Cyclist, 22, Dies After Being Hit by Truck Near Dupont Circle

Alice Swanson
Alice Swanson (Courtesy of Middle East Institute)
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Alice Swanson was uneasy about riding her bike through city streets to work every morning, so a colleague told her to always wear a helmet for the trip, which was just over two miles.

The helmet was not enough yesterday morning. Swanson, 22, was hit by a trash truck during rush hour near Dupont Circle and killed.

The accident took place at 7:40 a.m. in the 1900 block of R Street NW, just north of Dupont Circle. Police said Swanson was riding in or next to a designated bike lane. She and the truck driver were traveling west on R Street when the truck driver turned right onto 20th Street, hitting her, police said.

Swanson was trapped beneath the truck, police said. An officer in the uniformed division of the Secret Service who was nearby pulled her out and unsuccessfully tried to revive her.

The driver of the truck was identified as Marco Rosendo Flores-Fuentes, 56, of Falls Church. No charges had been filed in the incident as of last night.

Swanson, who lived on Park Road in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, started work in January for the International Research and Exchanges Board, a nonprofit group on K Street NW. Keith Mellnick, a co-worker and friend, said she asked him about bike commuting, because she knew that was how he got to work.

"She was nervous because of D.C. traffic," Mellnick recalled.

Swanson was the first cyclist killed on D.C. streets this year, police said. Last year, two people died in bike accidents in the city.

Swanson's father, Brian Swanson, choked back tears as he spoke briefly in a telephone interview from Northborough, Mass., Alice Swanson's home town.

"I'm still in a daze," he said. "She was so full of energy and life."

Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said he was surprised that the accident happened on R Street, saying he bikes there frequently. He called it "one of the better roads to bike on" because it has a long bike lane. The accident took place about a block from his Connecticut Avenue office.

"This hits us very hard in the office," said Gilliland, who works to promote bicycle safety.

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