Update: Man killed by alleged speeding driver in Tour de Palm Springs, 2nd rider injured; 2nd death in four years

It’s happened again.

One man was killed, and another bicyclist seriously injured, when they were struck by an allegedly speeding driver during today’s Tour de Palm Springs.

According to the Desert Sun, the victims were struck when a speeding driver lost control of his car on Dillon Road in Indio Hills, south of Tinker Road, around 9:25 am.

However, that location doesn’t show up using any map site.

The paper reports the driver came up from behind a number of cyclists as they were riding east on Dillon, allegedly traveling at over 100 mph — twice the posted speed limit. He veered onto the dirt shoulder on the wrong side of the road, lost control and veered back across the road to hit the two riders.

The crash reportedly occurred among the trailing riders on the century ride.

Fortynine-year old Lake Stevens, Washington, resident Mark Kristofferson died at the scene.

The other victim was airlifted with serious injuries, while the driver was transported to a local hospital by ambulance.

The case is still being investigated, and no charges have been filed at this time.

This the second death in the 20-year history of the Tour de Palm Springs. It comes just four years after 55-year old La Vonne Koester of Alta Loma was killed during the 2014 edition of annual event, when she allegedly ran a stop sign.

However, other reports indicated that a driver had stopped to wave a group of riders through the intersection, when a second driver came up from behind and was unable to stop before plowing into the riders.

No one was ever charged in that case.

This is the seventh bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Riverside County.

Update: The Desert Sun has updated their story to say 21-year old Desert Hot Springs resident Ronnie R. Huerta Jr. has been arrested on a charge of vehicular manslaughter.

The story also corrects Kristofferson’s age as 49, rather than 54 as originally reported; that change has been made to this story, as well.

The second victim has been identified as 50-year old Alyson Lee Akers of Huntington Beach. She is being treated for what is described as major injuries, including a head laceration.

Huerta was also treated for moderate injuries before being taken to jail on the manslaughter charge, where he is currently being held.

Update 2: At the request of Mark Kristofferson’s family, I have removed a bike cam video of the crash scene taken half an hour after the collision, which briefly showed the tarp covering his body. 

Update 3: According to the Desert Sun, CHP investigators report the driver did not appear to be under the influence at the time of the crash, but are still waiting for the results of drug and alcohol tests. 

Huerta was released on $75,000 bond, and isn’t expected to appear in court until April. 

The crash location was corrected to Dillon Road near Avenue 30. The story reports that there were several police officers stationed at key intersections along the route, but none along the 25-mile stretch where the crash occurred.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mark Kristofferson and his loved ones. And best wishes to Alyson Lee Akers for a full and fast recovery.

Thanks to Tom Morash and Wes R for the heads-up.

14 comments

  1. JD says:

    We offer up our prayers for the family and friends of Mr. Kristofferson, and for the speedy and complete recovery of the other victim.

  2. TJ Knight says:

    RIP to Mr. Kristofferson. Nobody expects to die after clipping in. This is very sad.

  3. Sean says:

    Dillon Rd is a mess, especially when the bulk of the century riders ride through – the right lane is nearly completely obstructed by cyclists for miles. If the organizers want to avoid a repeat, they should really consider having the city block the right lane of Dillon for the first say, 3 hours of the (7-10am or so) and they could also consider not forcing all riders to start at 6:30 to reduce the natural clumping that occurs.

    What a sad day.

    • Frank lehnerz says:

      How would that prevent a collision from a vehicle coming in the opposite direction?

      • Sean says:

        The article says the driver came up behind the cyclists.

        Cars tend to cross the yellow line to pass cyclists, which is an obvious problem for oncoming traffic. There’s no perfect solution.

      • mitchell says:

        More support and presence in this long rural stretch is needed to prevent this from re occurring where I saw none. Awareness and enforcement makes a big difference. This dangerous rural stretch is where it is needed the most and must be prevented and protected due to excessive auto speeds from occurring and the safety of others. There are many ways to remedy this situation from happening again. If the event planners are going to continue to allow using Dillon Rd. they must step up, take action and be accountable by showing the public they have done everything in their power to remedy this problem by strategically, preventing a fatality like this to occur again.

  4. How is using a weapon with more destructive energy than a piece of field artillery mere manslaughter? Even an econobox has more energy than a 155mm howitzer bullet at 100 MPH. The speed was high enough that a full impact would explode a human being into little pieces, and even a glancing impact was fatal.

  5. Ben says:

    I’ve never participated in an event with as many police as I saw monitoring the TdPS yesterday, and saw two motorists pulled over for some sort of violations by LE on the course. I’m dumbfounded that this jackass could have found a way to do this. A bit disappointed that the organizers didn’t make any kind of announcement – many of us saw the first responders and the helicopter and didn’t find out what happened until after the finish.

  6. Shawn says:

    Based on time on camera on video this person ride past 2 hours post accident. Accuse happened at 9:30am. The car flew past me earlier at what appeared to be 100+. It scared me. I came across scene as helicopter was landing and one of injured was being given CPR. There were about 25 cyclist stopped there at that point. I kept riding and saw two ambulances and a fire truck on way to scene. So very sad.

  7. Debbie C says:

    I am NOT surprised this happened..!
    The bicyclist had NO concern for following the rules of the road, Blocking the entire roadway of a road that was NOT CLOSED !
    They also continually ran stop signs and Red Lights…
    This is the second Fatality at this event, in a few short years, and there will be MANY more, if something doesn’t change !

    • The cyclist was hit on the shoulder by a vehicle that was completely out of control. The skid marks left on the pavement showed the vehicle was at least 30 degrees yawed when it hit the cyclists and possibly rotating on its yaw axis, which explains the damage demonstrated on the victims’ bikes not being anywhere near what would be expected from an impact near 100 MPH. Also the reports were that cyclists were only in the right lane and shoulder, not the whole road.

      And what part of “100 MPH in a 50 MPH speed limit” did you not understand? The driver is 100% responsible for this wreck.

    • Ben says:

      Looks like we found the person who neither read the story, doesn’t understand or care to read the California Vehicle Code, and still manages to blame an innocent victim of a reckless driver (murder).

      Debbie, keep your car in the garage so you don’t hurt anyone yourself.

    • bikinginla says:

      Debbie, I think, like the Grinch, you’re heart is two sizes too small. As Opus points out, the victim sin this case were riding safely and legally, doing exactly what they should, while the killer was acting in a felonious manner, with no regard for the consequences of his actions.

      Maybe instead of blaming innocent victims, you could say a prayer for Mark Kristofferson and his children, who will spend the rest of their lives without a father. And Alyson Lee Akers, who will have a long and painful recovery from her injuries. That’s what I’ve been doing.

  8. Chris says:

    The roads in PS are terrible and there isn’t much police presence. I had a bad crash two years ago at Tour of PS. I think better roads and more police support during the ride will help.

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