Archive for Injuries and Fatalities

Update: 69-year old bike rider killed in Downey collision

Word is just coming in that a bike rider was killed in Downey last night.

According to the Downey Beat, a bicyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle around 9:30 Friday night on the 10600 block of Lakewood Blvd, between Florence Ave and Firestone Blvd; the victim appeared to be male.

The driver remained at the scene. No other information is available at this time.

This is the 27th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in LA County. That compares with 45 this time last year in the seven county SoCal region, and 18 in the county.

It’s just the second fatal bicycling collision in Downey in the last five years.

Update: The Press-Telegram has identified the victim as 69-year old Downey resident Adel Mikhail. 

Raw video footage from the scene places the collision near the intersection of Lakewood and Muller St. (Warning: The video may be hard to take, as it shows the victim’s body being covered.)

There’s a white car stopped in the left lane, with damage to the right side and windshield; his body appears to be in the roadway directly ahead of the car. The victim’s bike is off to the right, apparently without lights, though it’s possible they may be hidden or turned off.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Adel Mikhail and his loved ones.

Bike rider killed in Mid-City LA crash by apparent drunk and/or stoned driver

Sometimes you just want to scream.

Bicyclists are told to light up their bikes after dark. Yet even lighting it up like a Christmas tree isn’t always enough to keep a rider safe.

Especially when a driver is on drugs or has been drinking.

Or maybe both.

That’s what LA police say happened last night in LA’s Mid-City neighborhood, as a bike rider, described only as a Hispanic man around 55-years old, was killed in a collision just before mid-night.

According to KCBS-2, the victim, whose name has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was struck by a passenger van around 11:43 pm on Fairfax Avenue near Sawyer Street. KTLA-5 places it between Sawyer and Venice Blvd.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No word on how the collision occurred. However, KTLA reports the driver, who remained at the scene, was taken into custody on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Even more infuriating is that video from the scene shows the victim had a flashing headlight and taillight on his white bike, as well as colored flashing lights on his rear wheel. So he should have been easily visible, even at that hour.

The bike appears relatively undamaged in the video, making it hard to guess what might have happened.

This is the 26th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in LA County; it’s also the 7th in the City of Los Angeles. That’s two more in the city compared to this time last year, even though bicycling deaths in the county are down by one-third.

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

Breaking news: no sentencing in Eric Billings case today; driver found with narcotic drug behind bars

So much for that.

Word broke yesterday that the driver convicted in the death of cyclist Eric Billings in Mission Viejo two years ago was found with a prescription narcotic in her jail cell.

According to the Orange County DA’s office, former OC lawyer Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti was found in possession of Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, on May 13th as she was being held awaiting sentencing.

Something that was supposed to happen today.

However, a source reports from the courtroom that her sentencing has been delayed yet again, much to the distress of the victim’s family.

Apparently, her extremely savvy criminal defense team doesn’t work weekends. Robert Weinberg told Judge Jones that Hasti’s psychiatric evaluation only reached his office last Friday afternoon, and he hasn’t had time to review it. SINCE FRIDAY. In his defense (cough), it’s an extremely lengthy report.

The judge is unwilling to allow for any technicality that would give Hasti any possibility of appeal whatsoever, so he granted the motion to allow the delay. The defense will naturally try to incorporate any pertinent information from the psych eval into his sentencing brief. (Note: The Deputy DA managed to create a very persuasive 25-page brief on the People’s behalf just fine, without any report from the probation department.)

One of Eric Billings’ daughters who’d been unable to speak at the first attempt at sentencing was allowed to speak this morning. She vented, and clearly the judge agrees that she is absolutely right that victims have a right to a fair and speedy trial.

In the hallway prior to the hearing, she was demanding to know who Hasti’s “pharmacist” is, because she wants him investigated, and his license revoked. (When the first witness to approach Hasti after the collision asked if there was anybody she could call, she mumbled something about her pharmacist, and tried to place a call on her cell. Also, her blood drawn more than four hours after the collision indicated Alprazolam [Ed. note: the generic form of Xanax] in an amount that is usually fatal.)

At one point, Hasti attempted, in her meek voice, to speak to the judge, but her lawyer instantly spun around in alarm and shushed her.

The next attempt at sentencing will be June 19th. The DA had a prelim set for that same morning, but rescheduled it because the Billings family has suffered enough during this delay.

