WARREN, R.I. (WPRI) — When Donna Bergeron received a call from an unknown number in the early afternoon of June 11, she didn’t pick up.
“Then it rang again,” she told Target 12. “And my colleague told me: you should answer it, because people don’t normally call twice.”
The call came from a Warren EMT.
Bergeron’s partner, Mich Myette, had been returning home on the East Bay Bike Path after a 30-mile bike ride when he and another cyclist collided head on. Myette’s jaw was broken, and he was being taken to Rhode Island Hospital.
Despite riding with protective gear, Myette needed a four-hour surgery, multiple titanium plates in his mouth, and his jaw wired shut before healing could begin.
“Now I have to eat my meals with a straw,” Myette said recently.
Myette said the other biker was in the wrong lane and was riding an e-bike, which is illegal on the bike path.
Warren police interviewed the other bicyclist that day before he left the scene. The individual said his name was William Jefferson and gave a Warren address with a Massachusetts phone number. But when police attempted to follow up with Jefferson, a cross-agency search “was negative,” they found his address “does not exist,” and the phone number “does not work.”
Warren Police Lt. Christopher Perreault wasn’t there that day, but he told Target 12 the department is focused on finding the mystery person to get a complete account of what happened that day.
One of the responding officers described the man who called himself William Jefferson as a middle-aged white male. The man had a black goatee with a touch of gray and had scrapes on his face and arms.
Perreault encouraged anyone with information to contact Warren police on their tip line.
A 2016 University of Rhode Island report found nearly 850,000 people used the East Bay Bike Path that year, and that number is thought to have dramatically increased during the pandemic.
Town data from Warren and Bristol shows only about a dozen bike collisions or crashes on the bike path since 2019. But data from Warren police about calls for service on the bike path — which can include medical conditions, lost-and-found items and suspicious activity — spiked during the pandemic, jumping from 62 in 2019 to 117 in 2021.
Myette’s jaw will be wired shut for at least six weeks, and he said doctors wouldn’t be able to tell him whether he would make a full recovery until after the wire was removed.
But while a full recovery is no sure thing, Myette and Bergeron said they know expensive medical bills are a certainty.
“Who is this individual?” Myette said. “I want him to come forward.”
They said the salt in the wound is that Warren police weren’t careful in documenting what happened.
“Warren police arrived after Michael was in the rescue,” Bergeron said. “They claimed to have spoken to him at the scene — they did not.”
Myette and Bergeron went to the Warren police station to speak to the two responding officers about the inaccuracy.
“The field training officer looked at the probational officer and said: ‘You did get a statement from him, right?’ And he said, ‘No,'” Bergeron said.
But their biggest frustration, they said, is that police photographed only Myette’s bike, not the other man’s. If police had, there would be proof the other man was riding an e-bike.
When Target 12 asked Warren police about the inconsistencies in the incident reports, and why the other man’s bike wasn’t photographed, a police official responded, “no comment.”
Bergeron said the incident makes her question human decency.
“It’s concerning to know that a person can just walk away from an incident like that and not even come forward and say, ‘Hey, you know what, I’m the one that did this and I’m sorry,'” she said.