During the 2017 IRONMAN World Championships American pro triathlete Matt Russell reportedly collided with a vehicle on the way back from Hawi and was sent to North Hawaii Community Hospital in serious condition.
According to the West Hawaii Today newspaper, "Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner said the cyclist was traveling toward Kona on Queen Kaahumanu Highway when he broadsided a vehicle crossing the highway from Waikoloa Road."
West Hawaii Today also reported that a woman named Janey Brink witnessed the accident while standing on the side of the road cheering on the athletes.
“This rider, he could do nothing,” Brink was quoted to have said. “These riders need to have a clear path and that intersection was not clear.”
Fellow American pro Jesse Thomas was riding behind Matt Russell and witnessed the accident.
"He had just caught me about 5-10 min before and was in front of me heading back into town from Mauna Lani at that first intersection that leads to Waikoloa," said Thomas to slowtwitch. "Tailwind section, haven’t looked but I’m guessing we were going well over 30mph, he was pushing hard. I saw a truck start to cross the intersection and thought, 'that’s cutting it way too close', then the next moment a van pulled out behind the truck to try to cross as well. It looked like the crossing guard was animated in some way, either trying to wave the van quickly through or trying to get it to stop, but I couldn’t tell what was happening in the brief moments it all went down. I sat up immediately and yelled “oh fuck!” Matt saw it too and sat up and hit his brakes but had probably less than a second to do so and the van was too wide to miss from his angle. He went straight into the side of it nearly full speed. Super loud crash, looked like bike parts shattering, etc. I swerved to the left and cut behind the van by a couple of feet tops and saw Matt on the ground motionless as I went by. I sat up for a bit trying to decide what if anything I could do and realized there wasn’t anything I could do and he was surrounded by probably a hundred or more people spectating. So I tried to relax and keep going but I was pretty shaken obviously just putting myself in his shoes. He just had a kid as well so my heart just goes out to him. Terrible deal. I hope he’s ok."
Russell is a young family father and it is unclear at this time what kind of insurance he has, and if Russell will return to compete in triathlon. A YouCaring fundraising page was set up to support Matt and his family, and at first glance when looking at the URL it looked like his wife Gillian set up the page, but the header lists Christen Dybenko as the organizer. Dybenko is apparently a friend of the Russells.
We reached out to Gillian Russell to learn more about Matt's condition and what the needs are are for the Russells.