Update: 12-year old bike rider killed by semi-truck in Simi Valley

Heartbreaking news, as word is just coming in that a young bicyclist was killed in a collision with a semi-truck in Simi Valley tonight.

According to the Ventura County Star, a 12-year old boy was struck by a Fresh and Easy delivery truck while riding his bike around 7:30 pm Saturday at the intersection of Tapo Street and Alamo Street.

The paper says the truck was turning onto Alamo from southbound Tapo when it struck the boy, who has not been publicly identified; a report from KTLA-5 suggests the truck was actually leaving a nearby parking lot when the collision occurred.

No word which direction the truck was turning or how the collision occurred; a satellite view shows bike lanes in three of the four directions leading to and from the intersection, but not in front of the Fresh and Easy store.

As if the death isn’t tragic enough, the victim was riding with an eight-year old friend who may have witnessed the wreck.

Simi Valley police are investigating the collision, and the driver is reportedly cooperating.

This is the 28th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in Ventura County; that equals the total for Ventura County for all of last year.

My prayers for the victim and his family. 

Update: By now, it’s clear from some of the comments below that the victim’s family has been notified of the death, but the victim still has not been publicly identified. If anyone would like to share the name of the victim so he can be remembered with the respect he deserves, or has any more information on how this collision occurred, please let me know. You can add a comment here, or find my email address on the About page.

……..

Update 2: The Simi Valley Acorn has identified the victim as Jacob Sellers of Simi Valley, and added some details that clarify the situation, at least in part. 

According to the paper, the victim’s mother, Brenda Sellers, was told that Jacob was crushed under the back wheels of the truck, which dragged his bike some distance down the road. The driver was apparently unaware of the collision; a motorcycle rider had to chase him down and tell him he’d hit someone. 

A comment left here by a woman who identifies herself as Brenda Sellers says he was riding on the sidewalk and was riding too fast to avoid the truck.

And yes, minors are allowed to ride on any sidewalk in Simi Valley.

According to Sellers, her son did everything right.

“The bike he was on had brakes, he knew how to use his brakes. . . . So it breaks my heart that there are people mad because they think he was in the street riding his bike or he was assuming that he had the right of way, because that’s not Jacob, that’s not how he was,” she said.

“He was wearing his helmet. . . . He was doing everything he was supposed to be.”

She may be right.

Based on the description, it would appear that the truck driver may have failed to notice Jacob riding on the sidewalk, and pulled forward across the bike rider’s path as it turned right — a danger most bike riders would recognize, and one that few 12-year olds would have the skills to avoid.

Jacob Sellers was on this way home for dinner, riding his new bike, when he was killed just a week after his 12th birthday.

A fund has been established in Jacob’s memory; as of Friday night, it had raised over $15,000, surpassing the initial goal $10,000.

Thanks to Henry Fung for the Acorn link.

53 comments

  1. mahythesis says:

    Thanks for reporting this story.

    • Juli DeMilio says:

      This little boy’s mom was married to my exhusband. Jacob was part of my childrens family for a while. My heart goes out to Brenda I can’t imagine the pain that the family is going through right now. Such a tragic accident to happen to someone so young.
      My thoughts and prayers are with you all

  2. Rae says:

    This little boy is one of my best friend’s sons. Thank you for your compassionate article. I am a state away as I am piecing together what has happened and all the news articles are so cold and disingenuous. Your article brought fresh tears to my eyes as you so poignantly pointed out what a tragedy it is for us to have lost this precious little boy. Your article has more heart than anything I have read…thank you

    • bikinginla says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Rae. I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and all your friend’s family.

      No one should ever die just because they went out for a bike ride. It’s always a tragedy when anyone is killed, but it’s especially heartbreaking when it’s a child.

  3. Mark Uva says:

    Three of your articles lately including this one have been about fatal accidents in area’s that I cycle through in the Simi area. As I do a lot of cycling in Simi I am a bit concerned. The Star article didn’t tell me much except that the truck was turning. Would like to get more info on this accident.

    Sorry to hear about the boy.

    • Joe says:

      More than likely, the kid flew off of the sidewalk into the crosswalk, thinking he had the right-of-way. I see a lot of ignorant bicyclists do this.

      • iLynne says:

        So uncool to post blaming the victim without knowing the facts.

