Archive for Injuries and Fatalities

Bicyclist killed in Oxnard hit-and-run; 17-year old driver arrested

Apparently, you’re never too young to take a life while driving under the influence.

The Ventura County Star reports a bike rider was killed in an Oxnard hit-and-run Friday morning, and the 17-year old driver taken into custody minutes later.

Forty-two-year old Oxnard resident Gregory Dominguez was riding near the intersection of Lakehurst Street and Janetwood Drive a little after 7 am Friday when he was struck by an SUV.

The driver continued down Lakehurst, knocking down numerous mailboxes before crossing the road, and crashing into a magnolia tree with enough force to knock it down.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, then fled the scene on foot, but was arrested nearby. Police say drugs or alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

Dominguez was taken to the Ventura County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The Star reports local residents have tried in vain to get city officials to do something about speeding drivers on what should be a quiet, residential street.

Evidently, they need to do something about teenage drivers who are drunk or stoned at seven in the morning, as well.

This is the 45th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Ventura County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Gregory Dominguez and all his loved ones.

Update: LA cyclist killed in multiple car Beverly Grove hit-and-run

Another bike rider has been murdered by a hit-and-run driver.

LA’s KNBC-4 broke the news late last night that a bike rider had been taken to a hospital in critical condition following a hit-and-run collision in the Beverly Grove neighborhood.

Sadly, the station confirmed this morning that the victim, identified only as a 58-year old man, has died.

According to the news report, he was riding on the 100 block of North Crescent Heights Blvd, between Beverly Blvd and First Street, around 9 pm Tuesday night when he was rear-ended by the driver of a red Ford SUV, who fled the scene.

He was struck with enough force to throw his body 75 feet, landing near the driveway at 109 N Crescent Heights, where he was struck by another vehicle; that driver stopped and cooperated with police.

It’s likely the SUV driver was exceeding the 35 mph speed limit to strike the victim with that much force.

Screen grab from KNBC report

Screen grab from KNBC report

His bike, a blue road bike with green handlebar tape, lay mangled on the side of the road. A red tail light is visible on the seat post.

The driver of the SUV fled on foot after crashing into a parked car a block away, leaving her wrecked car behind. Initial reports indicated the driver was a woman, but police were unable to confirm that.

The station reports both the victim and the driver of the SUV were westbound; however, it appears they were actually traveling south, since it’s a north-south street.

Crescent Heights is afour-lane street,  mostly residential, with commercial buildings on the major cross streets. The right lane is a mixed traffic and parking lane; at that hour, it’s likely there would have been numerous parked cars, pushing him into the left lane to avoid the zone.

Police say the second driver won’t face any charges.

It’s impossible to know which of the vehicles struck the fatal blow. However, the driver of the SUV should face a homicide charge, since she — or he — made the decision to flee the scene, and leaving the victim unprotected to be struck by another car.

This is the 44th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 17th in LA County; it’s also the fourth in the City of Los Angeles.

Update: KNBC has updated their report to say the driver was a woman, but police have no other description at this time.

Update 2: The Beverly Press reports the victim is a 59-year old Santa Monica resident, but still has not been publicly identified.

According to the paper, he was headed west on 1st Street and ran a stop sign to cross Crescent Heights, as well as ignoring a right-turn only sign; if the driver had stopped, she might have been released without charges. 

Instead the driver, who was operating a rental car, is wanted for felony hit-and-run. Police are trying to identify who had rented the SUV. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones. 

 

Guest Post: The cost of traffic violence — the daughter of a distracted driving victim speaks out

Last year, an alleged distracted driver plowed into a cyclist in Moorpark, then swerved into motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction, killing them both.

Recently, the daughter of one of those victims asked for the opportunity to tell her story. 

This is what she has to say.

……..

Hailey Cushman’s Story

My name is Hailey Cushman and I am Jesse Cushman’s only biological child. My dad was killed on September 12th, 2015 on his way home from work from BMW Motorcycles located in Ventura. He was hit head-on on his motorcycle in Moorpark, CA by Rachel Hill, who was later found to have been texting and driving. Hill first hit bicyclist Maciek Malish then over-corrected and swerved to hit my father. Both men were killed on impact but Hill only walked away with scratches. In fact, Hill was caught taking pictures of her injuries and posting them on her Facebook the next day as if the accident was humorous to her. This tragic event happened just 9 days before my 21st birthday (in which I had plans that were immediately cancelled and never rescheduled). Dad was going to be 44 years young in October 2015. He was born in Simi Valley, CA but lived most of his life in Reno, NV, which is where I live. Within a couple days of the accident I was down in Fillmore, CA, where dad currently lived with my grandmother, Jorja, and my stepmother, Julia. Julia and dad married in 2002. When dad moved to Southern California he was brought closer to his biological father, Joe Freas, who lives in Thousand Oaks, CA. Joe and dad were in the process of trying to rekindle their relationship after years of separation.

