Show Low – Authorities are investigating why a 35-year-old man driving a bus collided with a group of bicyclists during a community race in Arizona, seriously injuring six.
The suspect, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition after fleeing the scene of the accident Saturday and being shot by police outside a nearby hardware store in the mountain town of Show Low, about three hours drive northeast of Fénix.
“We don’t know the motivation,” city spokeswoman Grace Payne told The Associated Press.
Four of the injured cyclists were hospitalized in critical condition and two others in critical but stable condition as of Saturday. One was airlifted to a hospital near Phoenix.
Authorities did not immediately provide updates on Sunday.
“This has been a horrible event,” said police spokeswoman Kristine Sleighter in a statement. “Our community is shocked by this incident and our hearts and prayers go out to the injured and their families at this time.”
Witnesses said crumpled and broken helmets, shoes and bicycles were strewn across the street after the crash, and a rubber was wedged into the grill of the bus, which had damage to the top and sides and a bullet hole in a window .
Police said a Ford bus struck the cyclists around 7:25 a.m. Saturday in downtown Show Low during the annual 58-mile Bike the Bluff race that featured 270 participants.
Tony Quiñones, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, told The New York Times that he had been riding for about six minutes with other cyclists 55 and older when a black pickup truck driving in the opposite direction crossed three lanes and headed toward the cyclists.
Quiñones said he assumed the driver was heading to a parking lot. Instead, the driver crashed directly into the cyclists ahead of the 55-year-old Quinones.
“He drove his bus directly and intentionally towards our group, and you could hear it accelerating,” Quiñones said, adding that he saw bicycles and bodies flying.
After the driver hit a telephone pole, the bicyclists ran toward the truck and began banging on the windows, yelling at the driver to get out, Quinones told the Times.
But instead of stopping, he said the driver stepped on the gas and backed up, drove down the road, made a U-turn, and then headed toward bicyclists.
Payne said the driver did not comply when officers tried to arrest him, but the circumstances of the shooting were not immediately disclosed.
The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety were assisting with the investigation.