A bicyclist's arm was sliced to the bone yesterday when, in his battle to avoid last place in a Crofton bike race, he accidentally slammed into a car parked in the center of the course just 50 feet from the finish line.
Police said Walter Beckerman, 45, who lives in the 1400 block of Crofton Parkway, was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical condition last night.
Anne Arundel County police said Mr. Beckerman was traveling at top speed around the 3.4-mile course with his head down, when his bike hit a 1989 Volkswagen, the car that carries spare tires and follows racers around the course.
In the accident, Mr. Beckerman went head-first through the rear window. His upper right arm was sliced on the broken glass when he tried to protect his head, a witness said.
Adam Beckerman, 18, said his father underwent hours of surgery. He said doctors had to repair muscles, two nerves and a major artery, and that they predicted his father would regain partial use of his arm.
Edwin F. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association, said this was the most serious accident in the four-year history of Tour de Crofton, which has become an annual Labor Day event.
Officials said Mr. Beckerman and Bill Burlison, 62, who recently moved to Odenton from Crofton, were battling it out for last place and apparently did not see the tail car that was getting ready for the start of the next race.
Mr. Burlison said he did not see the crash.
He said he does not remember being lapped by the pace car and does not understand why the car was parked in the lane.
"I would think that the vehicle should not have been there," Mr. Burlison said. "The raceway was obstructed while the race was still on."
But the race announcer, Arch McKown, said Mr. Beckerman's race was won five minutes before the crash, and the car was parked in the lane for the start of the next race. Mr. McKown said the two last-place finishers had been lapped by the pace car and, therefore, had been eliminated from contention.
Mr. McKown said that about 100 bicyclists were packed at the starting line along with two police cars, and an officials' car -- with the Volkswagen just behind them -- when the accident occurred.
"It was clogged all the way across with people waiting to race," he said.