Antelope Valley cyclists barely survive drunken assault; Apple Valley rider killed March 1st

So not funny.

Around 9 am on Sunday, a group of Antelope Valley cyclists riding in a paceline were deliberately assaulted in what the drunken perpetrators apparently considered a prank.

On that got that must have been that much more amusing to them when the driver, reportedly over twice the legal limit despite the early hour, misjudged the distance and Jerry Browned the riders, sending six of them tumbling to the pavement.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Although another inch or two could have made the difference between a handful of minor injuries and a mass homicide.

I’ll let Kevin Walsh, one of the riders involved, tell the story, which he posted on his Facebook page. And yes, his story has been confirmed by an item in Monday’s Antelope Valley Press, which I can’t link to since it’s hidden out of site behind a paywall.

I’m thanking my guardian angel…again…way too close to tragedy. Met 6 friends at Ave L and 20 St West for today’s ride. Today’s cast of characters were Roger, Bob, Randy, Javier, Scott and Brian.

I was hoping for a recovery ride after yesterday’s hard effort in the wind. Brian was the only other rider who rode the 70 miles yesterday. Brian was also feeling the effects of yesterday’s ride. Randy rode the 44 mile loop. The plan was to ride up Godde Hill Rd (60 St West) to get out of the wind which was again strong today. (FOX@8AM: 56deg; WNW22G29. Poppy Park@9AM: 57deg; W29G44. FOX@11AM: 63deg; W30G36.) Then make a right on Elizabeth Lake Rd (ELR) to Munz Ranch Rd back to the valley floor and get pushed home by the wind. Bob and Roger were going to 3 Points.

The 7 of us were riding in a paceline on ELR just west of Bouquet Cyn Rd when a car suddenly sideswiped all of us except Roger who just rotated to the back of the group. I was at the front of the paceline on my aerobars when (seemed like instantaneously) I was hit by something hard on my left cheek-bone, felt a car brush my shoulder, heard yelling and crashing sounds behind me. I don’t know how I didn’t crash. After the car passed me, it drifted further into the shoulder and kept going. We were doing about 20mph, the car about 40mph.

Roger saw the entire incident unfold. Javier and Randy went down hard (3rd and 4th in line). Randy slid a long way on his backside – lots of road rash. Javier went down hard on his hip – very fortunate that he was ok. Scott who was behind Randy was hit on his ass by the car’s mirror and the passenger’s hand and arm. He doesn’t know how he didn’t crash. Roger saw the passenger put his arm out of the window. The mirror broke off and remained at the scene of the accident. The car also hit the back side of Brian – he also didn’t crash.

I called 911 – response was very fast. The paramedics checked out Randy then took him to the hospital for observation. He was obviously in shock. Turns out Randy is ok and back home. The Sheriffs got all of our personal info and each of our accounts of what happened. We all said that it was a small black sedan like a Ford Focus or a Honda. Other Sheriffs came then left to look for the car. Javier got picked up by his mom who was rightfully upset.

Before all of our info and accounts were taken, the car was found at a house in the hills above Elizabeth Lake golf course. The sheriff came back and wanted 2 of us to go with him to officially ID the car (easy without the sideview mirror). Roger and Scott went. The perps were two 20-year olds and not too bright. One of the 20-year olds had a cut above his eye. The 1st question the officer asked him was “How did you get that cut?” The reply was a bicycle mirror. Not sure what the officer then said but essentially it was “say no more” and they were both handcuffed.

It took awhile for Roger and Scott to return to the accident scene where we were. The sheriff then wanted 2 more of us to go to the house for official ID so Bob and Brian went. We then found out that the passenger gave a full confession. After drinking all night they went to Palmdale to McDonalds for some food. On the way back they saw us and thought it would “be fun” to slap the back side of us cyclists. The driver being drunk swerved too close and wound up hitting us. Over an hour after the incident, the driver was tested at 0.16 – twice the legal limit. So, the driver is facing 3 felony counts: 1) Assault with a deadly weapon with injuries; 2) Hit and run; 3) DUI. The passenger is facing 1 felony – not sure if it’s assault with a deadly weapon or “hit and run”.

