Cyclist Killed by Pickup on Snouffer Road

You don't see a lot of cyclist deaths in Columbus. It seems I've read about cyclists being killed by motorists on almost every cycling blog I read but it's never happened here, since I started paying close attention.

Well, that all changed Wednesday morning at just before 4:00 am, when 19-year-old cyclist Michael T. Sonney was killed by a hit-and-run pickup driver on Snouffer Road in north Columbus. Here's the story from the Dispatch:
Bicyclist killed in hit-and-run accident on Northwest Side
Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11:02 PM
The Columbus Dispatch - WBNS-10TV

A bicyclist killed when he was hit on the Northwest Side early this morning was on his way home from a new job, his family said.

The family of Michael T. Sonney told WBNS-TV (Channel 10) that he'd just bought the bike with the first paycheck he earned at Teleperformance, a call center.

Sonney, 19, died shortly before 4 a.m. after being hit on Snouffer Road by a red pickup truck that Columbus police say left after striking Sonney.

Sonney's family said he was making the 40-minute bike ride home after his 7 p.m.-to-3-a.m. shift.

Police said last night that they are questioning the man who they believe hit Sonney.

Officers said they found the heavily damaged truck by following a mile-long trail of radiator fluid from the crash scene at Snouffer Road and Asheville Park Drive to the man's home.

Police said the man is cooperating with them and charges are pending.

Police were called to the crash site at 3:54 a.m. and found Sonney severely injured there. Sonney, who had been riding his bicycle east on Snouffer Road, died at the scene.

Police said the truck also had been going east when it struck Sonney's bicycle and kept going.

Police said their investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call the accident investigation squad at 614-645-4767.

I'll be paying close attention to this case as much as I can, because there's absolutely no reason this driver shouldn't be putting in some serious jail time for killing someone and then leaving the scene.

Also, I'd like to try to put up a ghost bike for this rider at the site of his accident, and I'd appreciate any help I can get for this. I think it's in the best taste, though, to contact his parents to make sure they won't be offended or hurt by that.


  1. He was doing a good thing by biking too. All to often, hit and run involving a bike is different from other hit and runs.

  2. I like the "Weekly Carnage" feature that Streetsblog does where they highlight the automobile deaths and injuries that occur to motorists in the NYC area.

  3. I live a mile from there and i ride my bike down snouffer road every single day. I almost got hit on smokey row road last week while i was making a left turn (i was in the middle of the road and signaling) and some guy in a jeep just blew by me on my left in ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD. Im going to add your blog to my page, as im very interested in cycling advocacy and many off the thigs you write about. Stop by and vist my blog and add me to your page if you see fit.Cheers,

    The Militant Cyclist

  4. This is a very sad and tragic accident. I know the family. A young man is now gone due to the negligence of one person. The family of Michael is now suffering tremendously. His mother, a very strong and determined woman, has worked very hard to raise a family of 6 children. A heart so large that 4 of the children are adopted. Michael was her biological son though she makes no distinction in the love she has for all of her children. A single mother who recently graduated from nursing school, caring for 6 children, and graduated with honors and a near 4.0.
    I have put this information about the family as all to often we forget about the lives scarred by tragic accidents. These people have lost a beautiful young man who had a large and loving heart just like his mother. A young man, who had much to offer this world, is now gone.
    The family of the driver now must live with what their son, brother, maybe even husband or father has done to this family.
    If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, I hope these young adults will learn from this tragic accident about what can happen. IT IS NOT JUST YOUR LIFE. IT IS NOT JUST THE LIFE OF THE PERSON YOU HIT. IT IS THE LIVES OF THE ENTIRE FAMILY.

  5. Thanks to everyone for their comments here. And thanks especially to Robert, for sharing the story of Michael's mother and family and most importantly his important words about his family.

    I didn't know Michael, nor do I know his mother. But I do know my son Duncan, who is only two years old but I already know that losing him would just about kill me. I can't imagine that pain that Michael's mother is feeling, but my heart goes out to her as a fellow parent. I wish I knew of something I could do to help, but I haven't heard of any memorial fund or another such thing. Robert, if you know of anything like this, please let us know so that I and the great people in the Columbus Cycling community can do something to help or honor his memory.

