Bicyclists in fatal Goodyear incident were friends riding route for over a decade

Feb 28, 2023, 4:25 AM

The group of bicyclists had been friends, some who have traveled the route for over a decade. (Face...

The group of bicyclists had been friends, some who have traveled the route for over a decade. (Facebook Photo/Anne Griner McCrary)

(Facebook Photo/Anne Griner McCrary)

PHOENIX — The bicyclists involved in a fatal incident in Goodyear over the weekend were friends who had been safely riding the route for more than a decade.

Paul Theisen from Goodyear, a cyclist with the West Valley cycling group for nearly 20 years, said he was fortunately late to the scene, trailing behind about a mile when the group was plowed by a truck on Saturday.

“As far as what I saw, I just saw chaos, carnage,” Theisen said following a press conference on Monday.

“I’ve never been to a hospital visit where I had to visit five people at once, and that happened yesterday and today.”

He described the path the group would take as the safest and widest location they rode, with two lanes, a bike path and minimal traffic during that time of day.

“We’ve been doing this ride over that bridge for probably — as soon as the bridge was available to us 12-13 years ago … Occasionally, there might be a little bit of wavering, but the laws allow us 3 feet of space and we did not get 3 feet of space,” Theisen said.

For the group, their scheduled ride was a regular Saturday occurrence.

“They’re just great friends … a lot of really good people from the West Valley ride that ride and I don’t think people have any idea of the friendships and camaraderie that comes from that,” he added.

Among the dead included 61-year-old Karen Malisa of Goodyear, a friend of Theisen and others in the group.

“I knew Karen pretty well, and I rode with her a lot. She’s an amazing person, former teacher from the West Valley … and she’s a very positive, jovial, happy person. Sadly, I didn’t know the visiting person from Michigan,” Theisen said.

Bicyclists Steven Rhone, also part of West Valley Cycling group for about 20 years, was one of the riders struck but not hospitalized.

Rhone said since the incident, he’s “holding up pretty good.”

“We visited our friends today at the hospital and they’re fighting,” he said.

“I remember it all because what actually struck me wasn’t the truck, it was the actual bodies and bike parts that were being pushed up from behind, into me.”

Twenty people had been riding in the group on Cotton Lane south of County Road 85.

The investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

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Bicyclists in fatal Goodyear incident were friends riding route for over a decade