BELFAST, Maine — A local pediatrician was badly banged up but escaped major injury Saturday morning during the Waldo County YMCA triathlon, when a car pulled out of a driveway and directly into the path of his bicycle.
Dr. Joe Anderson said Monday that he had been working hard to pass another cyclist, Roberto Lopez-Anido of Orono, and was coming down a hill on Route 3 at more than 35 mph.
“I had about three seconds to react,” he said Monday afternoon.
He tried to swerve to avoid the car but in the end went airborne and launched himself over the vehicle, hitting the windshield with his body and then smacking the pavement hard with his face. The doctor remained conscious in the middle of the busy road with an elbow that was “destroyed,” a knee with a big laceration and glasses that were broken.
Lopez-Anido, who was just behind Anderson and saw the accident, applied his brakes.
“He complimented me on my aeronautical abilities, then stopped and helped move traffic out of the way, so people wouldn’t drive into me,” Anderson said. “He was apparently a real hero. He held up his bike to get the drivers’ attention, so they wouldn’t run over me. He could have saved my life.”
Dale Cross, executive director of the YMCA, said that Lopez-Anido was vying for first place in his age group and ended up coming in second by 30 seconds after he stopped to help Anderson, who was taken to Waldo County General Hospital for surgery.
“The person that was down on the pavement was the most important thing,” Cross said. “Roberto felt that he had won something because he helped. I can say that he was amazing. That’s the kind of behavior we try to encourage here at the Waldo County Y.”
Officer Wendall Ward of the Belfast Police Department said that police are not charging the driver of the car, who was from out-of-town.
“Ultimately, he failed to yield the right-of-way,” Ward said. “But it was raining real hard. They had no intent. It was one of those things.”
The driver felt terrible, he said, and went to the hospital to check on Anderson, whose body had hit the windshield hard enough to break it and render the car undrivable.
“This should have been an Ironman contest because he’s such a tough guy,” Ward said of Anderson.
For his part, Anderson said he feels grateful his injuries were not worse, and he expects to participate again in the triathlon, which drew 181 registrants this year.
“I’ve done it every year, and I’d do it again absolutely, in a heartbeat,” he said. “People just have to be cautious and look out for bikes on the road.”