IMPD: Bicyclist was in bike lane when hit, killed by bus

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bicyclist was hit and killed by a school bus Thursday morning on the north side of Indianapolis.

Police officials at the scene said the person killed was a 23-year-old man riding a bike, later identified as Neil Kelty. He was riding in a bike lane.

The crash happened around 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of Westlane and Ditch roads. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officials said Kelty was westbound on Westlane Road going through the intersection while the bus was eastbound on Westlane making a left turn north onto Ditch Road. It wasn’t yet clear who was at fault.

The bus was an Indianapolis Public Schools bus being operated by Durham. No children were on board at the time. IPS officials said the bus was headed to Washington Township to pick up an out-of-district student to take to School 48. Only the driver and a bus monitor were on the bus at the time of the crash. IMPD officials said the bus driver, 72-year-old Bessie Smith, was shaken but not injured.

Damage was visible on the front of the bus; a windshield wiper was broken, a light was broken and there was damage to the front bumper. A helmet could be seen under the bus, and the bicycle was behind the bus.

“It’s horror because it could be you, it could be me. I ride my bike to work almost every single day,” said Kevin Whited.

Those were his first thoughts when he learned what happened when a bus and bicyclist crossed paths Thursday morning.

“I’ll have to say we’re really lucky we don’t have a lot of fatalities in Indianapolis. I think we had one last year,” he said.

Whited is the executive director of the Indianapolis Bicycle Advocacy Group (INDYCOG), and said even when both parties follow the rules things can go wrong.

Police said Kelty was using a bike lane and the bus driver wasn’t impaired nor was she speeding.

But the two still collided and Kelty died at the scene.

“It’s a huge vehicle to take care of just like a truck, semi. I know they take the responsibility, but a lot of times they have blind spots,” said Brandon Kuehl.

He said he rides his bike to work every day. He might not sit behind a steering wheel anymore, but he still acts like it.

“I like to think like a driver, predict what they’re going to do instead of what I’m going to do,” he said.

Besides thinking like them, Whited said bicyclists should make their presence known.

“Studies have shown the first thing a driver sees on a bicyclist is his helmet or his head. So wear a helmet and wear a bright colored helmet or a bright colored jacket,” Whited said.

And with it getting warmer out, Whited said the number of people riding down bike lanes and paths will only increase.

“You’re going to see a lot of new riders. Gas prices have gone up again so you’re going to see some people out,” he said.

Police said they weren’t able to determine what color the stoplight was during the crash. And even though the bus driver wasn’t impaired, they still plan on having her submit to a drug test.

Durham officials released the following statement about Thursday morning’s crash:

“Following the tragic accident this morning on Westlane Road in Indianapolis, the Durham family extends condolences to the family of the bicyclist.  We are working with the local authorities to determine the facts of the accident. The driver of our bus is cooperating with the local authorities and is very saddened by this event.  Durham takes safety seriously and is utilizing appropriate resources necessary to investigate this accident.” 

Investigators don’t believe speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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