Bicyclist dies from injuries in hit-and-run, charges upgraded

Police: Woman on drugs when she hit bicyclist, fled
(PHOTO: Chris Lower/FOX19 NOW)
(PHOTO: Chris Lower/FOX19 NOW)
Melinda Woodall (Provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)
Melinda Woodall (Provided by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)
Michael Prater (Photo: @michaelprater/Twitter)
Michael Prater (Photo: @michaelprater/Twitter)

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - A bicyclist has died one day after being struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run crash where drugs are believed to have contributed.

Michael Prater, 42, passed away Monday morning, according to the sheriff's office.

Police said Melinda Woodall, 34, had five syringes, a metal spoon and tourniquet in her Jeep when she hit Prater on U.S. 52 near Asbury Road Sunday. Woodall also had schedule three and four drugs and attempted to hide those pill bottles in her bra, court documents state.

Woodall swerved into the right shoulder and struck Prater, police said Sunday. He was thrown from his bicycle and landed on the roadway.

Woodall fled the scene without stopping or attempting to give aid to Prater, authorities said.

Police located her abandoned jeep in the 1700 block of Sutton Road. Shortly after, Woodall was found about a block away and arrested.

"When questioned, Mrs. Woodall admitted to striking Mr. Prater and fleeing the scene," a Hamilton County affidavit reads. "Mrs. Woodall appeared to be under the influence of unknown prescription narcotics during her questioning."

She appeared in court Monday on leaving the scene and aggravated vehicular assault charges. After Prater passed away, the prosecutor's office upgraded that charge to aggravated vehicular homicide.

"The Cincinnati Cycle Club will do everything in our power to see that justice is served and Cincinnati is made safer for all cyclists," read a post from the cycle club's Facebook page following news of Prater's death.

A Go Fund Me page for Pater's family has been set up. Donations will go toward "Medical bills, groceries, rent, childcare, education, other unforeseen expenses," the page says. As of Tuesday morning, more than $20,000 of the $200,000 goal had been raised.

"The cycling community in Cincinnati is so close knit that we all feel the pain when anything like this happens," said Derek Drifmeyer, Cincinnati Cycle Club president.

The accident remains under investigation by the Hamilton County Traffic Unit.

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