Tag Archive for bicycling fatality

Breaking News: No justice for OC cyclist Kenneth Prevatte; civil suit filed in Debra Deem case

Once again, there’s no justice for a fallen rider.

Late Tuesday, I received an email from the sister of Kenneth Prevatte, killed in a rear-end collision while riding in a Sunset Beach bike lane on PCH in Huntington Beach over two years ago. She informed me that Becki Lee James, the driver charged in the death of the popular Long Beach cyclist, was acquitted in a trial this week.

She reports James had been charged with vehicular manslaughter; she had originally been arrested on suspicion of felony DUI causing great bodily injury & gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

No word yet on why the alcohol charges had been dropped or why she was acquitted in what seemed like a clear cut case; hopefully we’ll have more information soon.

But at least the Orange County District Attorney should be congratulated for filing charges in a case with no guarantee of victory — unlike the LA DA.

And hopefully, Prevatte’s family will get the justice they deserve in civil court.

In an aside to the case, one of the potential jurors dismissed from the jury pool in the James trial was the brother of teenage cyclist Sean Severson, killed while biking to school in Fountain Valley.

Pity that those who would make the best jurors in cases like this are the ones who are automatically excluded.

……..

Speaking of civil court, I received a press release from Torrance-based law firm AgnewBrusavich, the firm behind the CalBikeLAw.com website, announcing they had filed a civil suit in the death of cyclist Debra Deem.

Deem, the wife of former Olympian cyclist and Cycle Werks bike shops owner Paul Deem, was riding in the bike lane on PCH in Newport Beach when she was right hooked by a driver turning onto Newport Coast Drive.

The suit alleges that the State of California and the City of Newport Beach were both negligent in the design and maintenance of what has been described as a very confusing intersection by cyclists who ride there. Unlike other intersections in the area, the bike lane reportedly disappears prior to the highway-style interchange, leaving riders with no clear pathway to the other side, and no guide for drivers on where bikes are likely to be positioned.

According to the release, Paul Deem filed the suit, at least in part, in hopes that it will bring much needed safety improvements to this section of PCH.

Meanwhile, I’m told that the case against the driver, 84-year old Robert James Anderson, ended in a mistrial on Friday; no word yet on why or if the case will be refiled.

 

Update: Bike rider killed in Lawndale collision; details unknown

Once again, few details are available as the recent rash of bad news continues.

This morning, I was alerted to yet another bicycling fatality by a sharp eyed attorney, who spotted the news hidden in a string of traffic alerts from the CHP (scroll down to 7:14 am).

Based on that alert, Johnson Attorneys Group reports a rider in his 40s was killed in a Lawndale collision that occurred on Manhattan Beach Blvd near Cranbrook Ave in Lawndale at 7:14 this morning.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:30 am. No other details are available at this time.

Cranbrook does not actually intersect with Manhattan Beach Blvd; a satellite view shows a four lane, limited access street with a single crosswalk, suggesting the victim was most likely either hit from behind or crossing the street at the time of the collision.

However, the CHP reports indicate all lanes were blocked following the collision, which would most likely place the victim in the middle of the street when he was struck; El Camino College is located on the south side of Manhattan Beach Blvd, along with a golf course.

This is the 67th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 25th in Los Angeles County; that compares to 65 and 27, respectively, this time las year.

Update: According to the Daily Breeze, the victim, who has still not been publicly identified, was a man in his 60s. And as suggested above, he was riding his bike in the crosswalk when he was hit by a Hyundai sedan driving east on Manhattan Beach. 

A CHP spokesman reports the driver did not see the victim, despite flashing warning lights on the crosswalk; a comment below suggests he may have been blinded by the sun. 

Of course, the proper response when blinded is to pull over until you can see, rather than attempting to drive by braille, yet it is seldom prosecuted.

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

61-year old bike rider killed in Huntington Beach; second cycling death in the city in just five days

Not again.

For the second time in just five days, a bicyclist has been killed in a Huntington Beach collision.

According to the Orange County Breeze, the OC Coroner’s office has identified the victim as 61-year old William Rowland, Jr of Costa Mesa.

