An 18-year-old competitive cyclist died Wednesday night after being hit by a car on Mount Royal. The collision happened near the Camilien Houde Belvedere, a popular lookout spot near the top of the mountain.
The steep road is a popular training ground for competitive cyclists. Clement Ouimet was training when a 59-year-old driver performed an illegal U-turn and struck him. Ouimet was thrown from his bike and was rushed to the hospital with a serious head injury.
“He was rushed to the hospital in a critical state. Unfortunately, the man died at the hospital around 11 p.m. yesterday night,” said Montreal police spokesman Manuel Couture.
The driver was not injured. He stayed on the scene after the collision and may face charges.
“It depends on what the investigators find. It could go from a simple ticket to criminal accusations of careless driving causing death,” Couture told Global News.
Gabrielle Anctil of Ghost Bike Montreal says the area was an accident waiting to happen.
“People know this is a dangerous place. People know there are illegal U-turns here. Cyclists I spoke to this morning said ‘last time I was there I thought, when is someone going to die,'” Anctil said.
Ouimet’s coach called the young cyclist an excellent athlete and said he was training hard to be on an elite team.
“What was so special about Clement was he was passionate,” said coach Antoine Malo. “He was always hammering those pedals. He was always smiling.”
The news of Ouimet’s death caused shockwaves in the cycling community.
“I train here regularly. It could have been me,” said avid cyclist Jean-Marc Vandemeulebroecke.
Vandemeulebroecke rode laps up Camilien Houde in Ouimet’s honour, then set a red flower down near where the young man was hit.
“The only thing I could think of is bringing a flower from a plant in my house and dropping it where the accident occurred,” he told Global News.
Cycling advocates are calling for action, so the same thing doesn’t happen again.
“Decreasing the speed limits, physically separating the shoulders from the road would make a lot of cyclists happy,” said Malo.
The young man’s coach also suggested the path be closed to car traffic and devoted entirely to cyclists on Sunday mornings until noon, citing similar initiatives elsewhere.