Midtown cyclist seriously injured after being struck by car on Christmas Eve

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A well-known Kansas City cyclist was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured on Christmas Eve.

Kansas City police say the cyclist was riding near Southwest Trafficway and Valentine. The driver allegedly hit him from behind, but stayed on scene to speak with investigators.

The victim is identified by friends as Pablo Sanders Jr. They say he's suffering a number of injuries and being treated at a hospital.

Sanders is a leader in the Critical Mass riding community. Once a month dozens of riders hit the streets of Kansas City en mass to travel together and bring awareness to cycling. Friends through the group said they're hoping for the best.

One of them is Christina Decker, owner of Midwest Cyclery in Midtown, who said she knows Sanders well.

"My heart was crushed. It truly was crushed," Decker said.

Eric Rogers, the executive director of BikeWalkKC, said this isn't the first time a cyclist has been hit this month.

"Everybody knows Pablo. He's that kind of guy," Rogers said.

Sanders' friends said once you meet him, you'll never forget him.

"He just wanted everyone to be aware of cyclists, and how much fun it could be, and the joy you got out of it, and all the things you could see and do with two wheels," Decker said.

On Christmas Eve, around midnight, police said Sanders was cycling on SW Trafficway near Valentine. He was riding toward Westport when police believe a car struck him from behind. KCPD said the driver was not under the influence and stayed at the scene.

"We all need to wake up. We need to wake up when we're driving our cars," Decker said. "We need to wake up when we're riding our bikes. We're not infallible when we're in our cars. We're not infallible when we're on our bikes, but we need to pay attention to those around us."

Decker said on Monday, Sanders got a brand new bike and was riding it around Midtown like crazy.

"He called it his new whip, and it was an incredible bike for an incredible person," Decker said. "He was so exited."

He also loved her store, Midwest Cyclery, so much he got their windmill logo tattooed on his leg.

"We just kind of all laughed, like whatever," Decker said. "He came back in with our windmill logo tattooed on his leg, and we've loved him ever since because he's so he's just a good person. True to heart."

Eric Rogers with BikeWalkKC said a plan is sitting at City Hall to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

"We're not going to see bike lanes everywhere immediately, but it's something that we can start doing as we repave the streets every year," Rogers said. "We can start repainting the bike lanes back in and that doesn't really cost anything extra."

"I love you. I love you, Pablo. Please just come back," Decker said. "We want to ride. We want to ride with Pablo."

Friday night is the next Critical Mass event. Cyclists said it won't be the same without Pablo.

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