After brutal accident, Durango bicyclist is focused on recovery

Elizabeth Richards: ‘I don’t harbor any anger of anything’

Betsy Richards enjoys a day at a shopping mall in Centennial while being pushed by her daughter, Nora Richards, in December. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Joel Richards

Betsy Richards enjoys a day at a shopping mall in Centennial while being pushed by her daughter, Nora Richards, in December.

A Durango woman who was run over while she was cycling by a woman in her 60s driving a pickup two months ago in Bodo Industrial Park is making a slow but steady recovery in Denver.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Richards, 52, has undergone 13 surgeries – requiring her to be anesthetized 20 hours – to treat critical injuries, including a crushed pelvis.

During a phone interview this week, she said she feels lucky to be alive but unlucky to have been hit by a truck.

“I would say it was more of a bad day than a good day,” she said. “What a weird thing to have happen to me.”

Richards was run over by a 2007 Toyota Tundra driven by Linda Wagner, 64, of Bayfield, at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 8 near the north entrance of the Centennial Center.

Richards was riding a road bike southbound on the West Frontage Road when Wagner made a left turn in her northbound Toyota from the Frontage Road into a parking lot without seeing Richards.

“I don’t remember much, but all of a sudden, I woke up, and I was in the (intensive-care unit),” Richards said. “I remember the very beginning. I remember I was going to get hit by a truck.”

The pickup pushed Richards onto the hood. She then fell to the pavement and was run over by both tires on the driver’s side of the pickup, police said.

“It still just blows me away,” Richards said. “It was in the middle of the day. I was like: How could this truck possibly not see me? I remember that thought going through my brain.”

The driver was cited with careless driving causing serious bodily injury. She did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Richards was flown to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood with a shattered pelvis, a torn bladder, a crushed right wrist and nerve damage to her left foot.

A surgeon who specializes in pelvic reconstruction said he had never worked on someone who survived such extensive pelvic damage, Richards said.

She spent five weeks in the hospital. She now is living with her mother in Denver. She hasn’t been back to Durango since the accident because she must use a wheelchair and her house is not wheelchair-accessible, she said.

Doctors said it will be four more months before Richards can put enough weight on her hips to walk, but she is hoping it will be sooner.

“She’s very upbeat and very motivated to get healed,” said her husband, Joel Richards. “She’s going to the gym every day for about two hours a day and trying to get back together. Her spirits are great.”

Betsy Richards said she hasn’t had any contact with the driver of the truck.

“I don’t harbor any anger of anything,” she said. “I’m just moving on. It’s not pleasant for me, but this is where I’m at.”

Richards is an amateur cyclist and a member of the Durango Wheel Club. She has competed in several competitions, including the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, in which she took first place in her age division a couple years ago.

She recently founded Bucket List Bicycle Tours, a bicycle touring company, which she plans to start up again this spring.

She thanked the community for its support.

“Durango has just been awesome to me,” she said. Cards, flowers – just the mental support has been amazing to me.”

shane@durangoherald.com

An X-ray taken Jan. 9 of the work done on Betsy Richards’ pelvis. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Joel Richards

An X-ray taken Jan. 9 of the work done on Betsy Richards’ pelvis.

Linda Wagner, 64, of Bayfield is comforted by a passer-by after she accidently struck cyclist Elizabeth “Betsy” Richards, 51, of Durango at the north entrance of Centennial Shopping Center on Nov. 8, 2012. Richard’s bike is seen lodged under Wagner’s truck. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald file photo

Linda Wagner, 64, of Bayfield is comforted by a passer-by after she accidently struck cyclist Elizabeth “Betsy” Richards, 51, of Durango at the north entrance of Centennial Shopping Center on Nov. 8, 2012. Richard’s bike is seen lodged under Wagner’s truck.

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