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Alleged distracted driver hits cyclists

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The ride was supposed to end at Mount Bonnell--a little quality time for a pair of lovebirds. But instead, Joseph Rodriguez and his fiancée, Nieves Cantu, ended up at the emergency room.

Joseph said, "She struck me on the right side. I went up and over her hood and fell on the opposite side of her vehicle. My fiancée ended up running into her passenger side door."

"I knew I was gonna get hit. I kinda tensed up and went to my right side," added Nieves.

They were riding bikes, northbound on Red River Street, crossing the Cesar Chavez intersection, when police say a driver ran a red light,

"I remember hitting her car, getting hit in the head," said Nieves.

"Her back tire ended up rolling over her arm," added Joseph.

Nieves added, "I had to have him do my hair and makeup and dress up."

"I was the hair stylist," laughed Joseph.

Joseph says some people standing nearby, chased the car down to make sure the driver didn't leave.

"She kept driving. She didn't stop immediately...and parked right over the overpass here," he added.

Nieves remembered, "That was my first thing...I got up and I was like, is there gonna be other cars hitting me? That's what scared me."

The driver did get out to see if the couple was okay.

"She didn't even realize that she still had her cellphone in her hand," said Joseph.

Nieves said, "{We were} wearing our helmets. We got lucky."

Joseph added, "I make sure we never leave the house without the helmets."

Joseph is a nationally certified EMT. His training helped him prepare for the accident.

"That's a trick I taught my fiancée, look into the vehicle, even if you're crossing the street, even if you have green lights. Look at everyone's faces, make sure they're paying attention," said Joseph.

The pair, who've been riding for a combined five years, know it's a two-way street.

Joseph said, "You have cyclists that run through red lights, that run stop signs and they get angry because they're not respected on the road, but at the same time, you have to obey the laws."

In this case though, the driver was cited for running a red light.

"I see her looking down, one hand on the wheel, and in a split second she looks up, realizes what's about to happen, she applies the brakes, but at that point it's too late," Joseph said. "It's absolutely disgusting and selfish of her to not pay attention to the road. If she was going 20 miles an hour faster, I wouldn't be here talking to you."

One year ago, Joseph lost a friend in a similar skateboarding crash.

"It's the exact same action, with different speeds," he said. "I consider myself extremely lucky."

According to numbers from the Austin Police Department, one in four crashes involves distracted driving.

A recent survey supported by city council reveals that out of 2,400 responses, 50 percent of people admitted to using a cell phone while driving.

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