The cause of a fatal pedestrian-bicycle collision on the riverfront recreation trail in Davenport remains a mystery, despite the conclusion of a police investigation.
The two cyclists involved in the June 23 crash that killed Ruth Morris, 79, of Davenport, declined to speak with police.
In a statement Friday, Davenport police wrote: "All available information was assessed, which included follow-up interviews, a scene investigation and review of available CCTV video recordings in the area.
"The investigation was reviewed by both the Scott County Attorney’s Office and the City of Davenport’s Legal Team and concluded that no criminal offenses or municipal infractions would apply in this incident."
Morris' son, Michael Blanchard, said police called him Friday morning and said the cyclists refused to speak with them, saying their attorneys advised them not to make a statement.
County Attorney Mike Walton confirmed Friday that police were not able to speak with the two cyclists, nor were police able to locate any surveillance video from Iowa-American Water Co. The utility company's floodwall runs adjacent to the recreation trail where the crash occurred.
Walton said he found nothing criminal in the case, which Blanchard called "half an investigation," given that he was the only witness interviewed. He also disputed Walton's assertion that Blanchard told police his mother stepped in front of the oncoming cyclists.
"That's not what I said," Blanchard corrected Friday afternoon. "It's not like she walked out and — bam — they collided. When I started across, they were nowhere near us. If they wouldn't have both wiped out, they would have continued between us.
"He (the male cyclist) hit the lady (cyclist) and knocked her down harder than she was already going down. He then was basically a projectile at that point and slammed right into my mom.
"I didn't say that she stepped out, and he hit her. That's not what happened."
But Walton said it doesn't matter who was at fault, anyway.
"What I'm looking for is a criminal act," he said. "This was an accident."
Asked whether excessive speed and/or the inability to control a bicycle on a recreation path could constitute a crime, Walton said it could not.
"On a bicycle, it would have to be an intentional act," he said. "There is no law like reckless driving; there is no reckless bicycling."
Blanchard said he understands the cyclists' legal concerns, given that his mother's attorney is considering a wrongful death lawsuit. He said his brother, Tim Blanchard, also wants to see the pair held liable for the collision.
For Michael Blanchard, the sudden and violent death of his mother and best friend feels like too much to endure, and he lacks the emotional energy to look for blame.
He described a scene in which the two cyclists were speeding toward him and his mom on the straight-away along the Iowa-American floodwall on the Mississippi River Trail. He said he quickly crossed the path and stood along the wall to get out of the cyclists' way. His mother had not yet fully entered the path, he said.
A female cyclist crashed as she approached, he said, and appeared to be injured, possibly seriously. A second cyclist, a male, could not stop and crashed into the first cyclists. The male and his bicycle then slammed into Morris. Her body came to rest just off the path; in the parking lot of the Lindsey Park Yacht Club. She sustained massive head injuries and died about an hour after the crash.
When Blanchard followed the ambulance carrying his mother from the scene, a second ambulance was arriving for the female cyclist, he said.
Walton said he does not know the condition of the cyclists.
Blanchard's memories of the crash, which remain painfully vivid, were provided to police in a phone interview on Friday, June 29, he said.
"I only talked to the police one time," he said. "Besides talking to the water company about surveillance cameras, I think the only thing they (police) did was talk to me.
"They found out the names (of the cyclists). They contacted them. That's at least something.
"The only thing he (the male cyclist) said to me the whole time on the bike path was that he pulled his brakes too hard. If I was them, I'd feel terrible, but I would follow the lawyer's advice, too."
On Friday, not quite three weeks since he lost his mom, Blanchard said the grief is overwhelming.
"This is by far the worst thing that ever happened in my life," he said. "Next week has to be better. I can't imagine a worse time.
"The world is empty. It's meaningless now. It has to get better. It has to."