Editor’s note: I contacted William Abate, the father of Sam Abate, the cyclist who was struck by a driver on May 20th. The driver fled the scene and was later arrested when she allegedly tried to repair the damage to her vehicle. According to a second email, Sam will be going home tomorrow to continue outpatient rehabilitation.

Sam Abate, left, with father William Abate.

I have included two graphic images of Sam at the end of this post. Sam’s father William said, “I truly think that people need to be engaged by the ugly truth of these hit and run attacks on cyclists.” If you do not want to see the images, do not scroll to the bottom of the post.

Here is what William said in his email:

I have been an avid cyclist for just over a decade and have been fortunate enough to have my sons join me for periods here and there. My son Sam is 23 and we had hoped to begin a summer of cycling together both to regain strength that we have both lost over the last year or so due to our many other obligations. Sam is part of the hardcore music scene in Tucson, a full-time student (transferring to the U of A this fall) and he has a job.

We did a short ride on May 14th and were both excited to spend some time together.

On Friday, May 20th Sam took off for a short ride North on Swan to Sunrise, over to Craycroft, and back to Pima and Rosemont where he lives.

As he was traveling North on Swan, at the 3400 block North, just where the bike lane expands from a few feet to a full car-lane wide, he was struck from behind at an estimated 45 mph.

The woman driving, talking on her cell phone, weaving in and out of traffic, and caught moments earlier by the red-light camera at Grant and Swan for blowing through that intersection, never even stopped.

She initially misled witnesses by putting on her flashers and slowing down, but as soon as passersby began rendering aid to my critically injured son she fled the scene. Someone had the where-with-all to pursue her but stopped because of safety concerns.

Among the dozen or so people that stopped were two physicians.

From that moment to now an orchestra of perfect events took place to save Sam from death.

He sustained a massive head injury with skull fractures and a clot that had to be surgically removed, a broken jaw, a broken cheek, a broken leg, a broken wrist/thumb, whiplash, and a ridiculous amount of road rash.

He has made it through three surgeries and was initially on a ventilator and tube feedings, receiving around the clock sedation and pain medication.

While my ex-wife is awesome at the silent vigil, I was unable to sit still and decided to rally the media in hopes of catching this person. It worked. We did have a description of the driver and car, a young woman with reddish hair, driving a newer model black Nissan Altima. Witnesses also reported that her car had extensive front end damage, and that her windshield had a soccer-ball size hole on the passenger side from Sam’s head!

Four days later Damon Ashcroft from AAG (a windshield replacement company) noticed a suspicious looking windshield that a tech had brought in from a private residence. Although the customer said that a rock had been thrown through her windshield, Damon questioned the blood and hair, which she later told him was from a bird!

Damon called police, who later arrested this 21 year old woman, Abigail A. Allin.

She denied everything.

She was charged with a three Class Two Felonies, leaving the scene of a serious accident involving injury or death, tampering with evidence, driving on a suspended license, and no insurance. She will also be charged with failing to stop at a red light.

Sam is now at Health South for intensive rehab. And we hope to have him home in a week or so, as so much of what needs to be addressed cannot be done until his casts are removed.

Sam was healthy, strong, and full of life. And what people truly need to understand is that while all of the physical injuries heal within a couple of months, a traumatic brain injury, and the stress of being trapped inside a broken body can be unbearable.

While all of his damage only took seconds to inflict, his recovery will take years! Sam’s real fight right now is to maintain a positive attitude so that he can deal with this each day…

His brother Graham graduated from Catalina Magnet High School last Wednesday and the two had tickets to Rain-fest in Seattle. Many of the performers have offered to take up collections for Sam.

A benefit concert was done in Phoenix last week. Fender donated two guitars signed by Rancid and Rise Against so that his friends could auction them off, and there will be a benefit show at Jacobs YMCA on June 12th.

We have set up an account at Wells Fargo: The Samuel Abate Donation Account.

The news of this tragic event has been forwarded through Mac Graham of Sabino Cycles, Jean Gorman of the Brad Gorman Foundation, and by Richard DeBernardis of the PBAA.

As a family we are thankful to all of the people at the scene, TFD, TPD, UMC, Health South, and all of the people that have held Samuel in love through their thoughts and prayers.

Here are related stories:

Online music effort to help bicyclist injured in hit-run

Arrest made in hit-and-run of Tucson cyclist

Caution, graphic images of Sam Abate’s injuries below.












