‘Drunk’ driver’s staggering excuse
AS MADISON Lyden's heartbroken family spoke out about the "horrific way" their loving sibling and daughter died in New York City, the truck driver who knocked her down has explained why he got behind the wheel after drinking.
The 23-year-old Tasmanian woman was killed in Manhattan on Friday when she swerved out of the way of an Uber near New York's Central Park.
She was with a close mate near the iconic tourist landmark about 4.45pm (local time) on Friday when the twin sister swerved to avoid an Uber driver blocking a bike lane and was hit.
Truck driver Felipe Chairez, 44, was arrested after police saw empty cans of beer in the cab of his truck, and charged him with driving under the influence.
He admitted drinking two beers with lunch before leaving work at a downtown construction site to dump garbage in the Bronx and his blood alcohol level was between 0.04 and 0.06, according to court documents.
However, according to the New York Post, his lawyer says his client wasn't impaired by the alcohol he drank that day - because of the chicken-salad sandwich he'd eaten before getting behind the wheel.
"If he had a chicken salad sandwich, the alcohol may have been absorbed by the lunch he had," said lawyer Kenneth Ware.
Police say Ms Lyden had veered into Chairez' lane near West 67th Street and Central Park West after an Uber barged into her bike lane. As she navigated around the Uber driver Chairez slammed into her with his sanitation truck.
Chairez was released on bail after being arraigned on the misdemeanour charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It's not clear if he will face more charges.
According to witnesses, Ms Lyden was not wearing a helmet. However, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle is not a legal requirement in Manhattan.
She was rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital, where she could not be revived and she died.
Witnesses said that Ms Lyden's friend had tried to help her after the accident.
"She was shouting, 'Baby, baby, baby, wake up'," the witness reportedly said.
It comes as Ms Lyden's grieving family spoke of their heartbreak at losing their beloved sibling and daughter.
"Madison was a beautiful, beautiful daughter. She was loyal and loving," her father Andrew Lyden told The Mercury on Monday.
"For her to be taken from us in such an horrific way is gut wrenching. No words can describe how heartbreaking this is." Ms Lyden had recently completed university. "She was applying for masters this year and she has been travelling the world with her best friend having the adventure of a lifetime," her mother Amanda Berry said.
A friend of Madison, who did not wish for their name to be published, told the Geelong Advertiser that Ms Lyden was "always bubbly".
"She just wanted to do so much and tried so hard," she said.
"She was so caring, there for everyone, just awesome."
Her twin sister Paige said words could not describe what her sister meant to her.
Ms Lyden had moved from Lauderdale in Tasmania to Geelong in Victoria in 2016 to study.
The family own Lyden Builders in Cambridge near Hobart and have asked customers for their understanding.
"We are a family business and this weekend we have been hit with the devastation of losing our darling daughter, sister, niece, aunty and cousin," it said.
"We ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks while we deal with our broken hearts. During this period we will have limited staff, so please understand if you don't get responses from all emails, messages and calls."
The tragedy was slammed as preventable by transport advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
"Madison Jane Lyden is dead because her bike lane was blocked. It's tragic, yes, but all the more unconscionable because this was a crash waiting to happen," said Executive Director Paul Steely White.
"Every day in this city, bike lanes meant to protect people on bikes are used as drop-off lanes, parking lanes, and idling lanes for lazy and entitled drivers. As a city we should be ashamed, because this death could have been prevented."
- with wires