The Current volunteer suffers severe head injury in bike accident

Shaina sustained a traumatic brain injury during the accident.
Shaina sustained a traumatic brain injury during the accident.
Photo courtesy David Briscoe.

A bicyclist sustained a severe head injury after colliding with a car during a race in downtown Minneapolis Saturday.

Shaina Briscoe, 28, an avid cyclist and volunteer for 89.3 The Current, has been unconscious and in intensive care since the accident. Shaina is a loud advocate for bike safety, and was wearing a helmet -- which remained intact -- at the time of the crash, says her father, David Briscoe.

"In that community, she is known as the safest and most clear-thinking cyclist among them," says David. "She criticizes everybody else for taking chances and for not wearing helmets and for drinking and riding."

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It's unclear exactly how the accident transpired, but Shaina collided with the car at the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Washington Avenue south around 3 p.m. Dozens of cyclists came to her aid, and she was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center.

Shaina sustained a traumatic brain injury and a broken jaw in the crash, and doctors believe she could be unconscious for another two to three weeks, says David.

"After that, it's going to be months before they understand the full extent of her brain trauma, and the effect it's going to have on her," he says. "And then more time after that before they start to develop a prognosis for her recovery."

On Sunday, after learning of the accident, the Current played Chastity Brown's "Lift Us" in tribute to Shaina, and wished her a speedy recovery.

"Shaina is one of our super star volunteers, representing 89.3 The Current for years at community events, the State Fair, Rock the Cradle, our Habitat for Humanity outing, various rock shows around town, and of course, the Team MPR MS Bike Ride," says Minnesota Public Radio spokeswoman Jen Keavy in an emailed statement. "We're obviously heartbroken and devastated about this. She's part of the MPR family and we're all hoping for the best and wishing her a full recovery."

A graduate of Principia College, Shaina works as a grant administrator for the McKnight Foundation. She started biking a few years ago, and quickly immersed herself into the rich Minneapolis cycling culture, hanging around bike shops and riding competitively, says David. Already this year, Shaina has biked four 100-mile races.

Since the accident, about 100 people have come to visit Shaina in the hospital and show their support, says David. A fund has also been set up to raise money for medical expenses (donate here).

"People who come through say, if there's anybody who can get through this it's Shaina," says David, "because she's the grittiest, toughest competitor they know." 

Update 3:10 p.m.:

According to witness accounts given to investigators, Shaina ran a red light in the busy Washington-Hennepin intersection and crashed into the SUV, says Minneapolis police spokeswoman Cyndi Barrington.

Moments before the accident, the driver of the SUV paused at a green light as a group of cyclists passed by, running their red light, says Barrington. The driver "looked around, everything was clear. She proceeded on her green, and [Shaina] ran the red and struck her SUV."

Police are still investigating the accident. Barrington notes that it wasn't a city-sanctioned bike race, meaning the roads were not closed to cars.

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