CLEARWATER — Police are hoping the public can help them find a motorist who struck a pair of bicyclists early Monday on the Memorial Causeway, leaving both in critical condition.
On Monday afternoon, Hillary C. Michalak, 27, was at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where she was taken by helicopter. Robert W. Lemon, 25, was at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where he was taken by ambulance. The couple lives in Largo.
A passing motorist discovered them about 6:15 a.m. after noticing a set of handlebars in the eastbound lane of the roadway, which connects downtown Clearwater to Clearwater Beach.
The driver got out and saw a high-end tandem bicycle in the bike lane. The injured riders were in a grassy area nearby, about 50 feet apart, said Joelle Castelli, the city's public safety spokeswoman.
Authorities do not know how long they were lying there. Both suffered life-threatening injuries, Castelli said.
The road's eastbound lanes were shut down for about four hours while authorities investigated.
Chris Privitera, 29, lives next door to the couple. He said he didn't know they'd been in an accident until approached Monday afternoon by a TV crew.
"It's just terrible," he said.
Lemon manages a bike shop and both were avid riders, Privitera said. Lemon rode his bike to work, he said, and stored several bikes in their apartment.
Michalak is listed as director of youth and families at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Seminole. She moved a year ago from Michigan and "has a passion for the arts and fitness,'' a church biography says.
Several weeks ago, Privitera spoke with the couple in the parking lot. They were trying out a new tandem bike.
"They were super excited about it," Privitera said. "They would take it out all the time."
Police do not have any information on a suspect vehicle, Castelli said. Police are asking anyone with information about the accident to call (727) 562-4242.
Staff writer Stephen Nohlgrern contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.