Update: Huntington Beach bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver

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. 

25 comments

  1. lenny the also bikesexual says:

    Tomorrow is not too soon for those outraged by what this driver did while drunk and how we can NOT rely upon the loss of life resulting in it being ruled or even considered to be charged as homicide of any sort. Tomorrow we can ride safely in protest of the policy that if you are not a turtle in armor your game for sudden death at no one else’s fault. The chance that someone we meet in the ride tomorrow will die on the road someday too soon is a mighty good reason to meet and learn from them now, and possibly spare many lives even there own or ours.

    Tomorrow we will have more police protection then exposure to being just more road kill from not being killers by driving wrongfully ourselves.

    I pray that between now and tomorrow’s historic protest rides and assemblies to seek justice for a rich white guys slaughter by a too chatty with his wife on duty sheriff no one else has to die for it to be successful. I beg the loved ones of the recumbent slayer to attend even though it will be so soon As I said it is never toO soon to say ENOUGH. WE NEED ALL OF YOU THERE.

  2. Wil says:

    I think its fair to say that biking in LA or OC on the roads, with cars, is one of the most risky things one can do in their lives. No skin protection, inadequate head protection, the list goes on and on. Again, is cycling really worth your life? Isn’t there some other way to get to work that you can afford, or some other way to get the great feeling of exercise without senselessly subjecting yourself to a very probable risk of death. Bike lanes do not stop errant drivers from killing you. That is just a fact.

    • Leonard says:

      The “blame the victim” card. Again. How tiresome. How about drivers obey rules, not drive drunk, etc.

    • bike2hike says:

      I think it fair to say your one of those typical asshole driver who thinks all bikes should be banned from all roadways.

    • Sgt Grunt says:

      It is obvious that “Wil” must be one of those entitled elitist drivers that lives under the belief that the roads are created and maintained for his pleasure. While it may well be true that there are errant cyclists on the roads the drivers cannot escape the responsibility to drive their cars in a safe and sane manner. Driving drunk or under the influence is an offense that should be punishable to the fullest. No “Will” I am afraid that you logic is flawed and your thought processes are muddled.

      • Tom says:

        You folks attacking Will have got it all wrong. Will made no claims of entitlement or any such thing that you guys are ranting about. He simply stated the obvious: “Again, is cycling really worth your life? ….. Bike lanes do not stop errant drivers from killing you.”

        Will did not defend the driver. Simply sated the facts, and Will is right! As much as cyclist have the right to be on the road if they so chose, when a bicycle meets a car, the car always wins! If this individual was DUI in the white Mercedes should he pay the price. Absolutely, and I hope he does. The victim is the brother of someone I know well, so I have no sympathy for the driver if he was driving under the influence. But regardless, Mr. Bastien is dead, and nothing can change that, regardless of the facts behind the case. A bike will never win this battle. That is all Will really said!

        This is not about having the “right” to be on the road, it is about staying alive. I would never risk my life for the sake of bicycling on a major road like this, bike lanes or not.

        Be upset all you want, but Will simply made the obvious point that should go without him having to say so. And you attacking him are not going to change the truth or the facts.

        • bikinginla says:

          You want to talk facts? Okay.

          Fact: You are much more likely to die in a car than you are on a bike — in fact, twice as likely based on the same amount of time spent in a car compared to riding.

          Fact: Bicycling fatalities are relatively rare, with less than 700 annually in the entire US, compared to nearly 30,000 killed in motor vehicles every year.

          Fact: 13 bike riders have been killed in Orange County this year. While that’s 13 too many, it’s hardly the bloodbath you and Will portray.

          Fact: Your odds of surviving any given bike ride are over 6.3 million — yes, million — to one. I’ll take those odds in Vegas any day.

          Fact: Even a painted bike lane, with no other protections, reduces the risk of injury by 50%.

          Yes, this death is tragic. But it’s not bikes that are dangerous, or even busy streets. It’s drunk, careless, aggressive and/or distracted drivers that pose a danger, not just to cyclists, but to everyone around them.

          So lets get the facts straight, and stop the needless fear mongering.

          • Tom says:

            Again, sir, you are missing the point. I do not dispute any of your “facts”. I am simply saying, as was Will, that when bikes and cars meet violently, as in this case, the bike always loses.

            Comparing bike fatalities to those of auto fatalities is like comparing apples to oranges. You can twist any statistics and numbers to support virtually any point, if you wish.

            I am not hear to debate, just sticky up for Will who was only speaking common sense. Was the driver in the vehicle in the wrong, it surely appears to be the case and he should pay for his error and stupidity. But attacking Will or myself, you are not helping your cause with your attacks.

            • bikinginla says:

              Sorry, Tom, but you’re the one not helping your cause. Your trite cliche about how the bike always loses in any interaction with cars is trotted out by every bike hater as a reason why bikes don’t belong on the roads.

              Yet as the facts above clearly show — and don’t “twist” in any fashion — bike riding is much safer than you seem to want to believe.

              And I have not attacked anyone.

            • Tom says:

              I noticed that BikingInLA last response did not allow for a response, so I will take this avenue to make one anyway.

              Call my statement a “trite cliché” all you want, if that makes you feel like it supports your opinion as an avid cyclist. That is your right and I support your right to do so. But when a 1500 lbs. plus car or multi-ton truck and it occupant(s) traveling at 25 to 55 mph violently encounters a bicycle weighing on average of 30 lbs. carrying an occupant of any weight, the car/truck is going to fair significantly better than the cyclists. I do not state this because I “hate bikes” as you so callously assumed, it is because of pure and simple physics.

              You seem to be approaching this discussion with a closed mind and that your opinion or thoughts are the only ones acceptable from the tone of your responses. Fine! That is your choice and right. But in no statement have I once advocated or stated that bikes should not or cannot be on the road with motorized vehicles, as you seem to want to imply that I am saying. I am simply stating the facts from a scientific point of view. When such encounters take place, more times than not, the bicyclists comes out of the encounter negatively. Sorry dude, that is just the laws of physics.

              I am done with this conversation, but before I go, I would like to wish you good health and happy cycling, and may you live long and prosper.

            • bikinginla says:

              Pot, meet kettle. You’re right, Tom, one of us has a closed mind, but I think you’re pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

              You’re the one who came in here with a single cliched — yes, cliched — argument, from which you have refused to budge, despite being presented with a number of facts which you have chosen to ignore.

              You are right to an extent. As you point out, a person on a bicycle will fair worse than a motor vehicle in any collision. But why you, and the countless others who have made this same argument here, and in virtually every other online forum, seem to think this is a revelation is beyond me.

              I have been hit by a car. I know exactly what it feels like. And every bike rider I know is acutely aware of the harm that motor vehicles can do, as is the large percentage of the population who would like to ride a bike, but are afraid to do so. On the other hand, I have only been hit once in over 30 years of adult riding. and that was by a road raging driver who ran me down on purpose.

              The key is not to survive collisions, but to avoid them. Cyclists need to ride safely and obey traffic laws, with a constant awareness of the road around them. Doing so vastly improve our chances of getting home safely.

              By insisting that cyclists won’t survive a collision, what you are really saying is that drivers are incapable of driving safely, which is something I refuse to accept. The simple fact is, if you drive safely and obey the law, and I ride safely and obey the law, we will never collide. And your entire argument of who will win such an encounter becomes irrelevant.

              The proof of that is, as pointed out before, over 6.3 million people will ride safely for every one cycling fatality. And 77,000 will return home safely for every ride that ends in injury — the overwhelming majority of which are caused by falls, not collisions.

              And consider this. Recent studies have shown that the health benefits of bicycling far outweigh any risks, and that the net result of bicycling is extending, not reducing, your lifespan.

              You are more than welcome to come back here any time. But when you do, I hope you’ll be willing to engage in an actual conversation and consider arguments contrary to your own, rather than pouting that anyone who disagrees with you must have a closed mind.

              And this site is set to cut off comments five deep to ensure that every response is legible, rather than being so narrow it becomes impossible to read. It has absolutely nothing to do with you; as you discovered, there is a very easy workaround.

            • Tom says:

              Sir I came in with no argument. 99% of the time, when a car or truck “violently” (note the word violently) meets a bicycle, the bicycle usually looses. That is all I have ever said in this and you keep trying twist what I am saying and add some non-relevant facts to support your point of view. Cool, I understand, but I am not the one that is narrow minded.

              Your statistics with the 6.3 million number are meaningless in this discussion. 6.3 million bike accidents does not mean 6.3 million between a bike and a vehicle. Wiping out on a bike trail, in your driveway, or some other accident that does not involve a vehicle cannot be used for comparison statistics in this case.

              Again, comparing apples to oranges.

              Kettle, meet kettle!

              By the way, I am glad you survived your encounter with a vehicle. You are a lucky person.

              I agree with you on one point. Avoiding collisions is the key, and it is imperative that both cyclist and motorist obey all traffic laws. Unfortunately, that is not the case for either group 100% of the time and is what leads to tragic situations like gave birth to this discussion.

              Again, good health and good luck!

            • bikinginla says:

              Read a little more carefully, Tom. That’s one fatality per 6.3 million bike trips.

              And no, I haven’t tried to twist anything. You came in here to say that bicycling on the streets is dangerous, and I’ve struggled to explain why it’s not.

              If standing up for the facts makes me narrow minded, then I’m narrow minded. I can live with that.

            • Tom says:

              You are reading / hearing what you want to hear to make consenting statements appear “wrong”, so “you feel right”. Try really reading and understanding what is really being said.

              Then we can talk!

            • Tom says:

              Sorry, that was condescending, not consenting.

            • Tom says:

              That was condescending, not consenting.

          • Larry Weisenthal says:

            I just today came across this thread. The statement made was that you are twice as likely to die while driving a car than riding a bike, based on time spent in the car. But this doesn’t consider the fact that cars travel much faster than bikes. On a per mile basis, one is twice as likely to die on a bike than in a car, if memory serves. The other thing to remember is that most of the existing bike/fatality studies did not take place in the current hyper distracted driver environment. I used to ride my bike to work (only 3.5 miles, and dedicated bike lane for all but 0.25 miles). I don’t do this any more, because I’m frankly terrified to ride anywhere other than 100% traffic free bike paths (e.g. beach bike/pedestrian paths, Santa Ana River Trail, etc.). I saw entirely too many drivers playing with their mobile phones while making left turns in front of me. And I felt that I was playing Russian roulette with the drivers approaching from the rear being the bullets. All it would take is 5 seconds of distraction for said bullets to swerve into me from behind. 4 cycling deaths in Huntington Beach in 9 months! How can you possibly maintain that cycling is safer than driving! Take the number of drivers and number of miles driven and number of fatalities in HB and Orange County and compare that with comparable stats for cyclists. I know when I’m reasonably safe and when I’m risking my life and riding a bike on city streets in the year 2015 is possibly the most risky daily life activity that the average person can do.

            • bikinginla says:

              Actually, the statement that you are less likely to die on a bike than in a car is precisely because cars travel at high speeds.

              You are correct that some studies have shown that bicycling is more dangerous than driving on a per mile basis. However, that is a false equivalency, which fails to consider that most bicycle trips cover relatively short distances at lower speeds, while cars travel longer distances at higher speeds.

              Look at it this way. Let’s say we agree to meet at a location 60 miles away. You get in your car, driving at 60 mph, and arrive there in one hour. I get on my bike, riding at 15 mph, and arrive there in four hours. We’ve travelled the same distance, but you were exposed to risk for 60 minutes, while I was exposed to four times the risk.

              But if you drive your car for one hour, and I ride my bike for one hour, I will have covered a fraction of the distance you did, but we will have been exposed to the same risk of a collision. Yet your risk of dying is twice as high as mine, despite the greater vulnerability of people on bikes, and despite modern crumple zones, seat belts and air bags, because you are more likely to be involved in a high velocity wreck.

              Looking at it another way, based on the most recent stats available, Americans took 4 billion trips by bicycle, making your risk of suffering an injury on any given ride nearly 77,000 to one, and your risk of death over 6.3 billion to one.

              I’ll take those odds any day.

              You can’t do anything about the people you share the road with, but you can minimize your risk by taking a bicycling safety course offered an LAB Licensed Cycling Instructor or a Cycling Savvy class to learn how to ride defensively.

            • Larry Weisenthal says:

              Thank you for replying to my comment. This is your blog, and it’s obvious from your many comments on this and other threads that you are very devoted by cycling and aggressive about defending the idea that it’s a highly dangerous activity. Perhaps the one positive thing that I can do is to refer you to the best real world study of the issues under consideration. This was an actual, real world, prospective study (in Portland, Oregon) and it provides the current best evidence as to risk level in cycling for riders of all levels of experience and expertise. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068616 The link only presents the results in abstract form, but I’d be happy to send you the full text, if you (privately) send me a preferred email address. Unfortunately, I can’t send this full text to anyone other than you (the editor), because of fair use copyright restrictions. – Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA [email protected]

    • MTS says:

      You do know drunk drivers kill people in cars, too, right? Idiot.

  3. JD says:

    We offer our prayers for the family and friends of the victim.

  4. James says:

    I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often in Huntington Beach. It is a city where drunk driving is a respected past time, a DUI is a right of passage and everyone seems to be a princess or a thug who believes they are entitled to a carefree, high speed driving experience while texting. It is a city where you can be assaulted in a parking lot for yielding to a pedestrian, where the police always make illegal right hand turns, cutting off cyclists and parents pull off the road so that their children can throw things at me for committing the crime of walking. Driving 20mph above the limit is the norm and you always have to wait 5 seconds before moving forward on a green light to wait for people to finish running red lights. Despite the over-wide lanes motorists still can’t help but drive in bike lanes and they all seem to believe that pedestrians never have the right of way in a cross walk. It is a brutish, nasty city filled with all the worst people you went to high school with.

  5. Larry says:

    This should have been charged as vehicular manslaughter, in the very least.

  6. mic says:

    Michael, who was killed last night lived in my neighborhood on Humbolt Island about a mile from the tragic event. We both have passions for dogs and bikes and we had a similar schedule as I frequently saw him out either walking his 2 golden labs or riding his bike. I’m a little freaked about what happened as I ride these same routes. I would just recommend riding early AM, obey the rules of the road, and ride with a group if possible as many drivers in OC don’t care about your safety.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: