This is not the way we wanted to start our day.
The Daily Breeze was the first to report that an employee of Disneyland was hit by an SUV and killed on her way home from work this morning.
The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing over the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) on eastbound Ball Road just outside the park when she was hit from behind by an Ford SUV around 12:30 am. The vehicle hit her at an estimated speed of 40 mph, throwing the rider 60 feet before landing on the pavement. She was taken to UCI Medical Center in nearby Orange, where she was pronounced dead.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that area, but as I recall, 40 mph is within or near the speed limit in that area. However, it is widely reported that someone hit at that speed has only a 20% chance of survival, making most major surface streets in Southern California death traps for anyone not wrapped in a ton or more of steel and glass.
(The Minnesota DOT cites a 15% survivability rate at 40 mph [pp15] , while the Times of London cites a 10% survival rate in an article dated May 16, 2008, but won’t allow me to link to it.)
At 40 mph — let alone being thrown 20 yards — whether or not she was wearing a helmet is largely irrelevant, as the rate of speed far surpasses the design capabilities of any bicycle helmet. And helmets can’t protect against injuries to any other part of the body, which are highly likely at that speed.
What is far more relevant is whether she was using lights and reflectors to ride at night. Judging by photos of the scene, she should have been easily visible on the overpass; even without lights, most freeway overpasses are well lighted at night.
The driver did stop at the scene, and passed a field sobriety test. While it sometimes seems like most collisions are hit-and-runs, the driver actually remains at the seen 68% of the time, according to statistics from Bikeside LA.
This is also the 2nd hit-from-behind fatality since Gov. Brown vetoed the three-foot passing law.
How much blood will he have on his hands before he admits the massive mistake he made in taking the advice of two state agencies that care far more about moving cars than protecting cyclists?
This is the 58th confirmed traffic-related bicycling fatality in the greater Southern California area, and the 7th in Orange County, which is a significant improvement over the county’s average of over 1 fatality per month.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Anaheim Police at (714) 765-1900.
My heart and prayers go out to all her family and friends.
I have a long list of links for your reading pleasure, but it always seems inappropriate to attach them to a tragic story like this. I’ll try to get them online later today.