Woman dies after car strikes cross-country cycling group in Arkansas


A bicycle on the Lido during the 69th Venice Film Festival at the Palazzo del Cinema on September 4, 2012 in Venice, Italy.


Gareth Cattermole

An 18-year-old woman from Massachusetts, on a cross-country cycling trip from South Carolina to California, has died after she was struck by a car in Arkansas on Wednesday afternoon. 

Merritt Levitan was a native of Milton, Massachusetts, and had set out on a cross-country bike trip with the Overland travel company, a six-week journey from Charleston, South Carolina to Santa Monica, California.

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The young woman and six others were injured near McCrory, Arkansas on Tuesday afternoon, when a car driven by a 21-year-old careened into the cycling group.

Levitan died Wednesday at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, after three of the injured cyclists were lifted by helicopter to regional hospitals, reports the Boston Globe. 

It remains to be seen if charges will be pressed against the driver, notes the Associated Press.

"There are some charges that could be filed just off the immediate evidence ... based upon just the fact that the driver was traveling on a relatively flat stretch of road in broad daylight and the bicyclists were on the highway in plain view," said prosecutor John Bell to the news agency Wednesday. 

The trip has been canceled by the operators, notes the Boston Globe. “At this point, we believe that this is what needs to be done to allow all involved time to process their thoughts and emotions while surrounded by loved ones,” Tom and Liz Costley, Overland’s founders and directors, said in a statement.

"Liz and I, and the entire Overland community, are heartsick by this tragic loss," Costley added in the statement. "We extend our deepest condolences to Merritt's family, friends and loved ones."