Oh yeah, and naturally Hasti pleaded not guilty to the new charge. And she’s not retaining her extremely savvy criminal defense team this time; instead, she has a public defender.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti had entered an unexpected guilty plea last March to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for running Billings down from behind as he rode his beach cruiser in the bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway two years earlier. Billings, described by friends as a loving father and devout Mormon, died at the scene.

She faces up to four years in prison once she’s finally sentenced

In addition to all the other breaking news in this case, the California State Bar suspended the immigration attorney’s license to practice law earlier this week. Chances are that suspension will become permanent following her sentencing, especially in light of the additional drug charge.

Let’s hope the Billings family gets the justice they deserve. And that Fakhrai-Bayrooti gets the help she so desperately seems to need while she’s behind bars.

And that she’s never allowed behind the wheel again.

 

Update: 22-year old alleged sidewalk rider killed in South LA hit-and-run

Another bike-riding LA man has lost his life in yet another bloody hit-and-run.

According to the LA Times, 22-year old LA resident Manuel Enrique Mendoza-Hernandez was riding on the sidewalk along Slauson Ave in South LA, when he rode out into traffic and was killed by an unknown driver who fled the scene.

The collision took place on Slauson Avenue east of San Pedro Place around 8:25 pm Sunday.

LAist reports Mendoza-Hernandez was riding on west the sidewalk before veering onto the street, where he was hit by a car turning right onto Slauson from San Pedro Place. The driver hit Mendoza-Hernandez’s bike, knocking him into the street, before running over him and fleeing east on Slauson.

He was pronounced at the scene.

There were no apparent witnesses. However, evidence found at the scene indicates the suspect may have been driving a Toyota Corolla; no word yet on year or color.

This would have been the perfect opportunity for the LAPD to use the new hit-and-run alert system recently approved by the city council. No alert appears to have been sent out, though; the last update on the LAPD blog was nearly a week ago.

A tweet from Marccaz correctly notes there is no sidewalk on the westbound side, suggesting that the police report may have been wrong.

However, there is a sidewalk on the south (eastbound) side of the street. And nothing in the news reports indicate what side of the street Mendoza-Hernandez was riding on.

If he was riding on the south sidewalk against traffic, he could have been forced out into the street by several poles obstructing the sidewalk, where he would have been hidden from the view of the turning driver by the building that comes within a few feet of the intersection.

It would make sense then if the driver continue east on Slauson to make his or her escape, since that’s the direction the car was already headed.

Had the driver simply stayed at the scene, there likely wouldn’t have been any charges, since police investigators probably would have found Mendoza-Hernandez at fault for riding against traffic once he entered the street.

Although the fact that he was unable to stop after hitting the cyclist, so soon after making a right, would suggest the he was traveling at some speed and may not have come to a full stop at the stop sign before making his turn.

Instead, the driver could now face time in prison for a fatal hit-and-run, assuming police make an arrest in the case.

This is the 25th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in LA County; six of those have been in the City of Los Angeles. That compares with 45 in SoCal this time last year, and 17 and 4, respectively, in the county and city.

Update: Anyone with information is urged to call LAPD Central Traffic Detective Felix Padilla at 213/486-0753.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Manuel Enrique Mendoza-Hernandez and his loved ones.

Update: Late night bike rider killed by two hit-and-run drivers in South El Monte

Bad enough when one heartless coward flees the scene.

Worse when two drivers smash into a man riding his bike, then leave him to die in the street.

That’s what happened in South El Monte early this morning, as a 47-year old cyclist was killed in a succession of collisions on Rosemead Blvd.

According to KABC-7, Heriberto Ruiz struck from behind by an unknown vehicle near the offramp to the southbound 60 Freeway about 2:53 am. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune places the collision in the 3000 block of Rosemead, which appears to be some distance from the offramp.

That driver fled the scene, leaving Ruiz lying in the roadway where he was struck by a white minivan and possibly one other vehicle; KNBC-4 reports the minivan collided with another vehicle that was stopping at the scene. The driver of the minivan then fled, as well.

Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene.

A satellite view shows an extended, high-speed offramp leading from the freeway; if he was trying to ride south across that, he would have been a sitting duck as motorists sped onto Rosemead.

No word on whether he was using lights at that hour; however, police are usually quick to report if a victim didn’t have lights or reflectors on his bike.

