A witness has described distressing scenes after a 78-year-old cyclist and a van collided in Coalcliff on Friday morning.
Benjamin McNally was among the first motorists to arrive at the corner of Lawrence Hargrave Drive and Paterson Road after the crash.
‘‘The guy was in quite a bit of trauma and trouble in the middle of the road, not moving,’’ Mr McNally said.
‘‘You could tell he wasn’t very well – he was taking heaps of really shallow breaths then the occasional big deep breath where you could see his chest rise.’’
The cyclist suffered head injuries and was flown to St George Hospital where he remained on Friday afternoon in a serious condition.
‘‘The older folk that were up there were really distraught,’’ Mr McNally said, referring to people who were first on scene. ‘‘I think they knew the severity of it.’’
Wollongong police inspector Dan Richardson said initial investigations suggested the cyclist had been heading south down a steep decent on Lawrence Hargrave Drive when the van, being driven by overseas tourists, turned right into a side street.
The incident happened just before 11am.
‘‘The NSW police crash investigations unit is investigating and it is yet to be determined who’s at fault,’’ Insp Richardson said.
Mr McNally said motorists who were first on scene rushed to the cyclist’s aid.
‘‘Then we all tried to give him a bit of space ... we were just quite concerned with the traffic too,’’ he said.
‘‘Whether there was a car or invariably a truck that can’t quite brake – we all would have been in a bit of trouble.
‘‘I kind of offered assistance but he was already under the care of the policeman who knew what he was doing - he was trying to keep everyone clear until the paramedics arrived which was a bit of a struggle because the traffic was so backed up.’’
Mr McNally, a Coalcliff resident, said the number of incidents involving cyclists in the area seemed to be increasing.
‘‘I think just bike riding in general around here has got to a stage,’’ he said. ‘‘There are so many close calls between here and Thirroul because there’s not much room, especially on the weekend.
‘‘It’s quite savage – I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more.’’
The crash closed Lawrence Hargrave Drive at Coalcliff in both directions for several hours after the incident.