The death of a 65 year-old bicyclist is the first traffic fatality in the Smithfield city limits this year.
Around 4:11pm on January 4th, Walter Ralph Bizzell of Smithfield was riding his bicycle southbound on N. Brightleaf Boulevard about 10 feet from the intersection of Hancock Street near the Johnston County Department of Social Services.
Police said a 2016 Ford SUV also traveling southbound and driven by Ashleigh Paige Woolsey, 28, of Raleigh struck the bicycle from behind, ejecting Bizzell onto the pavement. Bizzell was rushed by ambulance to Wake Med in Raleigh. Police said Bizzell died on January 8th as a result of his injuries.
A witness told police the SUV tried to stop suddenly. The report estimated the SUV was traveling the posted speed limit of 35 mph at the time of the collision. The bicycle was traveling approximately 5 mph.
According to a Smithfield Police report, Woolsey was blinded by the sun and did not see Bizzell until it was too late to avoid the collision.
Police presented their findings to the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office. Authorities decided not to pursue charges against the SUV driver, calling it a very tragic accident.