May 24, 2017
Nicky Hayden Accident: Family, Friends Mourn Racer's Passing, Italian Police Begin Investigation

Italian police have launched an investigation into the accident that claimed the life of former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden. Hayden, 35, passed away on May 22 from injuries sustained during the accident.

ESPN reported that on May 17, Hayden was riding his bicycle near Italy's Rimini Coast when he collided with a Peugeot. The racer was thrown from his bicycle. The article noted that the Peugeot had a smashed windshield. Hayden received emergency treatment at the scene of the accident, before being transported to Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in nearby Cesena.

The Kentucky native had competed in a race in nearby Imola only days before the tragic accident. He had remained in Italy to train.

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, Hayden's sponsor, released a statement this past Monday confirming his passing. The team said that Hayden's mother Rose, brother Tommy, and fiancee Jackie were by his side when he passed.

"The 'Kentucky Kid' will be sorely missed by all that ever had the pleasure of meeting him or the privilege of see him race a motorcycle around a track, be it dirt or asphalt."
Tommy Hayden, Nicky's older brother, expressed deep gratitude to the fans who had reached out to the Hayden family and Nicky's fiancee Jackie.
"Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that."
Tommy Hayden thanked the hospital staff who had cared for Nicky, and expressed hope that the family would be able to return to the U.S. with the late racer within a few days.
As news spread of Nicky Hayden's untimely passing, many of his friends and fans, and one legendary racetrack, took to various social media outlets to express their shock and sadness over the news, as well as support for Nicky's family.
While Hayden's family and friends mourn, Italian officials hope to give Nicky's family answers about the accident that claimed his life.

Italian police have launched an investigation to determine the cause or causes of the accident.

The Daily Express reported that Rimini's deputy prosecutor had appointed a specialist to "ascertain exactly what happened" prior to the car and bicycle colliding. Orlando Omicini has been tasked with heading up the investigation. The report listed two key factors that Omicini and his team will examine during their probe – the speed of the Peugeot and reports that Hayden had been listening to his iPod and might not have heard the approaching vehicle. While an iPod was found at the scene, officials have not confirmed that it belonged to anyone that was involved in the crash.

The driver of the Peugeot will be vital to investigators as they attempt to piece together a reconstruction of the moments leading up to the accident. The 30-year-old consented to a Breathalyzer and it was determined that he was not over the legal alcohol limit.

In a separate article, the Daily Express revealed that a resident's state-of-the-art surveillance system may have captured the moments leading up to the accident. The report, which cited Italian newspaper Rimini Today, said that the images from the system were "of good quality" and that investigators have reviewed the footage.

The investigation into the accident is expected to take two months, with the findings due by mid-July.

On the same day that Hayden passed, another athlete died in the same hospital, under eerily similar circumstances. According to Cycling Tips, on May 15, Julia Viellehner was struck by a truck while riding her bicycle in the Apennines Mountains. Following the accident, the German triathlete, 31, was transported to the same hospital in Cesena, where she passed only hours before Hayden.

Both accidents occurred only one week after three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome was involved in a scary incident in France. The Kenyan-born cyclist posted a picture of his crumpled bicycle on Twitter. According to Froome, an impatient driver had intentionally rammed his bicycle.

On the same day of Hayden's accident, the annual Ride of Silence was held globally. The ride is held in honor of cyclists who have been injured or died as the result of a motor vehicle accident. In an interview with the Sicklerville Sun, organizer Debbie Kaighn stressed the importance of patience and mutual respect.
"Don't try to scoot around us if there are other cars in the way and you can't pass safely. We just ask that [motorists] share the road with us. Give us respect and we will respect you."
According to a U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report that was released earlier this year, more than 800 cyclists were killed as a result of a crash with an automobile in 2015.

[Featured Image by Mark Mainz/Getty Images for Red Bull]