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New Jersey scientist dies during charity bike ride

A Princeton Township scientist died last weekend during the 33rd annual “Ride for Runaways” charity bicycle ride benefitting the Trenton-based Anchor House that provides shelter for neglected and abused children. The scientist was toward the end of the bike ride when he hit the back of a stopped vehicle waiting to make a turn.

The scientist worked for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as the co-head as the computational plasma physics group and was an award-winning scientist well known for developing software used worldwide to analyze the physics of fusion experiments. He had participated in the charity bike ride for the past 16 years and was consistently one of the ride’s top fundraisers, contributing over $50,000 over the years.

The 55-year-old scientist died after suffering a fatal head injury during the bicycle accident. A friend said that he believes the scientist had his head down and was not paying attention to the road at the time of the accident. “He could have been reading his cue sheet … or reaching for his water bottle,” the friend said. “There’s any number of possible explanations.”

The friend added that the scientist was always a safe rider who did not put others at risk. The scientist was the last rider in a line of three cyclists that were crossing Route 31 at the time of the crash.

Another biker died during the race in 1998 after crashing with a car. That fatal accident also occurred on the last day of the ride and there is some speculation as to whether rider fatigue was a factor in both deaths.

Source: The Times of Trenton, “Anchor House cyclist suffered fatal head injury upon impact in Hunterdon crash,” Cristina Rojas, 7/19/11; The Associated Press, “Noted NJ scientist killed during charity bike ride.”

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