As a child I was lucky to have never experienced a close death in the family but that aspect has also made losing my father at this age extremely difficult for me. My dad had an exciting, fulfilling and fun life. My dad was Batman! My dad and Julia were heavily involved with cosplay and all things comics. Dad had several Batman suits that were so legit that he was in several professional photo shoots. That year dad and Julia won free tickets to the San Diego Comic Con, which they had been trying to attend for years. Dad and I enjoyed doing a lot together when I would come visit in the summer time; we would go boogie boarding in Malibu, go to Six Flags Magic Mountain several times a month (it was our favorite together), race quads (he raced professionally but he also taught me how to ride and I was too racing at just 5 years old). As a family, we would frequently play video games and board games as they owned a plethora of Monopoly games and superhero video games. We would even get the whole family involved with Rockband and have somebody on each instrument. Another big part of my dad and Julia’s life was motorcycles. They were a part of the local STAR riding chapters where they would do toy drives, poker runs and many other fun rides with the group. My grandma would always worry about dad on his motorcycle because she knew the risks but both dad and Julia were very cautious riders. I guess this proves that no matter how cautious you are in life you can never fully protect yourself from others.

Since I lost my dad my life has changed forever. I’ve had to see more psychiatrists lately for stress, anxiety and depression in order to keep my job and continue my college education (which I am close to finishing). I am so young and I have so much of my life ahead of me but my father will not be able to be there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, be there at the birth of his grandchildren, see me graduate college or buy my first house. The Cushman and Malish family’s lives have forever been changed and will always hurt when we think about this tragic incident. We try to put our minds at ease by thinking about how Rachel Hill will have to live with what she has caused these two families for the rest of her life as well, but unfortunately, we are unable to rely upon the justice system to make her accountable. We have recently been told by the Ventura County District Attorney’s office that Hill may not even receive any jail time but only community service. The Ventura County District Attorney’s office is certainly corrupt. The CHP took 8 months to complete the police report to ensure they had all the information and evidence to create a strong case. The CHP’s recommendation was that Hill should be charged with a felony of two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Within 2 weeks of the Ventura County District Attorney receiving the case they decide that Hill only be charged with a misdemeanor!

Now, I am a smart and educated person. I have been going to school for 16 years (total) and this is not what I was taught in how our justice system operates! When you kill another person due to reckless driving you go to jail! End of story! Rachel Hill is only getting a slap on the wrist for killing TWO innocent people. I spoke with the assistant District Attorney who informed me that they did not have enough evidence to prove gross negligence, even though they had all of Rachel’s text message conversations showing she was texting while driving leading up to the accident. Hill has been able to spend the last 9 months with her family through the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which were especially hard times for both the Cushman and Malish families. Now that Father’s Day is less than one week away my heart aches just thinking about that empty feeling I will have now not being able to celebrate it with my dad. No amount of money or punishment on Rachel Hill’s behalf will ever bring my father or Maciek Malish back but it would at least be nice to have a piece of mind knowing that Rachel Hill’s life would be forever affected with jail time, a felony and two counts of manslaughter on her record for the rest of her life the same way that our family will forever be devastated about this loss and injustice. Not a single person I have spoken to agrees with the District Attorney’s decision of a misdemeanor (besides the Hill family). We need to bring attention to this obvious injustice and corruption of our justice system by bringing publicity to this case for both the Cushman and the Malish family in hopes to one day begin to heal from this tragic loss.

From left to right: dad, Julia, grandma and me. Disneyland 2012 celebrating mine and Julia's graduation, grandmas birthday and dad and Julia's anniversary.

From left to right: Dad, Julia, Grandma and me. Disneyland 2012 celebrating my and Julia’s graduation, grandma’s birthday and Dad and Julia’s anniversary.

Dad and Julia's wedding picture: June 12th, 2002.

Dad and Julia’s wedding picture: June 12th, 2002.

Dad in his amazing Batman costume!

Dad in his amazing Batman costume!

My favorite picture of dad and I at Disneyland.

