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  • Tue May 12 2009
  • Posted May 12, 2009
Polk City, IA May 12th 2009 A woman injured while riding her bicycle early this morning near Polk City has been identified as Leesa Shoemaker, a 24-year veteran of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and currently a division chief. Her condition is listed as stable. Sheriff's officials said the accident occurred on Iowa Highway 415 south of Polk City. A vehicle driven by Jerry Culbertson, 57, of Bagley, was headed south when it struck the southbound bicycle, according to reports. No charges were filed. Deputies are still investigating. This week is Bike to Work week, a time when riders are encouraged to try commuting by bicycle. Organizers also are trying to increase cycling awareness. Officials said Shoemaker frequently rides her bike to work. "She had a helmet on which probably saved her life," said Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy. Shoemaker is in charge of the Polk County Jail. McCarthy said Shoemaker has suffered a "severely broken leg -- broken in two spots." She has facial and head injuries and a lot of abrasions. "You'd have to know Leesa," said McCarthy. "She's fanatical about physical fitness. She ran a 5 K last weekend. She ran the 801 Grand stair climb. She rides her bike from Polk City to the jail on a regular basis." He said some of the flashing lights that were on her during her ride on Tuesday morning were still attached to her clothing inside the bag with her property at the hospital. "It's a pretty tough ride from Polk City to the jail and somewhat dangerous to be honest with you," said McCarthy. "I am one who very much wants to improve safety for bicyclists but it is a difficult mix between cars and their speed and bicycles and their speed. I'm not sure there is a great amount of compatibility in areas where you don't have designated lines." McCarthy said, "There's is an increasing population of bicyclists. Maybe we need to work harder on the enforcement side than we have done. Being legally right doesn't make you safe." "You'd have to know Leesa to understand," the sheriff said. "She's mad about how come she wasn't seen. She's upset she can't run in a race that's coming up." He said, "Of all the people in management (at the sheriff's office), she is just outstanding. And being in charge of the jail, she's not in an easy job." McCarthy said Shoemaker has had some close calls in the past. "She was very vocal internally about the Legislature and what she thought provided enhanced protection for bicyclists. As you know that didn't pass."

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