A student worker from Moldova passed away earlier this week after being hit by a truck in Bethany Beach on June 26.
According to police, Anastasia Ciolpan, 20, who was residing in Ocean View for the summer, was riding her bicycle southbound on the southbound shoulder of Kent Avenue just north of Jefferson Bridge Road while Dustin L. Lowe, 23, of Frankford, was driving a 2011 Ford Escape southbound on Kent Avenue, approaching her from behind.
According to police, for unknown reasons, Lowe’s vehicle struck the bicycle from behind, knocking Ciolpan to the ground in the right lane, just east of the southbound fog line.
Lowe continued south on Kent Avenue without slowing or stopping, police said.
“Another bicyclist was riding with her and witnessed the crash. A passerby called 911,” said MCpl. Gary Fournier, public information officer for the Delaware State Police.
Ciolpan was initially transported by EMS to Beebe Healthcare, where she was stabilized before being flown by Lifenet to Christiana Medical Center, where she had been admitted in critical condition prior to succumbing to her injuries.
Police said Ciolpan was not wearing a helmet, nor did she have a light affixed to her bicycle at the time of the collision; however, her bicycle did have the appropriate reflectors. In Delaware, Delaware cyclists must have a front headlight on their bicycles when riding at night. They are required by law to wear a bicycle helmet only if they are 18 or younger.
Pedestrian, cyclist safety an ongoing concern
Fournier said it is important to be cautious when traveling on the road, especially during the summer months, with the increased traffic.
“Troopers remind pedestrians to use caution and safety when walking on or near roadways. If you must cross a roadway utilize appropriate cross walks and make sure to look left, then right, then left again before proceeding. When walking near a roadway, always make yourself visible to drivers by wearing bright/light-colored clothing and reflective materials. Pedestrians that are walking at night must carry a flashlight for added safety.”
Fournier said, as DSP does every year, that they encourage all travelers to obey the rules of the road, which means drivers and bicyclists are expected to observe traffic rules, such as stop signs and red lights, and never ride against the flow of traffic.
“Visibility can be an issue for bicyclists in the dark, so take steps to ensure that motorists can see you. Adding white front lights and red back lights to your bike, plus reflective tape or clothing, can also help make you more visible in the dark.
“It is against Delaware law to operate a bicycle at night without a front headlight. And remember, visibility isn’t just an issue late at night — cloudy days and early mornings can impair motorists’ ability to see bicyclists on the road, too.”
Fournier said the DSP Collision Reconstruction Unit was continuing their investigation into the incident mid-week and charges were expected to be forthcoming.
Ciolpan had been employed at the Blue Crab in downtown Bethany Beach for about six weeks.
“It’s not an exaggeration after the fact — she was doing an awesome job. She was full of enthusiasm; she was a natural leader,” said Blue Crab owner Tim Haley. “We’re going to miss her here more than I can possibly even say.”
Haley said Ciolan, who was studying design at university, was working in the restaurant’s kitchen and had taken on a leadership role.
“She was just fantastic, full of energy, full of charisma. She was always doing her best, and we loved having her here,” he said, adding, “The group working here has become very close, and they’ve pulled together with this, and they’re helping each other through it.”
The only daughter among five siblings, Ciolan was the second child in that family whose life was lost as a result of a car accident. Haley said one of Ciolan’s family members — her brother Michael — was able to fly in Friday night to see her before she passed.
“She had just become an aunt. Her brother who’s here had just had a baby, and she was running around as proud as could be,” Haley said.
To help Ciolan’s family with any costs associated with the tragedy, Haley and his wife have set up a GoFundMe page, which in less than a day raised nearly $5,000 of the initial $10,000 goal.
Haley said Ciolan’s family made the generous decision to donate her organs through Gift of Life — an incredible gift from an incredible person taken too soon.
“She was an incredible young lady, and we’re going to miss her more than we can even say.”
For more information on the GoFundMe page for Ciolan, or to donate, visit www.gofundme.com/fundforanastasia.