Breaking News — Another bike rider killed in Huntington Beach

For the second time in just 10 days — and the third time this year — a bike rider has been killed in Huntington Beach.

According to a press release from the Huntington Beach Police Department, 44-year old Costa Mesa resident Kathy Sieberhein died after being hit by an 80-year old driver during rush hour last night.

Sieberhein was riding west on Adams Ave near Ranger Lane around 6:15 pm when she was rear-ended by a Chevy truck driven by 80-year old Brian Chattaway of Fountain Valley. She was transported to Western Medical Center with major, undisclosed injuries, where she died sometime later.

Other reports indicate the collision occurred at 8:15 pm; however, HBPD corrected that time to reflect the earlier hour.

The driver remained at the scene where he was interviewed the police; the investigation is still ongoing and no citation has been issued or arrest made at this time.

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

Judging from the satellite photo, there appears to be a westbound bike lane on Adams that ends at Ranger; the need to merge into the right hand lane may have been a contributing factor.

In addition, the sun would have been low in the sky at that hour, which could have affected the west-facing driver’s vision. However, that should not be seen as an excuse; if drivers can’t see what’s in the road ahead of them, for whatever reason, they should pull over and wait until they can. No one should ever drive for any amount of time when they are blinded by the sun or anything else.

Age may have also been a factor, as older drivers can suffer from reduced vision and reaction times, and often continue to drive long after they have lost the ability to do so safely.

And it’s always possible the victim may have cut over in front of the truck without looking or giving the driver time to respond.

All or none of these may have played a role in this case, as the exact cause is still to be determined.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh already this year in Orange County, compared to just one this time last year.

And it is the third bike-related fatality in Huntington Beach this year, following the deaths of Genevieve Hall earlier this month and Matthew Liechty this past February.

For a city of less that 200,000, that should be a clear indication something is very seriously wrong.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kathy Sieberhein and all her loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

8 comments

  1. Hate the focus on the negative, but we need to keep on top of when, how and why these crashes and deaths occur to figure out how to reduce them. Great analysis. You’re asking all the right questions.

  2. Richard says:

    I know that area quite well–the bike club I belong to rides on Adams every Tuesday and Thursday (although we ride in the morning, and travel eastbound). Adams is a very busy street, and although the details of the incident aren’t clear yet, it’s a sobering reminder that everytime we get on our bikes, in the blink of an eye life can change dramatically.

  3. James says:

    I was just in Huntington Beach and was harassed and yelled by passing motorists twice. I have a close call on a daily basis in that upscale white trash enclave and am harassed on a regular basis. The sort of things that happened once a week in Chicago and once every 2-3 months in Portland I suffer on a daily basis in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach is the only place I have had people pull into the bike lane (after yelling at me) and slam on the brakes. Last year ago a motorist took offense to my existence and presence in the bike lane, stopped in the bike lane and then reversed towards me apparently to teach me a lesson. Not far from where I have the misfortune to live, there is a bike lane on Newland street that disappears and re-appears with nothing more than a sign suggesting motorists share the road. Is Newland a traffic calmed bicycle boulevard? No it is an urban highway with an official speed limit of 45, a design speed in excess of 50 and traffic that probably averages above 50. This is right in front of homes and parked cars and runs past multiple schools. What else do you expect from the city that is responsible for Rohrabacher.

    • ValleyBall1 says:

      I hear you on HB. The only time I ride it is when I do the boardwalk EARLY in the morning where the only thing I have to worry about is coastal eddy – not pedestrians or cars. Seems like HB has become this year’s Newport Beach with all the cycling collisions.

      Richard does bring up a compelling point: we risk a lot every time we ride so live life to its fullest and appreciate everyday like it’s your last.

      God bless the victim and those involved.

  4. James says:

    I just noticed that the speed limit on Goldenwest is now 50mph. This increase seems to have accompanied a repaving and slight improvement in the design of bicycle lanes, including the replacement of one underused right hand turn lane with a bike lane and bicycle sensitive loop detectors. The area around Goldenwest is not the most densely populated park of the city and contains several massive blocks without any residential development yet the city feels that goldenwest needs to be a 7 lane residential highway. I mention this because Goldenwest, much like Adams is an urban highway with highway (or even freeway) speeds and little ambiguity that results relaxed, innatenive driving well above the posted speed limit through urban areas, past schools and past community colleges all served by narrow and disappearing bike lanes. In a civilized nation a planner or engineer could be charged with criminal negligence for creating an environment this dangerous, in which any accident involving a pedestrian or cyclists is a guaranteed fatality. On Adams you can drive 60mph and be overtaken by 1/3 of the cars on the road. Right past OCC students riding to campus in a two foot wide bikelane that will probably disappear shortly after you fly by them.

    The last I checked Portland killed 3 cyclists in the last decade. It is a city with a pop. of around 700k and 6-8% bicycle mode share. Huntington Beach has less than 200k and a mode share of what 1.5% and it had already killed three this year. It does not deserve a bronze medal for bicycle friendliness.

  5. Cynthia says:

    Just want to add that my son and I passed the accident site on Adams shortly following the accident. Apparently the accident took place well east of the intersection at Ranger, so I think we can rule out that the merging of the bike lane with the car lane as a factor here.

    Also note that in stacked rush hour traffic (typical there at 6:15 pm), cars would likely have been creeping over the Santa Ana bridge headed west into HB at well under the posted speed limit.

    My prayers and condolences to Kathy Sieberhein’s family.

  6. Brig says:

    This should be an awareness to be safe out there not a complaint about HB. I drove past this incident and if YOU did you would only feel empathy for the families involved. How do pedestrians ,bicyclists,bikers, and vehicles share the road safely?

    • bikinginla says:

      That’s easy. If you obey the law and drive, ride or walk safely, and I do the same, we will never have a collision. It’s only when people break the law or use the roads carelessly that collisions occur. We all need to remember that cars are big, dangerous machines that can kill in an instant, and need to be treated accordingly.

      That said, three fatalities in a matter of months in Huntington Beach is way too many for a city of that size, signaling that there is a significant problem that needs to be addressed. Just what that is, I can only speculate.

      And who, pray tell, says you are the only one who feels empathy for those involved?

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