I’ve never understood why the death of a human being on our streets isn’t news.
Sometimes a serious injury makes the news; often, in fact. I find stories about injured cyclists throughout the country almost every day. Unless there’s something unique about the story, I usually don’t comment on them; I have to write about enough bad news as it is.
Even when they’re close to home.
Yet other times, a rider is killed right here, and not one word makes the news, as if it never happened. Or didn’t matter.
And yet, every death matters to someone.
And every fallen cyclist deserves to be remembered.
Somehow, the death of 69-year old cyclist Robert Gary Garvin slipped through the cracks. Or someone, somewhere, decided it just wasn’t worth mentioning.
According to the Redondo Beach News, Garvin was hit by a black pickup at PCH and Agate Street in Redondo Beach around 7 pm on January 5th, suffering a “substantial head injury” after being knocked from his bike. He died eight days later at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.
Yet the story didn’t make the news until the police put out a request for witnesses a full month after the collision.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like it may have been a hit-and-run since the story says the police have identified a suspect. Yet another reason you’d think someone would have mentioned it.
Then again, sometimes the stories about injured cyclists are worth mentioning.
In a dramatic mountain rescue that was carried live on a number of L.A. TV stations, a sheriff’s department air rescue crew airlifted a cyclist to safety after he slid off Glendora Mountain Road around 10 am Tuesday.
Just a month after the death of cyclist Kevin Unck on the same road, a 22-year old cyclist, identified only as a Hispanic resident of Walnut, lost control of his bike during a high speed descent and plunged 200 to 300 feet down the mountainside.
Despite his injuries, he was able to reach his cell phone and call for help; without it, it’s entirely possible that no one would have known he was there — let alone that he needed rescue — until it was too late.
Remarkably, reports indicate that the cyclist’s injuries are not life threatening.
George Wolfberg, who seems to have his finger on everything bike-related in the L.A. area, forwards an excellent description of the morning’s events from Captain Mike Parker of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
(Note: while the story refers to the rider as a mountain cyclist, the footage on KABC Channel 7 appears to show a road bike.):
Mountain bicyclist rescued by Sheriff’s helicopter crew after 300 foot fall in Glendora
A 22-year mountain bicyclist lost control while riding alone down a steep mountain road Monday, falling nearly 300 feet down the mountainside in rugged terrain in Glendora.
The male Hispanic resident of Walnut, an experienced mountain bike rider, said he was unable to slow down in time as he picked up too much speed on Glendora Mountain Road at Glendora Ridge Mountainway in the Glendora area of the Angeles National Forest.
He was unable to stop as he went over the edge and fell a distance about the length of a football field. Injured, he called rescuers from his cell phone in the remote area at about 10:10AM. Surprisingly, he was able to get a phone connection.
Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel responded to the scene, as did officers from the Glendora Police Department, California Highway Patrol, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including San Dimas Sheriff’s Station for a mutual aid effort to find and rescue the man.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air-5 rescue helicopter and flight crew including deputy sheriff paramedics were in the area and found the man at about 10:45AM. Sheriff’s helicopter rescue Crew Chief Deputy Darrel Airhart lowered two paramedic sheriff’s deputies via a hoist, while the deputy pilots hovered over a deep ravine.
Paramedic Deputies Mark Desmarteau and Dan Aleman were lowered from the helicopter into position. They provided emergency medical attention, secured the injured man into a gurney, and prepared to have him hoisted up into the helicopter.
As Deputy Desmarteau was hanging off the side of the gurney to protect and secure the injured man, the deputy was dragged through trees and brush, but the injured man was kept clear of these hazards. The team was able to bring the man safely up into the helicopter, which must have been an unnerving but necessary experience for the injured hiker.
By 11:15AM, about one hour after being notified, the deputies were bringing the injured man into the helicopter. Soon thereafter, they flew him to an area hospital for medical treatment. Although injured, the bicyclist’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. The rescued man was very appreciative and thanked the deputies for their efforts.
“Given the terrain, we were surprised to see he could get cell phone reception, especially on the back side of the ridge line,” said Deputy Airhart. “It’s a good thing he did or who knows how long he could have been laying there.”
Parademic deputies said the more difficult aspects of the rescue included trying to get their footing and balance so they could secure the injured man into the gurney. Meanwhile, the helicopter rotor wash (the winds created by the helicopter blades) loosened dirt and rocks on the steep terrain, causing the footing to be more difficult and causing the deputies to have to protect the cyclist from flying debris.
The Air 5 rescue helicopter crew and the eight Search and Rescue teams of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department average about 350 search and rescue missions every year, making it one of the most active counties for search and rescue missions in the nation.
This is just another reminder to always carry your cell phone with you when you ride. In fact, it may be the single most important bike safety device you own; if I had to choose between a wearing a helmet or taking a cell phone, I’d take the phone every time.
After all, I’ve landed on my helmet once in 30 years of riding, while I’ve used my cell countless times to report drunk or dangerous drivers, call in collisions or use the camera to defuse dangerous situations with road raging drivers.
That last point was driven home tonight when a friend of mine, Joe Anthony of Bike Commute News, was threatened by an angry driver who quickly calmed down once Joe started recording the interaction on his cell phone.
Thank God he came out of it okay. And had the presence of mind to defuse the situation.
Today’s news took precedence over my take on Sunday’s I ♥ the Westside ride; barring any more breaking events, I’ll try to get my thoughts and photos online Tuesday.