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Avid Cyclist Dies After Suffering Head Injury on Riverside Park Bike Path

By  Kyle Ligman and Emily Frost | August 21, 2015 11:13am | Updated on August 24, 2015 8:56am

UPPER WEST SIDE — A cyclist who rode his bike in Riverside Park every week for the past 30 years died after being found lying on the park's bike path with a severe head injury, police said. 

Ben Jone, 82, of Morningside Heights, was discovered on the path near West 79th Street on July 23 at roughly 4 p.m., the NYPD said.

He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital and died of his injuries nearly four weeks later on Aug. 18, police said.  

No other vehicles were spotted at the scene, the NYPD added. There have been no arrests, and the investigation is ongoing. 

Jone's wife, Kathleen, 79, believed he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. When she last saw him leaving their apartment to take a ride on July 23, he was wearing only a baseball cap and had a tennis racket slung across his back, in case he happened upon a pickup game in the park. 

 An 82-year-old local man died from injuries while riding his bike along the Hudson River bike path in Riverside Park, police said.
An 82-year-old local man died from injuries while riding his bike along the Hudson River bike path in Riverside Park, police said.
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DNAinfo/ Emily Frost

Police told her they weren't sure what happened, but the left side of his body had scrapes, she said. 

"I saw him come by on a stretcher and he didn't look like my husband," his wife said.

Doctors told her that while he had suffered a traumatic brain injury and couldn't communicate, he might be able to hear her, Kathleen said.

Sitting at his bedside, she reminisced aloud about a Christmas trip they took to Bear Mountain Park back in the 1970s, where they were surrounded by evergreens and the twinkling ice as the sun set, she said. As she spoke, her husband's eyes filled with tears.

A few days after he was admitted to the hospital, doctors told Kathleen that he probably would not regain his mental faculties and would have limited mobility even if he recovered, she said. 

Given how much he defined himself through his intellect — he has a graduate degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and owned his own software company — his wife made the difficult decision to remove his feeding tube, she said.

"[I] am so grateful for the love we shared for over 45 years," Kathleen wrote in an email to her family. "Ben has gone away and now he no longer walks beside me."

The couple met on Mother's Day 1970 after services at Riverside Church and went on a walk along Riverside Drive, his wife recalled. 

Ben, who is originally from South Korea and moved to New York City in the late 1960s, taught himself to play the piano. He would play Beethoven or Chopin after work to unwind, while his wife would cook, she said. 

He was also a nature lover and rode his bike in Riverside Park at least once a week for the past 30 years, she said. 

His wife said she is now adjusting to the next chapter in her life.

"My heart is sad," Kathleen wrote in the email, "but so many wonderful memories will keep him close forever."

Those memories fill the home they shared in Morningside Heights, she said.

"I looked at the piano and realized I would never see him again."

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