HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A close friend of Natalie Rainer is speaking out after she was injured in a car crash while riding her bike on Saturday. She is currently in the hospital while Jonah Holland, another rider involved in the crash died at the scene.
Dennis Dempsey is the captain of Rainer’s cycling team. 8News spoke with Dempsey to learn more about the cyclist and her story, as she continues the fight for her life.
“Just seeing her race, her smile, how infectious her energy is,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey said he has been in constant communication with Rainer’s boyfriend, Brian Evans. According to Dempsey, Evans — who is also on the RVA racing team — has spent the days since by her side in the hospital.
“They’re an amazing couple,” Dempsey said. “He’s holding it together well, but you know, I’ve used the word multiple times, he’s also shattered. Just in discussions, you can tell he’s barely holding it together. They’re worried.”
Dempsey said out of respect he didn’t want to disclose the full extent of Rainer’s condition but said she has a long journey ahead.
According to Henrico Police, the incident occurred in the morning on Saturday, Aug. 13. Officers were called to the area of Osborne turnpike and Village field lane for a reported motor vehicle crash.
Upon their arrival, officers found two bicyclists who had been struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by 18-year-old driver Jeffrey Brooks. One of the victims, Jonah Holland died at the scene.
Police reported that Brooks had been driving under the influence. According to a criminal complaint obtained by 8News, Brooks also admitted to making and consuming edibles with friends the night before. Brooks was reportedly hallucinating during interactions with officers, at one point he asked to be “let out at the 7-Eleven right there,” while in jail.
Now, Dempsey said one way he can honor his two friends is by sending a clear message to drivers about cyclists.
“We’re very vulnerable out there,” he said. “All we ask is give us that five or ten seconds. We want to get out of your way, we’ll do that. Five or ten seconds to you doesn’t mean as much as it does to us because it can be a matter of our life or not.”
Brooks is being charged with one misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated and one felony offense of involuntary manslaughter.
Richmond Area Bicycling Association is planning a memorial ride Thursday, Aug. 18 for the two victims of the crash.