This is the 24th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Los Angeles County. That compares with 44 and 17, respectively, this time last year.

Update: KNBC-4 reports Ruiz may have been riding home from visiting a friend when he was hit. 

A visitor to the scene found a broken Cateye taillight, suggesting that his bike should have been visible from behind. 

Anyone with information is urged to call CHP’s East LA office at 323/980-4600.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Heriberto Ruiz and all his friends and family. 

Update: 66-year old woman killed riding her bike in Laguna Hills

Sad news from Laguna Hills.

According to KTLA-5, a woman was killed when she was hit by a vehicle while riding her bike at Paseo De Valencia and Kennington Drive around 1:40 pm Saturday.

The victim was identified only as a woman in her 60s, pending notification of her family. No other information is available at this time.

A photo from the scene shows a Toyota minivan with its windshield smashed on the right side.

A satellite view shows what appears to be a bike lane on the southbound side of Paseo De Valencia, while the Aliso Creek Bikeway parallels the road on the northbound side, crossing Kennington in the crosswalk. There is a traffic signal at the intersection.

Paseo De Valencia marks the border between Laguna Woods to the west and Laguna Hills on the east. The OC Sheriff’s Department places the collision on the Laguna Hills side, suggesting the victim may have been riding on the bikeway and was struck when she attempted to cross Kennington; however, that is merely speculation at this point.

This is the 23rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in Orange County; that compares to 44 in SoCal and nine in the county this time last year.

Update: The Orange County Register reports the 66-year old victim was riding south on the bike path when she rode out into the northbound traffic lane on Paseo De Valencia to avoid other cyclists coming in the opposite direction. As she did, she was hit, apparently head-on, by a minivan driven by a 59-year old man, who remained at the scene.

Bystanders performed CPR until the fire department arrived and took her to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, where she died less than half an hour later.

She may be known in the local bicycling community, as friends described her as an avid cyclist who rode 30 to 40 miles a day.

Update 2: The Orange County Coroner’s office has identified the victim as 66-year old Michiko Day of Laguna Woods.

Bill Sellin forwards a graphic that clearly shows what happened to cause the collision. 

The red arrows represent the route Day took as she exited the bike path to cross Kennington Drive, then swerved into traffic to avoid other riders, indicated by the blue arrows. 

So she appears to have been a victim, not just of the car and driver that took her life, but an inadequate bikeway design that forces riders off a protected bike path and out into the street before coming back into the crosswalk.

Day-Collision-Site

 

Update 3: The Orange County Register reports that Michiko Day was just one block from home when she was killed while riding in Laguna Woods last month. Her riding partner confirms what we thought, that poor road and bike path design may have contributed to her death.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michiko Day and her loved ones.

Update: Bike rider killed after swerving across traffic on Oceanside highway

An Oceanside bike rider is dead following an inexplicable swerve onto the wrong side of a roadway late Tuesday evening.

According to multiple sources, the 54-year old victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding his bike on the westbound side of State Route 76 near Frazee Road when he veered onto the wrong side of the road around 8:50 pm; another source places the collision east of the Towne Center mall, some distance from Frazee.

One driver reportedly swerved onto the shoulder to avoid the rider, but a second driver didn’t have time to react and hit the victim’s bike, apparently at high speed given the 55 mph speed limit. He was pinned under the SUV as several people rushed to help.

satellite view shows that SR-76 is a divided highway, though there’s no barrier separating the two sides east of Frazee Rd.

Police report alcohol was suspected to be a factor, implying that the bike rider may have been drinking.

However, drunk or not, it’s hard to understand how someone would unintentionally swerve such a great distance, from the right shoulder across two lanes of traffic and a wide median, and onto the other side of the road. Which suggests he may have been trying to turn around or cross the roadway for some reason.

This is the 22nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in San Diego County. That compares with 43 in SoCal last year, and four in the county this time last year.

Update: The Union-Tribune reports the victim is a local homeless man; he reportedly smelled of alcohol. The driver who hit him had also been drinking, but passed a breath test.

Update 2: the victim has been identified as Mark Jacoby; the San Diego Medical Examiner’s office describes him as a 54-year old transient.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mark Jacoby and his loved ones.

 

Update: 58-year old Joshua Tree cyclist killed in high speed rear-end collision

Memorial Day weekend is historically one of the most dangerous periods for bike riders.

