Judge hit by car while riding bike: 'I thought it was over'

Judge hit by car while riding bike: 'I thought it was over' »Play Video
SEATTLE -- Once a week, King County Judge Michael Hayden trades in his robe for a helmet, his bench for a bike.

Gloves tight, lights on, jersey zipped, he takes to the roads of Seattle, just like any other cyclist.

Only, unlike most other bikers, Hayden was hit by a car.

The driver never stopped.

"As I was hit and headed toward the ground I thought, you know, 'I've had a lot of lives, and this is the last one I get,"' he said. "I thought it was over."

On March 24, the judge and his riding group were headed south on the Airport Way bridge, just entering the heart of Georgetown, when they ran into trouble.

Witnesses say the driver of a yellow Toyota FJ Cruiser, who seemed impatient, was trying to get around a slow-moving UPS truck. The driver swerved into the lane of cyclists, and hit Hayden.

"It is not something you want to see happen," said fellow rider John Lindseth, who was among a dozen other riders with Hayden when he was hit. "I was watching (the car) going, 'I sure hope he doesn't try to fit between those two.'"

"And then Mike was down in a heap," Lindseth said.

"I felt the impact," Hayden said. "And then, the most dramatic was heading toward the pavement and having the immediate flash that this is it."

Fellow riders called 911. Hayden was taken to a hospital, and is still undergoing physical therapy for his injuries.

Less than six weeks after the accident, Hayden had to preside over a hit-and-run case in a King County courtroom -- only this time, the driver was caught.

"In my own mind, hit-and-run as a victim is still fairly fresh," he told the driver, sitting in a courtroom on May 10.

Because the plaintiff was entering a plea as part of a deal, there was no conflict of interest, but the judge still disclosed his experience.

Back on the road, Hayden said he hopes the driver is caught, but knows the chances of that happening are very small.

"I just feel very lucky," the judge said. "I just count my blessings that I can still be out here after an accident like that.

"We just hope that we can live, and do it and be in harmony with the cars that are on the road, too."