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Sheriff: Driver asleep at wheel in car/bike fatal accident

Published On: Oct 09 2012 11:35:54 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 10 2012 11:00:29 AM CDT
WESTPORT TOWNSHIP, Wis. -

A driver involved in a fatal car/bike crash in the town of Westport Monday admitted he fell asleep at the wheel before the crash, according to the Dane County Sheriff's Department.

The crash killed Carrie Pete, 37, of Madison. The driver of the pickup, Timothy Grulke, 21, of Waunakee, was not injured in the crash.

Witnesses reported seeing the pickup truck Grulke was driving drifting toward the shoulder several times before striking the victim on the bike near Governor Nelson State Park in the Town of Westport.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said the pickup was traveling south on Highway M when it veered off the road and struck the cyclist shortly before 11:40 a.m.

A reconstruction at the scene closed the road for much of the afternoon.

Pete died at the scene.

It is the second bicycle fatality in Dane County in less than a week.

On Wednesday, a bicyclist collided with a car on Aberg Avenue on Madison's east side. The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office said Tyler Knipfer, 21, of Madison, was pinned beneath the vehicle and died several days later.

"The last bicycle fatality we had in Madison was in 2009. So we tend to have only one bicycle fatality every two to three years in Madison," said Arthur Ross, Madison bike and pedestrian coordinator.

Last year, the city of Madison saw 56 car-bike crashes in the first six months of the year. During the same time frame this year, there have been 53 car-bike crashes in Madison.

Nationwide, the number of car-bike crashes is at a historic low. Some said that's because there are fewer cars on the roads because of the economy and gas prices.

Ross said everyone who uses the roads should still watch for bicyclists.

"We need to be considerate and concerned about how we're driving. We're driving not only to protect ourselves in our vehicle and our passengers, but driving in a way that protects others that we're interacting with outside of our vehicle as well," Ross said.

In both fatal crashes, neither driver has been charged or cited.  

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