        • Joe says:

          He asked, I answered. I stated that I don’t know for sure in this case, but what LIKELY happened. Learn how to read and quit your crying. What I stated was entirely ACCURATE! If cyclists would learn that this move is no different than a car pulling out a driveway, we would have fewer injuries and fatalities. I guess you’re not concerned with that, but I would like to see those numbers decrease. Have a great Memorial Day!

          • bikinginla says:

            Let’s keep it civil here.

            While Joe is right about careless sidewalk riding being a common problem, we have too little information to speculate at this point.

            However, the video from KTLA shows the victim’s bike lying in the left lane and the truck stopped on the left turn lane on the opposite side of the roadway. In addition, press reports indicated that the truck was attempting to turn onto Alamo. Both would suggest the victim was riding in the roadway at the time of the collision, rather than on the sidewalk.

            And please remember that friends and family of the victim have been reading this site. Try to avoid speculating or pointing the finger in any direction out of respect for them.

            I’ll follow up as soon as we have some solid information to work with.

          • bikinginla says:

            Sorry Katie. I don’t allow personal attacks on here, and that response clearly crossed the line. Feel free to voice your opinion, but try to keep it civil.

    • Joe says:

      So it appears it happened exactly as I described. The mom doesn’t realize she validated it. It’s not that a 12 year old rider doesn’t have the skills to avoid it. It’s that they generally get a new bike and are not educated about the rules of the road. I see 30 year old riders who are too ignorant to realize they don’t have the ride of way when they fly off the corner into a crosswalk. And to the mom…no one is mad at your son. It’s just that this was clearly his fault.

      • Joe says:

        BTW, the author claims they raised $150000. I believe you
        meant $15000. Feel free to remove this post. It’s just an FYI.

        • jsperline says:

          Joe, you are not a nice man. You continue to hammer this family and try to point out any error on this boys part. I hope you get a kick out of it. Why don’t you go find someone else to continue to try and abuse? It is a terrible thing that happened. Why is it needed to correct this number and place blame on a boy’s “new brakes” or “not knowing the rules of the road”?

          • Joe says:

            Jeperline, you were raised to be a victim. I’m not hammering anyone. I am pointing out the facts. I do this in part, so we don’t have to read about another child doing this (or even an adult for that matter). When you sit around whining, the way you are, and not assessing a situation, you are comdemned to repeat the past. You obviously don’t care about another similar incident happening. I do. Peace.

            • Joe says:

              Pls excuse the typos. :-)

            • jsperline says:

              Really? Raised a victim? There is a time and place to get your point across. Blaming a greiving mother’s son. Really? How about not shoving your twisted logic in her face? Maybe give her a little time? You don’t know me nor I you. Don’t even pretend to be able to judge me. People like you make me angree. You may have a valid point but it is attacking this woman and pointing out how, in your oppinion, it was her sons fault that is wrong. If that is whining then so be it. Show some compassion for this family. Maybe take a look at yourself and your own issues instead of trying to point out others’s.

            • Joe says:

              Well, glad you can admit you are whining. If you read what the mother said about her son, you would be able to admit my post was nothing but fact based. Unlike you and her, mine has nothing to do with emotion. You should not post until you can post objectively. If you were able to, you never would have written what you did. (Unless you are not all there.)

            • jsperline says:

              That is where you are confused. I have compassion and my heart breaks for this family. This Mom has lost her son and all you care about is placing the blame. You are not going to take any more of my time.

        • bikinginla says:

          Thank you for the correction.

      • bikinginla says:

        Joe, before you assign blame, you should pay a little more attention to the facts. Jacob was hit by the back wheels of the truck, not the front, which invalidates your “blame the victim” theory.

        Had Jacob sped off the sidewalk the way you describe, he would have been in front of the truck, not beside it. Even a 12 year old on a new bike knows enough not to ride into the side of s semi-truck.

        Rather, the driver apparently failed to notice the boy riding on the sidewalk, which he has a legal obligation to do, while the fact that he couldn’t stop suggests that he was already close to the intersection when the driver cut him off. So when the truck turned in front of Jacob, it would appear to be a clear violation of Jacob’s right-of-way. And yes, a pedestrian or bicyclist on the sidewalk would have the right-of-way under those circumstances, not the driver cutting them off.

        The only question before determining fault would seem to whether it was possible for the driver to see the cyclist under the circumstances present at the time. I don’t know if the driver should be held at fault; however, it seems clear that the fault doesn’t lie with the victim, despite your protests to the contrary.

