Update: Another drunken OC driver, another fatal hit-and-run; arraignment Friday in death of Pasadena cyclist

It’s happened again.

An Orange County man gets behind the wheel after drinking, and flees the scene after running down a bicyclist riding in a Huntington Beach bike lane.

According to KTLA-5, the victim was riding south in the bike lane near Edwards Street and Ellis Avenue just before 11 pm last night when he was hit from behind by a 2012 Toyota Camry.

The rider, identified only as a 37-year old Huntington Beach resident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver fled the scene — leaving behind one of his front tires — and was found by police about a mile away, with damage consistent with a collision. And presumably, only three tires.

Police arrested 29-year-old Antonio Magdaleno Jr. of Oxnard suspicion of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run leading to death.

Anyone with information is urged to call Huntington Beach Accident Investigator Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Accident Investigator Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.

This is the 14th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Orange County; in both cases, the victim was hit from behind by an alleged drunk driver while riding in a bike lane.

It’s also the 6th cycling death in Huntington Beach since 2011 — half of which were hit-and-runs, and involved drivers under the influence.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Matthew Liechty and his family.

Thanks to Ed Ryder for the heads-up.

Update: The Orange County Register has identified the victim as 37-year old Matthew Liechty of Huntington Beach. And yes, the photo with the story clearly shows the driver fled the scene on only three wheels.

Meanwhile, a source tells me HBPD Investigator Huynh averages over 100 DUI arrests each year, and had 445 in 2008.

Evidently, there are a lot of drunks on the road in Huntington Beach. We all owe a round of thanks to Investigator Huynh for taking some of the off.

Thanks to the OC Register for making this story public.

Update 2: The Witch on a Bicycle points out that the speed limit on that Edwards Street is 45 mph; given that most California drivers exceed the post limit by at least 10 mph, any collision with a cyclist or pedestrian is almost guaranteed to be lethal.

The Register has updated their story to report that Liechty was a former employee of the Orange County Probation Department, and briefly worked in a non-sworn position with the OC Sheriff’s Department before leaving last year.

………

On an all too similar note, I’ve received word that the driver who killed Pasadena cyclist Phillip O’Neill last June is — finally — being arraigned tomorrow.

O’Neill was riding with a companion near Caltech when he was hit from behind as he rode in the lane on Del Mar Blvd; he was struck with enough force to throw him across the road and into a parked car before striking the curb.

The woman he was riding with still struggles with the devastating effects of watching her friend fly through the air to his death. I’m respecting her privacy by withholding her name; however, here is her email urging bike riders to attend the arraignment.

Dear Friends and Family,

As some of you may know, the arraignment for the Pasadena motorist who struck and killed Phillip O’Neill on Del Mar Blvd. on June 15, 2013 is this coming Friday.

Phillip’s family and I would very much appreciate a show of support at the arraignment. We all feel that it’s important to send a message to the city that taking the life of a vulnerable road user is a very serious offense and should be treated as such. I have included details of the arraignment below.

Date: February 21, 2014

Time: Arrival 8:30am. Note that this case is one of six which will be heard this morning. We do not know the order in which the cases will be heard, however the prosecutor believes the case will be heard before noon.

Place: Pasadena Superior Court, 300 E. Walnut, Pasadena 91101

In the event that the case goes to trial there may be additional opportunities to show your support. I will share those if it does. To find out more about how Pasadena CBO’s and residents have come together in response to Phillip’s death, and others like it, go to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition website at http://www.pas-csc.org/.

In a follow-up email, she describes the man whose life was ended by a careless driver that day.

Phillip was an amazing person – young but incredibly accomplished, with a master’s degree in renewable energies, he was a master gardener at one of the best botanical gardens in the nation, amateur chef; these are just a few in an impressive list.

I know it’s a lot to ask to sacrifice your morning, especially on such short notice. But if you’re in the Pasadena area on Friday, they could really use your support.

And it couldn’t hurt to send a message to the court that we’re watching this case.

Meanwhile, it serves as a reminder that Pasadena still has a long way to go to make the roads safe for everyone.

8 comments

  1. I see so many fatalities where people all across the US are killed when hit from behind in the bike lane. I think the common thread in all these deaths is under Dutch standards there would not be a bike lane in that location. Almost every case the speed limit was 35 MPH or above. The Dutch standard is paint segregation (“bike lanes”) is only appropriate when speed limits are 30 km/hr or lower. That’s just over 18 MPH by my metric converter. Residential spaces have shared lanes and 20 km/hr speed limits or roughly 12 MPH. Think about it, the Dutch would not put a “sharrow” on a street with a 15 MPH speed limit, or a bike lane in a 20 MPH zone, but we put both on 40 MPH and faster “stroads”, and bike lanes next to highways.

    And then we wonder why people get killed using them?

  2. […] this infrastructure-heavy post is another drunk hitting another cyclist from behind in a bike lane. Another drunken OC driver, another fatal hit-and-run; arraignment tomorrow in death of Pasadena cycl… As much as I hate drunk drivers, there is something else wrong here as well. Look at the speed […]

  3. Michael Liechty says:

    The latest is my brother who was killed last night in HB… I’m going to set up a ghost bike in honor of my riding partner

    ML

    • bikinginla says:

      Oh, man. I am so sorry for your loss, Michael. My heart goes out to you and all your family.

      If there’s anything you want to share bout your brother, or anything I can do to help, let me know.

      • Michael Liechty says:

        Not sure who set up the ghost bike but it’s a really nice memorial

        Matt was a fantastic soccer ref, friend, brother, with a tremendous smile and always willing to lend a helping hand. Everything seemed to going his way and was just out for a late night ride with a fellow ref and never saw or heard it coming.

        He will be missed

  4. JD says:

    We offer up our prayers for you, your family, and the frienda of your brother and riding partner. May the Lord comfort you and give you His peace at this difficult time.

  5. […] Arraignment today in Pasadena car-on-bike killing (BikinginLA) […]

  6. Jason says:

    What never ever gets mentioned is that if you check these drunk drivers (and most of the hit and runs too) you will see a latino name.

    There is something in the latino culture in CA that thinks drunk driving is OK.

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