My favorite picture of Dad and I at Disneyland.

R.I.P. Jesse Cushman. I love you!

……..

Reducing, let alone eliminating, traffic fatalities will be impossible as long as prosecutors refuse to take even the most egregious cases like this seriously. 

If you’re as angry as I am about this case, contact Ventura County DA Gregory D. Totten, and politely — but firmly — demand that the case be re-filed as a felony.

Hailey, and all the families and loved ones of both victims, deserve better.

As do we all.

Update: Bicyclist killed in Cathedral City hit-and-run Saturday morning

Yet another Southern California bike rider has died at the hands of a cowardly hit-and-run driver.

According to the Desert Sun, a man was hit by a car while riding his bicycle around 10 am Saturday morning on Ramon Road between Crossley Road and Landau Boulevard in Cathedral City.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, died of his injuries at a local hospital.

The driver continued without stopping; police believe the suspect is driving a green Jeep Cherokee with possible damage to the passenger side.

A street view shows a four lane highway with a center turn lane, and a 45 mph speed limit; however, the design of the road would appear to encourage higher speeds.

Anyone with information is urged to call Cathedral City Police at 760/770-0303.

This is the 43rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in Riverside County. It’s also the third fatal bike crash in Cathedral City in the last nine months.

Update: Cathedral City police detained, but have not yet arrested, a suspect in the crash, acting on a tip from a local resident. 

The victim, who has still not been publicly identified, was riding west on Ramon when he was run down just west of Landou

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 60-year old Cathedral City resident Clay Charles Triolo. Prosecutors are still reviewing the case to determine if charges will be filed.

Although considering the driver fled the scene before eventually turning himself in, felony hit-and-run should be a given.

My deepest sympathy for Clay Charles Triolo and his loved ones.

Bicyclist killed, building destroyed in Compton collision

Reports are coming in that a bike rider was killed in Compton this morning, and a building partially destroyed by an out-of-control driver.

According to KTLA-5, the crash occurred on the 1100 block of E. Compton Ave before 10:50 Monday morning, when the driver of a van was reportedly unable to avoid hitting the bicyclist before crashing into the storefront.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, has was pronounced dead at the scene. Attorney James Johnson indicates he may have been a man in his 50s.

There’s no explanation for how the collision occurred or why the driver was unable to avoid striking the rider. However, the position of the victim and his bike, in relation to the impact with the building, suggests he may have been thrown a significant distance by the impact of the crash.

In addition, the building — the site of a planned real estate office — suffered significant structural damage and may have to be red tagged, implying that the wreck may have occurred at a high rate of speed.

In a report that is not yet online, KABC-TV places the impact at 10:27 am at 1137 E Compton Blvd.

They also report the driver taken into custody, although other reports indicate he was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment.

You can view the KABC report in a cellphone video recorded by a viewer.

This is the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in Los Angeles County.

That compare with just 24 in SoCal on this date last year, and ten in the county. It’s also the fourth bicycling death in Compton since 2011.

Update: According to KNBC-4, the driver was headed west on Compton when he somehow veered across three lanes of traffic to hit the victim head-on before slamming into the building.

The 22-year old driver was found unconscious following the crash. 

The victim had apparently just stopped for food; a shopping bag lay on the sidewalk next to his body.

Meanwhile, KABC still hasn’t posted their report online. However, an update to the story suggests the driver was not taken into custody as originally reported.

The station reports that, while the investigation is ongoing, police describe it as just a tragic accident — despite the description in the KNBC story. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to Michael MacDonald and James Johnson for the heads-up, and to Vanessa for the cellphone video. 

Update: Anaheim bike rider killed in train collision Monday afternoon

This is not the news we wanted to end the holiday weekend with.

According to the Orange County Register, a man in his 40s was struck and killed by a train in Anaheim Monday afternoon.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, rode up to the railroad crossing on Sycamore Street just west of Vine Street around 2:40 pm after the crossing arms had been lowered. For some reason, he went around the barricades, and was struck by a southbound train.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

This is a tragic reminder to never, ever go around crossing barriers on a railroad track, even if there doesn’t appear to be a train coming, or cross unprotected tracks after the light turns red.

This is the 41st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 42-year old Jorge Leyva of Anaheim.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jorge Leyva and his loved ones.

Thanks to Mike Wilkinson and Bill Sellin for the heads-up.

Update: Bike rider killed in Santa Clarita hit-and-run Wednesday afternoon

More bad news.

