A bad year for Riverside County bicyclists just keeps getting worse.
According to the Press-Enterprise, two cyclists were riding east on Domenigoni Parkway at Lindenberger Road in Menifee when they were rear-ended by a motorist around 5:20 pm. One rider, who has not been publicly identified, was killed, while the other was not seriously injured.
DailySoCal lists the location as Winchester, and describes the car as a single passenger vehicle driven by a man, who was cooperating with investigators.
No other details are available at this time.
A satellite view of the intersection shows what looks like a bike lane, suggesting the riders may have been in their own lane and should have been out of the way of through traffic when they were hit. No explanation was given for why the driver apparently drifted out of his or her lane to hit the riders.
This is the 55th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Riverside County. That compares with just five in the county this time last year, and 12 for all of 2013.
Update: According to Menifee 24/7, the victim, described only as a man in his 50s, was declared dead at the scene.
The website also places the location at the top of a hill east of Lindenberger, and describes the roadway as the primary route between Menifee and Hemet. A photo shows a narrow, half-gutter bike lane or shoulder next to a thoroughfare with a 55 mph speed limit; however, Google’s street view shows a lane wide enough for two cyclists to ride abreast leading up the hill.
The site quotes Menifee resident Stephen Kaas as saying he was riding just ahead of the victim when the collision occurred.
I didn’t really see what happened,” Kaas said. “He was riding behind me. I just heard it and saw him flying through the air.
It’s unclear from the description whether the two cyclists were riding together, or if Kaas’ bike was struck, as well.
Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Cail at 951/210-1068.
Update 2: Menifee 24/7 has identified the victim as 55-year old Menifee resident Matthew Carp, who was riding in the bike lane with Stephen Kass when he was hit from behind by a car driven by 23-year old Luis Aranda Llamas of San Jacinto.
Despite wearing a helmet, Carp suffered major head trauma and internal injuries. According to the site, Kass barely avoided injury himself.
Llamas was reportedly driving at a high rate of speed when he hit Carp. While bike helmets can protect against injury at slower speeds, they aren’t designed to protect against high speed collisions, and do nothing to prevent injuries to other parts of the body.
Still no word on why Llamas drifted into the bike lane; he was booked for vehicular manslaughter and for displaying a fictitious license plate.
Update 3: More on the collision from a rider who lived nearby, and knew both the victim and his companion. Witnesses reported seeing the driver weaving in and out of the bike lane as if distracted; investigators seized his phone as evidence. Thanks to C Menjou for leaving the link in a comment below.
In a demonstration of just how hard this has struck the local community, Danny Gamboa tells me the city of Menifee reached out to ghost bike volunteers to request an installation in memory of Carp, and will be closing the street from 4 to 5 pm Saturday for a memorial. He also says the city recently removed a bike lane on another street, forcing riders onto Domenigoni where Carp was killed.
And in a heartbreaking tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, Carp’s oldest son apparently took his own life following his father’s death.
There are no words.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Matthew and Cameron Carp and all their family and loved ones.
Thanks to Zak for the heads-up.