Rowland was hit by a car shortly after 7:30 pm Friday at the intersection of Yorktown Ave and Education Way in Huntington Beach. He was transported to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he died shortly after midnight the following day.

A satellite view shows a bike lane in each direction on Yorktown, with the three-way intersection controlled only by a stop sign on Education Way.

No other information is available at the time; the paper reports the collision is still under investigation.

His death follows on the heels of the alleged DUI collision that took the life of 55-year old Michael Bastien of Huntington Beach on Monday, less than eight miles away.

This is the 66th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 14th in Orange County. And it’s the 6th cycling death this year in Huntington Beach, which has apparently become a very dangerous place to ride a bike.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for William Rowland, Jr and all his loved ones.

Bike rider killed in Chula Vista; 65th SoCal cycling fatality this year

Sometimes, all it takes is a single mistake.

That seems to be what happened in Chula Vista, as a bike rider was killed in a collision Friday afternoon.

According to the Union-Tribune and other sources, the cyclist, who was identified only as a 60-year old man, was riding south on the 800 block of Hilltop Drive, near Telegraph Canyon Road, around 3:10 pm. According to witnesses, he was on the far right edge of the road when he suddenly made a sharp left turn directly in front of a pickup traveling in the same direction.

He was declared dead at the scene, after the driver was unable to avoid hitting him. No word on why the victim may have turned without warning, or apparently looking for traffic before turning.

This is the 65th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in San Diego County. It’s also the 2nd cycling death in Chula Vista this year, and the 5th since 2012.

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

Update: Huntington Beach bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver

It’s the curse of a holiday weekend.

Bicyclists can encounter drunk drivers any day of the year. But the risk rises exponentially on holiday weekends — and seems to be even worse in beach communities.

That’s appears to have been the case in Huntington Beach Monday evening, as yet another bike rider lost his life at the hands of a suspected drunk driver.

According to the Orange County Register, a cyclist identified only as a man in his 50s was struck from behind while riding on Bolsa Chica Street north of Heil Avenue around 6:30 pm. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The driver, a resident of Huntington Beach, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI.

KNBC-4 reports that the victim was a father from Huntington Beach, while the driver was behind the wheel of a Mercedes. According to the station, several witnesses rushed to aid the victim following the collision, including medical professionals and a lifeguard.

The station offers a single photo from the scene, showing a crumpled bicycle in the middle of the street, while a satellite view shows a six lane roadway with a bike lane on either side.

Meanwhile, someone who came upon the scene shortly after the collision reports seeing two bikes at the scene, apparently recumbents. A white Mercedes was stopped in the left turn lane, while one bike — apparently the one photographed by KNBC — was in the center of the three lanes, and the other was in the bike lane.

That suggests there may have been more that one rider involved, either in the collision or riding with the victim.

This is the 64th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Orange County; that compares to 12 for all of last year in the county. And it’s the 4th bicycling death in Huntington Beach this year alone, and the 9th since 2011.

Update: I’m told the driver was cited for DUI and released on his own recognizance overnight. 

Update 2: According to the Register, the victim has been identified as 55-year old Michael Bastien of Huntington Beach. The paper reports he was riding a motorized bicycle, and places the location as just below Kona Dr

For some reason, though, the police arrested the 51-year old driver, who they have not identified, on a single misdemeanor DUI count, rather than what would appear to be a more appropriate felony. The difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI is that the driver’s drunken state resulted in the injury or death of another person. 

That would suggest that the police may be blaming the victim for causing the collision, despite the driver’s apparent drunken state.

Never mind that the paper says police located the driver nearby, suggesting he did not remain at the scene and failed to stop and offer assistance, as required by law. 

And yet, he was only arrested on a single misdemeanor DUI charge.

However, police are still investigating, and anyone with information is urged to call Investigators Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.

Let’s hope any witnesses will come forward. Because this one is starting to stink already.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michael Bastien and his family. 

Update: DA refuses to file charges in Milt Olin case

The investigation is finally complete.

As predicted as soon as the LA County Sheriff’s Department inexplicably insisted on investigating itself in the death of cyclist and former Napster Exec Milt Olin, no charges will be filed against the deputy who killed him.

And as long predicated by myself and others, the immediate cause of the collision was the deputy’s use of the patrol car’s onboard computer while traveling on a winding road at 48 mph.

