Update: Bike rider killed in hit-from-behind collision; 5th cyclist killed in Lake Elsinore in past three years

We ended last week with a fallen cyclist.

And tragically, we start the week with another.

Just two days after James “Mitch” Waller was killed and another rider seriously injured when they were run down from behind while riding in Laguna Canyon Road near Laguna Beach, word comes of yet another Southern California bicycling fatality.

And like the others, she died after her bike was struck from behind.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 38-year old Lake Elsinore resident Lucia Ruano was riding south on Grand Avenue at Marvella Lane in Lake Elsinore when she was hit by a silver Ford F150 pickup at 8:37 am. She was pronounced dead just 35 minutes later at the Inland Valley Medical Center.

A street view indicates what looks like a rough shoulder there.

As too often happens with fatal collisions in the Inland area, there’s just too little information in the story to give a clear idea what happened. However, a comment on the Lake Elsinore – Wildomar Patch site offered a second-hand report that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, trapping the bike underneath.

And yes, the witness says the victim was wearing a helmet; from the sound of it, it probably didn’t matter.

Depending on exactly where the collision occurred, the driver may have drifted off the roadway, or Ruano may have entered the traffic lane to avoid an obstacle on the shoulder. Or the driver may have hit her while turning onto Marvella.

This is the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County; that compares to 29 and five, respectively, this time last year. Remarkably, it’s also the fifth cycling fatality in tiny Lake Elsinore, population 53,000, since 2010, and the second on Grand Avenue.

And if that doesn’t indicate a serious problem, I don’t know what does.

Meanwhile, bicycling fatalities are nearly 45% ahead of last year in the seven-county SoCal area just halfway into the year. And this comes as we head into the 4th of July weekend, which is traditionally one of the most dangerous times of year for area bike riders; last year seven cyclists were killed within a week of Independence Day.

One death is one too many; 42 in just six months is an obscenity.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Lucia Ruano and her family. 

Thanks to Zak and Walter Lars for the heads-up.

Update: Call this one a homicide. 

According to the Press-Enterprise, CHP officers arrested the driver, 40-year old Lake Elsinore resident Jay Dustin Sorrell, an hour after the collision for investigation of drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to authorities, Sorrell allowed his truck to drift onto the right shoulder, where he hit Ruano’s bike at around 40 mph, killing her. 

Yes, he was too drunk to drive at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. 

And now an innocent woman is dead because of it.

8 comments

  1. JD says:

    Our sincerset heartfelt prayers go up for the family and friends of the victims.

  2. Jim Lyle says:

    I’m concerned about how many of the recent bike fatalities have been rear end collisions. How does a motorist not see an adult on a bicycle in front of their car? Is it simply lack of duty of care? Or, is it time to take away the toys or mandate cell phone jammers that will disable cell phones while the car is in motion?

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  4. ValleyBall1 says:

    Cell phones should be automatically disabled once a car is turned on. If not, throw it in your pocket, in a bag, or just away from sight. A text is not worth a life!

  5. jg says:

    BinLA, do you have any further info on the FedEx driver who killed Chelsea Kashergen in Fullerton? Has he been charged (wishful thinking) or ticketed?

  6. bikinginla says:

    No official word, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. The driver played the universal Get Out of Jail Free card by claiming he just didn’t see her.

  7. ValleyBall1 says:

    I just don’t understand it; as drivers, we’d never get away with rear ending another car (and killing the driver) and saying, “I just didn’t see the car.” I know cars have a larger footprint and, therefore, are easier to see but a car and a bike all have the same rights on the road and should be treated as such – both good and bad.

    My prayers go out to the victim’s family and friends.

  8. Liz says:

    Such a tragedy. I rarely ride my bike anymore because of stories like this, it’s sad that fear is winning but I have kids to think about. The good thing is I’ve become so much more aware of my surroundings as a driver because I would hate to live with the guilt of causing harm to an innocent human being. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family :(

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