An Australian bicyclist who was killed after being hit by a garbage truck in New York excitedly told her family she was on the “trip of a lifetime” in what would be their last conversation, loved ones said.
“She’d only spoken to me I think the previous day … and said, ‘Dad, can you believe your little girl is in New York City?’” Andrew Lyden told Tasmania’s Southern Cross News. “For her to be taken from us in such a horrific way is gut-wrenching. Words can’t describe how heartbreaking this is.”
Madison Jane Lyden, 23, was riding a bike along Central Park West near West 67th Street about 4:40 p.m. Friday when an Uber pulled out into the bike lane, forcing her to swerve out of the way, police said.
When she veered into the nearby lane, Madison was struck by a private sanitation truck, officials said.
Emergency responders rushed Madison to Roosevelt Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The driver of the truck that hit Madison, identified by police as 44-year-old Felipe Chairez, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired by alcohol and operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .04 to .06 or less, police said.
Investigators said they found three beer cans in Chairez’s truck, and he allegedly admitted to drinking two beers before driving, prosecutors said.
Chairez was released on his own recognizance. He was ordered to give up his license for the time being.
Chairez's attorney said during his arraignment that beers wouldn't have affected his client's driving because of his lunch order that day, the New York Post reported.
“If he had a chicken salad sandwich, the alcohol may have been absorbed by the lunch he had,” lawyer Kenneth Ware said during the arraignment.
Madison had been in New York for only days when she was killed.
“She just completed four years of university,” her mother, Amanda Berry, told Southern Cross News. “… She’s just been traveling the world with her best friend, having the adventure of a lifetime.”
Madison was bubbly and loving, her devastated family said.
“I used to call her a star. She was a star,” her father recalled.
Madison had always been hard-working, having worked as a swim instructor, lifeguard and receptionist at a recreational center near Adelaide, her twin sister, Paige Lyden, said.
Madison planned to become a psychologist and pursue a master’s degree after finishing traveling.
“I don’t really know where to begin on what Madison meant to me and our family,” her sister tearfully said.
Chairez is due in court in September.