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Police: Driver that hit cyclists passed out at the wheel - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Driver that hit cyclists claims he passed out at the wheel

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SHOREHAM, Vt. -

Avid biker, Steve Hare, says he can't believe what happened to fellow cyclists on Sunday. "People who are impaired by alcohol -- please stay off the roads," he said.

Police say on Sunday morning, Brian Miller, 54, cut across the center lane in Shoreham, plowing into three cyclists taking part in a bike tour. Court papers show that Miller was drunk, and that he passed out at the wheel.

"The gentleman that was struck on his bicycle actually went over the hood of the vehicle and penetrated the windshield of the car, due to the force of the impact," said Vermont State Trooper Justin Busby.

Hare says this accident is a reminder of how vulnerable cyclists are, even if they are following the rules of the road -- and has scars to prove it.  He was hit by a car last year. "A motorist just hit me from behind. I had crashed on my bicycle in the past or gone down, but I've never been hit where I had no idea something was about to happen," he said.

Sunday's injured riders were participating in Tour De Farms, an organized bike tour throughout the town. Police say the bikers did not violate any laws and were safely following the rules of the road. All riders had been briefed before the tour on biking safety. "Safety is our number one priority. I was out late last night putting up signs at every major road crossing. We have caution signs at least 200 yards ahead of the crossing," said tour organizer Lea Culdren.
"It's hard to prevent every accident."
     
Two of three cyclists hit were seriously injured, including a 15-year-old girl from Massachusetts. A Moretown man remains in critical condition.

"It's a very serious offense. We have an individual here who has been driving on a suspended license. His license has been suspended since the 1970's -- 1978. And he got into a motor vehicle accident that caused two people very serious injuries," said Addison County State's Attorney Dave Fenster.

Brian Miller is still in the hospital, but plead not guilty via phone on Monday. The Shoreham man is facing seven charges, and if convicted could spend up to 60 years behind bars. Fenster says this isn't Miller's first run in with the law. "He does have a pending DUI offense that he was on release conditions for, when this offense occurred. And he was also on arrest warrant status because he failed to appear," he said.

And the two pending DUI charges add on to a rap sheet that already has two prior DUI convictions in 1978 and 1985.

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