Senior in pickup kills Ride Illinois board member Ramon Escapa on bike in downstate Frederick
Tragically, a senior driving a pickup truck fatally struck Schuyler County judge, and Ride Illinois board member Ramon M. Escapa, 42, as he bicycled with his wife on a rural road near downstate Frederick, according to David Simmons, executive director of the statewide advocacy group. Frederick is located in west-central Illinois on the Illinois River, about 50 miles northwest of Springfield.
Escapa, a circuit judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which includes Quincy, lived in Rushville, about nine miles northwest of Frederick, according to a report from Muddy River News.
According a preliminary investigation by the Illinois State Police, on Sunday, June 19, at about 9:56 a.m., Escapa and his wife were bicycling north on Adams Road, a two-lane road with that runs between Rushville and Frederick, near Illinois Route 100. Ramon was on a teal Marin bicycle.
The stretch of road they were on has no paved shoulder and is rated as bike-unfriendly (red) on the Illinois Department of Transportation bike map below. However, it is on the recommended biking route between the two towns provided by Google Maps.
According to ISP, that’s when Charlie D. Coffee, 73, also of Rushville, came from behind the couple in a red 2010 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and struck Ramon. The vehicle has a high front end, which increases the chance that a struck person will go under the vehicle rather than over the hood. Escapa was pronounced dead at the scene.
Coffey, who declined medical attention, was cited for failure to reduce speed to prevent a crash, ISP said. The department’s Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit is investigating the case. The investigators should check the driver’s cell phone records to see if he might have been talking or texting on his phone at the time of the collision.
Escapa graduated from Rushville High in 1998, Muddy River News reported. He was in the Illinois National Guard and also worked as a police officer in Beardstown, near Frederick, and as a deputy for Schuyler County. He also taught English in Beardstown. He passed the Illinois Bar in 2009, and then worked as a partner at the firm of Lucie, Scalf, Escapa and Graham in Macomb, western Illinois. In 2012 he won election as Schuyler County’s State’s Attorney. He was later appointed circuit judge, starting the job in December 2020.
“We’re all in shock,” Ride Illinois’ David Simmons told Streetsblog. “Our organization is devastated by his death. We will miss Ramon and the amazing work he did for those who ride bikes in Illinois. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his wife, children, family, and friends.”
Passing a state law requiring that, wherever there is sufficient right of way, unpaved road shoulders must be paved whenever rural roads are resurfaced, to allow people to bike on them without sharing a lane with high-speed traffic, could help prevent many serious and fatal bike crashes. Even better would be building physically protected bike lanes, or separated side paths on Illinois roads whenever possible.
Thanks to Chicago’s Boulevard Bikes for providing the image of the IDOT bike map.