First he was wrong.
Then he was right.
Sort of like me in trying to cover this story.
Either way, San Diego cyclist David Ortiz is still dead, victim of the three cars that took his life a week ago today.
In one of the most amazing turnarounds of a collision narrative that I’ve ever seen, the 29-year old Ortiz was originally blamed for riding against traffic when he was hit by a Ford Expedition, followed in quick succession by two other vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene, his body trapped beneath the final car that hit him.
Now it turns out that the driver of that Expedition fled the scene — something that was not only completely left out of the initial reports, but actually contradicted by statements from police.
The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted a police spokesman as saying the first driver stopped at the scene, and clearly implied that she may not have been at fault.
It appears that he was first hit by a black Ford Expedition whose driver had the rising sun in her eyes as she drove up a slight incline on east Balboa, police Sgt. Jim Reschke said.
“The gal in the SUV – she never saw him,” Reschke said. “She felt the collision and pulled over.”
Yet it now turns out that she didn’t stop. Or if she did, she evidently left without providing her identification, as NBC San Diego reports that the driver fled the scene.
According to Bike San Diego, San Diego police officials have also issued a retraction to their earlier statements that Ortiz had been riding against traffic. Comments on the initial report here indicate that Ortiz was actually riding eastbound — with traffic — on his way to work when he was killed, rather than westbound as police had said.
The NBC report also indicates that his body came to stop in the area where he should have been riding, although they note that doesn’t necessarily mean that was where he was when the SUV initially hit him.
And as it turned out, despite initial reports, he was wearing a helmet after all. Not that it would have made a damn bit of difference under the circumstances.
In other words, aside from the actual location of the collision and the number of vehicles involved, virtually every important detail in the initial reports from the SDPD was wrong.
Yet they seem to have been tripping all over themselves to blame the victim, from incorrectly claiming he was riding in the wrong direction to offering statements — that originated God only knows where — to exonerate a killer hit-and-run driver.
Not that they haven’t done that before.
The San Diego police have a lot of explaining to do on this one.