SAN ANTONIO – Alexis Velasquez, captain of the San Antonio region’s H-E-B Bike Team, said his “heart just sank like I got punched in the gut" after hearing of the death of one of their own, Dr. Naji Kayruz, a prominent surgeon and seasoned cyclist.
Velasquez said Kayruz was a valued and well-liked member of the team who’d been riding for 12 years.
Velasquez said Kayruz “was doing everything he was supposed to, (had) the proper gear, proper equipment,” and yet, late Monday afternoon, he was struck and killed by a suspected drunken driver who then fled the scene.
Velasquez said intoxicated drivers and distracted drivers aren’t the only ones that worry cyclists.
“The drivers sometimes that are aggressive or don’t know the full laws of sharing the road,” Velasquez said.
Cyclists, he said, also must abide by the same laws.
“We have to follow the rules of the road like every vehicle,” Velasquez said.
Given the potential risks, Velasquez urges cyclists to never let their guard down.
“Even when we do everything right, we need (to) take extra precautions,” Velasquez said.
He said, whenever possible, never ride alone.
“There’s visibility in numbers,” Velasquez said.
He always reminds drivers to “be attentive and know the laws, give cyclists their space.”
Velasquez said the team has now lost two riders in less than two years.
Allen Williams was killed in what Velasquez called “an unfortunate accident” in 2017, but at least that driver stopped immediately.
Melissa Nicole Peoples, the driver who allegedly struck Kayruz, is now charged with failure to stop and render aid and intoxication manslaughter.