Update: Orange County cyclist killed in solo Silverado Canyon fall last Saturday

More bad news from what’s turning out to be a very bad weekend for SoCal cyclists.

According to the Orange County Register, 47-year old Kurt Kirkey of Rancho Santa Margarita was killed in an apparent solo fall while riding in Silverado Canyon on Saturday. The crash occurred around 9 am at Silverado Canyon Road and Hazel Bell Drive; he died after being taken to Western Medical Center.

The paper reports he was wearing a helmet.

Unfortunately, any other details are hidden behind their draconian paywall.

However, a comment from dwrads on the SoCal Trail Riders website offers more information.

Very sad.. this happened within earshot of where I live. I was getting ready to head out for a ride when I heard sound of road bike tires coming down canyon followed by the horrible sound of an impact. I knew it was bad. I called 911 and the local volunteer fire guys were with him in a few minutes. The local fire station was only about 100 feet away. My wife held his hand briefly until the EMTs got there, it was not good.

Apparently the face plate on the stem broke causing the rider to lose control and exit the road in a really bad spot impacting a rock wall head first. Typical speeds for a road bike would be 30 mph, possible more along this part of the road. He was taken to the hospital by helicopter.

Condolences to his friends and family.

Under circumstances like that, it would be almost impossible to avoid a fall. And an impact at that speed would exceed the design standards for bike helmets by nearly 250%.

Then there was this from bkeach.

Kurt Kirkey was a good friend and co-worker of mine. A very inspiring individual and a talented rider on the road and mountain. His memory will always serve as motivation for me personally to be a better man. As a father, a friend, a worker, rider, outdoors-man and human. Through humility in all he did or said, he became a personal role model, and will continue to be. I am thankful for your friendship Kurt, I am really gonna miss you buddy. My deepest condolences to his family and children, and so many other loved ones.

This is the 46th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County. That compares with 34 and five, respectively, this time last year.

Most of that increase is due to a dramatic jump in bike deaths in Los Angeles County.

My prayers and deepest sympathy for Kurt Kirkey and all his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Lois for the link to the STR site.

Update: More heartbreaking details from the kevinator on the SoCal Trail Riders website. 

I was the rider with Kurt that morning, and yes, the lower stem faceplate bolt head sheared off. We were a few feet apart coming through the right hand turn when I heard it snap behind me then watched him straight-line into the wall and ravine. I believe it was your wife I yelled at to call 911 as I turned my bike around, so thank you both for your quick reaction. All I could do was try and stabilize Kurt’s head and body until EMT’s arrived, which happened in about 8 minutes. CHP and OC Fire showed up a few minutes later, and to be clear, he was not airlifted (to my knowledge). Freak accident that took a friend, husband and father away in a fraction of a second. His good friend John’s wife dropped me off at home and they went straight to Western Med when he notified me a few hours later that Kurt had passed. I can only imagine the world of hurt they must be going through right now. If you know them, please reach out to support them. Thank you.

A memorial fund has been set up for Kirkey’s two children, aged 11 and 14.

This one seems to have hit a lot of people hard, both because so many people seemed to have known and loved him, and because it could have happened to any of us. 

Let this be a reminder to inspect your bike on a regular basis. 

It’s a good idea to give your frame, fork and wheels a good once over before every ride, especially if you ride full or partial carbon, which is prone to catastrophic failure when damaged. If something looks suspect, have it checked out by your local bike shop before you ride.

It’s also smart to take your bike in for a tune-up a couple times a year. Not just to keep it at peak performance levels, but to give a professional mechanic a chance to examine it for any problems. If you can’t afford it, ask your shop for a quick safety inspection. 

That’s not to say it would have prevented the tragedy that took Kirkey’s life. 

But it might help you avoid a similar problem in the future.

Thanks to vox pop for pointing out the updates on the STR forum. 

Update 2: According to a comment from Kirkley’s brother-in-law, a memorial service will be held at the Saddleback Church, 1 Saddleback Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA on Monday 7/15/13 in Tent 2.

38 comments

  1. JD says:

    We offer our sincerest heartfelt prayers for the family and friends of the victim.

  2. jg says:

    My condolences to his family and friends.

    This accident hits very close to home. Not a night time HnR or a salmon rider, but a mamil riding on a weekend morning. I had a seat post binder bolt snap on a ride last year. It got me thinking about old parts breaking. Should bolts, stems, bars, even forks be replaced at some point?

    • bikinginla says:

      You should regularly inspect your bike. Before every ride, give it a good once over looking for cracks or dents in the fork and frame, as well as looking for any cracks in the wheels. It only takes a few seconds, and could prevent serious injuries — or worse.

