A former competitive cyclist who dedicated herself to helping people struggling with addiction to anti-depressant medications died Tuesday from injuries she received in a weekend bike accident.
Alison Kellagher, 55, of Boulder, died at Lafayette's HospiceCare after she hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk at Fifth Street and lost control of her bike as she rode down Lee Hill Drive on Saturday evening.
Boulder police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said Kellagher and her husband were riding eastbound on Lee Hill Drive when another couple started to walk across the street in a crosswalk at the intersection with Fifth Street.
The pedestrians told police that they activated the lights at the flashing crosswalk but that Kellagher didn't appear to see them. She clipped the male pedestrian and lost control of her bicycle, crashing on the roadway about 25 feet east of the crosswalk, Huntley said.
The pedestrian who was hit was thrown to the ground, Huntley said, but was not seriously injured.
Kellagher, who was wearing a helmet, was transported to Boulder Community Hospital, where she underwent surgery. She died around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Boulder County Coroner Tom Faure.
Kellagher had been very open about her 17-year struggle with a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are typically used to treat depression and other psychological and physical maladies. The Gunbarrel woman ended up starting a small benzo support group in Boulder a few years ago to help others deal with addiction to the drug.
"She was an incredibly talented, gifted person," said Ann Noonan, division manager for Boulder County Public Health's addiction recovery centers. "She was incredibly passionate about her benzo recovery."
Noonan said Kellagher volunteered for the county's addiction recovery program starting in 2008 and was eventually hired on as a staff member.
"I know she was really well respected by staff there and well respected by the clients," Noonan said.
Kellagher, who was born in New York state and started her career as a professional cyclist, launched a benzodiazepine addiction support Web site several years ago.
She rode for the U.S. Cycling Team in the 1980s, according to her Web site.
She wrote on the site that a doctor first prescribed the drug to her in 1984 after she started experiencing panic attacks. Nine or so years into taking the drugs, which included Xanax and Klonopin, Kellagher began to have suicidal thoughts.
"I was able to pursue my career, but over the next ten years the benzo dose had to gradually be increased to remain effective," she wrote. "As this happened, I began to change, losing my spirit, my intelligence, and my will. I became deeply depressed and disoriented in my own life."
She repeatedly tried to get off the drug, she wrote, but the withdrawal symptoms amounted to an "enormous muddle of symptoms and suffering."
"During these years my career faded out, I faded out, and became a shell by 2002," Kellagher wrote.
She then suffered through six months of withdrawal but managed to conquer the addiction. She attended Naropa University as a graduate student in counseling psychotherapy and launched her benzo support group.
Kellagher was married to her husband, Bill, for 30 years. They did not have any children.
Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.