Condition of injured cyclist improves, suspect still wanted

Condition of injured cyclist improves, suspect still wanted
Justin Weber (left), Mika Torkkola (right): (Source: Facebook)
Justin Weber (left), Mika Torkkola (right): (Source: Facebook)

The condition of the cyclist who was hospitalized after a hit-and-run crash is improving, while investigators continue to search for the person responsible.

Justin Weber, Mika Torkkola, and Mathew Bartol were riding bikes on Nicholson Drive near Innovation Park Drive at roughly 9 p.m. on Monday, May 4. The trio was positioned single-file when a red four-door Nissan Frontier first struck Weber, causing a chain reaction.

"It all happened so quickly and slowly at the same time. It's just tough to put in to words how it was," said Torkkola.

Torkkola and Bartol escaped with only minor injuries. Weber was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge where his initial prognosis seemed grim. He suffered a serious head injury, even though he was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

"Justin was awake and responsive a short while ago," said Torkkola. "Hopefully some lung damage will be healed and they can remove the breathing equipment in the next day or so, at which point they'll lower the sedation and he should be conscious."

Although his doctor is hopefully Justin will make a full recovery, it will be a long and process that will likely take several months of healing.

Investigators, however, are stuck with little in the way of new developments.

"It's still an active investigation," said Cpl. Jared Sandifer, a media representative for the Louisiana State Police. "Troopers are gathering information and following up on leads in an attempt to determine who struck the cyclists."

In the meantime, fundraising events are being organized. The monthly Critical Mass ride, which is held on the final Friday of each month, will honor the injured.

"We hope to get everyone out on their bikes," Torkkola said. "Unfortunately, we usually have a large turnout after someone is hit."

For now, investigators are asking the public to come forward with any information that could help them locate the person responsible.

If you know anything about this case, call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-STOP (7867).

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