Update 3: Another San Diego tragedy — cyclist killed by motorcycle last night

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.”

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time San Diego police have gotten the story wrong in their public statements. Or the first time they let a killer motorist off the hook.

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.

16 comments

  1. Sue J says:

    Rest in peace. Just found your site but was seeking more info on this cyclist. My husband was involved in a bike accident in 2011. He was hit by an 95 year old woman. While he did survive, and for which we are eternally grateful, it did drastically change our life style. So my dear cyclists, please assume no one watching out for you and exercise extreme caution when riding.

  2. Allan says:

    RIP my fellow cyclist.

    I’m having ALOT of trouble locating this mythical “hill”. I’m assuming the cyclist was northbound on Moreno Blvd. near Knoxville Street when he was hit. And no word on the motorcyclist going down huh? I used to ride a motorcycle and they don’t stay up nearly that easy. Hitting something or not.

  3. John says:

    The second link says the motorcyclist suffered mild abrasions and the bicyclist was riding the wrong way down the street. Even if that motorcyclist was going 20-25, it could’ve been equivalent to a 35-40 MPH crash. That’d also explain the inability to react.

    However, the first link says he was hit from behind…hmm…and I don’t know about the mythical hill, either. Either way, someone is making something up between the two stories.

    • John says:

      Forget my comments, via the comments in the second article:

      “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.”

      Sounds like the motorcyclist didn’t bother to look and see who was crossing the street before turning. RIP, and hopefully something is done about the motorcyclist (sounds like they’ll let him off the hook).

  4. A. Abbey says:

    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.

    • Allan says:

      “collided head on with the bicyclist.” So the bicyclist was riding against traffic? I’m betting no lights too. Doesn’t make the motorcyclist “legal”, I’m betting it was bad moves on both parties. Am curious too on how they arrived at the conclusion of finding the bicyclist legally drunk. I guess they gave the motorcyclist a drunk test too right?

      • A. Abbey says:

        It looked like the bicylcist was attempting to cross the street. Just before impact, the bicyclist appeared to turn towards the motorcyclist which made the accident appear head-on, although it was perhaps on a slight angle. The bicyclist did not appear to have working lights on the bike but the accident occurred at 6:20 p.m. on a sunny day, visibility was excellent. The motorcyclist was simply speeding too quickly and recklessly to avoid the accident.

        I did not see police conduct any sort of sobriety test on the motorcyclist. They obviously did speak with him and perhaps determined from speaking with him that he was not influenced by alcohol. As for the bicyclist, I assume his BAC may have been measured at the hospital although that is only a guess.

        • Allan says:

          My bad on thinking this was a night time collision. I hope this gets resolved correctly. I’m not even wanting this to lean on the cyclist towards being more “correct”. I just want it resolved truthfully and have everything exposed for all.

          I just saw a friend of mine that I used to ride with alot. He moved to Austin for 3 1/2 years. He also was involved in a bike collision. His was a bike vs car. He was riding home after drinking. He was on a sidewalk at night with no bike lane. The car came up on the sidewalk and hit him. There were witnesses but the driver got away. They assumed the driver was drinking too. He was really “turned off” with Austin after his collision. The cops were awful investigating his collision too. He was in the hospital for awhile and said the car actually ran over him. He described police as dropping his case a few notches down since he was on a bicycle. They even said a few things to him that were pretty off the wall. After that he said he got disparaged in the “scene” there.

          Anyways he seemed to be doing pretty good now. He’s heading to Colorado for a job.

          Sorry for getting side tracked. Just wanted to say that the law enforcement is just as bad as other places, and even places you think they’re dialed in with the bicycle scene.

          • bikinginla says:

            Glad to hear your friend is okay. But you’re right, one of the biggest problems cyclists face, even in otherwise bike friendly cities, is getting fair treatment — and a complete, honest investigation — from police following a collision.

  5. Erik Griswold says:

    An interesting comment from “Tom” on this article:

    http://cphpost.dk/news/national/new-fines-bitter-bill-swallow-say-offending-cyclists

    “One of my business endeavors is a motorcycle dealership in San Francisco, California. Among other things my dealership services and repairs Police motorcycles for the City of San Francisco and for the California Highway Patrol in this area. I have talked to Police Officers about the “bicycle problem.” We have a serious problem in California with bicyclists thinking that traffic rules apply only to others and that “share the road” means “take the road and screw the cars.” I think some of these people purchased the wrong size spandex and the blood flow to the brain got cut off.
    All of the Police Officers I have talked to will not ticket an automobile driver if a bicyclist ignores traffic rules and gets run over in the process. Several of the Officers smiled and quietly encouraged me to “just hit them.”

    Everyone is tired of bicyclists inventing their own rules, not just in Copenhagen. Being sustainable, greeny and eco-friendly is not a blanket pass to misbehave.

    I cannot wait to paint the first bicycle on the side of my company truck, fighter-pilot kill style. ;-)”

  6. paul milton says:

    Hi…I live in san diego…coastal area. New to your site and want to express sincere sympathy for bike deaths and the severe injuries. It occurs to me all the frustration out there on the causes of the casualties. Perhaps illustrating the most common dangerous biking tendencies and practices would shed light on ways to become aware of when, where, and how the most common dangers exist. This would entail keeping updated statistics of the manner of accidents and general occurances.
    Graphs showing accident stats would serve to quickly educate cyclists of the most common practices and biking mindsets, thereby hopefully reducing such repetitive assumptions and expectations that are prone to lead to serious outcomes. I am older and now just bought an electric trike.
    Peace, remembrance, and safe cycling to all.

  7. davis says:

    My condolences to the rider & family ,I have been riding in San Diego for 30 years on regular basis & have ridden on that road countless times.This is at the bottom of all the hills in the area and NO hill on that road again No hill. Tecolote road comes out of a local park & trailer park, its a very quiet road. Morena blvd is busy most of the time on weekends folks going to Sea World, beaches , Costco many other big stores use it to get there. many homeless around the area just adjacent to this area & could be part of the answer as to the police siding with the Motorcycle.
    I was riding home that Sunday just a few miles from that road on Old Sea World Drive when my front brake locked up & sent me over the bars onto the road, wife picked me up & went home after but thought more then broken ribs , broke 5 ribs , ruptured adrenal glad & kidney , internal bleeding , I will be riding again in a few weeks or so I hope but you just don’t know , I have ridden that road thousands of times with out incident.
    Just be careful as you can while still enjoying the ride , wear your helmet , Peace out

    • bikinginla says:

      Sorry to hear about your injuries — heal fast!

    • Allan says:

      Sorry to hear about your accident. The best thing that can come from it is that you learned about the incident. Hope you have.

      Be safe and I wish you the best.

  8. [...] Another San Diego tragedy – cyclist killed by motorcycle last night (bikinginla.wordpress.com) [...]

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