A Hartsville woman riding a bike along County Road 500N died after being struck from behind by an SUV.
Mia R. Dora, 20, was riding a bicycle with another cyclist, Shawn Perdue, 22, Columbus, about 7:13 p.m. Wednesday westbound near 17940 E. County Road 500N, deputies said.
An SUV driven by Owen Rush, 17, of Hope, also traveling west, approached from behind and struck Dora’s bicycle, sheriff deputies said.
Perdue was not injured, nor was Rush.
Investigators believe the glare from the setting sun might have hindered the teenage driver’s ability to see the bicycles, deputies said. The speed of the SUV is not considered a factor, deputies said.
Rush voluntarily submitted to a drug test following the accident, Sheriff Matt Myers said. Investigators have no indication that the 17-year-old was impaired in any way, Myers said.
Dora was not wearing a bicycle helmet, deputies said. She died at the accident scene of blunt force trauma, Bartholomew County Deputy Coroner Jay Frederick said.
The victim had worked at Arby’s on 25th Street in Columbus, where her supervisor was emotional Thursday morning in talking about Dora’s death.
“We loved her and will dearly miss her,” Dawn Evans said of Dora. “She was my little buddy.”
She described Dora, a 2014 Hauser High School graduate, as someone who enjoyed hanging out with friends, including her co-workers at the restaurant.
Evans said losing Dora has been rough on everyone there.
Flat Rock-Hawcreek Superintendent Shawn Price remembered Dora as a student who was well-liked at Hauser High School, a student with many friends.
Dora was an advocate for all students, but particularly for the younger Hauser students and for the underdogs, unfailingly sticking up for them, Price said.
“She was motivated, outspoken, and she always got the job done,” Price said.
Although Price said he had not seen Dora since she crossed the stage to pick up her diploma in 2014, he knows that her graduation was a proud moment of accomplishment for Dora and for her family.
Services for Dora have been set for 2 p.m. Monday at Norman Funeral Home in Hope, which is handling arrangements.
Myers said this accident was the eighth fatality that the sheriff’s department has investigated this year, compared with four by this time last year.
“Obviously, we’re very concerned about this,” he said.
He asked drivers to make a concerted effort to pay extra close attention to their driving, and if for some reason a driver is unable to see because of blinding sun or pouring rain, pull over and wait at the side of the road until the conditions improve.
“These kinds of accidents can be prevented if everyone is paying attention,” he said.