Just got word that a bike rider was killed in Mission Viejo Friday evening.
According to the Orange County Register, the collision occurred around 6:50 pm on the Santa Margarita Parkway, between El Toro Road and Alisos Blvd.
No word on how the wreck happened, or any identity on the victim or driver. The paper reports the victim was pronounced dead at the scene, and that the driver remained onsite following the collision.
A satellite view shows what looks like a ridable shoulder in both directions. However, there’s no indication of which direction the rider was going or where the rider was positioned on the roadway.
The speed limit in that area is 50 mph; a collision at that speed is not likely to be survivable.
This is the eighth bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Orange County, which averaged more than one death per month for each of the past two years.
Thanks to Louis Martinet for the heads-up.
Update: The Orange County Register has identified the victim as 58-year old Eric Billings of Rancho Santa Margarita; he was pronounced dead at 6:48.
According to the paper, Billings was riding in a designated bike lane, rather than a wide shoulder as I had assumed from the satellite photo, when he was struck by a 2003 Acura driven by 39-year old Hast Fakhrai-Bayrooti.
Mission Viejo Patch places the location as 300 yards south of El Toro Road near Trabuco Hills High School. The site says both the driver and victim were headed southbound on Santa Margarita, suggesting Billings was struck from behind. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor.
What does appear to be a factor is a surface street designed for excessive speed, where drivers typically exceed the already too high speed limit by double digits, and an unprotected bikeway in which a few inches of paint is all that separates riders from those speeding vehicles.
Or as appears to be the case here, doesn’t.
Witness reports from the SoCal Trail Riders forum said the victim appeared to be riding a beach cruiser, which was badly mangled in the crash, and that skid marks from the car extended up onto the sidewalk.
My prayers and sympathy for Eric Billings and all his family and loved ones.
Update 2: Friends remember Billings as a compassionate and generous man, dedicated to his faith.