Driver flees the scene after striking bicyclist in Atwater

A 49-year-old Atwater man suffered major injuries when he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on Shaffer Road, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The unidentified driver of the vehicle fled the scene before officers arrived, CHP officers said in a news release.

The bicyclist was identified as 49-year-old James Dautrich, Officer Moises Onsurez told the Sun-Star.

Dautrich was found on the side of Shaffer Road around 8:25 p.m. Friday. Another person riding a bicycle passed by and heard someone “pleading for help,” officers said in the statement.

It was unclear for how long Dautrich was left on the side of the road before the person, whose name was not released, came to help.

Dautrich was taken to Memorial North Hospital. His leg was broken, but he is expected to recover, investigators said.

Officers said Dautrich was riding south on Shaffer Road when his bicycle was struck from behind by an unidentified vehicle. Dautrich was thrown from his bike, crashed through a barbed-wire fence and landed in a field on the west side of the roadway.

After the collision, the vehicle fled south on Shaffer Road. A description of the vehicle was not released.

Investigators said unspecified physical evidence was collected at the scene and the driver is being sought by authorities.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Merced-area CHP office at 209-356-2956 or after business hours at 209-356-2900.