Winston-Salem community rallies behind fallen cyclist

by Keith Barber

Cyclists (from left) Scott Hackney, Sherry Martin, Caleb Williams, Jimmy Greer, JR Woodard and Ian Butera participated in the nightly bike ride through downtown Winston-Salem in honor of Ibrahim Myers last week. (photo by Keith T. Barber)

I brahim Myers remained in critical condition at Baptist Hospital on Monday night. Cindy Pratt, a close friend, said doctors informed family members that swelling in his brain has abated to a degree, but that the punctured lung he suffered during a biking accident earlier this month would probably require surgery.

“His lungs are still critical,” Pratt said.

“The pneumonia has mostly subsided; [doctors] are keeping an eye on it. They’re looking forward to taking him off antibiotics soon, but he’s still on a ventilator.”

Pratt said Myers has not regained consciousness since colliding with a van on that Saturday afternoon. She added that Myers had opened his eyes as a response to pain on several occasions, but he has not been responsive in recent days.

Myers, 35, was heading south on Glade Street on his bike just after 4 p.m. on June 4, when he collided with a 2005 Chrysler van driven by Kimberly Ann Hundley, 49, at the intersection of Glade and Sunset Drive, according to police reports. Myers was reportedly not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Last week, Ian Butera joined 13 other cyclists outside Rec Billiards in downtown Winston-Salem for a nightly bike ride in Myers’ honor. Butera said the rides began the day after Myers’ accident as a way to honor his friend and raise awareness of cycling safety. Three bikers showed up that first night to make the 1.2-mile loop through downtown Winston-Salem, but the movement has quickly grown, with as many as 20 riders participating on a given night.

“The group is very eclectic,” Butera said.

“I never felt like it would be more than five people. The first idea was to hold a bike ride as a tribute to [Myers] to let people know we’re thinking about him.”

Myers, or Ibe, as friends call him, was a regular patron of Rec Billiards, which is why the nightly rides begin at the downtown watering hole, Butera said. All riders are required to wear a helmet to participate. Butera said he purchased a helmet after Myers’ accident.

“It’s already been put to good use,” he added, recalling a spill he took a few days earlier.

Caleb Williams, a co-worker of Myers at Jimmy John’s restaurant, joined Butera for last week’s bike ride. Williams said he viv idly remembers getting the news of Myers’ accident.

A friend who lives near the scene of the accident called him to make sure he was okay when he saw a cyclist had collided with a car. Williams said he rushed to the scene and saw Myers’ bike, his bag and his clothes lying in the street.

“I knew it was Ibe,” Williams said. Last year, Williams suffered a skull fracture as the result of a bike accident. After four days of hospitalization, he was released and made a full recovery. Right away, he realized Myers’ situation was far more serious. Williams visited his friend at the hospital the day after the accident and was discouraged to Myers in a medically induced coma.

“That was a terrible weekend,” Williams said. “I wasn’t right for several days after that. Ibe rode his bike far more than I did. That was someone I respected. It just shows you it can happen to anyone. It makes me worry because I’m on my bike so damn much.”

Sherry Martin also participates in the nightly rides in Myers’ honor. A former coworker of Myers, Martin remembered how she first heard of her friend’s accident.

Martin said she was working as a bartender at a wedding reception at the Millennium Center when a co-worker broke the news.

“All I heard was he was hit by a car and he was in ICU,” Martin said.

Martin said the gravity of the news hit her and her co-workers instantly.

“We took turns going to the back of the building to collect ourselves,” she recalled.

Martin said she decided to join in the nightly rides to show support for Myers and his family. She recalled how Myers’ brother, Michael, came out with the cyclists one night and appeared overwhelmed at the outpouring of community support.

Martin described Myers as a true friend and a beloved member of the community.

“He’s there for you anytime day or night,” she said. “He’s one of those friends that it doesn’t matter how long you go without seeing each other, the next time you meet, you give each other a hug and pick up where you left off.”

Dawn Tuten, Myers’ sister, said her family has been deeply touched by all those who have participated in the nightly bike rides and organized fundraisers to help her family offset medical costs.

“As devastating as our brother’s accident is, it has been comforting to know that his friends and the community as a whole are definitely there when he needs them most,” Tuten said. “So much is said about friends not really being there when you need them, but this has been a true testament to the kindness and love of people who know Ibe and even many who don’t know him.”

Friends of Myers have used social media to publicize bike helmet drives and organize fundraisers in his honor. Dave Owen, a local concert promoter and longtime friend of Myers, helped organize the Super Mega Ibrahim Explosion fundraiser event, which will be held at the Millennium Center on July 10. Owen said the organized community effort speaks volumes about Myers’ impact on people in the community.

“It’s a big rallying cry; it’s a big blow to everybody,” Owen said. “He’s just a beautiful, loving creature and it’s just disheartening for all of us to see him in this condition.”

Despite the difficult prognosis, Owen said he remains hopeful because he knows his friend is a fighter.

“He’s got a tough exterior with a beautiful heart,” Owen said.

Super Mega Ibrahim Explosion fundraiser; July 10 at 3 p.m.; Millennium Center, 101 West 5th Street, Winston-Salem