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Benton Co. bicycling community raising funds for cyclist severely burned during accident

The Benton Co. bicycling community is raising funds for cyclist Samuel Riester, who is in the ICU after suffering severe burns to most of his body after an accident.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The Boston Mountain Cycling Team (BMC), is working with the local cycling community to raise funds for one of their own. Cyclist Samuel Riester remains in the ICU five days after sustaining severe burns covering most of his body. 

Riester usually meets up with Will Frank on Tuesdays to lead a cycling ride, but Frank wasn’t concerned when Riester didn’t show up. 

“It wasn’t until after the ride – we’re sitting and hanging out enjoying the company - I get a phone call,” Frank said. “It’s someone telling me about Sam and he had an accident, and my heart just dropped.”  

Frank led the ride like he would any other day, but noted seeing the Life Flight helicopter flying overhead. 

"On our ride before, we saw the helicopter coming back and had no idea that was the flight that Sam had taken up,” Frank said. 

Riester was in his home garage working on his truck when the fuel line ruptured and he was doused in gasoline. Moments later, a spark was ignited from a nearby compressor, setting him on fire. Life Flight was dispatched and took Riester to Mercy Burn Center in Springfield, Missouri. 

“They need all the prayers than can get,” Frank said reflecting on Riester’s family. “His chances are very low. He’s 50-50 at best right now.” 

Frank has worked with the local cycling community to spread awareness and help raise money to go toward Riester’s medical expenses. 

"There are several ways to get involved financially," Frank said. "There’s a GoFundMe. Next weekend, we’re having a race here locally and we’re going to raise some money for him at that race."

The community has raised more than $34,000 within the first four days of the GoFundMe campaign.

The Pedlar’s Pub will host the Pebaler’s Bash race in Bentonville on April 16 where donations will be collected to help Reister with medical expenses.

Riester is expected to undergo treatment with the Mercy Burn Center for at least the next seven months. 

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