      If you find any problems, have them inspected by your local bike shop before you ride it again.

      And you should take your bike into the shop a couple times a year for a tune-up/inspection; they’ll let you know if any parts need to be replaced.

      I also recommend taking your bike to the same shop each time. You’ll get better better service and results when they know you and your bike.

      • Vox pop says:

        My condolences to Kurt’s family and friends. bikinginla there’s an update on your source (SoCal forum). Apparently, the “lower stem faceplate” snapped? I’m curious if it was carbon fiber, steel or aluminum. I heard carbon fiber headset components are very vulnerable. I get really nervous when I find out a friend gets a carbon fiber frame because the components are vulnerable. Especially road bikes, i.e., if a rider jumps railroad tracks, speed bumps or ? those carbon fiber stems (and/or carbon wheels) are a disaster waiting to happen.

        • kevinator says:

          Vox,

          The stem was OE on Kurt’s 2001 or 02 Trek OCLV. Trek’s house brand “Icon” aluminum model, two bolt faceplate. I had the identical stem on a Klein from the same era.

          Godspeed Kurt.

          • bikinginla says:

            Thank you for your explanation of what happened on the SoCal Trail Riders forum. I hope you don’t mind that I included it in my update above.

            I can’t imagine what you must be going through. My heart goes out to you, and to all Kurt’s family and friends.

  3. jpouchet says:

    Kurt was a good man, great bike rider with amazing strength, an always sunny disposition, and a smile for everyone. A husband and father of two. He will be sorely missed by friends, family, and the local cycling community.

    The cycling team in heaven just got a lot stronger. Jesus couldn’t ask for a better lead-out man.

  4. Jon Nacion says:

    Hello All,
    Thank you all for your caring and support. My name is Jon I’m Kurt’s brother in law. The accident has impacted our family hard and it will take some time for everyone to adjust to the loss. I want to reach out to everyone and let you know that services will be held at the Saddleback Church on Monday 7/15/13 in Tent 2. The address is 1 Saddleback Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA 92630

    Thank you all again.

    • Tricia Goodbrand says:

      Jon, my name is Tricia and I worked with Kurt, we wish you and your entire family strength through this difficult time. Kurt was an amazing man, father and husband and loved riding. Everyone here at ClearChannel misses him dearly. We have sent out an email to everyone at the company to help with the Memorial Fund. I know it’s not alot but hopefully it will help with some things. God Bless you and your family.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Jon. From everything I’ve heard, Kurt was loved by everyone who knew him.

  5. ValleyBall1 says:

    Jon, I’m terribly sorry for the loss you and your family have experienced. For many of us that ride — especially those that ride SC — this tragic event has made the risk of riding a reality. God bless you all and may he give you the strength to grieve and recover in peace.

  6. Tracey Slater says:

    Hello, I work closely with Kurt’s wonderful wife Launa (Jon’s sister). All of us at Top of the World Elementary and Laguna Beach Unified as a whole are in mourning for all of Kurt’s friends, colleagues, and loved ones…especially our Launa. Please, spread the word about the Kurt Kirkey Memorial Fund through Schools First Credit Union. There would be no better way to honor Kurt and his family than to support the future of his children. Thank you all.

  7. DAVID KIRKEY says:

    THANK YOU ALL
    HE IS OUR SON
    DAVID AND COOKIE KIRKEY

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Please know that your family is in my prayers, and the prayers of many others in the cycling community.

    • Tracey Slater says:

      Mr. and Mrs. Kirkey,

      My deepest sympathy to you both. Please know that Launa speaks highly of you both often (and your daughter as well). I thought of you and Cookie the second after I heard. I am so so sorry for your loss. I am looking forward to finally meeting you on Monday. XO

    • Bob Hayden says:

      The whole Arroyo Vista community is griving for your family. I have known Kurt since our sons began Kindergarten together and we often shared stories about growing up in Illinois and at the U of Illinois. God Bless Kurt and may Launa, the kids, and the entire family have strength to make it through this. We all lost a good one.

  8. Kelli Mink says:

    Dear Kirkey Family:

    My heart breaks for your family. I had the privilege of teaching both of the children last year at Arroyo Vista School. They are such great kids and a true reflection of wonderful parents. I am so sorry and am praying for you all.

    With my deepest sympathy,

    Kelli Mink

  9. DAVE AND COOKIE KIRKEY says:

    THANK YOU

  10. Ralph says:

    I am sorry for the family’s loss.

