Fatal velodrome accident shocks San Diego racing community

Friends and local cyclists remember popular San Diego racer gravely injured in velodrome crash

The cycling community of San Diego is mourning the loss of local rider Jackie Price Dunn after an accident on the Balboa Park Velodrome on Tuesday left her brain dead, Fox 5 San Diego reported.

The operators of the San Diego Velodrome have not yet released details of the crash, but reports have described an incident in which Dunn and another athlete’s bikes touched while riding on the track, causing Dunn to crash, landing on her head.

While scrapes and bruises are sometimes inevitable, members of the cycling community are calling Dunn’s fatal injuries the result of a “freak accident.”

Friends and family said Dunn, 33, would be kept on life support for a short time, so her organs could be donated.

Bicycle accidents contribute to more sports-related traumatic brain injuries than any other activity. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cycling accidents played a role in about 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009. Still, riding and racing on a velodrome is considered to be one of the safest locations for cyclists, because of the lack of cars, pedestrians, and other obstacles.

“There is inherent risk in anything we do, especially the sports and hobbies we love so much. Jackie is the type that would say that if you don’t take those risks, then you aren’t really living,” Sean Hill, Dunn’s former physical trainer, told the San Diego Fox affiliate.

Having only been racing for a short time, Dunn was able to make a lasting positive impact on the people that she rode with. Andrew Lee, owner of Adams Avenue Bicycles, described Dunn to Fox 5 San Diego: “Lots of smiles, lots of laughter, lots of support, very competitive.”

Dunn had stopped by Adams Avenue Bicycles on Tuesday before heading out to the velodrome where she crashed. “It’s a very, very rare occurrence that there are accidents at the velodrome, and it’s very, very unusual that this happened,” Lee said.

Focus Bicycles USA marketing manager Tim Jackson was on the track’s infield when the crash occurred.

“It will take all of us here a long time to recover from her loss,” he told VeloNews. “She was a great person, as is her husband- both great supporters of cycling and active within the community. It’s going to hurt for a long time. My goal, and the goal of others I have already spoken to, is to create something that is a living legacy to her passion for the sport. There is discussion of a mentoring program to help other riders, especially women because Jackie was a great supporter of women’s racing, and help them to become better riders and racers. Not sure how it will work, but we’re committed to finding a way.”

Friend and fellow cyclist Angel Castillo has set up the Jackie Price-Dunn Memorial Fund, hoping to raise $3,000 in an effort to cover medical deductibles and funeral expenses. The funds raised will go directly to her husband, Durward, to manage.

Having trained and raced with Dunn, Castillo wrote that she had felt a special bond with her: “During race season we train during the week (sometimes with each other) and line up to see what we’ve got every weekend. We turn ourselves inside out and give each other that knowing look at the end of the race, because we went through it together. We all have this bond that’s really difficult to explain, unless you’ve pinned a number to your jersey and committed to a race.”

Castillo wrote that the accident “could’ve happened to any of us,” adding that she hopes that cyclists will contribute, as this is “your turn to take a pull.”

Dunn’s Catalyst team remembered her on its Facebook page: “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of Jackie Price Dunn. She was involved in an unfortunate accident at the SD Velodrome on Tuesday night that caused her to suffer severe brain trauma. Jackie was one of those people that never did anything halfway. In the past year Jackie decided that cycling was going to be her newest and greatest adventure. In that short amount of time Jackie made a huge impact in SoCal women’s cycling, quickly catting up from the 4s to the 3s, racing as much as she possibly could on the road & on the track. Along the way she recruited a ton of women into the sport with her contagious passion and positive attitude. This season almost every local women’s Cat 3/4 race podium has either been graced by Jackie’s presence or by someone who was encouraged into the sport by her. That is an amazing impact that will continue in our community for years to come. She will be dearly missed by all of her Catalyst Racing Cycling teammates and we will try to honor her by racing as she did, with passion, a positive attitude, and a big smile.”