Street race suspected in fatal car, bike crash - Dead cyclist is still unidentified; driver who killed self remembered

Source: Arizona Daily Star
Author: Adam Borowitz
Date: 2002/02/04

Police are investigating whether the driver of a car that struck and killed a bicyclist on Saturday was racing another vehicle just before the collision.

After the crash, the 21-year-old driver shot and killed himself at his East Side apartment, police said.

Nicholas A. Naumann was a senior airman assigned to the 357th Fighter Squadron, said Davis-Monthan Air Force Base officials on Sunday.

The identity of the bicyclist was still not known on Sunday.

Naumann was driving a Chevrolet Camaro eastbound on East Broadway just west of Pantano Road about 5:30 p.m. Saturday when he struck the bicyclist, who was headed north across East Broadway, said Sgt. Judy Altieri, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman.

The cyclist was decapitated in the accident, officials said.

Altieri said witnesses told police that the Camaro was travelling at a high rate of speed at the time of the accident. Police said Saturday night that another vehicle also may have been involved in the incident.

Naumann jumped from his Camaro and ran to an apartment at the nearby Eastridge Apartments, 600 N. Pantano Road, where he was temporarily staying, base officials said.

About 15 minutes later, Naumann shot himself once in the head with a shotgun, base officials said.

His roommate, who is also in the Air Force, found him dead in the apartment and called police.

A 21-year-old passenger in Naumann's car at the time of the collision was treated at St. Joseph's Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. The man, also assigned to the 357th, was put under observation at the base after being released.

"We grieve the loss of Nicholas in our Dragons squadron as he was a hard-working, top performer maintenance professional," said Lt Col. Brian Maas, commander of the 357th squadron, in a written statement. "We are also saddened by the loss of a local citizen as a result of this accident."

Neighbors at Naumann's apartment complex said he was a quiet man who enjoyed working on his car. They said although he spoke little, he was not sparing with his kindness when he stopped to talk.

"It's such a shame, he was a wonderful gentleman," said Esperanza Culp, 79, who lives in the apartment next to where Naumann was living. "He used to visit with his girlfriend all the time."

Officials with the apartment complex declined comment Sunday.

D-M officials said Naumann is survived by a fiance in the Tucson area and his mother, who lives in Schaumburg, Ill. Both were notified of his death Sunday morning.

Altieri said Tucson Police Department counselors are typically sent to scenes where a motorist has caused a fatal accident to assist with the psychological trauma that often strikes drivers after such incidents.

"It's a traumatic experience even if they are not at fault," Altieri said. "The detectives believe that based on what they know so far that it was him seeing that his actions resulted in the death of this cyclist that caused him to run home and take his own life."

As of late Sunday, police were continuing with efforts to identify the cyclist killed in the incident. He was not carrying identification at the time of the accident.

He is described as being younger than 50 and was wearing jeans and a black T-shirt decorated with an American Indian design.

The man was riding a black, Road Warrior mountain bike.

Anyone who may know his identity is asked to call 911.



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