Update: Cyclist killed in Mission Viejo

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 Hasti 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.

11 comments

  1. Lois Rubin says:

    SoCal Trail Riders has a few postings from folks who arrived just after and they’re saying it looks like the car went up onto the sidewalk and took the guy out.

  2. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of the victin.

  3. anthony says:

    R.I.P brother Eric Billings

  4. billdsd says:

    There are bike lane symbols on the road in the bike lane near the intersections and if you go to street view you can see the “No Parking Bike Lane” signs along the road.

  5. The bike lane by Trabuco Hills HS is right down the street from my office and I can tell you that stretch is like Death Race 2000. Drivers routinely exceed the limit and typically don’t pay much attention particularly at that intersection by the HS. Riding in the bike lane is a good way to get killed on that road, which BTW is not the Santa Margarita Pkwy but Portola.

  6. Haley Bayrooti says:

    I am sorry but must point out, comment above insinuating “she could not have been charged” with a less charge is ABSOLUTELY incorrect. The plan was to go forward w/ the prelim hearing….when I saw the family sitting there, couldn’t deal, so I CHOOSE TO CHANGE MY PLEA. I want them to have their closure, if that means behind bars, then be it. I had two extremely savvy crim defense attn; yet, at the moment I saw the family, no longer cared to fight….

  7. Haley Bayrooti says:

    Had plenty to work with as far as defense….the family, the wife and the children sitting there broke my heart. This was the first time, I had seen them…so, you want to convey why I changed my plea, NOW you heard it. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would have done the same. But I do ask for the privacy of the fact that I’m a mother (single mother that is), no more comments be written about me or shall I say “untruths.” None of you know the facts, please respect me during this time, if NOT for me, for my child to stop speculating.

  8. Haley Bayrooti says:

    This question is for everyone on this site: First and foremost, please know from the bottom of my heart, I am devastated for the Billings’ family and have devoted the rest of my days to serve God in anyway he wants. I don’t know, where it will be, but I must do this to find peace. The fact that marijuana is essentially months away from legalization concerns me. As for me, I HAVE NEVER been able to drive since the tragedy as Mr. BikeinLa said, one must take responsibility. That wasn’t even an issue as I cannot get behind a wheel as my body begins to shake, so for over two yrs (with a valid DL, I took that privilege away from myself–again, least I owed the society. But once marijuana is legalized and I am saying WHEN, not IF, what should we as a society do? How do we keep our cyclists safe? How do we keep our pedestrians safe? How? I really think many of you are intelligent individuals and would like to know your thoughts on the issue? I know many smoke it w/ a simple dr’s note, but since they want to tax it, they will no longer even care about the dr’s note? How do we tackle that?

    • thesqueak says:

      We really need to allow time for science to catch up with testing for THC impairment. Oh, and we also need to fund criminal forensics labs. For example, there is a way to accurately measure the therapeutic dosage of Suboxone in a perpetrator’s blood (and for just a few piddly dollars per test), but the OC Crime Lab doesn’t even bother to do so because of funding limitations. With reliable medical evidence in the district attorney’s hands, people accused of driving under the influence of marijuana won’t “have plenty to work with as far as defense.”

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