° empty

Bicyclist struck by vehicle enjoys river life

VIDALIA — The Mississippi River brought Daryel Crowl to Natchez in 2005, but it was the Old River and the people of the Miss-Lou that kept him around.

Crowl, 77, of Vidalia was riding his bicycle on Carter Street at 5:30 a.m. Thursday before being struck by a driver heading toward Murray Drive.

Vidalia Police Department officers responded to the scene and didn’t suspect any foul play, Assistant Police Chief Bruce Wiley said.

“The driver had the green light, and it was very foggy, so weather played a factor in the accident,” Wiley said. “There will be no charges against the driver of the vehicle.”

Crowl was initially transported to Natchez Regional Medical Center, but was then airlifted to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment.

As of Thursday evening, Crowl remained at the hospital in the intensive care unit.

Shortly before Crowl was transported, Eddie Roberts — who has known Crowl for seven years — said he drove by the intersection and instantly knew something was wrong.

“I was driving my child to the junior high and saw the cops sitting around a red bike at that intersection,” Roberts said. “At first I thought it was a student, but then I knew it was Daryel.”

When Crowl first came down the Mississippi River from Missouri, he stopped in Natchez briefly — only to avoid Hurricane Katrina — en route to New Orleans.

“He had sunk a boat or something and came into a dealership I used to work at and wanted to buy a boat,” Roberts said. “First thing I told him was that he needed to get off the Mississippi River and go into the Old River if he was going to stay.

“He anchored up there and never left.”

Roberts said Crowl made the Old River his permanent address, staying on his old pontoon boat outfitted only with a cheap pop-up tent reinforced with a standard blue tarp.

“It was the isolation of it that he enjoyed,” Roberts said. “That’s just what he wanted to do — live on the river.

“The river and the people kept him here.”

Roberts said many Vidalia residents would remember Crowl for his typical daily routine, which involved driving his lawnmower that hauled a trailer donning a large American flag.

“He was always going somewhere — either on the lawnmower or on his bike,” Roberts said. “I noticed he was riding his bike more than usual lately, but I don’t know why.”

For about a year, Roberts said several community members would bring canned goods and medical supplies to his store, Eddie’s Marine & Tackle, to deliver to Crowl.

“We’d box everything up and take it over there to him, so he’d have some stuff,” Roberts said. “He’s just a super nice guy.”