MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When Zach Nyhus heard a loud bang down on Franklin Avenue Monday night, he peered out his apartment and saw a disturbing sight.
“I looked out of the window and, straight down from the third floor window, there was a van on the sidewalk,” he said.
He called 911 after bystanders told him a bicyclist was pinned underneath the van’s right front tire.
When help arrived, Nyhus captured what he says was a “surreal and horrifying scene” on his cell phone.
“It was really sad, this guy was somebody’s son, somebody’s friend,” Nyhus said. “I mean, I don’t know who this person was, but there’s people who cared about this person.”
Police arrested 49-year-old John Iverson at the scene and booked him on suspicion of drunk driving. Iverson lives just a few blocks from the scene and was driving a full-sized van west on Franklin Avenue around 9:45 p.m.
That’s when witnesses observed Iverson weaving across the lanes. When he got to Harriet and Franklin, the van veered to the right and hit a parked car, shoving it into the snow bank. Seconds later, Iverson struck the bicyclist, carrying him up onto the sidewalk and coming to rest on top of the 26-year-old victim.
“He struck a commercial dumpster and other garbage cans, continued down the sidewalk with the victim under the vehicle,” said John Elder, a Minneapolis police spokesman.
Investigators noticed the strong odor of alcohol in Iverson’s van and on his breath. They are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before charging Iverson with drunk driving. Meantime, other bicyclists say Franklin Avenue is notoriously dangerous.
“People weave in and out of traffic, and I don’t like to do that, so there’s just no good place for you,” said bicyclist Patricia Lamas.
What’s particularly sad and concerning to bicyclists like Lamas is that this rider was doing all the right things. Police say he was wearing a helmet and his bicycle was illuminated with both a headlight and taillight.
The Hennepin County Attorney has until noon on Wednesday to charge Iverson, who was jailed without bail.