A Horrific Cycling Hit-and-Run in the Valley
Eddie Arguelles was a popular staffer at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg who rode his bike with a group called “5 AM Wakeup Ride” most mornings. Last Thursday, though, the 38-year-old was struck and killed by a drunk driver in the early morning hours on April 17th.
Because of the way that social media accounts document emergencies in real-time, it’s possible to reconstruct the day that Arguelles died to some extent. On his cycling group’s Facebook page, you can see the panicked post on the morning of his death, illustrated by a photo of his broken bike reading, “Eddie Arguelles was hit by a car. Not good cant find him. Pd is out looking for eddie a.”
It would take several hours before Arguelles’s body was discovered. According to court documents obtained by the Valley’s KRGV Channel 5 News, Arguelles was struck so hard by the driver of the truck (allegedly a man named Emilio Gomez) that he flew over the cab of the truck and into its bed. A witness at the scene attempted to follow the truck, which then turned off its lights to evade detection.
Gomez said he knew he hit something, but he didn’t check to see what he hit. We’re told when Gomez got home, he saw Arguelles’ body in the bed of his truck. According to court records, Gomez went to a nursery and asked an acquaintance how to get rid of a body. That person told Gomez to get off his property and then called police.
Gomez and passenger Nelson Cantu were arrested two hours later near a drainage ditch, where police say they were trying to dispose of Arguelles’s body.
While there are no accurate statistics regarding hit-and-run accidents in various parts of Texas, it’s not hard to extrapolate the dangers that cyclists in the state face from the stats that do exist: Accident rates for cyclists are 22% to 48% higher than for motorists, and cyclists in the U.S. are three times more likely to be killed on the road than their German counterparts (and six times more likely than the Dutch).
Those statistics factor in both cities with robust public transportation and pedestrian cultures and car/commuter regions like much of Texas. All of this suggests that the efforts taken by cities like Houston to make cycling safer are something that other parts of the state ought to consider, as well. Cyclists and motorists in Texas don’t always get along, but it’s unlikely that most drivers want to be responsible for ending the life of someone like Eddie Arguelles.