Clovis News

2 cyclists severely injured in Eye-Q ride

Two accidents -- one that left a Bay Area woman near death -- marred what organizers called an otherwise successful weekend of cycling and running.

The Eye-Q California Classic Weekend event drew turn-away crowds of participants for a half marathon Sunday that included a run through the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

The 100-mile bike ride Saturday saw two serious crashes, unrelated but near each other on an eastern Fresno County road.

Crystel Stanford, 29, of San Carlos was seriously injured Saturday on Hills Valley Road near Highway 180, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Stanford was heading south on Hills Valley Road about 12:20 p.m. when she applied the brakes, skidded and was thrown to the pavement, the CHP said. She was taken to Community Regional Medical Center by helicopter and has been on life support.

"All of her organs are going to be donated per her instructions," said Callie Stanford, 25, her sister.

Crystel Stanford grew up in Chowchilla. According to her Facebook page, her activities and interests are bicycling and yoga.

Nancy Talley, assistant director of the event, said organizers were saddened by the accident, but considered the weekend event a success because of the number of participants. Organizers plan to hold the event again next year.

On Sunday, about 2,500 runners participated in a half marathon from Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno to Roeding Park and back again. About 400 people had to be turned away because organizers put a cap on the number of people who could participate, Talley said. Next year, more runners will be let in.

The weekend included a criterium race through downtown Fresno on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Bicycle riders in Saturday's century race "were ecstatic" about the route because it included riding for 10 miles on the Highway 168 freeway, she said.

But the Fresno County Fire Department responded to half a dozen incidents associated with the untimed "century" bicycle ride that originated and ended in Fresno. Two accidents ranked as serious, and one man was reported dead by CHP when he wasn't.

The two accidents occurred within a quarter of a mile of each other on Hills Valley Road, happened an hour and 15 minutes apart, and both victims had to be taken to Community Regional Medical Center by helicopter.

The CHP told The Bee on Saturday that two women were involved in separate bicycling accidents, and that one had died. On Sunday, the CHP reported instead that a man had died in one of the incidents -- only to rescind the report an hour later and say that he had suffered major injuries.

CHP spokesman Axel Reyes said he couldn't explain the mixups, but speculated that officers misunderstood information from sources or received incorrect information.

The man who was incorrectly reported to have died was identified by his wife as Jim Cameron, 49, of Clovis. He broke eight ribs when he was thrown into a sign post after a tire gave out. He also suffered a broken nose and cheekbone, a broken vertebrae in the neck, a collapsed lung and a broken scapula, said Cindy Cameron.

The incorrect report caused friends to call the family, she said.

"It's a little disturbing, even though we know it's not true," she said.

The good news, she said, is that Jim Cameron did not suffer a head or spinal cord injury.

"We're very, very thankful he's alive," Cindy Cameron said.