  6. It's hard to see through the tears to type this, or to even think clearly at all, so please bear with me. I'm Traci, Mike's mom. I stumbled across this blog just trying to google news articles about the accident, and the idea that people that didn't even know him would care enough think about a memorial at the site touches me deeply. I guess I don't know what a ghost bike is - but to me it says that maybe in some way Mike can still be with us...that people will remember him...that he mattered...that his life mattered...and maybe somehow his death can matter.

    I bought Mike his first tricycle shortly after he learned to walk. His little legs couldn't even reach the pedals on the tricycle, but the main thing I remember is that he was on the tricycle less than 60 seconds before it lost out to his fascination with the neighbor kid's bicycle. When he was finally big enough for me to buy him a 2-wheeled bike he threw a temper tantrum because it had training wheels...he stomped his little foot and insisted I take them off.

    There are so many things I wish everyone knew about him. He was very sensitive, he felt every one of his emotions very deeply. He was expressive, creative, funny, and compassionate. His eyes always sparkled - if he was wearing blue, his eyes sparkled blue. If he was wearing green, his eyes sparkled green. If he was wearing black (which was the mainstay of his wardrobe during these teenage years!) his eyes were gray and they still sparkled. He was was of the most handsome young men you have ever seen. I wish I knew how to post a picture here.

    I think I have rambled ... sorry. I buried him yesterday. I can see his grave from the window of the hospital where I work so I can keep watching over him. God, I wish I could have been watching over him Wednesday morning.

    Thank you Robert for your kind words, and everyone else who has posted with something kind to say. I hope that in some way something good can come of this. I miss my little boy so much.

  7. Traci, your family and Michael's friends - Please let my husband (Jamie) and I know what we can do. We would like to help put a memorial up in his name or if you have any other ideas or thoughts please let us know.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you,


  8. Hey, you just posted on my blog and its a welcome distraction from work. If it is okay with the family, we should make a memorial and install a ghost bike. It is a great idea. Things need to change for cyclists in columbus, ive said it before and ill say it again, Columbus is one of the most unfriendly cities in the world to cyclists. Contact me at:

    the militant cyclist.

  9. My deepest sympathies to this young man's family and friends.

    Be sure to ask for the "Traffic Accident Report" filed with Ohio Public Safety Department, it will contain the complete police report and any witness statements. It is a critical record to understand the circumstances of this tragic event.

  10. Would someone explain what a ghost bike is? I live in Asheville Commons, where the accident happened. There is a cross there now.

  11. A Ghost Bike is a memorial that is set up at the location of a fatal accident involving a bicyclist. The purpose is twofold: to memorialize the rider and to create awareness of the presence of cyclists and the rights cyclists have to the roads.

    Some examples of ghost bikes can be seen on this page.

  12. Interesting. So the ghost bikes started out as ghosts of bikes, but then became memorials for bikers who were killed? I can't say enough how much I love this idea, especially now that I've read these posts from people who loved Mike. What a poignant tribute to such a beautiful person...

    I do have a stash of old bikes from which I could donate something. I hope they are in good enough conditions for this...let me know if this is a go and I'll look into it.

  13. he was a friend of mine, and i believe the driver should be fully charged! there is no reason why you should flee the seen after hitting someone.
    rest in peace Mike.
    rock on!

  14. I knew Mike. It's horrible that he had to go. He was just getting his life together, going to college and working.

    I am going to try to post a link to a picture of him, since Traci doesn't know how.

    Traci if you need anything let me know.

  15. And as I understand the driver and the bartender will be charged for his death. I will update as I find out.

  16. I know the driver of the truck and this is not the first time he has done something like this. About two years ago he was drunk and ran over a couple of mail boxs in Worthington Hills. The cops got him, but when it went to court he got off with a slap on the wrist and a couple of fines.

    Now here we are two years later and it's looking like the same thing is going to happen. Even after the accident he is still going out and drinking and acting like nothing has happend.

    I feel like the only way he is going to change his life is if the law steps into his life and makes him pay with his time, not just money. I feel very sorry for the Sonney family, I know that they may feel like they just need to move past it, but I feel that this could happen again.

    My best wishes to the Sonney family.


Post a Comment