Leading local scientist and investor killed Friday morning while riding to JPL

I received an email last night from a reader named John, saying that a friend of his had been killed by a speeding motorist while riding his bike in the greater L.A. area, and that another rider had been hospitalized.

So far, there’s been no official confirmation of the report, either from the authorities or in the media. However, Brent pointed out in a comment that Scott Evans wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Thanks everyone for your well wishes! For those who haven’t heard, on Friday morning my buddy Doug Caldwell and I were hit by a car while we were riding our bikes to work at JPL. Unfortunately, Doug did not survive. I was very lucky and only ended up with a 48 hour stay in the hospital and some broken teeth.

As of now, I have no other details about the collision or where it occurred, other than that the driver stayed at the scene; however, unconfirmed reports indicate that Caldwell was taken off life support over the weekend.

Brent also pointed to a LinkedIn profile that appears to be the same Doug Caldwell, listing him as an investor in Pasadena Angeles, a Chief Architect in Renewable Energy Solutions at Boeing, and a principal at Angeles Energy, as well as a former lecturer in Applied Physics at CalTech and a Project Manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Other sites seem to confirm that, including a Facebook posting that referred to his death on Saturday — which has since disappeared — and identified him as a co-founder of Ecliptic Enterprises.

In light of today’s Calabasas collision on Mulholland Hwy, in which a car driven by an 81-year old woman caused major injuries to three riders, many people are questioning the ease of getting — and keeping — a drivers license; as Traffic-meister Tom Vanderbuilt put it, a license is too easy to get and too hard to lose.

As John put it in his email,

I’ve read enough news accounts (and your blog as well) to know how it’s going to go. People will say it was an “accident,” when really it’s an artifact of our society’s treatment of driving as a birthright. We hand out drivers’ licenses like banks used to hand out credit cards, and we never seem to take them back.

Let’s remember that we still don’t know the details of either incident, and no one has yet been ticketed or charged in the Calabasas collision — even though it’s easy to infer what probably happened in Calabasas.

But as a society, we have to do something to regain the long-forgotten sense that cars are dangerous machines that must be operated with extreme care, rather than the casual carelessness far too many drivers adopt behind the wheel.

And that there are some people who simply shouldn’t drive, because of declining capabilities.

Or their own actions on the road.

My condolences to the family and friends of Doug Caldwell, and best wishes to Scott Evans for a fast and full recovery.

5 comments

  1. Brent says:

    I never knew Doug, but I’ve known Scott since 1986, when we were rowing together at Stanford (he was a coxswain, I was an oarsman). We were also roommates during our sophomore year. He was then, and remains now, a talented rider, with extensive racing experience. Beyond bicycles, he is remarkably intelligent — literally a rocket scientist, with a PhD in astrophysics — and a genuinely nice guy. His posting last night comes with all the shock and anger one might imagine.

    Scott says he got “lucky.” Doug was not. But it makes me furious that luck had to factor into either man’s cycling life. It should not be so.

  2. Russ says:

    I can confirm that the rider fatally injured in the accident on Friday is the same Doug Caldwell you located in LinkedIn.

  3. DC says:

    Two cyclists hit by a tractor trailer this past Saturday.

    Two women hit by a tractor-trailer truck while participating in the Cool Breeze Century bicycle ride Saturday continued to improve at the Ventura County Medical Center Sunday night, where both were listed in good condition..

    The women were hit just north of Mussel Shoals. The California Highway Patrol reported that about 12:40 p.m., the women were traveling south in the bike lane along Highway 101. The tractor-trailer truck approached in the outside lane at 45 miles per hour.

    Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/aug/21/accident-on-101-involving-semi-and-2-bicyclists/#comments#ixzz0xV3lJrVN
    - vcstar.com

  4. Anonymous says:

    Twitter Trackbacks…

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