Sadly, that proved true for a 58-year old man from Joshua Tree on Sunday.

According to the Hi-Desert Star, the victim, whose name has been withheld, was riding a mountain bike north on Sunburst Ave, south of Jericho Way, when he was struck by a car around 8:15 pm; he died at the scene.

The Joshua tree resident was riding without lights in the gathering darkness, half an hour after sunset, when he was hit from behind by a driver traveling around 50 mph. However, he should have still been visible in the driver’s headlights on the straight and unobstructed roadway.

A street view shows a two-lane road with a dirt shoulder, and no visible speed limit sign.

The paper also notes that the victim was not wearing a helmet, although a collision at that speed was unlikely to be survivable, with or without one.

The driver, a 26-year old man from Yucca Valley, stayed at the scene and was guided in performing CPR by emergency dispatchers after calling 911. He was taken into custody on outstanding warrants while the investigation continues.

This is the 21st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in San Bernardino County. That compares with 41 in SoCal and four in the county this time last year.

Update: The victim has been identified as Tim Kelly, a musician who often played violin at the local farmer’s market.

This is a case of a someone who shouldn’t have been riding without lights being hit by someone who shouldn’t even have been on the road. According to Z107.7 News, the driver was wanted on numerous warrants for driving without a license and a lack of registration for his car.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Tim Kelly and his loved ones.

Thanks to Michael of Center Line Rule for the update.

Update: 31-year old bike rider killed by train in Riverside

Always wait for the barriers to lift at a railroad crossing.

A Riverside bike rider didn’t, and sadly, paid the price.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the woman was riding her bike east on Mission Inn Ave in downtown Riverside when she stopped to wait for a southbound train around 11:10 this morning.

As soon as the train passed, she continued across the tracks while the crossing arms were reportedly still down and the warning lights flashing. She was then hit and killed by a train traveling north on the tracks, whose approach would have been hidden from sight by the other train.

The victim is identified only as an apparent transient in her 30s.

This is the 20th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in Riverside County. That compares to 41 in SoCal this time last year, and six in the county.

She is also the first bike rider to be killed in a collision with a train anywhere in Southern California since August of last year.

Update: The Press-Enterprise has identified the victim as 31-year old Virginia Gadberry of Riverside.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Virginia Gadberry and her loved ones.

Bike rider killed in Hollywood collision

This is not the news anyone wants for Bike Week.

Or any other time for that matter.

Reports started coming in yesterday evening that a bike rider had been killed at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and Hobart Blvd in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, it took until this afternoon to get official confirmation.

According to the police report, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north in the west crosswalk on Hobart at approximately 3:07 pm Wednesday when he was struck by a car headed west on Hollywood.

The impact apparently knocked him into a parked car on the north curb, before falling back into the street. He died at the scene.

LAist reports that the crosswalk has a blinking yellow light to warn drivers that someone is crossing. However, it’s unclear if it was working at the time, or if the rider had activated it.

They also quote a comment from a Reddit thread indicating that the driver was taking an 84-year old grandmother to the hospital; however, while there are several hospitals nearby, they are all in the opposite direction from which the car was headed.

It’s unclear from the description who might have been at fault.

It’s legal to ride on the sidewalk in Los Angeles, which means it is also legal to ride in the crosswalk.

However, the LAPD interprets the law as requiring cyclists to ride in the direction of traffic when they enter a crosswalk. In this case, that would have required the victim to cross on the east side of Hobart, but the only crosswalk is on the west side.

On the other hand, unless the victim was traveling at a high rate of speed, the driver should have had time to see him and react before he reached the opposite side of the road.

If there’s a lesson to learn from this, it’s that you should never count on drivers seeing you and stopping in time, in a crosswalk or anywhere else; always wait until they actually stop before trying to cross in front of them.

This is the 19th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in Los Angeles County; it’s also the fifth in the City of Los Angeles.

That compares with 41 in the seven county SoCal region this time last year, and 17 in the county. However, it’s one more than in the City of LA on this date in 2014.

Update: The victim’s granddaughter has identified him as Thomas Galvan Munoz, a resident of the area for 30 years who rode his bike through the streets of LA every day. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Thomas Galvan Munoz and his loved ones.

Thanks to Michael MacDonald for the heads-up.

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