15 thoughts on “Update on injured cyclist Sam Abate”
  1. Horrifying.

    PS: Is “zz” spamming for tucsonauto.com? Seeing as there’s no forum there? Or is he being sarcastic? In either case, it’s inappropriate, and I will make sure never to visit that site again.

  2. Hi, Mark,

    ZZ is a regular reader and cyclist. There isn’t actually a tucsonauto.com. It forwards to tucsonautoS.com.

     I believe ZZ’s point is that motorists need to see the photos in order to realize what automobiles can do when they hit cyclists and pedestrians.

  3. Yes, thanks….my point was a “preaching to the choir” reference. Sorry for any confusion.
    I don’t know why anyone would think someone would come on this site and advocate for cars, especially in reference to a serious injury. This is not the ADS comment site.

    How many of these injury/deaths have we read about since the rise of cycling blogs.
    Each one chips away at the safety perception of the ‘interested, but concerned’ potential rider the city tries to attract and gives me pause to support the city’s effort toward that end until the callous, carelessness of current drivers gets somehow dealt with.

    And,  please be alerted to the awful condition created by construction on Congress/Toole at 4th Ave.  The right lane closure forces an intolerable approach to the tracks going into the underpass. Avoid at all costs.

  4. Truly horrible.  I admire the father for releasing a few graphic photos to the press; not sure I would’ve had the same courage and media savvy at such a stressful time.  Tucsonans really do need to see what we’re up against here, and I hope this tragedy wakes a few people up.  Much respect to Sam and his family.


  5. Ewww, just wondering if he was wearing a helmet and if it worked. Hope there’s no permanent damage. 🙁

  6. Even if he was wearing a helmet, he was hit from behind by a car that was estimated to be traveling at 45 mph. He might have been thrown from his bike with so much force that the helmet was destroyed.

  7. Even if he was wearing a helmet, he was hit from behind by a car that was estimated to be traveling at 45 mph. He might have been thrown from his bike with so much force that the helmet was destroyed.

  8. If people would like to see an “attempted murder” charge, then you’ll have to petition your lawmakers to enact such a change to the law, and then it would apply after the law was enacted.  In any case, it’s up to the courts and/or a jury to decide the fate of the driver accused of this.  This might be a good opportunity (one of many) to encourage lawmakers to pass some legislation designed to bring stronger penalties when pedestrians and cyclists are struck as the result of willful ignorance.  I’m not saying this girl was willfully ignorant, but there should be harsher penalties when such things happen.

    As for whether the rider had a helmet on, it’s also important to consider whether he had it fit appropriately or not.  I see a large number of cyclists around town that do not know how to properly fit/wear a helmet.  No matter the case, if his helmet was destroyed by the impact, that’s good because the energy spent to destroy the helmet wasn’t imparted to his head.  Anything done to decrease energy imparted to the rider’s head is always good.

    FWIW, the European Union is much further ahead in helmet specs than the US.  The CE standard (at least for motorcycle lids) has a significantly lower  maximum g-loading spec than US standards.

  9. Thank you all for your concern for my son and the many other cyclists out there. I rode this morning, for the first time since the accident and made sure that North Swan was on the route. I have ridden this stretch of road a thousand times and it is still one of my favorites. I don’t typically ride with groups because I appreciate the solace of a good ride and have always enjoyed the tranquility and peace that falls upon me while I am riding.
    With that said, there are “bad” automobile operators out there and there are “bad” cyclists out there too. In the last eleven years I have viewed my bike as a vehicle and follow the laws for vehicles on our roads. Because we as cyclists are the minority, I feel it is imperative that we help establish the standard rather than see how many ways we can skirt the law. I appreciated the article on being an “ambassador”, and feel that a great deal of the animosity towards cyclists could be avoided if we all road lawfully as opposed to so much of what I see when cyclists are vehicles one moment then pedestrians using sidewalks and crosswalks the next…
    As far as helmets, I always wear one! But I must admit that Sam has no recollection of the accident, and the Neurosurgeon assured us that it would have done nothing to protect Sam. At 45 mph, Sam would have met the windshield with his head within milliseconds, and then he was thrust forward to meet the pavement with his face. Unless Sam was wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet that is DOT and SNELL approved nothing could have prevented his injuries.
    In an ideal world cyclist and motorists would all “just get along”. But until then we all just need to do the best we can…

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