A Utah cyclist was seriously injured when he collided with a wall while trying to ride with seven others illegally through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel in Zion National Park.
The unidentified 51-year-old from West Jordan "suffered significant head trauma," said park spokesperson Aly Baltrus in a release Saturday afternoon. He was taken to an area hospital. A second cyclist side-swiped a tunnel wall, tearing his jersey, the release added, but declined medical treatment.
The incident happened about 4:30 p.m. Friday.
It is illegal to bicycle through the 1.1-mile-long tunnel. To ensure the safety of bicyclists and that of passing traffic, park regulations require that bicyclists and pedestrians be transported through the narrow, unlit tunnel in a motor vehicle.
The Salt Lake City cyclists were part of a larger group of 12 who had arranged for a shuttle to take them to the other side, which is proper protocol. Apparently, eight people in the group (including two minors) decided to ride through instead, the park reported.
According to one of the bicyclists near the back of the group, “As soon as we rounded the corner, it was like pitch black, and that’s where it happened… he was just lying there. They were in a bad spot, and only two of the bikers had little flashers. I thought, ‘someone else is going to get killed.’”
That individual turned back and went to the tunnel entrance to stop traffic from entering too fast.
“That was my first thought cause I didn’t want anybody else to get hurt… it was really stupid what we’d done… I think we all learned our lesson and we now have to pay the price," the unidentified rider said.
Another biker said, “I just can’t believe that we put ourselves in that kind of situation.”
Park rangers issued violation notices to the group. The condition of the injured cyclist was not known Saturday afternoon.