LISBON — A $10,000 reward is being offered for the conviction of a hit-and-run driver who hit cyclist Reney Henry in Durham last September, leaving him hurt on the highway.
The reward money is coming from family, friends and supporters of Henry, 52, of Lisbon, an electrician at Bath Iron Works.
On Sept. 12, 2011, Henry was riding his bicycle on Route 136 near Snow Road, training for the Dempsey Challenge, when he was hit from behind. He was thrown from his bicycle and landed on his head.
Henry was wearing a helmet and bright colors, and "there's a huge breakdown lane" where he was riding, said his wife, Janet Henry.
Jasmin Turgeon, a Lisbon postal carrier, saw what happened and stopped to help.
“The car sideswiped him and kept going," Turgeon said. "I was following a few car lengths behind. Mr. Henry was in the air doing flips. He was hit severely hard. The traffic was over 50 mph on that road.”
When she stopped, Henry's head was lying across the white line that divides the highway and the breakdown lane, Turgeon said. Eye and head injuries were obvious, she said. “He was conscious but he wasn't responsive. He couldn't hear me. I was on the phone with 911.”
Turgeon stopped oncoming traffic. Several drivers stopped to help, including one who was a first responder. Turgeon described the hit-and-run car as a dark gray or silver sedan. “The windows were tinted,” she said.
Efforts to get the license plate number were not successful. The driver who hit Henry “hit him pretty hard," Turgeon said. "It ripped off the passenger mirror. That person had to have known he (or she) hit someone. It's hard to believe someone would do that. It was a pretty nasty thing.”
Henry suffered bleeding in his brain, a concussion and damage to his eye socket. He was hospitalized for a week, and later underwent eye-socket reconstruction.
He was out of work for three or four weeks. “The guy's incredible,” said his wife. A month later, he rode in the Dempsey Challenge, met Patrick Dempsey and posed with him for pictures. “Patrick nicknamed Reney 'Crash,'” his wife said with a laugh.
He rides his bicycle more than 47 miles every other day, training for the Dempsey Challenge, scheduled for October. He rides with a group called “Team Mini.” The challenge is a fundraiser for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing in Lewiston.
State police lead investigator Tyler Stevenson said the force of the impact not only broke the passenger side mirror but likely damaged the side of the car. Evidence at the scene indicated the offending vehicle was a dark-gray metallic color and was a 2006 or 2007 model, possibly a Ford Fusion, a Mercury Milan, a Lincoln MKZ or a Zephyr.
Family and friends hope a reward will prompt someone with information to come forward, Janet Henry said. Maine State Police last year asked the public for assistance in finding the driver, but no driver has been found.
The person who hit her husband has committed the crime once and may do it again, she said. They want to bring that driver to justice and prevent him or her from doing it again, Janet Henry said.
The crash has brought “a curse and a blessing,” Janet Henry said. Her husband suffers headaches and has some double vision. She worries more when he goes out for rides. “I stay by the phone and make sure I'm there.”
But the family has been touched by how many people have offered support.
Reney Henry's participation in the Dempsey Challenge will raise money for cancer to help others, she said. “We're paying something back."