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Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Trek a memorial for bicyclists

Seattle Times staff reporter

There's a special reason Gypsie Goss is taking part in tonight's Ride of Silence, a memorial to bicyclists injured or killed on the road.

Just about every day since a 5,000-pound Ford Explorer hit her while she was biking March 14, her 5-year-old son, Braxton, has given her a hand-drawn card.

"I love you," one of her son's cards read. It showed a stick drawing of Goss lying on a bed.

Goss, her son and husband, Aaron, will all be at Seattle's Gas Works Park tonight to begin the 14-mile silent procession. Bicyclists in 200 U.S. cities and six other countries are expected to participate.

But because of her injuries, Goss won't be pedaling. She'll be seated in a specially constructed three-wheel bike that will be pedaled by someone else.

She is recovering from the accident, in which she broke her pelvis in three places and broke her right hand.

The night of the accident, the family had closed up shop and gone to a nearby video store for a movie. They then began bicycling to their home two miles away.

Goss' bike had a red glow strip, two front lights and two back lights. She was wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket.

She was riding about 100 feet behind her son and husband, when the SUV went through the intersection of 30th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Findlay Street at 35 to 40 mph.

"Then I hear the engine rev and I looked and he was on top of me. I screamed," she remembered. "You scream to know if you're still alive."

She was thrown up 10 to 12 feet and landed 30 feet away, bouncing twice on the ground like a doll. Her bike was crushed.

"I started to feel my legs, and feel my hips. I was happy I wasn't paralyzed," she said.

Her son remembers the scene: "I was crying. I thought, 'She's going to die.' "

In 2004, in Seattle there were 258 bicycle collisions with cars — resulting in 224 injuries and one death, according to the city's Department of Transportation.

A bicycle rider since her early teens, Goss, 39, said she's always been a careful rider. She and her husband own Aaron's Bicycle Repair in West Seattle.

Goss now is back at work, using crutches. She says shooting pains still wake her up at night.

The driver of the SUV, Juan Antonio Gonzalez-Zuniga, has been charged with felony hit-and-run. He's also been charged with speeding away from the bicycle accident and hitting another car, according to the King County Prosecutor's Office. He has pleaded not guilty.

Goss says she remembers Harborview nurses saying they'd seen so many bicycling injuries that they'd never ride a bicycle themselves. She would reply that she would ride again because it was so much fun.

One of those publicizing the Ride of Silence is Gary Strauss, 56, a Seattle attorney who each day bicycles from West Seattle to downtown. He's had close calls with motorists.

"By simply riding on the roads, as we have a right to do," he said about tonight's event, "we sooner or later hope drivers will realize that we belong."

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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