It’s a sad task to write again about a local bicyclist hit by a vehicle. This time the cyclist was killed.
Iris Stagner, 54, of Mineral Wells, about 45 miles west of Fort Worth, died shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Monday on U.S. 180 about two miles west of Mineral Wells, said an online report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
She was hit from behind by a pickup as she was headed west on a bridge over the Brazos River, said a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper quoted by the Star-Telegram. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Each year, Stagner organized the local “Ride for Silence,” an annual worldwide event held in May to pay tribute to cyclists killed on the roadways and to promote cycling safety.
She also was known for organizing efforts to initiate campaigns to make county employees healthier by staging lunchtime walks around the courthouse.
The Mineral Wells Index quoted Sheriff Ira Mercer as saying that Stagner’s death appeared to be an accident and that the “setting sun likely played a factor.”
Stagner was reportedly riding with at least one other cyclist.
The Star-Telegram quoted DPS trooper Gary Rozzell as saying that the driver of the 2005 Chevrolet pickup, Theodore Fina of Mineral Wells, stopped after Stagner was struck. Fina wasn’t injured.
Rozzell said no charges against the driver have been filed, but that the investigation was continuing.
The Mineral Wells Index reported that Stagner’s husband, Butch Stagner, arrived at the scene and asked a deputy if his wife was involved.
“A few minutes later,” the paper reported, “Mercer drove across the bridge to personally deliver the somber news to Stagner. Both men embraced tightly as Mercer tried to console not only Stagner, but seemingly himself in having lost a friend and county co-worker.”
Stagner was reportedly set to retire in December and was in training for the Boston Marathon after recently receiving notice she had been accepted for participation in the event.
Palo Pinto County Judge David Nicklas told the Star-Telegram that Stagner rode her bicycle daily.
One local ride she participated in was on Sunday, Sept. 9, in Fort Worth. It was a benefit event to help pay the medical bills of Zac Ford, a cyclist who was struck by a hit-and-run driver on the night of Aug. 8 on Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth.
Ford spent two days in the hospital with a concussion, a head laceration and severe road rash. The driver who hit him is still at large.
Many of the riders who participated in that Sunday ride knew Stagner, had joined her on previous rides, had appreciated her contributions to the cycling community. So local cyclists are taking hard the news of her death.
A post on Facebook by Bernie Scheffler, a cyclist and co-owner of Trinity Bicycles in downtown Fort Worth, summed up the thoughts of many:
“My friends — especially my friends who aren’t cyclists — I have a challenge for you today: When you drive today, pay the fuck attention to every person you pass on the street. Think about WHO is driving that car in front of you. Think about how nice a day it is for that nice young lady to be out for a bike ride. Think about where that pedestrian is headed. Wonder about their families, their dreams.
“If you didn’t know Iris, think about how you would have felt if it had been me yesterday. And it damn sure could have been me, or any one of my friends.
“Think about what you need to change in your routine driving habits to be safer and more attentive. If there isn’t some kind of change in driver behavior, I’ll lose 10 more friends in the next 5 years. I’m sick and fucking tired of losing friends, and I’m not ready to leave my family behind, either.”