    One report stated the face plate screw failed. One cause of this type of failure is over torquing the screws. Get a torque wrench and use it when checking to see if your fasteners are at the correct torque. Don’t just give them a little more each time.

    I’m not saying this was the cause of this accident but it may have been a factor. Previously I liked to make sure things were tight…. I only ended up stripping the hole the bolt went into so that little even only cost me a stem.

    This is especially relevant with all the carbon parts these days.

    • DAVID KIRKEY says:

      THANK YOU RALPH

      KURT HAS SEVERAL DEGREES- ONE IS AEROSPACE ENGINEERING.

      YES A TORQUE WRENCH IS VERY IMPORTANT.
      ALSO CONSIDER METAL FATIGUE, AND AGE OF CRITICAL PARTS.

      TRAVELING AT A HIGH RATE OF SPEED, WITH YOUR FEET LOCK ON THE
      PEDDLES YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE CHANCE.

      I AM SURE KURT WOULD AGREE–DON’T TAKE CHANCES.

      AS HIS FATHER–I WILL TELL YOU,LIFE IS SHORT–DON’T TAKE CHANCES.
      FIND OUT AND FOLLOW THE MFG RECOMMENDATIONS.
      AND GET A TORQUE WRENCH

      I MAY ONLY HOPE THIS INFORMATION WILL SAVE SOMEONES LIFE.

      KURTS FATHER

      • ValleyBall1 says:

        Mr. Kirkey,

        God bless you, your wife, and your family. I know today will be especially hard.

        As an avid cyclist and father of two young ones, my heart hurts for everyone involved, including his wife and his two little ones. Life is so unfair.

        God bless…

  11. Martin says:

    Dear Kirkey Family,

    Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to you.

    I had the great pleasure to be Kurt’s office neighbor and friend for many years and play volleyball, run and bike with him. Kurt has been such an inspiration for me. He was always up for a challenge and did everything with ease and with a smile on his face. I am truly blessed to have known Kurt. He will be missed by all of us.

    Martin

  12. Susie Froboese says:

    We are neighbors of Kurt and Lana and just heard the news a few days ago. We are stunned and so very sad for the family. Kurt was always so friendly when he walked their dog and rode his bike and we always saw him with his kids. My kids are also students, past and present, of Arroyo Vista and my daughter knows the kids well. We send our deepest condolences and will keep the Kirkey family in our prayers. God Speed to Kurt and may God Bless and comfort Lana, Teia and Makana.
    Chris, Susie, Nick and Emily Froboese

  13. NellyP "PuzonBros" says:

    Our sincere condolences go out to the family. This hits home as where I have two young children and deeply Saddened…. Our prayers are with his family and friends.

  14. DAVID AND COOKIE KIRKEY says:

    PEOPLE THAT KNEW KURT, MAY HAVE KNOWEN PARTS OF KURTS LIFE, AS KURT TOUCHED YOU. I WILL TELL YOU ABOUT HIS GREAT LIFE AS I HAVE SEEN IT.

