DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A memorial bike now rests where a Durham cyclist was struck in a hit-and-run crash last Sunday. Matthew Simpson, 40, was taken to the hospital and died from his injuries.
His wife Allison Simpson said she is still in shock. She said Simpson was intelligent, creative, and a devoted father.
“He wanted to spend time with his family above anything else,” she said.
That’s what Matthew Simpson was doing last Sunday. It was a family ride home from the museum, Matthew riding in front and Allison riding on a bicycle behind him, pulling their four-year-old son and one-year-old daughter.
Simpson said her husband was crossing the street at Westover Park. He had the green walk sign, and there was a car coming from far away on Guess Road.
“I just thought oh my god that car is going so fast, and I was like oh my god that car is not stopping, and they never stopped,” she said. “No, never stopped, they were going so fast and hit him so hard.”
Durham Police have identified Omari Newsome as the suspect. He is not in custody.
Durham police charged him with felony hit and run with serious injury, felony conspiracy, driving while license suspended, failure to reduce speed and failure to stop at a steady red light.
They’re also looking for a gray or silver 2011-2014 Volkswagen Jetta with suspected damage to the front right grill and windshield.
John Tallmadge, the Executive Director of Bike Durham, weighed in on the tragic accident.
He said there are “feelings of fear that this could happen to anybody on Durham streets now because we don’t protect people while biking and walking well enough.”
Tallmadge also said a cyclist or pedestrian is seriously injured or killed, on average, every 16 days in Durham.
Tallmadge said a yellow sign in the crosswalk warning drivers that there or cyclists and pedestrians has been put in place since the crash, but more needs to be done. He wants to see protected bike lanes and narrower lanes for cars along Guess Road.
“By narrowing the space it means it’s less distance for anyone to cross, and it tends to slow down drivers,” Tallmadge said.
Simpson said she also has concerns about the intersection.
She said the white bicycle represents many things including her husband’s legacy and the many memories the family had at Westover Park and the nearby trail.
“There was a life that is gone that impacted so many people,” she said.
The couple was married for eight years and together for nearly two decades. She hopes the suspect will be found. Durham Police are asking anyone with information to contact them.
Bike Durham said it plans to hold an event to honor Simpson’s life.