According to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, a man on a bike has been killed in a hit-and-run while riding in Santa Clarita.

The victim, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was on the 20100 block of Placerita Canyon Road when he was struck by a car just before 4:30 pm. The paper places the collision near a curve just southwest of the entrance to Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch.

He was declared dead at the scene, his helmet lying nearby.

The paper reports the CHP conducted an intense hunt for the driver in the area; the suspect vehicle is described as a dark gray Mazda 3 with a roof rack and a possible broken windshield.

No other information is available at this time.

This is the 40th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in Los Angeles County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 53-year old Valencia resident Rod Bennett.

He was riding a blue Eddy Merckx road bike in the far right of the eastbound lane when he was rear-ended by the driver, who continued east as he fled the scene, apparently without stopping or slowing down. 

Update 2: The CHP has updated the description of the suspect vehicle. They are now looking for a Silver Lexus CT 200H; some unconfirmed reports indicate it may have a roof rack and a damaged front bumper.

Meanwhile, the San Fernando Valley News reports Bennett was the band director and math teacher at Arroyo Seco Junior High School. The site describes him as an avid cyclist, as well as a musician.

Various Facebook posts confirm his interest in cycling, as well as identifying him as a jazz musician who performed around the Valencia area.

Update 3: The CHP has released a photo of the suspect vehicle, apparently taken from a surveillance camera. It appears to show a dark colored car, rather than silver; however, images like that can be deceiving. 

Update 4: According to the Signal, 28-year old Canyon Country resident Lucas James Guidroz was arrested after turning himself in at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station early Friday morning — five hours after the car believed to have been used in the collision was found in Newhall. 

Which gave him nearly 40 hours to sober up if he had been under the influence at the time of the collision. 

He was taken into custody on a single felony count of failing to stop at the scene of a collision causing injury or death.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Santa Clarita Valley Bicycle Coalition says all cyclists on Placerita Canyon encounter distracted drivers, as well as those who appear to intentionally frighten or possibly hurt people on bicycles. 

To which commenters respond by blaming “arrogant” cyclists, apparently for simply existing. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Rod Bennett and his loved ones.

Thanks to John H for the heads-up. 

Update: Boy killed killed by trash truck while riding in Newport Beach

Heartbreaking news from Orange County, as a young boy has been killed riding his bike in Newport Beach.

According to multiple sources, the boy was riding his bike at East 15th Street and Fullerton Ave around 1:30 this afternoon when he was struck by a garbage truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Daily Pilot reports he was eight-years old, while other sources list his age as between five and eight. According to KTLA-5, the truck belongs to Stanton-based waste and recycling company CR&R Environmental Services.

The location appears to be a typical residential neighborhood just a few blocks from Newport Heights Elementary School.

No other information is available at this time.

This is the 39th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh in Orange County. It’s also at least the 12th in Newport Beach since 2010.

Update: The Orange County Register confirms that the boy, who has not been publicly identified, was a third grade student at Newport Heights Elementary. Police say there is no evidence that the driver was impaired or speeding.

Update 2: The Daily Pilot has identified the victim as Brock McCann, a third-grader at Newport Heights Elementary School, whose family lives near where he was killed. 

The paper also places the collision site at 15th and Michael Place, just southeast of the original location. He had apparently gotten out of school just 15 minutes earlier, and was riding or walking his bike home. 

A gofundme account has raised over $44,000 of the $100,000 goal. 

Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that three bike riders and three pedestrians were involved in crashes nearby between 2010 and 2015.

And the Orange County Register says the CHP is still looking for witnesses; anyone with information is urged to cal CHP Officer Jeff Jones at 714/567-6000.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Brock McCann and his family.

Thanks to John Dammann and Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.

Update: Palos Verdes bike rider dies following apparent hit-and-run yesterday

More bad news for Bike to Work Day.

I’ve been informed that a member of the Palos Verdes Bicycle Club has died after an apparent hit-and-run Wednesday morning.

According to club member Jim Lyle, John Bacon had just finished relaxing with a small group of club members at Meyer’s Bakery in the Peninsula Center following a morning ride, and left to ride down the hill to his home.

Sadly, he never got there.

Lyle says Bacon’s daughter told him he was found by another cyclist lying in the street on the 1100 block of Granvia Altamira in Palos Verdes Estates around 9:45 am. He was taken a local hospital, where he passed away today.

However, the Daily Breeze reports police are looking for the driver of a white pickup who was seen on security camera following his bike, though they do not identify Bacon by name.

