened.

"There are people that use that trail every day... here someone is killed in an accident and there is no police investigation," said attorney Ralph Brindley. "Doesn't make sense."

Until Brindley hired a private investigator, Pat Freund didn't even know the identities of the bikers involved in the accident. They never called -- never wrote -- never expressed any sorrow.

"Must of been fast because of the way he crashed even...he was going fairly fast," Pat Freund said.

Pat knows an investigation wouldn't change the outcome, but it might answer some of the questions that still haunt her.

"They would have had witnesses... they would have talked to people," she said. "I guess it would help because maybe someone else saw how he fell.

"I haven't been angry yet, but I know it might come. I think it's because it's just incredibly sad. You know you just don't get out of that so easily."

Pat Freund's attorney is now in touch with the insurance company for the two bike riders, but the family's concern is people know about the dangers on the trails.

Following that accident, King County police issued new rules to the medics so they are called in now for serious accidents on the bike trails.


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