Abu Dhabi triathlete dies after being hit by car

Mehdi Karasane, a triathlete from Abu Dhabi who was struck by a vehicle while cycling earlier this month, has died.

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A triathlete hit by a car while out cycling has died.

Mehdi Karasane, from Abu Dhabi, was with three friends when he was struck from behind two weeks ago.

“Unfortunately he’s succumbed to his injuries,” said Anne Tullis, a spokeswoman for Etihad Airways, Karasane’s employer. “I believe he passed away this morning.”

An Al Rahba hospital manager, who did not want to be named, said Karasane died from head injuries at about 9am on Wednesday.

Karasane, a married Algerian expatriate in his 30s, had been in a critical condition at Al Rahba hospital since November 9, when he was hit on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai road, near exit 390.

He was accompanied by three other cyclists who were not injured in the accident.

Karasane’s death triggered an outpouring of sympathy from the triathlete community.

“This is it ... My Soul Mate is Gone!!!,” Hamid Belkebir wrote on the TriDubai’s Facebook page as he told the group about his friend’s death.

Another member described how everyone had been rooting for Karasane’s recovery.

“I know some of us didn’t know Mehdi, and having heard what a great man he was, can only wish to have known him, but we were all 100% rooting for his recovery, hoping that he would be reunited with his family and friends,” posted Vicky Arscott.

“Our sporting communities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere are united on this front, and it is so saddening to see another member of the community so tragically taken. I hope that you and his family can find some comfort in the wonderful times you spent together and memories you have of him.”

Karasane’s death comes two months after another UAE triathlete was killed after being hit by a car.

Roy Nasr, a Lebanese expatriate who lived in Dubai, was killed by a drink-driver on September 6 while on a training ride with friends near Safa Park. The driver who killed him and injured the others was jailed for a month.

Karasane had lived in the UAE for six years and worked as a cabin manager for Etihad Airways. He was actively involved in the company’s social and sports committee.

“All his colleagues really hold him in great esteem,” Mrs Tullis said. “He was very well known among the cabin-crew fraternity. That group of staff is very close and they’re going to feel his loss very deeply.”

Kevin Duell, of the Raha Cycling Group in Abu Dhabi, did not know Karasane personally but said his loss would be felt throughout the cycling community.

“It’s a very sad thing to happen,” Mr Duell said. “I feel sorry for his family and the people he leaves behind.”

Abu Dhabi Triathlon Club’s Russ Fraser said more needed to be done to help prevent these deaths.

“We need a focused campaign to make people aware of the cyclists on the road and we need a cycle track,” Mr Fraser said. “Dubai’s got one and we want one in Abu Dhabi. That would go a long way to solving the problem.”

An Abu Dhabi cyclist, who asked not to be named, said the athletic community was angered by the lack of action being taken to protect cyclists and pedestrians.  “Of course it angers us,” the cyclist said.

The cyclist said many athletes, especially the two latest victims, proudly represented the UAE in competitions around the world but nothing was being done here to safeguard them.

“We see a lot about trying to slow people down on the roads, a focused campaign against speeding and all of that, why not include cycling and beyond that pedestrians as well?” the cyclist asked.

“Until somebody dies who’s important enough it’s not going to happen.”

rpennington@thenational.ae