Update: 70-year old Whittier bike rider succumbs to his injuries

Collision scene suggests Ornelas was riding in the street, not on sidewalk; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Collision scene suggests Ornelas was riding in the street, not on sidewalk; photo by Danny Gamboa.

More bad news.

Last night we mentioned that a 70-year old Whittier bike rider suffered severe injuries in a collision yesterday afternoon, noting that early reports said the victim’s injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Word came today that he died of his injuries.

According to the Whittier Daily News, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on Lambert Road just south of in Washington Blvd around 1:30 pm when he was struck by a Toyota Ridgeline and dragged several yards.

The paper reports he was was riding to work with a co-worker when he was struck. They were riding against traffic, though it’s not clear if they were riding in the street or on the sidewalk at the time of the collision.

The driver, identified only as a man in his 60s, was leaving the Home Depot parking lot and making a right turn onto Lambert when the collision occurred. He claimed to be unaware that he had struck anyone, driving several yards before stopping when he heard a grinding noise coming from under the truck.

As others have pointed out, it’s possible that he was looking left as he turned right, and may not have seen the bike riders coming from the other direction.

He was alert and stable when taken to the hospital; what happened afterwards that led to his death is unknown at this time.

Hopefully, the Daily News will update their story with more information.

I’m told a ghost bike will be installed at the site of the collision at 9 pm tonight.

This is the 21st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth already this year in Los Angeles County. It’s also third cyclist killed in Whittier since 2012.

Update: The Daily News confirms that the victim, identified as 70-year old Whittier resident Arturo Alfredo Ornelas, died at County USC Medical Center less than an hour after the collision.

Update 2: After examining the scene, Danny Gamboa reports Ornelas was dragged approximately 150 feet — half the length of a football field. 

Update 3: This morning I received the following comment from a witness to the collision. 

Having a first hand account as an eyewitness to this tragedy. One thing that wasn’t included is that the driver rolled the stop. Working next door, I see drivers run that stop all the time. If the driver had come to a complete stop – he would have seen the cyclist riding on the sidewalk. Some of the simple rules of looking both ways when making a turn were not followed. It is easy to blame the cyclist when it’s convenient.

Meanwhile, Danny Gamboa forwards this comment from another witness.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Arturo Ornelas and his loved ones.

Groove carved in pavement by dragging bike under truck; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Groove carved in pavement by dragging bike under truck; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Ghost bike for Arturo Alfredo Ornelas; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Ghost bike for Arturo Alfredo Ornelas; photo by Danny Gamboa.

………..

On another note, my deepest sympathy to the LAPD on the loss of an officer in a traffic collision today, and my prayers for him and his loved ones.

12 comments

  1. Todd Nelson says:

    Can it be asserted that this would have been less likely to happen if the cyclist were in a bike lane instead of on a sidewalk or on the road?

    Wrong-way traffic is out of the primary scan of drive out motorists turning right. It would have happened if the cyclist were in a bike lane, on a sidewalk or on the road. However, if cyclists were a normal, expected and respected part of traffic IN THE TRAFFIC LANE, certainly going with traffic, this sort of drive out collision would be much less likely to happen.

    • bikinginla says:

      True. But it also would have been much less likely to happen if he had been riding with traffic on the sidewalk or in a bike lane. The key here seems to be riding salmon, not road position.

      • Todd Nelson says:

        Agreed. However, there is truth to the statement that sidewalks, bike lanes and edge riding are of the pedestrian mindset, segregated from normal traffic, so the concept of adhering to the rules of the road for safety is often ignored. Teaching cyclists that they should drive their bicycles as normal, expected and respected part of traffic will go farther to keep them from being the tragic “cyclist that appeared out of nowhere” or worse, becoming “a grinding noise coming from under the truck”. If there is a bike lane that can be used appropriately, they’ll know what the risks are and how to use it (always with traffic).

        • Nick Garcia says:

          Having a first hand account as an eyewitness to this tragedy. One thing that wasn’t included is that the driver rolled the stop. Working next door, I see drivers run that stop all the time. If the driver had come to a complete stop – he would have seen the cyclist riding on the sidewalk. Some of the simple rules of looking both ways when making a turn were not followed. It is easy to blame the cyclist when it’s convenient.

          • Todd Nelson says:

            Agreed. Blaming the cyclist gets us nowhere in the big picture. My point is IMHO that if the culture were different, if cyclists could see themselves as normal, expected and respected elements of traffic and if motorists did the same, cyclists would more consistently be able to avoid mistakes made by motorists.

            Haven’t we all rolled stops? Haven’t we all been distracted by something at one time or another that causes our scan to break down? Mistakes happen. It does the injured or dead no good to blame someone at the end of the day. The point is to practice defensive bicycle driving to be in the best position to avoid the mistakes of other road users.

            • bikinginla says:

              You just hit the nail on the head. Mistakes do happen, because we’ve allowed our society to become too casual and careless about driving. We’ve got to remind ourselves that cars are big, dangerous machines capable to taking a life with a single moment’s carelessness. And we’ve got to stop excusing that carelessness as a mere “accident.”

            • Todd Nelson says:

              I don’t excuse carelessness. I just plan for it with defensive bicycle driving. That’s all I have control of when I am on the road.

          • bikinginla says:

            Thank you for that, Nick. I hope you spoke with the police about what you saw; if not, please call them today. Nothing is more important in an investigation like this than an eye witness.

  2. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of Mr. Ornelas.

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