Cycling group goes down in “chain reaction” after clipped by truck on Snelling ride

Three cyclists were taken to the hospital Thursday after a Mariposa man driving a Dodge Ram swiped them on Snelling Road, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Just before 6 p.m., nine cyclists were headed north on Snelling Road, north of La Paloma Road. The most of the group was riding on the shoulder of the road, though a few may have been in the northbound lane, said Officer Eric Zuniga, a CHP public information officer.

The Dodge Ram driver, 81-year-old Alvin Parkerson, also was headed north on Snelling Road behind the cycling group. Parkerson attempted to squeeze between the cyclists and southbound traffic to pass the cycling group on the two-lane road, authorities said.

Parkerson’s passenger side mirror struck four cyclists in the group, causing a “chain reaction” that led to each of the cyclists in the group crashing, the cyclists said.

“There were people and bikes flying everywhere,” said Charlotte Hart, one of the cyclists. “I vividly remember the mirror exploding. I looked back and saw everyone on the ground.”

Two cyclists were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Merced by ambulance. A third was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. The fourth injured cyclist refused treatment, Zuniga said.

Parkerson stayed at the scene of the crash and cooperated with officers. He likely will receive an unsafe passing violation, Zuniga said.

Hart, a teacher at Atwater High School, said a group of about 20 people get together once a week for the ride to Snelling. The group has seen rude drivers occasionally who will give cyclists the middle finger, but most rides are a good experience, she said.

Zuniga said in this instance, the cyclists had the right of way and were obeying all traffic laws. “Cyclists have the right of way and can occupy the lane,” he said.

Zuniga reminded motorists that summer is approaching, and more cyclists will be on the roadways. It’s important to remember the “three-feet” law, which says a car passing cyclists should not do so unless there’s more than three feet between the vehicle and bicycles.

“Slow down, and be patient,” Zuniga said.

Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477