ST. GEORGE, Utah - The sun is being blamed for an accident that took the life of a St. George bicyclist Tuesday evening, and his friends remember the cyclist as a fierce friend who always helped others fulfill their goals.
Braydon Nielson, 36, was riding west on State Route 7 with a group of bicyclists when he was hit from behind by a car. The driver of that minivan told Utah Highway Patrol troopers he had been blinded by the sun and didn’t see Nielson.
“He didn’t know what he hit,” UHP Sergeant Jacob Hicks said. “He stopped and came back and was quite shocked.”
Nielson was wearing a helmet, but he died on the roadway. UHP officials said the driver of the minivan and other cyclists rushed to help, but there wasn’t anything they could do.
“There’s no indication of reckless driving, or distracted driving, other than he could see he was on the road, but especially not the bike," Hicks said.
Hicks said SR 7, also known as the Southern Parkway, is a popular spot for bicyclists because there’s often little traffic. UHP officials are conducting a full investigation, but they said preliminary reports show Nielson was inside the lane of travel when he was hit. Hicks said even so, motorists have a responsibility to share the road and give way to cyclists.
Nielson leaves behind a wife and four children, ages ranging from 5 to 13. He worked as a Life Flight nurse, so even though Nielson died at the scene, his co-workers flew him to the hospital.
“You really don’t know how someone actually affects your life until they’re gone,” said Nielson’s friend and fellow tri-athlete Ryan Duckworth.
Duckworth said Nielson’s sudden death has been felt by several community groups, as he was someone who lived to inspire others.
“Everything was positive with Braydon,” Duckworth said. “He was somebody that you just wanted to be around, and you knew you were just going to feel great being around. So it’s hard when someone like that leaves us.”
Duckworth said Nielson had just completed his first half Ironman in Boise, which was a major goal for Nielson. He’d been training for several years by competing in smaller marathons and in the St. George half Ironman back in May.
“He had a phrase or a term that was synonymous with him, and that was the word ‘Booyah,’” Duckworth said. “It was just infectious, and it brought a positive attitude and excitement and encouragement and that’s what Braydon was all about.”
Friends have set up a memorial fund for Nielson’s family at Wells Fargo Bank. In honor of his “never give up” attitude, they’ve named it the Braydon Nielson “Booyah” Memorial Fund.