It was clear that the Sheriff’s Department was attempting to downplay their investigation — if not coverup the results — when they announced late on the Friday before Memorial Day that it had been turned over to the DA’s office for evaluation over a week before.

Then, nothing.

Not a word from the District Attorney for over three months, until news broke late this afternoon that the deputy responsible, Andrew Wood, would not face charges.

DA refusal letter (pdf)

Surprisingly, it actually appears the Sheriff’s Department recommended a charge of vehicular manslaughter; not surprisingly, the DA declined to file, saying they did not feel they could prove the deputy was negligent, which would be required for a conviction.

As we have discussed before, the case hinged on CVC 23123.5, which prohibits using electronic communication devices while driving — but exempts police officers and other emergency service workers in the performance of their duties.

According to the DA, that exemption applied in this case, as Wood was typing a response to a query from another officer when he drifted into the bike lane and rear-ended Olin’s bike without ever braking.

As often happens in such cases, Wood initially claimed Olin swerved in front of him in the traffic lane, and he only went into the bike lane in an attempt to avoid him. That is, until physical evidence and witness testimony proved him wrong, at which point his story changed to say he never saw Olin prior to the collision.

Yet somehow, the mere fact that Wood was driving at nearly 50 mph — in a bike lane — with no idea what was on the road directly in front of him is not sufficient evidence of negligence as far as the DA’s office is concerned.

Simply put, there are only two options.

Either the deputy was at fault for driving distracted — even though he could legally use the computer, he is still required to drive in a safe and legal manner.

Or the Sheriff’s Department itself is negligent for a policy allowing its officers to use the onboard computer in a manner that places everyone else at risk, as they will undoubtedly be found responsible for in the civil suit filed by members of the Olin family.

Either way, thanks to the complicity of the DA’s office, no one will ever be held accountable for the death of an innocent man, whose only crime was going for a bike ride on a sunny afternoon.

And a dangerous, if not deadly, policy will never be changed.

Thanks to Brenda Gazzar for breaking the story. 

Update: The afore mentioned Brenda Gazzar offers a detailed look at the case and the DA’s decision not to file charges in the LA Daily News, including this:

Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said he was disappointed to see a clearly distracted law enforcement officer escape charges on what he called a technicality.

“Just because the law allows someone to do something while driving doesn’t mean they are allowed to do something unsafely while driving,” Bruins said. “Hitting someone from behind is very clear evidence that whatever was going on in that car was not safe and should have been considered negligent.”

It’s definitely worth a read to get the full story.

Meanwhile, LAist quotes several angry tweets from very pissed-off cyclists. Including yours truly.

 

 

Update: Experienced cyclist dies in Eagle Rock solo fall; 9th LA bicycling fatality this year

Sometimes, all it takes is a crack in the street to take a rider down.

That appears to be what happened last week in Eagle Rock, as a bike rider died in a solo fall on Colorado Blvd.

Details are still very sketchy. However, reports are that Edgardo Gabat, reported to be 55 or 56 years old, was riding on Colorado Blvd east of Figueroa last Thursday when his wheel got caught in a crack or seam in the pavement and he fell hard. He was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, where he died some time later.

No other details are available at this time. And no word on whether he was wearing a helmet; this appears to be the sort of slow speed fall that bike helmets are designed for, as opposed to the often high speed impacts of traffic collisions.

A ghost bike ceremony will be held at the scene at 9 pm this evening.

This is the 63rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 24th in LA County. It’s also the 9th bike death in the City of Los Angeles, which compares to 11 in the city this time last year.

Update: According to Carlos Morales of the Eastside Bike Club and Stan’s Bike Shop in Monrovia, Gabat was a very experienced cyclist who always wore a helmet. He was also a popular member of Adobo Velo, Southern California’s largest Filipino-American cycling club. 

He also notes that the area around this intersection is notorious for poor pavement conditions, resulting in several traffic incidents involving cyclists. In fact, Morales is aware of at least one lawsuit that has been filed against the city by a bike rider who injured there. 

Update 2: In a comment below, Joseph Pagulo says that he was riding with Gabat, and that his fall came in the middle of a descent, so it did not occur at a slow speed.  

