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Cyclist Who Survived Being Run Over By Truck Says He's 'Done with the City'

By Gwynne Hogan | October 12, 2017 7:39am
 Ryan Leary faces a long recovery after he was run over by a dump truck last week.
Ryan Leary faces a long recovery after he was run over by a dump truck last week.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

ELMHURST — For Ryan Leary, 31, a transplant to Bushwick from Western Massachusetts, getting run over by a dump truck last week was the final link in a chain of bad luck that convinced him it's time to leave New York City.

Since he moved to Bushwick three years ago, his bike was stolen, he got bed bugs, he was mugged on his own block and he lost most of his earthly possessions to water damage after firefighters had to spray a blaze started on the roof of his building when his neighbors set off fireworks there on the 4th of July. 

Then he got run over by a truck.

"I'm done with the city," Leary said from his hospital bed at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Tuesday evening where he's recovering with a laundry list of broken bones including his pelvis, femur, ankle and a potentially torn ACL. "New York City has done enough to tell me it doesn't want me here."

 He has a broken pelvis, sacrum, femur, ankle a potentially a torn ACL and will be bedridden for months while he recovers.
He has a broken pelvis, sacrum, femur, ankle a potentially a torn ACL and will be bedridden for months while he recovers.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

He'll be bedridden for months to come.

The crash happened Oct. 3 around 2:30 p.m. at the corner of Grand Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg. Leary was out for a "joy ride," trying to clear his mind, overwhelmed with the flood of news of emerging about the Las Vegas mass shooting.

He was riding north on Bushwick Avenue next to a yellow dump truck, when he noticed the truck gain momentum as it began to turn at Grand Street. He'd been riding straight but tried to veer out of the way to avoid it, but it was too late. 

"It happened so fast and it was also in slow motion at the same time," he said. "The truck was just going completely over me. I didn't lose consciousness at any point."

"My mind was just going a million miles a minute," he said. Videos of crashes he'd seen flooded his head, and oddly practical thoughts, like what will become of his new job at French Connection, he said. "I thought I was going to be killed."

Then he was on the ground and he knew it was bad but his body was in shock. He could see his right leg was mangled. 

"It didn't really hurt but I was screaming my lungs out," he said. He started trying to crawl out of the roadway but bystanders soon gathered around him, "telling me not to panic, not to move, to breathe."

Then began a waiting game.

"Waiting for an ambulance, getting in the ambulance, then getting here; it was all just so much. I was terrified," he said. "The whole time I was just thinking, 'Somebody call my parents.'"

He'll be bedridden for months, though his doctors haven't given him any reason to believe he won't make a full recovery.

"I don't expect to be on the dance floor until like March. Even that may be positive," he said. Once he's released from the hospital he plans to move back home with his parents in South Hadley, Massachusetts until he's able to take care of himself again. Then he plans to move to California. 

Until then, with a lot of free time on his hands, he's hoping to focus on his side hustle of illustrating. He specializes in pet portraits and in hoping to bring in some commissions as the holiday season comes around.

A group of dedicated friends have helped pass the time, streaming in and out of his Queens hospital room, playing cards with him, fetching his belongings from his Bushwick room, watching football and bringing him smoothies.

On a recent visit, "they washed my hair for me and cleaned my face and scratched my back," he said.

The truck driver, 23-year-old Charles Carpenter, was arrested on scene for driving with suspended driving privileges in New York state for an unpaid ticket, according to police. He was given a ticket and is due back in court Nov. 14. Carpenter had a valid commercial license in New Jersey, according to their DMV.

L+Y Enterprises, LLC, a small New Jersey trucking company, didn't return a request for comment.

Police were also probing why the driver was on Bushwick Avenue in the first place, which is not a designated truck route, though it's frequently used by them.

The Department of Transportation, which promised a "safety action plan" for Grand Street this spring — a notoriously dangerous throughway with three deaths of pedestrians and cyclists in two years — has failed to deliver.

READ MORE: NYPD Targets Cyclists and Goes Easy on Truckers In Williamsburg, Data Shows

When asked about the promised plan, DOT declined to comment, instead pointing to a plan for better bike lanes on several nearby streets.

Leary, who'd only began cycling around the city in May, lamented the lack of protections for bikers in New York City.

"The laws are out there. They're either stupid and unenforced or they make a lot of sense and they're not enforced," said Leary.

"I wish there was more accountability for drivers with the amount of cyclists on the road," he said. "I’ve had enough close calls. It's scary how dumb they seem to be."

READ MORE: Driver Found Guilty in Fatal Hit-and-Run of Williamsburg Cyclist