x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Cyclist in morgue as frantic wife searched

Australian father, killed after being hit by car, lay in mortuary for hours as family and friends launched a desperate search for him.

DUBAI // Athletes have been urged to carry ID when cycling or running, after the body of a cyclist hit by a car lay unidentified in a morgue for several hours while his distraught family searched for him.

David Knight, 42, an Australian former serviceman and keen athlete, was hit by the car near the Global Village exit of the Dubai Bypass Road on November 4.

He was pronounced dead on arrival at a Dubai hospital.

Mr Knight had been alone on his way home to Motor City after a 120-kilometre ride with a 30-strong cycling group and support car.

The wife of another cyclist in the group drove past the accident site, raising the alarm. It took a full day to trace Mr Knight's body to a mortuary in Sharjah.

Paramedics at the scene could not find his identification or phone, or the ID tag on his bicycle 100 metres away, which meant hours of agony as his wife Samantha tried to find him.

Terry Hislop, the chairman of the Dubai Creek Striders running group, said athletes needed to realise how important it was to carry identification.

"We tell our runners to wear a tag, which fixes on to their running shoes, with all their information on it," said Mr Hislop, whose club holds a 21km run for about 130 people each Friday morning.

"It's important to let someone know if you're going out for a ride or run, where you're going and when you expect to be back."

Steve Watson, a triathlete and chairman of Abu Dhabi Striders running club who also rides with the Raha Revolution cycling group, said many members wore a wristband with information including blood type and emergency contact numbers.

"The best thing, though, is for people to carry their medical card," Mr Watson said. "Without it you can be turned away from a hospital, so that's the best thing you can have on you.

"It's another reason we urge people to never swap bibs in races as that number holds all our information on the athlete, emergency numbers, names, et cetera."

In the first nine months of this year there were 15 accidents in Dubai involving cyclists, with one death, two serious injuries and 12 moderate to minor injuries.

In the same period last year there were 22 accidents, with seven deaths, two serious injuries and 14 moderate to minor injuries.

Lt Col Saif Al Mazroui, the deputy head of the traffic department at Dubai Police, said the numbers of cyclists in the city had increased significantly in the past two years, and his team was campaigning for the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to introduce bike lanes in the city.

"During our regular coordination meetings with the RTA we continuously bring to their attention the importance of such lanes in reducing accidents," Lt Col Al Mazroui said. "They are concerned as much as we are in cutting down road deaths."

Mrs Knight is still awaiting the results of the post-mortem examination, which was delayed over the Eid break.

Mark Shepherd, a family friend who was cycling with Mr Knight on the morning of the accident, said Mrs Knight would return with the couple's two children, Lachlan, 8, and Eloise, 3, to their home in Australia when the body was released for the funeral.

"Sam wants to draw a line under what's happened and needs to be near her friends and family now," Mr Shepherd said.

Tributes to Mr Knight, a manager at Ericsson, poured in on a memorial website set up by friends and fellow athletes at the Dubai Roadsters.

"Eddie and Charlotte", cyclists who rode with Mr Knight four times a week, called him "a joy to be around".

"Cycling was part of who Dave was and he loved every push of the pedals," they posted. "He died doing something he was passionate about and something he truly loved."

His widow left a heartfelt tribute: "To my best friend, my husband, words cannot express the way I feel right now.

"I will miss everything about you, your constant wit and your kindness and caring nature that was often taken for granted. The love shown to me, Lachlan and Eloise was unconditional.

"Till we all meet again. Love Samantha, Lachlan and Eloise."

mswan@thenational.ae