I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this one.
Late last night, news broke that a 59-year old male bike rider suffered severe injuries when he was hit from behind by a motorcycle in San Diego’s Mission Bay area. Now news reports say the victim, who has not been publicly identified, died sometime overnight.
The collision occurred on northbound Moreno Blvd near Sea World Drive; initial reports — which have since been overwritten following the death — indicated that the cyclist was somehow splitting lanes when the motorcyclist came over a hill near Knoxville Street and was unable to stop in time to avoid the rider.
The motorcycle would seem to have been moving an an extreme rate of speed to have been unable to see the cyclist and stop in time; it would take an exceptionally steep hill to block the vision of a rider traveling at normal traffic speeds.
This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 7th in San Diego County, as they maintain a horrible one-a-month pace; it’s also the 5th this year in the City of San Diego.
My prayers go out for the victim and his family.
Update: Not surprisingly, no major news updates on this story yet, as local media seems to take weekends off these days. However, John forwarded this comment from one of the early news stories about this tragic collision.
“Witnessed this accident happen. The story is all wrong. Bicyclist was headed southeast across Morena in the right hand only turn lane–crossing the street–when the motorcyclist, heading north, was speeding after making the left hand turn from Tecolote onto Morena and could not stop in time and broadsided the bicyclist. The bicyclist had really bad head injuries and was unconscious at the scene and had to be revived with CPR. I hope he is able to recover. Awful to witness. There were at least 6 witnesses on scene that gave similar statements to police so I’m not sure why the police is releasing the wrong information. Also, there is absolutely no hill in this area on Morena–it is flat and straight.”
Let’s hope they conduct a full and fair investigation into this collision — wherever the finger ends up pointing.
Update 2: It didn’t take long for San Diego police to blame the victim.
Despite the apparent witness comment above that said the rider was crossing the street, the authorities now claim the victim was drunk and riding the wrong way on Moreno Blvd.
The location of the collision, which has jumped all over the map in earlier reports, is now placed on the 1400 block of Moreno Blvd near Knoxville Street. A satellite view shows what appears to be a relatively quiet four lane street between Knoxville and Tecolote Road, where the motorcyclist reportedly turned left onto Moreno; if the collision occurred near Knoxville, he had nearly an entire block to notice the victim and swerve or stop to avoid him, even if he was riding salmon.
Not unlike the recent incident in Santa Monica, the rider is accused of being drunk, yet no blood alcohol levels have been released to support that. And where on earth did that initial report come from that the motorcycle rider was blinded by a hill that clearly doesn’t exist at an intersection that appears to be flat as a pancake?
Maybe it’s true.
However, given the ever-changing police story that initially attempted to blame cyclist David Ortiz for riding the wrong way on Balboa Blvd — when he was actually riding with traffic on his way to work — I’d suggest taking the updated version with a 10-pound bag of salt, let alone a grain.
As I said above, all most of us want is a fair investigation, wherever it leads.
But until the police release more details to support such a dramatic turn in the semi-official story, it smells like they may once again be bending over backward to let a motorist off the hook.
And that stinks.
Update 3: I’ve just received the following comment from a witness suggesting that the motorcyclist was riding in a dangerous and aggressive manner just prior to the collision. And that the police didn’t seem very interested in what the witnesses had to say.
I saw this accident happen. The motorcyclist made a left turn onto Morena from Tecolote Road. He took off from the light at a very high speed, cut across a lane without signaling and collided head on with the bicyclist. The motorcyclist was going far too fast and did not even brake before slamming into the bicyclist at high speed. Had the motorcyclist not been driving recklessly and speeding, this accident would certainly have been avoided.
I, and the other witnesses who saw the accident and stopped, gave statements to the police on the scene. It’s fair to say the police weren’t very interested in listening to what the witnesses actually saw although they made some attempt to write them down. That was reflected in the incorrect news reports (citing incorrect/false police information) that surfaced on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The reports have been partly corrected but are still missing some pretty important (and obvious) details.
Condolences to the family of the deceased.