        • Joe says:

          If the boy was on the sidewalk, riding off of the corner into the crosswalk, he did NOT have the right-of-way. He is no different than a car pulling out of a driveway and must yield to any and all vehicles already on the road. Unless the situation is not as you & I have described, I am 100% correct on this, despite your desire as a cyclist to dispute it. The fact he flew off of the sidewalk into the side (or rear wheels) proves nothing. A kid would not necessarily be smart enough not to do this, if he hadn’t been taught that he does not have the right-of-way when entering a road from the sidewalk. It’s not about “blaming the victim”. It’s about NOT blaming the driver of the truck if he wasn’t at fault. It’s also about education and my desire not to read about similar accidents. If you continue to support cyclists when they are in the wrong, expect to see more accidents such as this one. Personally, I’d rather not read about more of these.

          • Joe says:

            And BTW, even if the kid was on the road, next to the shoulder, and the truck turned in front of him, being “right” does him little good now. So, it’s still about education and teaching cyclists to be more careful about similar situations. Right-of-way or not, you’re dead in the car versus bike battle. (But if he flew off the sidewalk…100% his fault.)

            • bikinginla says:

              You’re right, Joe. It is all about teaching bike riders to be safe, and not about teaching the operators of multi-ton vehicles to operate them safely or holding them accountable if they don’t.

              And has it ever occurred to you that every bicyclist on the road already knows the risk we face in motor vehicle collisions?

              Seriously?

              Do you really think we need you to point that out for us? I have yet to meet any bike rider, anywhere, who is not aware of that danger.

          • bikinginla says:

            Joe, no one has ever said the victim was riding off the sidewalk into the crosswalk. He was killed by a truck exiting a commercial driveway, in which case the truck was legally obligated to wait for anyone on the street or the sidewalk, as you describe above. However, in no case is anyone allowed to enter any roadway or intersection if it can reasonably be expected to result in a collision, regardless of whether or not they have the right-of-way.

            As for the situation you describe, a pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk in the state of California; as such, drivers are required to stop for anyone in the crosswalk. However, pedestrians are required to wait until it is safe before entering the street, and are not allowed to step in front of oncoming traffic if it may result in a collision.

            State law is unclear on whether bike riders are allowed in a crosswalk, saying that bikes are allowed to ride “along” the crosswalk, which could mean either in or next to it. However, many jurisdictions interpret the law as requiring bike riders to either dismount and walk across the intersection or ride in the same direction of traffic.

            And no, they are not allowed to ride out in front of traffic, but must yield to conflicting traffic already in or closely approaching the intersection, as noted with pedestrians above. Despite your dismissal of it, where the bike struck the truck offers the only proof of relative positioning leading up to the collision, and so, who could be expected to yield in that situation.

            I have never said that the truck driver was at fault in this collision, but rather, that the victim wasn’t, which is not the same thing.

            As for your comments directed at me, if you were a reader of this blog, you would know that I go out of my way to be fair and to place blame where it lies, regardless of who may be at fault. I have many times suggested that a bike rider was at fault in a collision when the evidence suggested that.

            But you’d rather go off on me, with little or no knowledge to base it on, than admit the possibility that you might be wrong.

            • Joe says:

              But I wasn’t wrong. I stated each time, “if the situation is as I’ve described” (flying off of the corner into the crosswalk). If he was riding along the sidewalk as the truck exited a driveway, that is a completely different story, esp. since a child is involved. We generally expect adults not to ride on the sidewalk. But most parents do not want their kids in the streets. So as drivers, we need to take extra caution. I still don’t mind that I stated multiple times the other situation. Because not one day goes by where I don’t see a cyclist do exactly that w/o taking one second to look around and be sure it’s safe. Peace.

  4. JD says:

    Our sincerest heartfelt prayers go up for the family and friends of the young victim.

  5. William De Jesus says:

    I cant believe this happend to my cousin. He was cool and i just wish he was still here with us. I hope he is in a better place now. May god be with you. Love you.

  6. Joe says:

    Can someone please post the name of the victim?

  7. William De Jesus says:

    I wont post it but i could text it to you.
    That was my cousin.

  8. Joe says:

    Can you please just let me know which school they attended?

  9. William De Jesus says:

    I would but i live in Florida and i honestly dont know im sorry.

  10. Joe says:

    Okay please email me the name:

    events@sportstriviaworld.com

    Thank you

  11. Colleen Abbinanti says:

    This young man was my sons best friend! We are so grateful and honored that he was a part of our lives! All our love and prayers to the family!

