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Bicyclist death caused by hit-and-run injuries

Fri., July 8, 2011, midnight

A North Spokane bicyclist struck by a hit-and-run driver on North Division Street last month died from injuries suffered in the accident, an autopsy showed.

Dennis Widener, 66, died after a blood clot traveled to his lungs from deep within his body, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s office said Thursday.

Widener died Wednesday in what family members said at the time appeared to be a heart attack.

He was recovering at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute and hoping to return home later this week. But he began having breathing problems, a family member said.

Widener was rushed back to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he had been treated for more than a week following the June 23 accident.

Spokane police Thursday renewed a request for help identifying the driver of a northbound vehicle that struck Widener on Division Street at Garland Avenue about 5:45 a.m. as he was finishing a bicycle ride near his home.

A lighter-colored sedan, possibly a Toyota Avalon, was involved, police and family members said.

Widener, who was diagnosed with emphysema, was exercising at the recommendation of his doctor. He was carrying a portable oxygen unit when he was hit, and was wearing a helmet.

Widener suffered several badly broken ribs and other injuries, including the deep bruises.

“It’s really horrible someone could do something like that to him and not stop to help,” said Kristina Williams, a stepdaughter.

“He was the nicest man you’d ever know,” Williams said.

The cause of death was listed as a “pulmonary thromboembolism, due to a deep venous thrombosis, due to reduced mobility, due to blunt-chest and extremity injuries.” In layman’s terms, that is a blood clot that traveled from his veins to his lungs.

A Spokane police traffic investigator is working on the case but has little to go on in identifying the driver.

Failing to leave information at the scene of an injury accident is a felony. It is not known whether intentional disregard for safety, recklessness or impaired driving led to the accident, officers said. Evidence of that would have to be shown to support a vehicular homicide charge, authorities said.

“The investigation would recommend what an appropriate charge should be,” said Officer Teresa Fuller, a police spokeswoman.



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