27-year old Pomona cyclist killed in Chino Hills, one day after Gov. Brown vetoes 3-foot passing law

On a weekend devoted to celebrating cycling — and just one day after Governor Jerry Brown vetoed California’s three-foot passing law — a cyclist was killed in a hit-from-behind collision in Chino Hills.

According to the Orange County Register, 27-year old Omar Gomez of Pomona was riding east on Carbon Canyon Road near Fairway Drive around 9:46 am when he was hit by a car driven by Augustin Bruno of Anaheim.

Bruno was driving an 1995 Acura Integra, which the Press-Enterprise suggests may not belong to him. What is clear, however, is that Bruno did not have a valid license to drive. The Register reports he will face charges for driving without a license; any other potential charges remain to be determined.

The impact of the collision threw Gomez to the side of the road; he was taken to Chino Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The driver reportedly looked away from the road momentarily before hitting Gomez; according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, drugs or alcohol did not appear to be factors in the collision.

It isn’t clear from the news reports whether Bruno ever saw Gomez, or if he lost track of him while distracted.

What is clear is that hit-from-behind collisions are the leading cause of death for California cyclists. And our governor just vetoed a law designed to help prevent them.

Whether it would have made a difference in this case we may never know. But thanks to Governor Brown, it won’t make a difference for anyone else, either.

This is the 57th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 5th in San Bernardino County. That compares to six cycling deaths in San Bernardino County in 2008, and 4 in 2009, the last two years on record.

My deepest sympathy to Gomez’ family and loved ones.

16 comments

  1. I personally do not believe that any law new or old will prevent any of these accidents until the authorities actually consider charging motorists for there bad judgement. I have driven tractor trailers, buses, hay wagons etc. and have never struck a bicyclist or pedestrian and never will. There are plenty of laws in place but the current establishment refuses to use them to enforce a safer road for all.

  2. Driving without a license really trumps the recently veto’d passing law. Just the act of driving was illegal and that didn’t stop the driver.

    • Matt Carty says:

      Right. Isn’t this a felony-murder situation?

      • bikinginla says:

        I would think killing someone when you don’t even have a right to be behind the wheel would call for that. However, I suspect the police and DA will consider the license offense separately from the cause of the collision in determining fault, just as they do with a DUI offense.

        It’s entirely possible to kill someone while driving drunk out of your mind without being found at fault, as amazing as that may seem. If the other party broke the law in some way, the drunk driver can be found not at fault. I suspect this may work the same way.

  3. Steve Magas says:

    Until the legislature sees driving a car carelessly as a potential hazard akin to to waving a loaded gun around the mall while blindfolded we will continue to get laws with no teeth. Laws are designed to prevent bad behavior by offering up punishments sufficiently “bad” to keep us from engaging in the behavior… for me, a $50 parking ticket gets me to pour the quarters into the meter… for MANY, the “threat” of a severe slap on the wrist does not prevent them from engaging in careless or reckless behavior…

  4. [...] Pomona Cyclist Killed by Driver Who Passed Too Close (Biking In L.A.) [...]

  5. Cary says:

    In May, I was hospitalized after being rear-ended by a hit-and-run driver. Until we deal with the fact that over 25 percent of the drivers in California aren’t licensed, let alone insured, more laws aren’t going to be of much help.

    • Whether law or not, there has got to be a way to end the carnage on our roads. It sickens me that people can off so easy when they hit cyclists, such as yourself, Cary. I have no idea how to stop them from hitting us in the first place, but something has to be done. Cyclists are not collateral damage.

    • Joe B says:

      I’d rather share the road with an unlicensed but careful driver, than a licensed but reckless one. I’d hate to see us get distracted by licensing/immigration issues, when the real culprit is a car culture that accepts and glorifies reckless driving.

      • Eric M says:

        Isn’t the point about abiding by the rules. It stands to reason that a person who doesn’t obey the law that says he shouldn’t drive a car will be much more likely not to obey normal traffic laws. I’d much rather encouter a licensed driver who obeys all of the rules then an unlicensed careful driver….PERIOD.

        • bikinginla says:

          Personally, I’d rather not get hit by anyone, licensed or not. But if I do get hit, I’d greatly prefer that the driver had a license and insurance.

          However, I would dispute the argument that someone without a license is more likely to violate other laws. People with immigration issues often tend to be more careful, knowing that a simple traffic violation or collision could reveal their status and result in deportation.

  6. Miss Wolf says:

    Yes, but the fact still remains. He was unlicensed. Maybe this poor man would be alive today if this driver would have respected the law. No license, No driving.

  7. Pao C says:

    Omar is my first cousin, my brother practically…I say “is,” because the fact he passed, wont ever change that. Please everybody just be more aware and alert when on the road. Laws, consequences and or victims won’t predict accidents from happening or not, but if we all take the time to be careful of the road, many less bike accidents and so forth can be prevented. Rest in peace Omar – you passed doing something you loved, your family takes comfort in that at the least. “Peace man <3"

    • bikinginla says:

      So sorry for your loss, Pao. That’s something that drives me crazy — we usually only get to know cyclists who are killed as victims, and not as human beings. Yet clearly, each one is a huge loss for the people who knew and loved them.

      If you want to share any thoughts about Omar, let me know.

  8. [...] can collide with riders, either sideswiping them or hitting them from behind; in fact, at least two cyclists have been killed in hit-from-behind collisions since you vetoed SB 910. Maybe the drivers never saw [...]

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