Nearly nine months after a crash that killed a Madison bicyclist as she rode to work along Highway 14, the driver of a pickup truck that struck her bike was charged with causing her death.
Rollen J. Fries, 70, of Mazomanie, was charged with homicide by negligent driving for the July 15, 2016, death of Cynthia A. Arsnow, 62, who was headed to work in Cross Plains when, police said, she was struck from behind by Fries’ truck.
Fries is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.
Homicide by negligent driving carries up to 10 years of combined prison and extended supervision.
According to a criminal complaint:
A witness who was driving directly behind Fries’ truck told police that he was traveling west on Highway 14, about 9 a.m., when the truck pulled out in front of him from the area near Stagecoach Road.
The driver said the truck swerved off the road once and onto the gravel shoulder, but that he made it back onto the pavement. He said as they went around a curve he could see a bicyclist ahead.
Just before reaching the bicyclist, he told police, the truck swerved again, crossed the fog line on the right side of the road and hit the bicyclist.
The man said that before the cyclist was struck he thought, “Oh my God, he’s going to hit her.”
Another witness also traveling behind Fries’ truck gave a similar account, adding that she didn’t see any brake lights on the truck before the bicyclist was struck. She said the cyclist was easily visible because the wind kept blowing the poncho she was wearing.
She also told police she “knew it was going to happen ahead of time ... because of the way (Fries) was driving.”
Fries, a self-employed exterminator, told police that he had been at a company in Mazomanie that morning, drove home to pick up keys to a park shelter on Rocky Dell Road and then headed there. After stopping at the shelter for about 10 minutes, he said, he headed back toward Mazomanie.
Fries told police that he was driving no more than 50 mph. He said he was trying to grab a new blank invoice from the passenger seat of his truck, which diverted his attention from the road momentarily, and when he looked up, the bicyclist was right in front of him.
He said he didn’t see her before the crash. By the time he tried to swerve left, he said, his truck had already made contact with her.
Deputies who arrived at the scene found Arsnow on the shoulder of Highway 14, and her bicycle broken in half.
An autopsy found that Arsnow died from blunt force trauma, including a skull fracture.
A co-worker at HSA Home Warranty Services in Cross Plains, where Arsnow worked and was headed before the crash, told the Wisconsin State Journal last year that she rode to work from Madison’s East Side nearly every day, even in the winter, though sometimes she would take the bus to Middleton and ride to Cross Plains from there. Co-workers sometimes picked her up along the way.