Fox 13 anchor to return full-time Monday after bicycle accident
Kerri Cronk has a running joke with co-workers at Fox 13.
"If I make a mistake, I say, 'Oh, it's the concussion,' " Cronk said with a smile.
Cronk can laugh at herself two months after she crashed her bike into the back of a car on Wasatch Drive in Salt Lake City. The wreck fractured a vertebra in her neck and her right clavicle, gave her a concussion, separated her right shoulder and took her off the air for about eight weeks. She returns to the anchor chair full time on Monday.
Cronk, 45, gets more serious when talking about the need for bicyclists and motorists to be better educated about one another, and serious about the car that pulled in front of her. Police have not found the driver. Cronk assumes the case will not be solved.
It was a normal ride for Cronk on Aug. 5. Aboard her road bike, she left her home in Millcreek that she shares with her husband and two sons. She pedaled to Wasatch Drive near Hogle Zoo for what was supposed to be a 15-mile loop.
As Cronk rode down a hill at what she estimates was 25 mph, a car pulled in front of her. The only description Cronk has been able to give is that the car was white, maybe with a hatchback.
"I literally had like a second to react and think what was going to happen," Cronk said.
That wasn't enough time. Cronk's bicycle hit the back of the car. She doesn't know if her body struck the car. Cronk thinks her helmet may have saved her life.
"I always thought I would be in control," Cronk said of her bicycle riding. "I always thought I could avoid an accident by swerving or braking."
A stranger called 911. The car didn't stick around.
Cronk said a Salt Lake City police detective had a lead on a car and found it but saw no damage, and the driver denied being in the area during the crash. Police spokesman Dennis McGowan on Friday confirmed the case remains under investigation but declined to give further information.
Cronk gives Salt Lake City police credit for following leads but doesn't believe they'll find the driver. Cronk acknowledges a crime may not have even been committed. The driver may have just misjudged Cronk's speed of travel, she said, adding, however, that she thinks the driver knows Cronk struck his or her car.
"I'm disappointed, sure," Cronk said of not finding the driver, "but I've kind of come to terms with it. I'm not going to wallow."
Recovery has been painful. One lingering concern is "haziness" induced by the concussion, Cronk said. She remembers being at a pet store trying to buy 41 cents worth of crickets to feed to her son's lizard and having trouble counting the change.
Cronk returned to anchor Fox 13's weekday morning show, "Good Day Utah," in late September. That's when she thought she had recuperated enough and that working again would be therapeutic. Starting Monday, Cronk also will resume co-anchoring the 11 a.m. and noon newscasts.
Fox 13 news director Renai Bodley said she relied on Cronk to decide when to step in front of the camera again. If Cronk was still having symptoms, Bodley said, it didn't show.
"Kerri has always been consistently positive and pleasant and professional and a hard worker," Bodley said, "and we have not noticed a glitch in anything."
Bodley said Cronk's crash has station staff considering whether to sponsor an event to raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries, but discussions are "in the infancy stage."
Cronk said she still suffers from headaches. Her separated shoulder is keeping her from sleeping on her right side.
But she finds some good in what has happened. Her sons, ages 13 and 11, now wear helmets every time they get on a bicycle or skateboard. Cronk said she also has learned both bicycle riders and drivers need to learn more about each other when they share the road. Cronk has no plans to resume cycling but admits she might change her mind.
Notes and electronic messages from viewers wishing her well have helped Cronk's recovery, she said. With another smile, Cronk called the well wishes "positive energy."
Bicyclist killed in June
Kerri Cronk was not the only Salt Lake City bicyclist who collided with a car and has yet to find the driver. The night of June 7, a car struck and killed 24-year-old nurse Brynn Barton as she rode on 700 East near 756 South. The car is described as a 1998 to 2001 dark-colored Volkswagen Passat with front-end damage and possibly windshield damage. Anyone with information on either case can call Salt Lake City police at 801-799-3000.