Bicyclist knocked off James Island Connector

(Jon Bruce/WCIV)

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- A bicyclist was killed Tuesday morning in Charleston after falling off the James Island Connector.

Police say 54-year-old Mitchell Hollon was hit by an AT&T van. The force caused him to plummet nearly 40 feet to the marsh below.

Both the cyclist and the driver of the van, were headed west on the connector around 8:40 a.m. when the collision happened. Investigators say the van swerved into the shoulder of the road and struck the man.

"Officers on the scene saw that the cyclist went over the bridge and into the marsh," said Charleston Police Spokesman, Charles Francis.

Investigators scoured the accident scene Tuesday. Evidence of the size of the impact was left on the van that police say struck the cyclist. Early in the morning, officers were just beginning to determine what caused this crash.

"There's no way to know, they're just removing the body right now," Francis said. "Once the coroner examines the body he'll be able to tell you exactly what the injuries were."

The James Island Connector is one of only two options for bicyclists to get back and forth from Charleston to James Island.

Steve Merz, a riding enthusiast who works at the Bicycle Shoppe in Charleston, says he's taken the route for six years.

"Some of us do ride it," Merz said. "But we ride it at our own risk."

Merz admits he's one of very few. He said most people are too scared.

"There's no signage that makes people aware that cyclists will be entering and exiting," he said. "You don't have a steady flow of people because they're worried."

According to Merz, Charleston has taken significant strides to improve bike access for riders, but added awareness is critical, now more than ever. Merz said the lane where the crash took place is merely a shoulder, on a highway.

"If it was designated as a bike lane and put signage on it, or arrows on the ground people might not feel safer but cars will start to see that signage, and they'll start registering it," said Merz.

According to the Charleston County Coroner, Hollon died of full body trauma. The coroner could not determine if Hollon died from the crash or the fall.

As of 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, no charges had been filed against the driver of the van.