Torrance bike commuter killed Wednesday in Gardena hit-and-run

Once again, a driver has run down a SoCal cyclist. And left him to die, his crumpled body lying helplessly in the street.

According to the Daily Breeze, 49-year old Benjamin Torres was on his way to work early Wednesday morning when he was hit by a vehicle while riding east on 135th Street at Wilton Place in Gardena.

Oddly, the intersection appears to be controlled by a red light in just one direction on 135th, with a stop sign on the cross street. (Update: It’s actually a one-way fire station signal.)

His body was found by a nearby worker after Torres was already dead. Whether he could have been saved if the coward behind the wheel had stopped and called for help may never be known.

Personally, I think every driver accused of a fatal hit-and-run should be charged with murder, since the delay in getting help inevitably contributes to the victim’s death if the collision was in any way survivable.

Torres’ stepdaughter reports that he always rode his bike from his home to his job at Brek Manufacturing on 132nd Street at 4:15 each morning, saying he felt it was pointless to pay for gas to go to work.

Police say he was struck sometime before 4:30 and 5 am. No witnesses have come forward; given the early hour, none are likely.

The paper says investigators found debris from the vehicle, including headlights, suggesting it’s likely to have significant front-end damage, most likely on the right side. Police are using that debris to determine the make of the vehicle; however, they had no other description at this time, including the color.

No mention is made of whether Torres was using lights or reflectors at that early hour.

He suffered severe head injuries despite his helmet. However, bike helmets are only designed to protect against impacts up to 12.5 mph; they are no match for a car moving at speed.

Torres leaves behind a wife of 17 years, as well as five stepchildren and their 12 children.

Gardena police urge anyone with information to call Investigator Matthew Hassoldt at 310/217-6189.

This is the 63rd bicycling death in Southern California this year, and the 19th in Los Angeles County. Torres is the 13th bike rider killed in a hit-and-run in 2012; three of the 10 riders killed in traffic collisions in L.A. County this year have been victims of hit-and-run.

My prayers and sympathy for Torres and his family.

10 comments

  1. Bill says:

    Just a heads up about the intersection, it’s not a traffic light, it’s a “fire dept” signal light used only when fire trucks come out of the station

  2. betty chaidez says:

    I’d like to comment on this article. My name is Betty Chaidez,oldest step daughter of Benjamin Torres. I’d like to thank you for alerting other readers on this trajic incident. My family is not taking it well, and its mainly anger the person at fault has not surrendered. We’ve all been going to the scene daily to alert others. Thank-you once again.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Betty. There is no excuse for leaving the scene of a collision, ever. Let’s hope that the driver has the self-respect to come forward; if not, that the police find the coward who left your step father to die in the street. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

    • Teresa Chaidez says:

      Love you sis, we will continue praying and have faith for justice.

  3. Teresa Chaidez says:

    Hello, and thank you for posting our stepfathers tragic accident.

    Veronica Chaidez and Teresa Chaidez stepdaughters of Benjamin Torres are attempting to do our best in organizing a Bike Ride for safety and Justice, for our stepfather whom we love and miss so much, and for all the riders that have passed and riders who are still out there riding.

    To get the publics attention, change in bicycling laws.

    We are planning a BikeRun for Nov 10 at 4:00 pm at my stepfathers vigil. Meetup point will be Rowley Park in the city of Gardena, Ca, at 3:30pm. We will proceed to the intersection of Wilton Place and 135th st, also in the city of Gardena. Witch is approximatley 10 minutes away.

    If anyone would like to join or has other ideas, we would greatly appreciate feedback.

    Thank you again,
    Veronica Chaidez, Teresa Chaidez

    • bikinginla says:

      So sorry for your loss. It sounds like Benjamin was a good man who will be sadly missed.

      I’ve added your ride to my list of upcoming bike events, and I hope his killer will be found and arrested soon.

  4. […] stepdaughters of fallen cyclist Benjamin Torres are hosting a BikeRun in honor of their stepfather on November 10th starting at Rowley Park in […]

  5. Jedhi master says:

    My sincere condolences to the Torres family.
    Remember today is November 11, 2012 it is a powerful day for prayer – make it a good ride/run or ?. Also (and I’m not affiliated with the website), http://onebeing.emanaku.com but there are meditation groups forming on a (world scale) that will occur on November 22, 2012…survivors, healers, victims or whatever can make it a day for world peace…make this time a healing time…or make it your time to reconnect with long lost love ones. You can do it. Do a web search for – November 22, 2012 mass meditation -. I’m sad for our fellow cyclists but this is a good time for meditative healing too.We can all get stronger no matter how hard the challenges of life may be.

  6. Eduardo Chaidez says:

    God bless all who participated in the bike ride for safety,I’m the oldest of the step sons of Benji.I just whant to thank every one who was there.The biggest hurt and pain goes out to mom.That Benji made her 17 years the best years of her life,he was her life time partner,and all of a sudden for someone just to take it away in a flash without consideration, yes I’m upset too but what can we do, nothing.I pray daily that someday whoever left him there to die won’t go through the same situation.I ask all who had comments to pray for comfort to my family, thank you, and GOD bless.

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