Cyclist critically injured in Emigration Canyon identified

Posted at 10:12 AM, Nov 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-13 19:19:39-05

EMIGRATION CANYON, Utah -- A 35-year-old Cottonwood Heights man remains in critical condition Wednesday afternoon after he was hit by a driver while riding a bicycle in Emigration Canyon.

It happened during the morning commute, just past Ruth’s Diner.

Police later identified the victim as 35-year-old Joseph Spataro of Cottonwood Heights. Officials said Thursday Spataro remains in critical but stable condition.

“In the early mornings you have people flying down, going to work going usually too fast,” said Taylor Baldwin, who often commutes up the canyon.

Police said the 17-year-old driver was heading down the canyon when she went over the line and crashed into a cyclist heading up canyon.

Investigators said the driver wasn't impaired, and speed doesn't appear to be a factor.

“We don't know exactly what caused the driver to veer over into oncoming traffic. We are going to look at all the possibilities,” said Lt. Justin Hoyal with the Unified Police Department.

Emigration Canyon is a high traffic area for both cars and bicycles. Cyclist Paul Gilmore said he’s had some close calls with cars, but he said often the blame should be shared.

“Cyclist have to do their part to stay out of the way, the car drivers are the 800-pound gorilla in any encounter,” Gilmore said.

Police diagrammed the scene to determine the speed and braking pattern of the driver, but they said the investigation may be hindered because someone drove off with a key piece of evidence.

“Apparently, shortly after the accident had taken place, a Good Samaritan took the bike to the victim at the hospital,” Hoyal said.  “It's one of those things that we would ask people to leave evidence at the scene, as it is critical to the investigation.”

As of now the driver has not been cited for the crash. The bicyclist is in critical condition but is improving at University Hospital.