God, I hate this.
Details are sketchy, but reports are a group of riders fell while going downhill on Charles E. Young Drive, leaving several riders injured; at least one suffering critical head injuries.
The only significant hill I know in that area would be the one leading down from the residence halls, past Drake Field.
Several reports have said that the victim was not wearing a helmet.
Koreatown311 reports the ride was halted following the collision at the order of the LAPD Incident Commander, with the riders sent back to the starting point at Western and Wilshire.
More details as they become available.
This is the 51st cycling fatality in Southern California this year, the 12th in Los Angeles County, and the third (correction: 4th) in the City of Los Angeles. It is also, to the best of my knowledge, the first to occur on the L.A. Critical Mass ride.
My heartfelt prayers for the victim and his or her family.
Update: A comment from Gina suggests that the police may have been at fault (Update: other witness reports contradict Gina’s statement, and suggest she may have seen a different wreck; see below).
I was there. The police caused the crash. The “obstacle” in the road was an unmarked police car, some wise-ass decided to slow the riders down by pulling out into the middle of the road and parking with one little nark-light on the hood. The family should sue the LAPD. The police need to leave LACM alone, it was fine before they started ‘escorting’ the ride.
More information on the Critical Mass Facebook page, including the name of the victim. However, I won’t post it on here until I know the net-of-kin have been notified. No one should ever find out a loved one has died by reading it here.
Update 2: In an inflammatory report, KNBC-4 has identified the victim as 18-year old Jerico Culata of Los Angeles, who is not the person who was named on the Facebook page in the link above. They place the location as Charles E. Young Drive and De Neve Drive, around 9:50 pm, which places it west of Drake Field, rather than north as I had guessed.
According to the report, Culata lost control of his bike on a downhill curve, and slammed into a masonry wall; despite Gina’s comment above, there is no mention of a police car involved.
A comment from Kryzstov adds additional information, saying Culata may have died instantly. He also clarifies Gina’s comment, suggesting she may have witnessed a different collision.
I witnessed the whole thing. He was right in front of me when he crashed and hit the wall. He unfortunately couldn’t stop because he was riding a fixie and we were coming down a steep hill. Myself and another cyclist were the first two to approach him to see if he was ok. The other cyclist turned him over from being on his stomach and it was clear that he had died instantly. Regarding the other two crashes, the police car that the boy hit was not unmarked and it was parked on the side of the road.
I know that road well, as it’s part of my regular ride when UCLA is out of session. There is a relatively steep downhill with a minor curve, combined with rough pavement in places; I usually have to brake in that section to control my speed.
Update 3: KTLA-5 reports that there may have been as few as 100 cyclists who ride through the UCLA campus, rather than the main group of around 2,500 riders who often participate in L.A. Critical Mass on a nice night.
Both the KNBC and a report from KCBS-2 contain an inappropriate reference about run-ins with the police during Critical Mass rides; while both reference a minor altercation that occurred on the San Diego ride, there is no suggestion that Culata’s death had anything to do with a confrontation between police and the riders. In fact, all indications are that the ride was peaceful from start to finish.
It should also be noted that solo falls like this are exactly what bike helmets were designed to protect against. Whether wearing one last night would have kept Culata alive, we’ll probably never know.
Update 4: According to Krystov, the main body of the Critical Mass ride went through the UCLA campus, rather than an offshoot, which would have put the number of riders at many times the 100 riders cited by KTLA.
And despite the inflammatory news reports linking Culata’s death with an incident on the San Diego Critical Mass ride, it turns out the screwdriver that injured the San Diego police officer was thrown from a balcony along the ride route, rather than by one of the riders.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Krumer urges anyone who witnessed Culata’s fall to contact police investigators.
It would be really great if those who stated that they witnessed the whole thing…please contact West Traffic Division and provide an official statement. 213-473-0220.