It’s the curse of a holiday weekend.
Bicyclists can encounter drunk drivers any day of the year. But the risk rises exponentially on holiday weekends — and seems to be even worse in beach communities.
That’s appears to have been the case in Huntington Beach Monday evening, as yet another bike rider lost his life at the hands of a suspected drunk driver.
According to the Orange County Register, a cyclist identified only as a man in his 50s was struck from behind while riding on Bolsa Chica Street north of Heil Avenue around 6:30 pm. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.
The driver, a resident of Huntington Beach, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI.
KNBC-4 reports that the victim was a father from Huntington Beach, while the driver was behind the wheel of a Mercedes. According to the station, several witnesses rushed to aid the victim following the collision, including medical professionals and a lifeguard.
The station offers a single photo from the scene, showing a crumpled bicycle in the middle of the street, while a satellite view shows a six lane roadway with a bike lane on either side.
Meanwhile, someone who came upon the scene shortly after the collision reports seeing two bikes at the scene, apparently recumbents. A white Mercedes was stopped in the left turn lane, while one bike — apparently the one photographed by KNBC — was in the center of the three lanes, and the other was in the bike lane.
That suggests there may have been more that one rider involved, either in the collision or riding with the victim.
This is the 64th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Orange County; that compares to 12 for all of last year in the county. And it’s the 4th bicycling death in Huntington Beach this year alone, and the 9th since 2011.
Update: I’m told the driver was cited for DUI and released on his own recognizance overnight.
Update 2: According to the Register, the victim has been identified as 55-year old Michael Bastien of Huntington Beach. The paper reports he was riding a motorized bicycle, and places the location as just below Kona Dr.
For some reason, though, the police arrested the 51-year old driver, who they have not identified, on a single misdemeanor DUI count, rather than what would appear to be a more appropriate felony. The difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI is that the driver’s drunken state resulted in the injury or death of another person.
That would suggest that the police may be blaming the victim for causing the collision, despite the driver’s apparent drunken state.
Never mind that the paper says police located the driver nearby, suggesting he did not remain at the scene and failed to stop and offer assistance, as required by law.
And yet, he was only arrested on a single misdemeanor DUI charge.
However, police are still investigating, and anyone with information is urged to call Investigators Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.
Let’s hope any witnesses will come forward. Because this one is starting to stink already.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michael Bastien and his family.