Bicycle racer hit on Kansas highway dies, second cyclist remains in Wichita hospital

A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for cyclist John Egbers after he was hit by a car in western Kansas while competing in a race.
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for cyclist John Egbers after he was hit by a car in western Kansas while competing in a race.

A bicyclist who was hit on a western Kansas highway last month while competing in a cross country race has died in a Wichita hospital.

John Egbers, 64, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, was riding a bicycle eastbound on Kansas Highway 96 in Wichita County west of Scott City on June 14 when a car ran into him from behind, the Kansas Highway Patrol said in a crash report. Egbers was taken to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

Egbers had multiple broken bones, a collapsed lung and other injuries, a GoFuneMe page for his medical expenses said. He also had a fractured vertebrae in his neck, said a Facebook post in the Trans Am Bike Race public group.

The Trans Am Bike Race is a 4,300-mile bicycle race from Oregon to Virginia that passes through 10 states, including Kansas. Cyclists enter the state near Tribune, riding east to Pittsburg. A race map showed one cyclist near Eureka on Friday afternoon.

Egbers' goal date to cross the finish line was June 26, the GoFundMe said. He was still in Wichita using a ventilator to help him breathe. The plan was to eventually go to Craig Hospital in Colorado, a rehabilitation center specializing in spinal cord injuries.

"The new joy is being able to close his mouth and communicate by lip reading until he can be trained to speak through the trach," the GoFundMe said.

At around 1 p.m. on the day Egbers was hit, a photo of a "Welcome to Kansas" sign in front of a golden wheat field was posted to the Facebook community John's Trans Am Bicycle Race.

"Hoping to get near 200 miles today but taking it in bites due to heat," the post said. "Planning food and water is critical due to some towns having neither."

It is the last post in the community. The crash happened about 4 1/2 hours later at around 5:30 p.m.

Some cyclists dedicated their rides to Egbers in videos posted to social media.

Others put stickers with Egbers' initials on their bikes, reported WJON, a St. Cloud radio station.

Egbers never made it to the Colorado rehabilitation facility. A CaringBridge post on July 2 said his heart rate had dropped and he needed a pacemaker. A July 3 post said doctors couldn't do the procedure because of the risk of infection. On July 4, Egbers was on medications to keep his heart rate up.

On July 5, his heart stop beating.

A clerk at the Wichita County Courthouse said no charges had been filed against the 32-year-old Scott City driver of the car that hit Egbers. The Wichita County Attorney did not immediately return a call Friday afternoon.

Another cyclist in the same race, Tsaichu Cheng, 44, of Mountain View, California, is hospitalized in Kansas, a GoFundMe page said. A June 19 post to the Facebook community T.C. Races the 2018 Trans Am Bike Race says Cheng was hit by a car south of Hesston. He was taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis.

Harvey County sheriff's deputies said Cheng was hit from behind by a car driven by a 17-year-old Hutchinson boy at 10:40 p.m. on June 18, the Newton Kansan reported. The Newton Bike Stop is a designated stop in the race.

He was intubated, had a fractured pelvis and his spinal cord was bruised, other Facebook posts said. He was hit at 50 mph while riding within a foot of the edge of the road.

As of a July 2 post, he was having trouble remembering he was in Wichita. Another said he is supposed to transfer to a rehabilitation facility on Tuesday.

A bicycle rider competing in last year's race was killed in a Kansas crash. Eric Fishbein, 61, of San Luis Obispo, California, was killed when he was hit from behind by a car while riding on K-96 east of Leoti, The Eagle reported in June 2017.

That's the same 24-mile stretch of the highway between Leoti and Scott City where Egbers was hit.

Two German cyclists were killed in southeast Kansas earlier this year when they were hit from behind by a van driven by a 23-year-old Shawnee woman while riding along Route 66 near Galena, The Eagle reported in May. Heinz Gerd Buchel, 71, of Bad Nauheim, and Harry Jung, 74, of Steinfurth, were pronounced dead at the scene.