A woman has been charged with drunken driving after she allegedly struck a cyclist near the Seward Highway Monday afternoon, leaving the rider critically injured.
Synda Collins, 26, is charged with first-degree assault and operating under the influence in the collision, Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Renee Oistad said in a statement Tuesday.
The crash, reported to police at about 4:15 p.m. Monday, occurred as Collins' 2014 Dodge sedan was headed west in the far right lane of Abbott Road just east of the Seward Highway overpass.
"The bicyclist was traveling eastbound in the same westbound lane as Collins was in," Oistad wrote. "The bicyclist, who was wearing a helmet, was transported to the hospital with a critical head injury. He remains hospitalized at this time."
Oistad said the cyclist was "hit on his bike, flew up and hit the windshield, and then hit the ground."
The charges against Collins say "the roads were dry and the weather was clear and sunny."
A witness told police Collins' car "punched it," accelerating quickly after the light turned green at an intersection, according to the charges. The witness also said the car drifted toward the centerline and then corrected toward the curb.
"A second witness observed Collins 'looking down' at something at the time of the collision," the charges say.
Officers conducted sobriety tests on Collins and arrested her. According to the charges, Collins provided a breath test to police at 6:49 p.m. that returned a blood alcohol level of .167.
Collins was held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on $15,000 bail, with a court-approved third-party custodian required for release. An Anchorage District Court judge kept those conditions in place during an arraignment at the local jail Tuesday.
Collins asked for and was granted a public defender. She told the judge she has a job, and her only asset is the Dodge involved in the collision.
District Attorney Clint Campion noted during the hearing that Collins is on probation in both state and federal criminal cases. She was previously convicted of conspiracy to launder drug proceeds in the federal case, according to her charges.
On Monday, police said both the car and the bicycle were headed westbound, but Oistad said Tuesday that wasn't the case. Witnesses told police the cyclist had been riding in the lane.
"It wasn't until after the scene was processed that we discovered the bicyclist had actually been traveling against traffic," Oistad wrote. "…(H)e was in the lane and going the wrong way which is illegal the same way it is for a car."
Traveling the wrong way on a roadway carries the same citation for cyclists as it does for drivers, but no specific citations against the injured man had been issued Tuesday.
"The fine is the same – but the motorist gets the points on their license while the bicyclist does not," Oistad wrote.
Police on Tuesday urged drivers and cyclists alike to exercise caution as summer approaches and more bikes take to the roads.
"As a reminder during this bicycle season, it's important for motorists to keep an eye out for bicyclists," Oistad wrote. "It's also important that bicyclists comply with the rules of the road.
"If a bicyclist chooses to ride in the roadway, then they must comply with all traffic rules which include riding in the same direction as traffic flow. If a bicyclist is riding on a bike path, then they are subject to the rules which apply to pedestrians."