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Driver who left NYC cyclist in intensive care sues him for damage to car

Kionnei Lyons says it’s unfair that John Roemer got compensation, but she didn’t

A New York City cyclist who spent three days in intensive care after being hit from behind by a motorist is being sued by the driver for the damage sustained by her vehicle as it dragged his bike along after the collision.

Installation artist John Roemer says it was only by rolling to the side of the road after the crash in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in May this year that saved him from more severe injuries than the multiple pelvic fractures he suffered when he was hit by an Infiniti saloon driven by 25-year-old fashion photographer, Kionnei Lyons.

“I just got slammed from behind, and I didn’t know she was even close to me,” the 27-year-old told the website Vocativ.com. “I fell to the side, and the bike and the car kept going,” he went on. “She had to stop because the steel frame was dragging.”

He said the motorist asked him, “What happened?” and “Are you OK?” Officers from the New York Police Department arrived on the scene, as did the driver’s boyfriend, with Roemer recalling, “He was like, ‘What happened to my car?’”

The cyclist cannot clearly recall how he incident happened, and is still recuperating. “It’s not just the pain from the broken bones but the muscles in my leg and aches. There could be some nerve damage,” he said.

His bike was written off, with Lyons’ insurance company reimbursing him for that, as well as the hospital bills he had to pay.

Now, however, the driver is pursuing a small claim against him for $2,000 in respect of the damage to the car – a sum he says he cannot afford to pay.

“It’s like, do you not get it?” he said. “I don’t have $2,000.”

Lyons herself told Vocativ.com that the incident wasn’t her fault, although she didn’t say she was blaming Roemer, either.

“There was no bike lane,” she explained. “There was a large truck that caused us to merge.”

She added: “The car was not able to drive away at all,” something Roemer, who says he observed her depart in the vehicle with her boyfriend afterwards, disputes.

“The inside of her wheel was kind of messed up, but afterwards the car drove away,” he maintained. “It was just like some cosmetic damage.”

Nevertheless, the driver insists she is due compensation, saying: “I got zero, zip dollars, and he got paid a lot of money. All I’m doing is taking him to court for my car damages. I need to get paid for my car damages.”

Daniel Flanzig, a lawyer acting for Roemer, aims to get the case thrown out. He said:  “This is somebody who doesn’t take responsibility for her actions. There was zero responsibility on John’s part in causing this crash. I have no idea what’s in this woman’s head.”

After news broke of the lawsuit, Lyons changed the name of her Twitter account – leaving the way open for someone who is firmly on the cyclist’s side to set up a spoof account using the motorist’s first name and surname.

Some may view the use the spoof account's use of an avatar of a photograph of a high-profile incident in Mexico in 2008 in which one cyclist died and more than a dozen others were injured after a drunk driver from the US ploughed into a bike race as being in questionable taste.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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