Little 500 cyclist flown to hospital after crashing bike

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A Little 500 cyclist is in critical condition after crashing her bike during practice Thursday.

The cyclist, Lauren Gill, is a member of the Indiana University nursing team competing in the Little 500.

According to the university, Gill was taking part in a practice race featuring all 33 teams that qualified for the women's Little 500. She was riding behind another cyclist who slowed suddenly leaving Lauren unable to avoid contact with the other bike. She was thrown from her bike and landed on her head and shoulders.

"She was between bikes and there was way out of her position. The girl in front of her hit her brake; she hit her brake and Lauren had nowhere to go because she was surrounded by people, so she went over her handlebars head first into the track," said Chelsie Hafler, IU student.

"Everyone's packed together so tightly there's just not a lot of room for movement. And if an accident happens, there's no way around it. Unfortunately Lauren got involved in the accident," said Rachael Dickerson. "Right before we went out for the practice start, she was talking about how excited she was. She was ready for the practice start and she'd watched the film and she was just very excited and motivated. It was just unexpected."

The track was already set up and staffed to simulate race conditions. Emergency medical personnel were at the track, as they are for all Little 500 practices and events.

Medics worked on stabilizing Gill, who was taken by ambulance to IU Health Hospital in Bloomington and then via medical helicopter to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where she has been admitted.

The race is organized by the IU Student Foundation, which is part of the IU Foundation. Little 500 is IUSF's primary scholarship fund-raising event.

"We have tremendous respect for these students who train so hard for an event that provides scholarships that help other students fulfill their educational goals," said Dan Smith, president of the Indiana University Foundation, which organizes the annual Little 500 races as a scholarship fundraising event. "Lauren, her family, teammates and friends are all in our thoughts at this difficult time."

For these members of the nursing team, it was an eye-opening experience.

"We see this kind of stuff all the time in clinical, but it's people you don't know. And when you switch over to someone you care about, it's a total different mindset. You're training kicks in but at the same time afterwards, you just don't know how to process. Because normally there's a disconnect so you can see this kind of stuff and you do what you're supposed to do and you don't think twice about it. But when it's someone you love, you do what you have to do because you know that's what you're supposed to be doing, but after it's over, you don't know what to do with yourself anymore," said Dickerson.