Tag Archive for 56 Bike Path

Victims and driver identified in San Diego bike path collision; speed may have been a factor

One was a 40-year old father of two small children; the other is a 51-year old father of a college age son. One was an executive with a bioenergy company; the other is president and CEO of the YMCA in San Diego County.

One was a bike commuter on his way home; the other an avid triathlete who rides several times a week.

Both are married; neither one knew the other.

Yet yesterday, both men were the victims of a possibly speeding driver who lost control of her SUV and ended up flipping over on the bike path they were riding on.

Now bioenergy executive Nick Venuto of Poway is dead, while YMCA CEO Baron Hederlin-Doherty is in stable condition, his body shattered with broken hips, ribs and arms, according to the North County Times.

The San Diego Union Tribune’s SignOnSanDiego reports that 27-year old Sheena Saranita was driving her Ford Escape at an estimated 65 – 80 mph when she attempted to change lanes. She overreacted after seeing a vehicle in the right lane and went off the road, climbing the 15-foot embankment, blowing through a chainlink fence and flipping over onto the bike path; her SUV landed on its side, hitting both riders in the process.

Police don’t think drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision; no word on whether Saranita may have been texting or otherwise distracted behind the wheel. However, the nature of the collision would suggest that either excess speed or some sort of distraction could have been a factor.

According to the Union Tribune,

Dr. Dave Chotiner, a dentist from Carmel Valley, witnessed the accident and was the first to render aid. He said Venuto, who appeared to have been hit first, died within minutes. Herdelin-Doherty was lying on his back about 40 feet behind Venuto.

He said Saranita was out of her SUV near Venuto and was yelling hysterically, “you have to help him.”

Both papers feel compelled to report that the riders were each wearing helmets, despite the fact that bike helmets can’t, and were never intended to, protect against a multi-ton vehicle travelling at highway speeds.

And as Hederlin-Doherty’s injuries make clear, helmets can do absolutely nothing to protect against injuries to any other part of the body.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m a firm believer in wearing a helmet every time I ride. But in a collision like this, they would have been of little, if any benefit.

And whether or not the victims were wearing them is truly irrelevant in this case.

My heart and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones of Nick Venuto, and best wishes to Baron Hederlin-Doherty for a full and fast recovery.


On a related subject, I’ve received word from a source who doesn’t wish to be identified that cyclist Richard Lauwers is doing very well, back on his bike and is now a firm believer in the power or prayer. As you may recall, Lauwers was critically injured last January when a driver went off the road and hit him while he was riding on the Huntington Beach Bike Path; the driver, Glen M. Moore of Newport Beach, was allegedly intoxicated and racing a BMW driven by Michael D. Roach.

And a memorial will be held this Sunday for Nick Haverland, the 20-year old Ventura College student killed last month in an allegedly drunken roadway rampage. Driver Satnam Singh was reportedly  involved in three separate collisions in a matter of minutes, injuring five other people.

Update: Jim Lyle forwards some good news about Adam Rybicki, the cyclist critically injured when he was hit by an underaged, allegedly drunk driver in Torrance in April. While he has been unable to respond to verbal commands, he is now moving his hands and responding to commands and questions written on whiteboard. Clearly, he faces a long road back, but this is the first news that offers real hope for his recovery.

San Diego cyclist killed, another seriously injured when SUV flips onto bike path

At least one cyclist was killed and another seriously injured when an SUV lost control on busy highway and flipped onto a bike path near Rancho Peñasquitos in north San Diego.

Initial reports indicated that two cyclists had died at the scene; however, later reports said the second rider had been transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The collision occurred about 6:20 pm on the 56 Bike Trail, which runs parallel to the eastbound side of State Route 56 west of Black Mountain Road; the CHP called for a coroner less than 25 minutes later.

A woman driving an SUV on eastbound SR56 apparently lost control while making a lane change, went off the road, up a grassy embankment and through a chainlink fence before flipping over onto a group of riders.

According to SignOnSanDiego, both riders were in their 30s or 40s; neither has been publicly identified as of this time. Pedestrians and other cyclists reportedly attempted to aid the riders until paramedics arrived.

The driver was also taken to the hospital; reports disagree on whether anyone else was in the SUV. No explanation has been given for why she lost control of her vehicle.

There’s simply no way to protect against a collision like that. The riders should have been safe from motor vehicles on an off-road bike path; undoubtedly, they thought they were. Certainly no one expected a vehicle to fall onto a bike path — let alone at the exact moment a group of riders are passing by.

SignOnSanDiego reports that both riders were wearing helmets; if anyone ever invents a helmet strong enough to protect against an SUV falling on top of a cyclist, I hope they let us all know.

This is the 32nd cycling death so far this year, and the ninth in San Diego County since the first of the year, which includes 7 traffic deaths and one shooting.

That compares with 8 cycling deaths for all of last year for San Diego County, and an average of 6.8 over the last five years, according to the FARS database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Thanks to Eric Bruins for the heads-up.

Update:  The Times now reports that two cyclists have been injured, in addition to the rider who died at the scene; however, they still say just one rider was hospitalized, in addition to the driver.

Update: as of 9 am Wednesday, no other source has confirmed that report, and the Times has changed the wording of the story to remove any reference to a second injured rider.

Update: both victims and the driver have been identified; speeding may have been a factor in the collision.

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