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El Tour crash victim's partner talks to Tucson News Now

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

El Tour officials are defending their safety measures after a cyclist got hit and killed by a car. The victim's partner is also speaking out.

"I'm going to miss him a whole lot," said Bill Roberts, partner to the victim involved in the deadly El Tour crash.

For 26 years, Roberts and John Henderson have made a life together. Until things ended abruptly Saturday night, when Henderson was hit and killed by a car near Sunset and I-10 frontage road.

Roberts recalls a police officer at the scene, confirming the crushing news. "I was telling him I knew and I was telling him I wanted to know," said Roberts. "He said, yeah what I was thinking was correct."

Roberts met up with his partner around noon Saturday. It would be the last time they'd ever see each other. "I took some pictures and to see how things were going since it was raining and crappy, I kind of thought he maybe wanted to give up and go home because that would make sense," said Roberts.

Henderson turned down the offer, determined to finish. But, he never did. Despite many warning signs and traffic officers, a 78-year-old managed to hit Henderson in the bike lane, sending him flying into the air.

Roberts said, "Yeah I blame him, whether he's 100 or 22, you ran over somebody and killed them, that aint right."

The incident is under investigation. DPS officers say age and weather are possible factors.

"You get an accident like this and it makes you think are you the safest event?" said El Tour founder Richard Debernardis. "Of course we'll be studying this over and over, there's just nothing you can do. I don't believe there's anything more we could've done."

Debernardinis says they review safety measures every year and could make changes next year. He says there have been other incidents in the race's 31 year history. In 1996, a rider was hit and killed by a car before the race started. Also, five years ago, a car collided with a group of cyclists leaving one person in a coma for several months.

As for Roberts, words can't describe the pain he feels with Henderson's absence. "It was just a terrible, terrible, terrible accident."

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