‘She was my missing piece’: Husband remembers Botetourt County cyclist killed, advocates for change

ROANOKE, Va. – The husband of a Botetourt County woman who was hit and killed while cycling last year is speaking out.

On Tuesday, a judge approved a 1.5 million dollar settlement in a wrongful death suit for Tabitha Thompson’s death.

Tabitha was only 39 years old when she was killed by an SUV while cycling along Lee Highway. Her husband, Matt, said it’s a loss he feels every day.

“We met when she was 17 years old and she was my missing piece, and I was her missing piece,” Matt Thompson said. “Our strengths and weaknesses, they just compensated for one another and complemented one another. Trying to live a life without her is a struggle.”

Tabitha loved her job as a neonatal (NICU) nurse, Matt said. She also loved spending time in nature.

“She was an avid outdoorsman,” Matt said. “She was cross-training for the Blue Ridge Marathon when she was hit. So, that was a big piece of her life.”

Tabitha is just one cyclist who’s been hit in the Roanoke Valley over the past few years, another one hit just this past weekend during the IRONMAN triathlon.

“I mean just during the IRONMAN we had a local get injured on the bike from a driver,” Matt Thompson said. “A blocked road, signages, cones, and everything out there, and yet the bikers still aren’t safe to participate in these races that we have locally.”

Since Tabitha’s death, Matt has dedicated his life to advocating for change. He’s created the charity “Smiles for Tab” and he wants this to be the wake-up call drivers need to be considerate and watchful on the roads.

“Just be humble and kind,” Matt Thompson said. “Be humble enough to recognize the significant imbalance between the car vs a cyclist or a runner.”

Because each cyclist is a person, just like Tabitha Thompson.

“Tabitha was not killed in a bike accident,” Matt Thompson said. “Tabitha was struck by a driver operating an SUV. Sometimes we position things as if it could have happened to anyone. This was 100% avoidable.”

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.