For e-skater struck by hit-and-run driver, it’s back to the gas guzzler, for now | VailDaily.com

For e-skater struck by hit-and-run driver, it’s back to the gas guzzler, for now

Victim says he was feeling unsafe on gravelly shoulder even before being struck by vehicle

John Ryan Lockman suffered a fractured tibia plateau when he was struck by a hit and run driver on April 19, 2019.

EAGLE-VAIL — John-Ryan Lockman was on a test run, seeing how feasible it would be for him to use an electric skateboard rather than his car to run errands.

A few hours later, he was in the hospital with a fractured tibia plateau.

“I was approaching the intersection, saw the truck, and thought, ‘he’d better stay there,’” Lockman said.

The truck did not stay there, and next thing Lockman knew, he was making contact with the vehicle, flipping over the front of it and hitting the ground.

The truck was being driven by 23-year-old Ethan Hatch, who was shopping at High Country Healing a few minutes earlier.

Security footage from High Country Healing helped identify Hatch, who had fled the scene.

Hatch was arrested on Saturday and charged with failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, a Class 4 felony, and failure to yield right of way, a traffic infraction.

Road shoulder ‘coated in gravel’

Lockman said High Country Healing was helpful in more ways than one.

“I was still laying in the road, screaming in agony, and the whole staff from High Country Healing, along with some nice ladies from the bus stop, carried me into their shop, got me on ice and offered to drive me to the hospital,” Lockman said.

The first person to find Lockman in the road was Colby Hockersmith, who saw the skateboard, saw Lockman laying in the street with a helmet on and was immediately reminded of the time he too was injured by a motorist while riding a skateboard.

“I had nothing but sympathy for him,” Hockersmith said. “Over in Dillon, seven or eight years ago, I was on a longboard and was run off the road by a car, went flying into a gravel patch, my whole arm was covered in rocks and blood. But right away I could tell (Lockman) was much worse. You could see his leg was broken, it was way off center.”

Hockersmith said before encountering Lockman, it had already occurred to him how bad the road looked for anyone wanting to use a bike or skateboard to reach the shop.

“There’s no sidewalks here so a pedestrian has to use the shoulder of the road,” Hockersmith said. “And the shoulder was coated in gravel, you can’t ride a skateboard on it and even somebody trying to ride a bike with skinny tires would not be safe.”

Back on the gas

Indeed, Lockman said he was feeling unsafe on the highway in Eagle-Vail before the incident occurred.

“It was terrible,” he said. “You couldn’t get through Dowd Junction, it was pure gravel from Intermountain to Kayak Crossing, so I was walking most of the way.”

But at least there is a recreation path to walk through that area, Lockman added.

“In Eagle-Vail, you’ve got a commercial area with lots of businesses, and you’ve got no pathway for pedestrians,” he said.

John-Ryan Lockman works to improve energy efficiency in a home in Eagle-Vail on Nov. 17, 2017, in Eagle-Vail.
Chris Dillmann | Vail Daily file photo

Lockman is well versed in Eagle County’s climate action plan, which has a goal of getting more people out of their cars. He works as an environmental sustainability manager in Vail, and said he has made a significant personal investment in products which will help him avoid using his car.

The point of Lockman’s April 19 trip was to test drive a bike located in Eagle-Vail.

“It was my first day taking my Boosted Board from Vail downvalley,” he said. “I loaded up a backpack with an extra battery to get ready to go 15 miles, there and back. I was excited to make the trip — but the sidewalks not being there, the danger of the intersections, it’s not ideal. I can see why people don’t want to do this.”

2021 goals

Lockman is not the only one who wants to see the Eagle Valley Trail connected between Dowd Junction and Avon.

In fact, that 1.2 mile stretch of pathway is a key piece in the puzzle to connect the entire state via hard surface trails, something that has been on the minds of officials in state capital for some time. Connecting East Vail to Dotsero via a single, continuous, hard surface recreation path will require 63 miles of paved path through Eagle County, and 51 miles of that have already been constructed.

The Eagle-Vail section, while short, will be expensive. A 2016 estimate put the 1.2-mile stretch at about $4.8 million.

The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to resurface U.S. Highway 6 through Eagle-Vail in 2021, which is a logical time to construct that section of the proposed recreation path, as well, say proponents of the project. Eagle-Vail passed a 1 percent sales tax in 2018, which could help with the effort.

Lockman says it might take until 2021 before he’s feeling ready to start e-skating again anyway. Physicians have informed him that he no longer has any cartridge in his knee as a result of the accident, and he will likely suffer from arthritis before needing a total knee replacement in the decades to come.

“It’s not just better for the environment, it’s more fun,” Lockman said of e-skating. “But not when you get hit by a car.”