  12. ianbrettcooper says:

    Sadly, intersection and driveway accidents like this are far too common. The best way to ensure that these types of tragedies don’t happen is to teach cyclists of all ages and motorists to use the road carefully: cyclists should be in the road, riding with traffic where they can be seen easily; motorists should treat junctions with care and make sure it’s completely safe before pulling out.

    • iLynne says:

      I would add that we need some actual accountability in this country. In Alabama, for example, you can be hit head-on by a driver who is speeding, passes on a curve that is clearly marked no passing, is not wearing required glasses and has no valid driver’s license. This happened to me and the driver was cited for no proof of insurance. That’s because the driver cannot be cited for anything a police officer did not witness (unless there is a fatality). Absolutely nothing happened to the driver.

      I am not just talking about cyclists. We tolerate a horrific level of death and injury in the name of being able to drive without really paying attention. We need to stop calling these incidents “accidents” and call them “crashes.” Tougher licensing and tougher penalties for crashing.

      Cyclists need to obey the rules too. I actually stop for red lights and stop signs on my bicycle.

      • Opus the Poet says:

        It’s not just AL, I was just reading an article abut NY state that made the point that it was actually easier to charge a driver with murder than negligent homicide, that if you had the evidence to convict for negligent homicide you could almost convict for murder. In TX so long as you aren’t chemically impaired you can get away with pretty much anything that doesn’t kill another person in a car. Killing a pedestrian or cyclist because you went completely off the road? Not a problem, your guilty conscience is punishment enough… :P

    • gneiss says:

      Thanks for those words of wisdom, Ian. Nice to see that you think this tragedy could have been avoided if a 12 year old was taking the lane on a 4 lane road in front of fast moving traffic.

    • Greg Thomas says:

      If motorists simply would stop where they were supposed to almost all of these tragic accidents would be averted. I have lost count of how many times I have almost been hit by cars while walking because the motorists didn’t stop before crossing a sidewalk or when they’ve barely slowed down at a stop sign or right turn on red. Do I have to be taught how to walk safely on a freaking sidewalk?

  13. Megs says:

    I live in the neighborhood and stopped by on Sunday night, I saw the parents and some friends standing on the corner – candle light vigil. I brought some flowers for the family and this little boy. Such a tragic loss, which has touched my core. I feel so sad for this family and this little boy… and his little friend that witnessed the entire tragic event. I have so much heartache for the mom. I hope that at least drivers will be more careful and watch closely for other children. My children will also ride these same streets and roads when they are older. This could have happened to any family. We don’t know the whole story, so making assumptions that he could have avoided it in some way is rude and insensitive.

  14. Mary says:

    My heart goes out to the families. I used to live near there, and I can’t tell you how many times I called the police to report another accident behind my home. I saw the sight this morning as I dropped my son off at school. My son is the same age as this boy, so he is likely a classmate. I know this tragedy will hit him hard.

  15. Jason says:

    Praying for the family of this young man. Also praying for the driver of the truck. No matter if he was in the right or in the wrong he still now has to live with what happened. This was only 2 blocks from my house and we will be doing some bike training for my 11 year old who will be riding that very road to school next year. Anyone know of a Bycicle Training program in Simi Valley or the neighboring cities?

  16. David Mosso says:

    I live near that intersection and that corner has telephone poles blocking the drivers view when there’s a bicyclist or pedestrian on the side walk that’s planning to cross….I almost hit a pedestrian crossing.

    Very sad, my prayers to the family.

  17. Brenda Sellers says:

    This 12 year old child was my son, Jacob. And for the record he was not in the street, he was on the sidewalk. And if you view the footage that was first shot, prior to dark my sons body is laying right in front of the cross/dont cross area as if he had stepped off. My understanding is that he was coming home and tcould not stop his bike at the rateof speed he was traveling, He was wearing all of the proper gear.
    He did not assume any right of way, and he was not trying to take on major traffic. He was a smart boy who coudnt stop in time and got caught under the back tires of the semi as it made its turn. It is my understanding a harley rider had to stop the semi because he didnt know he was dragging my sons bike with him. That is why the bike was farther down the road. He was not an avid cyclist and therefore did not belong in the road with traffic in my opinion.
    He was my 12 yr old boy on a brand new bike coming home for dinner who went about 3 inches too far off the sidewalk. Also known as a traggic accident. So Joe, his name was Jacob. Why do need to know what school he attended?

