Hit and run crash sends Louisville cyclist to the hospital

John Wakeley Purple
John Wakeley Purple
Mary Purple
Mary Purple
Injury to John Wakeley Purple's shoulder
Injury to John Wakeley Purple's shoulder

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Police say it was a hit and run case that sent a local cyclist to the hospital. The incident had one witness so upset that he followed the driver who fled the scene and confronted him.

Tracking down someone who flees the scene of a crime is not what police recommend. But in this case, a motivated witness gave investigators a lot of information to work with.

Friday was a difficult and long day for Louisville resident John Wakeley Purple and his wife, Mary.

Purple, who is better known by his middle name, was covered in some serious cuts and bruises after being released from University of Louisville Hospital Friday night. The cyclist was riding his bike northbound on Southern Parkway with a friend just before 9 a.m.

"I glanced in the rear-view mirror of my helmet and saw these two headlights coming up very fast behind me, and I said, 'damn, I'm going to be hit!'" Wakeley said. "Split seconds afterward, I was hitting the windshield and rolled off onto the ground."

Police say the reckless driver of a gray and cranberry Nissan Stanza hit the bike at the intersection of Kingston and Southern Parkway before he fled the crash.

"Thankfully I had several people stop," said Wakeley, "including one person that actually chased the guy down and got his license number and that kind of stuff, so that was real nice of him."

For Wakeley and his wife, it was emotional knowing that a witness, who was a stranger, cared enough to go after the runaway driver following him to Fourth and Winkler. The witness even confronted the man before the suspect ran and then jumped on a bus.

"I am enormously grateful," said Mary of that witness, "and I want to meet the man and shake his hand."

Wakeley is also grateful that his wife sometimes nags him to wear a helmet. He hopes his story will be a reminder to drivers to please share the road safely with their two-wheeled friends.

"All in all, I've been beat up a little bit, but I have to be happy I'm here," Wakeley said. "And I have a lot of good friends and there are a lot of good people in the world."

After the driver who caused the accident allegedly jumped on the bus, police impounded his car. Investigators believe they have enough information for an arrest in this case. They ask anyone knows anything to call them at 574-LMPD (5673).

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