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Family of woman killed during Ironman Boulder: Ironman course not safe

Posted: 7:05 PM, Aug 08, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-08 22:53:32-04

The parents of a woman who was hit by a car during the Ironman Boulder  say the race course is not safe and someone needs to be held accountable for their daughter's death.

"Just look at this," said Michelle Walter's father, pointing to traffic on U.S. 36. "Look how fast they are going. Does that look safe to you? The troopers told us she was twelve inches outside the cone zone."

Colorado State Patrol said Walters, 34, crossed outside of the protected coned area on her bike Sunday and was hit by a pickup truck.

Her parents had come to see the crash site and the memorial that people have left in their daughter's memory.

”Ironman is a family, and we do care,” said Faith Walter, who competed in the race and had seen the ambulances. "It could have just as easily been one of us."

Jeff Rach, who also competed, looked at Highway 36 after leaving flowers, and said, in hindsight, it was concerning.

"Looking at it now, yes, there’s a low shoulder and cars are going 55 miles per hour -- or more," said Rach. "It’s not the most bike-friendly place."

Neal Rogers, the U.S. editor for cyclingtips.com , said even though the stretch of highway where this accident happened is popular with cyclists, he doesn't like to ride it because of the high speeds.

"If I were running a triathlon that might not be my first choice of roads to use," said Rogers. "But I do think it can be done safely and it has been done safely for years."

Troopers said Ironman organizers worked with them to create a traffic plan for the event and that closing down the highway on a weekend would have been a monumental undertaking.

"They’re the experts. We rely on what they put together it goes through an approval process and ultimately that’s what happened," said Trooper Nate Reid, a spokesman for the State Patrol.

Reid said two accidents have occurred in that area in the last year, including one involving a cyclist.

Walters' death leaves many in the cycling community asking if U.S. 36 is too dangerous for racing.

"I know that the Ironman organization will be taking a good long look at it, and will probably be thinking about a course design change next year," said Rogers.

The Ironman race director, Dave Cristen, said he would not comment on potential changes to the course, pending the outcome of the CSP investigation.

Michelle Walters' family says that this was her first Ironman competition.

She leaves behind a four-year-old son.