The driver reportedly stopped after the rider went down and attempted to flag down other people in the area, asking them to call 911, then got back in his truck and drove away.

The Breeze says police will not say whether the truck definitely hit his bike, but want to talk to any occupants to determine what happened.

The truck is described as a white, late 1990s to early 2000s Ford F-150, driven by a heavyset white man, around six feet tall and wearing a blue shirt.

According to Lyle, Bacon was a retired engineer in his late 60s; he describes him as a safe rider who always obeyed stop signs.

I’m told his family is aware of his death and has gathered with friends to mourn.

Anyone with information is urged to call Sgt. Luke Hellinga at 310-378-4211.

This is the 38th bicycling fatality in Southern California, and the 14th in Los Angeles County. It’s third bicycling fatality in the Palos Verdes area this year.

Update: Fox-11 reports Bacon was unconscious when paramedics arrived, and appeared to have suffered a head injury despite his helmet. 

Update 2: Larry Altman of the Daily Breeze offers a nice profile of John Bacon, identifying him as 68-year old John William Bacon III of Torrance. The retired father of three was described as a “very gentle soul” and an extremely safety conscious, 100-mile a week cyclist. 

Altman also reports police have located the driver in question, but haven’t made an arrest. Or even confirmed that he was struck by a vehicle. 

Update 3: According to Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson, a cyclist called the police after spotting what appeared to be the truck in question on Thursday, yet they never bothered to respond to the call; the driver finally left on his own without the police ever coming to check it out. 

He also reports that the person who turned himself into the police on Friday did not match the physical description of the driver, and may not have been be the owner of the truck. 

And that since Bacon’s death, four cyclists have come forward to report they had previously been buzzed and harassed by the driver of a truck that matched the description of the suspect vehicle.

Which raises the question of whether this may have been an intentional act that went too far. And whether the police are going to investigate it fairly. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for John Bacon and all his family and friends.

 Thanks to Jim Lyle and Michael C Barr for the heads-up.

Update: Bike rider killed in Panorama City; police term it a “tragic accident”

Another bike rider has lost his life on our streets, just hours after the annual Ride of Silence honored fallen cyclists.

According to KTLA-5, a person riding a bicycle was struck by a car on Woodman Ave just north of Strathern St. in Panorama City around 5:42 am this morning.

The northbound vehicle then spun out of control and struck several parked cars before coming to rest facing in the opposite direction; the victim’s mountain bike can be seen a short distance away.

The bike rider, who has not been publicly identified in any way, was towing a shopping cart full of recyclables when he or she was struck just minutes before sunrise. There’s no word on how the collision occurred, or whether the bike had lights or reflectors.

Police say the driver was not under the influence, and termed the collision “just a tragic accident.” That’s even though the multiple impacts suggest the driver was moving a high rate of speed; a commenter on Reddit says the car struck a parked truck with enough force to obliterate the bed of the pickup.

This death is even more tragic since it comes on the Bike to Work Day, the one day of the year set aside to honor people on bicycles.

This is the 37th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Los Angeles County; it appears to be the first in Panorama City since 2011.

Update: The Daily News reports the victim was a man in his 20s.

Update 2: Contradicting the earlier report, the Daily News says the investigation is still ongoing, and police are looking into whether speed was a factor; the street has a 35 mph speed limit.

According the story, the victim, who still hasn’t been publicly identified, was riding in the right lane while apparently holding his handlebars with one hand and pulling the shopping cart with the other. He was struck from behind by the driver traveling in the same lane, who went in to hit four other vehicles. 

While police don’t advise pulling a shopping cart — or anything else — while riding, the detective in charge of the case noted that the victim had a right to use the full lane, and drivers are required to give bicyclists a three-foot passing distance. 

A ghost bike will be placed at the scene at 9 pm Friday.

Update 3: KNBC-4 reports police are looking for a passenger in the car who fled the scene after suffering facial injuries in the collision.

Which raises the question of why someone riding shotgun would run away while the driver stuck around.

Thanks to CiclaValley for the link.

Update 4: The victim’s brother has identified him as 49-year old Peter Loretta, who lived in the area. That has been confirmed by the Daily News, which describes Loretta as being homeless.

His brother and daughter want to thank the person who comforted him as Loretta lay dying; if you know who that was, they can respond in the comments below, or contact me and I’ll forward the message to them. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Peter Loretta and his family.

Thanks to Joe Linton and John Morlock for the heads-up.

 

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