This is not what I wanted to write about today.
I was hoping to end this year on a positive note. But maybe the good news is simply that this bloody year, with its epidemic of hit-and-runs and far too many cyclists killed or injured, is finally coming to an end.
And maybe the new year that starts tomorrow will be a better one for all of us.
News broke today that a cyclist in Calimesa suffered major injuries in a Sunday hit-and-run.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the bike rider was riding south on Calimesa Blvd just north of Singleton Rd in the small town east of Redlands and Moreno Valley around 12:25 pm. Witnesses saw a northbound car drift over the centerline and hit the rider head-on before fleeing the scene.
The victim was identified on Don Davidson’s Facebook page as Phil Richards, but it does not mention his age or residence.
In a second Facebook post, he said Richardson coded overnight after spending Sunday afternoon in surgery for multiple injuries, but was revived and in surgery again on Monday morning to stop internal bleeding and relieve pressure in his abdomen. Fortunately, he does not appear to have suffered head or spinal injuries — remarkably, since he was reportedly hit at 50 mph.
The car reportedly struck Richards on the left front, damaging the car’s left side and headlight. The vehicle is described only as a compact four door sedan, light blue or green, driven by an elderly white-haired white or Hispanic man.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the department’s Cabazon Station at 951-922-7100.
Prayers or good wishes are definitely in order.
Thanks to Cleave Law and Tom Herman for the heads-up.
Update: The Riverside Sheriff’s Department has made an arrest in the case.
According to a press release from the department, a deputy assigned to Calimesa noticed a 2005 Ford 500 matching the description of the suspect vehicle, with damage consistent with the collision, parked in a driveway in the 1200 block of Cherry Lane.
After towing the car to examine the evidence and talking with the owner, 42-year old Calimesa resident William Donald Johnson was booked for felony hit-and-run.
Then again, Johnson had a full week to sober up if he had been drunk or otherwise under the influence at the time of the collision.
Thanks to Kevin for the heads-up.
Update 2: I’m sad to report that, according to Don Davidson’s Facebook page, Richards died of his injuries at 5 pm on Saturday, January 11th.
This is the 89th bicycling fatality in Southern California resulting from injuries suffered in 2013, and the 12th in Riverside County.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Phil Richards and all his family and loved ones.
In somewhat better news, another hit-and-run driver is in custody as of Monday evening after he ran down a rider on an adult tricycle Monday afternoon.
According to the Ramona Sentinel, 69-year old James Swift was riding south on Montecito Road at around 1:05 pm. He was crossing Main Street on the green light when he was apparently right-hooked by a 2002 Yukon Denali.
Witnesses report the driver actually stopped and placed the stroke victim back on the seat, saying he was sorry before running back to his truck and fleeing as fast as he could.
Fortunately, witnesses got the license number of the truck, and CHP officers were able to convince him to turn himself in. The 31-year old driver, who was not publicly identified, faces charges of hit-and-run and driving without a license.
But at least he said he was sorry, right?
Finally, Ed Ryder offer moving photos of the ghost bike for Pete Tomaino, the popular 82-year old cyclist killed in Laguna Hills on Christmas Eve.
The way this year has gone, maybe that’s a sadly appropriate note to end on.