    KURT WAS BORN IN CHICAGO,ILL. WE ARE BIASED HE WAS A GREAT BABY.WE MOVED TO MUNDELINE,ILL (40 MILES NORTH OF CHICAGO)
    KURT WENT TO SCHOOL. STARTED GRADE SCHOOL WRESTLING, JOINED THE BOY SCOUTS, ACHIEVED THE ORDER OF THE ARROW AND EAGLE SCOUT. KURT WAS ALWAYS HELPFUL WITH HIS SISTER MICHELE ,WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL AT MUNDELINE HIGH SCHOOL. CONTINUED ON WITH WRESTLING, JOINED THE GYMNASTIC  TEEM AND JAZZ BAND.KURT GOT HIS PILOT LICENSE AT THE SAME TIME. KURT ALSO COMPETED ON THE PIANO (CLASSICAL MUSIC) AND IS SPAIRE TIME GOT IS ADVANCE CLASS
    IN AMATEUR RADIO. BOTH HIS MOTHER AND FATHER HAVE ADVANCE CLASS LICENSE’S.
    WE ARE A CAMPING FAMILY AND HAVE CAMP IN EVERY STATE AND ALL NATIONAL PARKS. KURT LIKE TO BRING HIS OWN TENT SO HE COULD GET UP AND GO FISHING EARLY.KURT HELP BUILD OUR CURENT HOME .
    UPON GRADUATION KURT WANTED TO GO TO THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY. HE FAILED THE MILITARY EYE TEST (KURT DID HAVE APPROVAL OF ILL CONGRESSMAN. KURT WENT TO CLC (LOCAL COLLEGE) . KURT TRANSFERRED TO UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS,AS A JUNIOR. GRADUATED IN THE UPPER 10%NATIONALLY IN HIS CLASS. WITH AERO SPACE ENGINEERING DEGREE.ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL HIRED HIM
    –WE THINK BECAUSE OF HIS GRADES AND HE WROTE A PAPER ON-HOW
    TO MEASURE THE TEMPERATURE IN THE TAIL OF A COMETS IN SPACE.
    KURT PROPOSED A FLYING DRONE-TO WITCH HIS PROFESSOR SAID IT  WILL NOT WORK — INTERESTING, HIS DESIGNED SHOWED UP YEARS LATER.
    KURT GOT HIS MASTERS IN AERO SPACE ENGINEERING AT CAL POLY TECH. WENT TO HIS OFFICE ONE DAY AND ASKED WHERE WAS ALL HIS DEGREES AND CERTIFICATION- THEY WERE NOT ON THE WALL.
    HE OPEN THE TOP DRAW OF HIS DESK. THERE THEY ARE,KURT SAID.
    I DON’T NEED THEM ON THE WALL. THE ONES THAT KNOW ME ,KNOW AND THE ONE THAT DON’T KNOW ME, WILL. KURT ALSO RAFTED DOWN THE COLORADO RIVER 7 DAY, WHITE WATER.ONE VISIT TO THE GRAND CANYON HE HIKED DOWN AND BACK UP ,SAME DAY

    KURT CAME OUT TO ILLINOIS AND WENT FISHING WITH ME IN CANADA.
    KURT TOLD ME HE WAS GOING TO BE UP AT 5:30 AND GO FISHING AT BLACK BEAR RED LAKE ONT.CANADA.I SAID ITS OK DO NOT WAKE ME ILL WAIT FOR BREAKFAST CAN STILL HEAR HIM YELL DAD DAD I GOT A BIG ONE. HE FELL IN THE LAKE BRING IT TO THE CABIN. I TOLD HIM IT WAS TO SMALL. IT WAS IN THE SLOT AND HE HAD TO THROUGH IT BACK.
    AFTER HE MEASURED IT 32” HE THREW IT BACK. HIS NEXT ONE WAS 40”.

    MOST OF YOU SEEN KURT DOING ONE OF THESE.(HE DID ALL OF THEM) CAMPING,HIKING,BACKPACKING,SURFING,PADDLE BOARDING,RAFTING
    MOUNTING BIKING,KAYAKING, ROAD BIKING , SCUBA DIVING,SWIMMING AND FISHING.
    O YES WE IS AWSOME, HE IS OUR SON .

      DAVE AND COOKIE 
      KIRKEY

  15. Tim says:

    Mr. and Mrs. Kirkey,

    My name is Tim Fox and Kurt and I were close friends in 4th through 6th grades in Mundelein. My family and I moved away, and Kurt and I didn’t keep in touch, but I never forgot him or your family. I remember with great fondness his enthusiasm about having communicated with someone in Poland over a HAM radio, practicing football in your backyard, and being introduced to the greasy goodness of Polish sausage by your family. Even then, so young, he was a remarkable person, and the loss I feel these many years later at the news of his passing is a testament to the impact he has had throughout his life on those around him.

    You and your family are in my prayers.

  16. Jon Nacion says:

    Here is a link to the slideshow that was played at Kurt’s Services for those of you that could not make it. Thank you all again for your love and support.

  17. Tricia Goodbrand says:

    In memory of Kurt Kirkey, LAN International, with American Red Cross, will sponsor a
    BLOOD DRIVE

    on
    Wednesday, October 2, 2013
    9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
    at
    Red Cross Blood Mobile
    27071 Aliso Creek Road, Aliso Viejo, CA

    • Make an appointment now by clicking http://www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation
    Enter the zip code 92656 and he date of Oct 2, choose the LAN International sponsor.

    . Since there are multiple drives going on, scroll to Oct. 2nd!

    • “I faint at the sight of blood”, “I’m pregnant”, “I have body art”
    Please contact American Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276 for donor eligibility questions.

    On the DAY OF the Blood Drive:
    • We don’t want you passing out, so please make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, and don’t forget to drink LOTS of water.
    • We know that you don’t want to leave your seat so you can finish your work on time… BUT on this day, we need you to have that same “on time” attitude to your scheduled time. Please DON’T BE LATE as the whole donation process takes about 40 to 60 minutes per person.

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