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Edgardo Gabat and all his loved ones.

San Diego cyclist died following Aug 6th collision with another cyclist; 2nd bike-on-bike fatality in 10 days

Unfortunately, the news media doesn’t always get it right.

A few weeks ago, TV stations in San Diego reported that two bike riders had collided on a bike trail at Lake Miramar, sending a 73-year old rider to the hospital. However, San Diego’s NBC-7 reported that the victim’s condition had improved, and he had been released later that same day.

But as the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

Sadly, it turns out that the victim, Gus Pabalan, died at 4:30 the next day, 24 hours after the bike-on-bike collision that took his life.

The much-loved rider was injured around 4:30 pm on Wednesday, August 6th, when he collided head-on with another cyclist. According to the news reports, he suffered major head trauma, while the other rider was uninjured.

No word on whether he was wearing a helmet; however, all the photos of Pabalan on the website of his local bike club, Mira Mesa Cycling Club, show him with one. Photos of the scene show a 10 mph speed limit, which a commenter says is often ignored.

A well-attended memorial ride was held for Pabalan last Sunday.

No word on why the riders ended up on a head-on trajectory, or whose fault it might have been. However, this should be yet another reminder to always ride safely around other cyclists and pedestrians; it only takes a momentary mistake to change someone’s life forever.

Or end it.

This is the 62nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in San Diego County. And he is the second cyclist to lose his life as a result of bike-on-bike collision in the county in less than 10 days.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Gus Pabalan and all his friends and love ones.

Thanks to Smorg for the heads-up.

 

San Diego cyclist dies three months after collision with another rider

Very sad news from San Diego County.

According to an obituary from the San Diego Union-Tribune, 57-year old Santee resident Paul Fleck died earlier this month as a result of injuries suffered in a bicycling accident.

The incident occurred May 10th; his death came almost exactly three months later, on August 9th.

An email forwarded to me from the OFFBAC riding group fills in some of the details.

Apparently, Fleck was riding downhill in the bike lane on Highway 52, though it doesn’t specify where on the highway, traveling at about 30 mph. Another rider was struggling uphill with his head down when he swerved to avoid something and drifted into Fleck’s lane, where they evidently collided head-on.

He had been hospitalized ever since, and appeared to be making progress until he succumbed to cranial bleeding.

No word on the condition of the other cyclist.

This is the 61st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in San Diego County. It’s also the two SoCal road death resulting from a collision with another rider since the first of the year.

Please, ride carefully out there.

Update: I’m told the area where this collision occurred is actually a two-way separated pathway that was built when 52 was widened a few years back, removing the shoulders where cyclists used to ride.

Correction: I originally wrote that there had three bike on bike fatalities this year. However, this is actually the second death this year; the count was off due to an entry error in database. My apologies for the mistake. 

Correction 2: Actually, three cyclists have been killed in collisions with other riders; I was just unaware of the third until now.

My deepest prayers and sympathy for Paul Fleck and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Phillip Young of the San Diego Wheelmen for the heads-up. 

10-year old bike rider killed in Hesperia

Just heartbreaking.

According to the Hesperia Star, a young bike rider was killed yesterday when he rode out in front of a car at an intersection.

Ten-year old Hesperia resident Arnold Covarrubias was riding east on the north sidewalk along on Main Street at Third Avenue at 8:45 pm when he attempted to cross Main without warning, and was hit by a Kia SUV. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9:35 pm.

Investigators say Covarrubias may have been distracted by a stray dog when he rode out into the intersection against the light and was hit by the SUV, which was headed west on Main with the green light.

A satellite view shows a major intersection with two to three lanes of traffic in every direction.

The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police; speed or alcohol use did not appear to be factors in the collision. As always, however, the key is whether there were other witnesses besides the driver, who has an inherent interest is seeing his actions in the best possible light.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Deputy Simon DeMuri from the Hesperia Station at 760/947-1500.

This is the 60th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in San Bernardino County. Remarkably, that’s exactly the same rate as this time last year in both the county, and the greater SoCal region.

It’s also the fifth bicycling death in Hesperia, population 92,000, in the last three years.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Arnold Covarrubias and his family. 

%d bloggers like this: