BOLO Alert: Bike rider seriously injured in East LA hit-and-run

This one is hard to take.

Police are asking the public to be on the lookout for the driver of a white Toyota pickup who plowed into an East LA bike rider, then simply drove off without so much as slowing down.

KTLA-5 reports the wreck, which occurred at 9:15 am Monday, was caught on a security camera; fair warning, the video is stomach churning, to say the least.

The victim, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was riding east on the north sidewalk of Olympic Blvd when he attempted to cross Arizona Ave in the crosswalk. The driver of the pickup, which was headed south on Arizona, went through the red light, violently knocking the rider off his bike before turning right and speeding down Olympic.

The victim was transported to County USC Medical Center with major head trauma.

The CHP, which investigates major traffic collisions in unincorporated areas of the county, is looking for a white, mid-‘80s Toyota pickup with an extended cab, metal rack and black side graphics.

Anyone with information is urged to call 323-980-4600 or the Traffic Management Center (TMC) at 323-259-2010.

Let’s find this heartless jerk.

7 comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m not excusing the actions of the driver by any means here, but there is an opportunity here to educate cyclists. The cyclist appeared to be riding at a fairly high rate of speed on the sidewalk, against the flow of traffic, and did not appear to be wearing a helmet. The video mentions that significant head trauma was incurred which could have possibly been prevented by wearing a helmet. Also, if the cyclist had been riding in the street with the flow of traffic, he would have been more visible to drivers and less likely to be hit at an intersection like this. The cyclist was riding quite fast and would have essentially appeared to come out of nowhere for the driver of the pickup. This doesn’t excuse the driver for failing to stop at the light or after hitting the cyclist, but I see vehicles turn right on red lights like this all the time so it would be wise for cyclists to be aware of that hazard.

    • Quit blaming the victim, who was crossing legally with the light, instead of the perp who ran the red and committed hit-and-run. Also bike helmets are freaking useless except in the rare case of falling over at or near zero forward velocity. That is ALL they are built to absorb, not impacting a motor vehicle moving more than 40 MPH.

      • Jennifer says:

        As I said, I am not excusing the actions of the motorist, and I did not intend to place blame on the victim. I was taking the opportunity to point out that riding on the sidewalk or against the flow of traffic is not safe, even if it is legal. The motorist would have been looking to his or her left to look for traffic and would not have been expecting a bicycle travelling that fast to suddenly cross the street from his or her right. Whether the victim had the right of way or not, it is always a good idea to ride defensively and assume that motorists don’t see you. I’ve almost been hit by cars turning in front of me many times, at least once coming within inches of being killed. It’s frustrating but part of the risk we take when we ride.

        Regarding helmets, I realize this is a sensitive topic and respect someone’s right to ride without one. Say what you want, but I have several friends who have survived crashes at high speeds without serious brain injury while their helmets were cracked. No, they will not always protect the victim as I know from losing a friend who was killed despite wearing a helmet last year, but I’d certainly rather take whatever protection I have available to me.

    • Michael says:

      Have to agree with Jennifer on this one. The camera does not show what happened before the crosswalk – the driver may very well have been stopped, and it is still legal to turn right on a red (unless signed otherwise) in CA. It is well known that drivers do not look right when making a right turn, so never assume they know you are there. None of this excuses the driver for not first looking right, failing to yield, or for fleeing, but it is definitely a perfect example of how not to ride. No salmon, and never assume. And, with all due respect to Opus, I have been involved in numerous higher speed crashes (30+ mph), and no one will ever convince me that they would not have ended more seriously if not for my helmet.

  2. True Freedom says:

    @Jennifer : I totally agree. I commute daily by bike. As you said, the driver is totally at fault; however, as cyclists we should try to minimize our risk. This cyclist maximized his risk by riding fast on a sidewalk against the flow of traffic with no helmet.

    He should have slowed before entering the crosswalk, and made eye contact with the driver to ensure he was seen.

    Whenever I’m in the crosswalk as a pedestrian or cyclist, I never assume there’s a magical forcefield around the zone. I check to make sure no-one is running a red light and checking to make sure cars see me. Call me paranoid, but I’ll live to tell the tale.

    All that said, I hope they catch the driver and the driver fries. I also hope the cyclist makes a full and speedy recovery.

    • Jennifer says:

      I definitely hope they catch the driver and that they are given the maximum penalty. The number of hit and runs that we hear about is frightening, and ridiculous considering the consequences. If the driver had simply stopped and waited for the police to arrive, they probably would have simply been cited for a running a red light and the incident would have been treated as any collision between two vehicles. Now they’ve committed a felony and as we’ve recently seen can be sentenced to 15 years in prison (if memory serves me correctly).

      This also serves as an opportunity to remind people of the value of cameras. In this case, it was lucky that the shop owner had a security camera that caught footage of the incident. This may not always be the case. I always ride with a rear camera and will likely be purchasing the front camera when it is released by Cycliq. In addition to capturing valuable footage of incidents, it will also be of benefit to all cyclists if motorists are aware that many of us are now using cameras.

  3. bikinginla says:

    In retrospect, it is possible that the driver had stopped, or at least slowed, before proceeding; the limited camera view doesn’t show enough to tell. But as Jennifer correctly notes, it became a crime the moment the driver stepped on the gas to run away; had he stayed, he might not have even received a ticket.

    You are all correct that we have to ride defensively and assume that drivers will not see us. Motorists are legally required to pay attention and be aware of everyone around them, but too often they fail to do so, for whatever reason. I was taught to look left, look right, then look left again before proceeding through any intersection, as well as to look at the sidewalk in both directions.

    As for bike helmets, I am a strong believer in their use; I never ride without one. But as Opus notes, they are designed to protect against falls, not impacts with motor vehicles. Too often people assume they are the bicycling equivalent of seat belts. While they may provide some protection in a collision, you are far better off avoiding a wreck than counting on your helmet to save you. And let’s not forget that many lower income riders may not be able to afford one; even the low cost mass market versions — which have to meet the same safety standards as high end models — may be an extravagance for someone struggling to get by.

    Jennifer is right about cameras, too. If you can afford one, buy one; if you can get two, do it. I use one mounted on my helmet, and plan to get another rear facing one. Had I had one when I was hit by a road raging driver, the case might have turned out entirely differently. And if I was wearing one when the bees tried to kill me, I might know what actually happened instead of having a big blank in my memory.

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