Five cyclists were hospitalized Sunday morning with serious injuries after being struck in Kanata by a minivan that fled the scene but was later recovered by police, who arrested a male suspect.

One of the victims, a man believed to be in his late 30s, is in critical condition with massive head and brain injuries and a broken ankle. Another man, 36, was listed as critical with a head injury and scalp lacerations.

An off-duty bylaw officer found the group of unconscious cyclists just before 8 a.m. on March Road near Solandt Road. Paramedics treated them over a 120-metre-long area. An air ambulance was also dispatched to the scene.

The cyclists were traveling northbound on March when they were struck.

The driver later turned himself into police and was taken into custody, according Acting Insp. John Maxwell, who said the suspect faces a charge of failing to remain at the scene of an accident. Other charges are pending.

"There was a lady down the road that looked up and saw things being struck," Maxwell said. "(She) thought they were pylons and when she got closer, she sadly discovered they were humans."

The site was littered with pieces of bicycle helmet, sunglasses, water bottles, and other debris Sunday morning as investigators pieced together what caused the horrifying collision.

"Things that are personal ... that's the stuff that gets you when you see it on the side of the road," said Maxwell.

Police are investigating whether impaired driving played a role in the collision.

The other three victims' injuries were described as:

  • a 27-year-old woman who regained consciousness en route to hospital with head injuries and a possible hip and high femur fracture, and listed in serious condition
  • a 39-year-old man with a concussion and minor leg injury
  • a 45-year-old woman with a concussion, broken left arm and elbow, and listed in serious condition.

It appears the victims were travelling together in a dedicated cycling lane at the time they were struck.

Darryl Wilton of the Ottawa Paramedic Service said two supervisors on the scene told him that victims appeared to be dedicated cyclists, as they all had top-of-the-line equipment.

The cyclists were on their way to meet a woman, who identified herself to officials at the scene as a physician.

"When they didn't show up on time she was waiting and then when she saw the helicopter landing she thought, 'Oh no,'" Wilton told "So she came to the scene."

Ottawa police had initially described the van as a newer beige or brown model with damage. It was last seen northbound on March Road headed towards Terry Fox Drive after striking the five victims.

Cyclists worry about speed, narrow passing

Even though March Road has a bicycle lane, some riders say they often feel unsafe with a constant procession of speeding vehicles in an 80-kilometre-per-hour zone.

"People pass way too close," said cyclist Laura-Lee Brenneman. "It's only two lanes and (there's) not a lot of room for cars to go around you. It only takes a small tap and you're done."

For Jennifer Ethier, a hit-and-run crash 18 years ago has left scars to this day. She still cycles, including competing in an Ironman triathlon last year, but is most scared by pedaling on city streets.

"A lot of cars and drivers don't take the time to realize that cyclists have a right to the roadways just as they do, and they need to pay more attention," Ethier said.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee and

Do you consider Ottawa a safe place to ride your bike? HAVE YOUR SAY by posting comments, sharing anecdotes, and trading safety tips...