After more than a couple of hours, we finally headed home. Bob and Roger continued west to go down Munz; Brian, Scott and I turned around and rode to 25 St West to get back home on 30W. After Scott got home and took a shower, he noticed that not only did he get hit by the mirror but he had an arm and hand imprint (all 5 fingers) on his butt. He’s sending a picture to the deputy tomorrow.

Don’t know what else to say except that I’m very thankful that no one was seriously hurt (could’ve been so much worse), the perps were caught, and justice will be served!

This is an extreme example of the sort of harassment cyclists have to endure every day, virtually everywhere. It’s not unusual for riders, especially women, to be slapped or grabbed while riding, or to be deliberately startled by honking, run off the road or have objects thrown at them.

If this occurred in the City of Los Angeles, or a number of other cities or counties that have adopted a version of L.A.’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance, the victims would be able to sue for actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher, plus triple damages and legal fees.

As it stands, they could only sue for actual damages, which are likely to be minimal — if they can find a lawyer willing to take the case.

Which is why the law needs to be adopted on a statewide basis. Now.

We need to put a stop to this sort of thing before someone gets killed.

………

Unfortunately, this one flew under the radar last month, as happens too easily in Southern California’s far-flung corners.

According to the High Valley Daily Press, 56-year old Kevin Olin of Apple Valley was killed on March 1st while riding in the bike lane on Apple Valley Road near Quantico Road.

The rider was rear-ended by the driver of a Chevy Tahoe pickup travelling in the same direction, and died at the scene. According a press release from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, inattention may have been a factor in the collision — presumably on the part of the driver.

A regular cyclist in the area, Olin was the much loved maintenance director at Our Lady of the Desert Catholic church, and leaves behind his wife, four children and some grandchildren.

His death raises the total number of Southern California bicycling fatalities this year to 16; it’s also the second cycling death in San Bernardino County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kevin Olin and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to JL for the heads-up.

………

Frequent contributor Rick Risemberg — aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation — forwards an incredible story of yet another killer driver walking off with a bare caress on the wrist.

Let alone a slap.

The Press-Enterprise reports that Juan Zacarias Tzun was sentenced to just 90 days for the death of a motorcycle-riding Moreno Valley Sheriff’s Dispatcher. After credit for time served, that means he’ll be subject to just another 34 days in jail.

This, despite driving without a license and two previous convictions for drunken driving. But because Tzun was sober at the time of the collision, and wasn’t speeding or driving distracted, he was only charged with a single misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter count.

His victim, on the other hand, received the death penalty.

And that’s the problem with our current laws.

Driving without a license, for whatever reason, should automatically elevate any additional driving offense to a felony. And a conviction for DUI should be counted as a first strike towards any future traffic offenses, automatically increasing the penalty in order to get dangerous drivers off the roads — hopefully, before they kill someone.

And politics aside, we’ve got to find a way to legalize undocumented drivers so they can be licensed and insured, and held accountable for their actions behind the wheel.

………

Finally, Matt Baume sends this painful reminder to ride carefully, and watch out for hidden road obstructions. And no, it wasn’t the massive pothole that got him.

3 comments

  1. jeff says:

    What you mean Jerry Brown the rider

    • bikinginla says:

      Jerry Brown, verb: To pass a bicyclist at an unsafe distance close enough to interfere with or collide with the rider.

      Derivation: In reference to current California Governor Jerry Brown, who is the only governor to have twice vetoed a three-foot passing law.

      • Allan says:

        Now who’s going to add that into the hall of fame of dictionaries? I’m referring to none other than the Urban Dictionary. Something I’m sure hipsters access more than Wikipedia.

        RIP to the fellow rider above. I wish your family and loved ones all the inner peace possible.

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