    ~Mom

    • David Mosso says:

      My prayers to you and your family. May God comfort you.

      My post above mentions of how the multiple light poles and even an electrical box create areas where drivers can’t see anyone on the curb. This needs to change, the city needs to remove the multiple poles and traffic light control box away from this intersection where there’s high pedestrian and bicyclists traveling from the local schools just up the street. I almost hit a pedestrian at this same exact spot because they stepped out from the curb where all these obstructions are.

    • bikinginla says:

      Please accept my deepest sympathy and prayers for you and all your family.

      While I am unfamiliar with the exact circumstances regarding this collision, please don’t be so fast to place the blame on your son, or write it off as a mere accident. Even if he was unable to stop, the driver of the truck had the obligation to be aware of anyone on the sidewalk before pulling his truck out into the street.

      The type of collision you describe is known by cyclists as a right hook, and is usually the fault of the driver for cutting off the bike rider.

      If you haven’t already, I would strongly urge you to contact a lawyer. I’m not suggesting that you should file a lawsuit, but it is vital in a case like this to have some legal guidance, both to protect your interests and keep your son from being blamed for a collision in which he may not have been wholly at fault.

      My heart goes out to you at this unbearably difficult time.

    • Jason says:

      We live about 3 blocks from there. I had to pull over and compose myself when I had seen the memorial on the corner. I can’t imagine what you and your family are going through. Please know there are many people in Simi and the surrounding area that are praying for you. My heart goes out to you and your family. You don’t know us but I believe we have mutual friends so if there is anything we can do please let us know.

    • Megs says:

      Brenda, I was one that stopped by and brought some white roses, and gave you a huge hug around 7:45pm Sunday night.

      I just wanted to let you know that I’m still thinking about you and your family. My heart goes out to you, I’m sending lots of love your way. No parent should ever have to lose a child. Even though I cannot feel your pain, as a parent myself I am so sadden by the loss of your son.

      I agree with David that there are blind spots at the corners. I have noticed this when I have taken my daughter for a walk. I’ve had a couple of close calls of cars stopping suddenly because they did not see us. It’s definitely a problem that the city of Simi Valley needs to address.

      Also, if your family needs anything – please let me know. Also, Reach out to the community. There are some great neighbors here in Simi Valley. ((HUGS))

    • anthony says:

      Brenda I feel your pain that you and your family are going through at this time. I also lost my son 16 months ago in the same way. I don’t understand why us as parents were chosen to go through this tragic pain. But be strong one day you will see your son again. God has a plan for what he does. Me and my family put up the ghost bike for your son. Simivalley is very good about not removing the bikes in that city. We started the Ride of Silence in Oxnard in the memory of my son. You might think about doing the same in your city its not easy its hard. But we have done the ride twice. You can go to Ride of Silence.org and get more info. If we can help you in any way let me know. Take care and stay strong.

  18. Drivers need to remember many cyclists are guileless youngsters, who can’t understand motor vehicle traffic.

  19. William dejesus says:

    Ive been reading these comments on my email and what if the was a rock that he hit and then he fell toward the street.?.?.?! Thats not his fault.

    • David Mosso says:

      A couple things to point out.

      I live near this intersection and make that same right hand turn that the truck made 3 or more times a day.

      1. The truck pulled out of the parking lot and crossed the double yellow to head south on Tapo street, illegal turn from this parking lot?

      2. The truck had to make a difficult right hand turn at the cross walk, so tight that you have to question did his rear wheels go on top of the curb at that crosswalk area? How many times as drivers have we seen truckers do this? I’ve seen this a lot.

      3. Is it possible that the boys timing just happened to line up with the trucks tires as they were on top of the curb?

      4. Was the boys front tire safely on the curb (not on the street) at the sidewalks edge and did the trucks rear tires go on top of the curb right at where this poor boys bike tire was sitting? And did the trucks tires pull the boy and his bike from the curb?

      5. Did the large telephone pole hinder the drivers view of the bicyclist?

      In closing the most interesting thing at the scene of where this boy died is directly across the street from where this boy died is a statue of Jesus. He’s in a very happy and blessed place.

  20. bikinginla says:

    Christine, I have a policy against insults and personal attacks on here, and have removed your comment as a result. Feel free to criticize anything anyone has to say, but please try to do it without attacking anyone personally.

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