SALT LAKE CITY — A second man who crashed at this year's LOTOJA Classic Bike Race Sept. 9 has died. Family members are remembering him as a man who loved to compete but also loved to share everything he had with the community.
This was the ninth time retired dentist Douglas Cottle rode the LOTOJA Classic. His daughter, Jill Cottle-Garrett, believes another rider clipped his tire, throwing him off the bike. She says he crash-landed on his face.
"[He had] over 30 fractures in his face," she said. She says her father was sent to an elderly care facility after he was discharged from the hospital. They tried to have him admitted to the VA hospital, but she claims it was too full.
Cottle-Garrett says her father was combative, at times, in the assisted living center. He would sometimes rip out his feeding tube, and Cottle-Garrett says they weren't able to restrain his arms so he wouldn't do that. She also says he tried to stand, even though doctors said he wasn't ready to. During one of these attempts, she says her father fell and hit his head, sending him into a coma he wouldn't recover from. He died on Sept. 29.
Most of all, he loved to be with family. He liked to be involved in what the family was doing.
She also claims she got a call from the VA Hospital while her father was in a coma, telling her that a bed for him was available. But by then it was too late. She looks back on her father as a man who loved to give whatever extra he had to other people in the community. Neighbors say he would mow their lawns or shovel their walkways without being asked to.
"He would help people who were homeless by giving them free dental work. He was just a generous person, but he was complex, too. He was very competitive," she said. Her dad's death has been hard on her mother. Cottle-Garrett says her mother cries whenever she sees a bicycle.
- Named LOTOJA because it stretches from Logan to Jackson Hole, Wyo.
- At 206 miles, it is the longest single-day bike race in the country
- It draws approximately 1,000 cyclists from all around the U.S. annually.
"Most of all, he loved to be with family. He liked to be involved in what the family was doing," Cottle-Garrett said.
Race organizers say rider safety is their top priority. They emphasize this every year in their publications and in orientation. This is the first year any rider has sustained life-threatening injuries during the race.
This year another rider, Robert Verhaaren from Mesa, Ariz., died when he reportedly lost control and fell in the Snake River.