Two more bike deaths add to a bloody spring

Just two days after writing about the unacceptably high rate of cycling deaths on SoCal streets, we have two more to add to the list.

One was killed in an apparent solo collision Friday night; the other succumbed earlier this month to injuries suffered last November.

In the most recent case, a man was found lying dead on top of his bike on the side of the road in Coachella, at the intersection of Avenue 50 and Peter Rabbit Lane. Despite initial reports of a hit-and-run, police investigators concluded that the rider, who has not been publicly identified, was the victim of a solo collision.

According to KPSP-2, the victim was riding on the sidewalk at a high rate of speed about 8:03 pm Friday when he collided with a traffic light pole. Police investigators suggest he lost control of his bike after gaining speed on the downhill side of a railroad track overpass.

A police spokesperson indicates that the victim’s bike did not have an “operable brake system” or front headlight; that probably means he was riding a fixie, in which the fixed gearing itself can be used to stop the bike.

In the other case, 22-year old cyclist Marco Acuapan died on April 8th, over 4 months after he was injured in a Tustin hit-and-run.

Acuapan was riding west in a marked bike lane on Walnut Avenue near Browning Avenue about 7:30 pm on Wednesday, November 17th when he was rear-ended by red 2010 Mustang, which fled the scene. He suffered severe head injuries and taken to a hospital in critical condition, remaining in a coma until his death this month.

Witnesses provided police with a description and the license number of the car, which police later found abandoned in nearby cul-de-sac; Renato Demartino was arrested at his home on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

Demartino is currently released on bond on charges of felony hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury, unsafe turn or lane change, and not using headlights after dark. No word yet on when charges will be upgraded to reflect the victim’s death.

That makes 26 cycling deaths in Southern California this year; 23 resulting from collisions after the first of the year, and 2 from shootings while riding.

Thanks to Rick Risemberg for the tip on the Coachella collision, and an anonymous tipster for the information about Acuapan’s death and charges against Demartino.

5 comments

  1. Tony says:

    [quote]A police spokesperson indicates that the victim’s bike did not have an “operable brake system” or front headlight; that probably means he was riding a fixie, in which the fixed gearing itself can be used to stop the bike.[/quote]

    Sounds more to me like a bike with non-working brakes. I doubt a fixie rider would a) have trouble with the speed off an overpass, b) be riding on the sidewalk or c) unable to do a controlled fixie stop.

    • bikinginla says:

      You may be right. This one is kind of hard to read. I went with a fixed gear bike because the comment about an operable brake system is word for word how police usually describe fixies without operable brakes, but I also considered the possibility that someone might ride a bike without checking to make sure the brakes work.

      Until I found the article saying he was riding on the sidewalk, I suspected he mights have lost control after being buzzed. I’m not sure we’ve got the full story yet.

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  3. Lots of old mountain bikes have brakes that don’t or barely work or have even been disconnected. And a lot of BMX kids now run coasting bikes with no brakes, using the Ted Shred foot jam method to stop.

    A brakeless coastie going down a steep hill, on a narrow sidewalk, would be pretty dangerous, if that’s the case. Of course we are just speculating.

    If it happened with no witnesses we will never know. Quite (legitimately) possible out there at many times of day.

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