Yale fund-raiser ‘critical’ after Kansas accident

A Yale University student was in critical condition in a Kansas hospital Tuesday after he was hit by a car during a cross-country Habitat for Humanity Bicycle Challenge fund-raiser.

Dan Lewis of Denver, Colo., was hit by a car Saturday in Lincoln County, Kan., while riding his bicycle for the 4,000-mile fundraiser.

The accident occurred on eastbound Kansas Highway 18 at 1: 40 p.m. Saturday. Lewis, 20, was taken by a helicopter to St. Frances Hospital in Wichita, where he currently remains in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

“He seems to be stabilizing, but he’s still in critical condition,” said his father, Hal Lewis, speaking by telephone from the hospital Tuesday. He said the family plans to transfer Dan Lewis to a rehab hospital in Denver in three to four weeks.

Lewis, who was hearing a helmet and safety gear, was riding with his Habitat group when his bicycle crossed in front of the car, which hit him on the left side, authorities in Kansas said on a Highway Patrol Web site. The group rides in small groups according to the safety procedures to try to prevent accidents from happening.

The driver, Jessica White, 16, also was taken to the hospital but was later released, authorities said. A passenger in the vehicle was not hurt.

The Habitat Bicycle Challenge, which left in early June, has three teams with four leaders each. Each group rides to a different location: Seattle, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco. Lewis’ group was headed toward San Francisco.

The event is held every summer to raise money to help people obtain affordable housing.

“He was very close with the other riders and he was an important member of their team,” Hal Lewis said of his son. “I think he really enjoyed the biking from coast to coast.”

The riders have resumed their trip, but four riders stayed at the hospital for a day-and-a-half to show Dan moral support.

“We are grateful about their support and friendship,” Hal Lewis said. “We’re glad to stay in touch with them as Dan recovers.”

Bike Ride Deaths

Other accidents have occurred since the start of Habitat Bicycle Challenge in the early 90s.

Yale senior Rachel Speight, 21, of Houston, died two years ago when a car in Western Kentucky struck her after she collided with another biker and spun off into the road, according to Habitat of Humanity Development Officer Moira Cotlier.

Also, Yale sophomore Alexander Capelluto, 20, of New York City, died last year as he practiced for a then-upcoming Habitat for Humanity annual cross-country cycling trek, when his bike collided with a 10-wheel truck at Route 34 and Forest Road in West Haven.

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