Update: OC cyclist and former LACC engineering professor August Bissiri killed in Sonoma County

Bad news from the wine country, as a Laguna Woods cyclist was killed in a Thursday afternoon collision on the coast highway.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 85-year old August Bissiri was rounding a corner on Highway 1 outside of Bodega Bay around 1:30 pm when he apparently drifted onto the wrong side of the road, and was hit nearly head-on by a Ford Focus traveling at about 50 mph.

Driver David Chaote Tryon of Berkeley swerved to the right, hitting Bissiri’s bike with the right front of the car before striking an embankment on the right side of the road and rolling over. The CHP reports that skid marks indicate Tryon was in the center of the northbound lane when he collided with Bissiri, who was riding south.

Bissiri, who had taken up cycling 13 years ago following his retirement from L.A. City College, was riding ahead of a group of riders from the Bicycle Club of Irvine, who came upon the collision shortly afterwards. The club members had driven up to Sonoma County last weekend for a week of riding the wine country, and were due to return home this Sunday.

The paper reports that a passerby attempted to perform CPR, but Bissiri died at the scene from multiple traumatic injuries; it does not note if the person who tried to help him was a member of the bike club or a passing motorist or pedestrian.

Bissiri is described as a cautious rider; the local fire chief suggests that 30 to 40 mph winds at the time may have been a contributing factor. Winds that strong can easily blow a rider across the roadway.

He leaves behind a wife of 15 years, as well as three children from a previous marriage, and two step children.

My prayers and condolences for August Bissiri and all his family and loved ones. Let’s hope this is the only cycling fatality we have to report this Memorial Day weekend.

Thanks to Jorga Houy for the heads-up. And to the Press Democrat for a well-researched article that not only explains what happened, but who the victim was; every traffic victim deserves as much.

Update: Fellow BCI member Bill Sellin, who was on the tour with August Bissiri, emailed to say that it is his understanding that Bissiri was actually riding north to the hotel the group was staying at, but may have overshot the hotel.

He likely made a fatal U-Turn or crossed the road at a curve from the south bound side turn out when he was hit. He was rear ended or hit from his right side… not head on. It was not a right turn or hairpin, just a curve with limited line of sight. 2 lanes, narrow shoulders. Head wind from NW & downhill toward Bodega Bay; August did not hear well & if the car was coming from his blind spot on his right, he may have never seen it in his mirror.

Other riders may have come upon him, but not BCI or the other riders in the group he was touring with, as we had all stopped at the hotel in Bodega Bay.  Several BCI members were on the fund raising tour, but it was not a BCI event & other riders were from Montana, New Jersey, Utah, Minnesotta, Oregon as well as Northern & Southern California. 

Update 2: Bill Sellin also forwards information on a memorial for August Bissiri this Wednesday in Laguna Woods.

The Celebration of August’s life will be Wednesday, May 30th, at 1:00 p.m. in Club House 7, Laguna Woods, located at 24111 Moulton Parkway, Laguna Woods, CA 92637.  Phone 949.268.2417. The family has requested that you do not bring flowers or gifts, just your love and support.

We hope to see you there and please pass this on to all of August’s friends. 

The note also asks that any questions be directed to Bissiri’s step-daughter Kirsten, rather than his widow.

7 comments

  1. Dennie Davenport says:

    This man is my daughter-in-law’s father and the name is Bissiri, not Bassiri.

  2. Dennie Davenport says:

    Thank you.

  3. Bob Dickman says:

    What a stud this man must have been. Riding on one of the hairiest, most beautiful roads in California, riding hard, taking chances, living life. He died in an bicycle accident. It’s the way every bicyclist secretly hopes we go. But he did it at 85! Are you freaking kidding me? This is the man we all want to be. The way we want all the men we love to be. Living life and taking chances. He made it to 85 showing all of us how to live.

  4. CJ says:

    August and I have ridden together for eight years. He was one of the best friends you could have ever imagined. Every time we rode there wasn’t a time he didn’t stop and say hi someone. He had a knack of meeting and introducing himself to other non bicyclists and bicyclists and getting them involved into the sport of bicycling and group rides. His passion for ridding never stopped growing. Just amazing. He was the Kokopelli of bicycling. He will be missed by so many.

  5. Shirley Behar says:

    I was at the “celebration of August Bissiri’s Life” in Laguna Woods. I did not know him, but was amazed at the amazing 85 year old athlete, and inspiring person that he was. What happened to the driver? .

    • bikinginla says:

      My understanding is the driver is unlikely to face any charges. He apparently was on the right side of the road, and was unable to avoid the collision.

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