Tag Archive for bicycling fatality

Breaking News — Another bike rider killed in Huntington Beach

For the second time in just 10 days — and the third time this year — a bike rider has been killed in Huntington Beach.

According to a press release from the Huntington Beach Police Department, 44-year old Costa Mesa resident Kathy Sieberhein died after being hit by an 80-year old driver during rush hour last night.

Sieberhein was riding west on Adams Ave near Ranger Lane around 6:15 pm when she was rear-ended by a Chevy truck driven by 80-year old Brian Chattaway of Fountain Valley. She was transported to Western Medical Center with major, undisclosed injuries, where she died sometime later.

Other reports indicate the collision occurred at 8:15 pm; however, HBPD corrected that time to reflect the earlier hour.

The driver remained at the scene where he was interviewed the police; the investigation is still ongoing and no citation has been issued or arrest made at this time.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Huntington Beach Police Accident Investigator Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Accident Investigator Robert Barr at 714- 536-5666.

Judging from the satellite photo, there appears to be a westbound bike lane on Adams that ends at Ranger; the need to merge into the right hand lane may have been a contributing factor.

In addition, the sun would have been low in the sky at that hour, which could have affected the west-facing driver’s vision. However, that should not be seen as an excuse; if drivers can’t see what’s in the road ahead of them, for whatever reason, they should pull over and wait until they can. No one should ever drive for any amount of time when they are blinded by the sun or anything else.

Age may have also been a factor, as older drivers can suffer from reduced vision and reaction times, and often continue to drive long after they have lost the ability to do so safely.

And it’s always possible the victim may have cut over in front of the truck without looking or giving the driver time to respond.

All or none of these may have played a role in this case, as the exact cause is still to be determined.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh already this year in Orange County, compared to just one this time last year.

And it is the third bike-related fatality in Huntington Beach this year, following the deaths of Genevieve Hall earlier this month and Matthew Liechty this past February.

For a city of less that 200,000, that should be a clear indication something is very seriously wrong.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Kathy Sieberhein and all her loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: San Marcos bike rider killed by cement truck

According to several sources, a bicyclist was killed in a collision with a cement mixer in San Marcos in North San Diego County this morning.

The wreck occurred at the intersection of South Las Posas Road and Grand Avenue around 9:35 this morning.

Unfortunately, very little information is available at this time, including the identify — or even the sex — of the victim, or any word on how the collision occurred. A report from the San Diego Union-Tribune could not even confirm whether the victim was a pedestrian or on a bike.

A video report from San Diego’s 10 News shows a mangled bike trapped beneath the massive truck, as well as a shrouded canopy in the crosswalk, suggesting that was where the victim’s body was found. However, it’s impossible to tell from the video where the truck was stopped in relation to the crosswalk.

Cement mixers are among the most terrifying vehicles on the road, as their lumbering size limits maneuverability and ability to stop, while giving operators only a limited view of the roadway. Even a close call can be deadly if a startled rider swerves the wrong way or tumbles beneath the wheels.

As a result, it’s long been my practice to get off the road when one approaches, rather than risk yet another too close pass or apparent failure to even see me on my bike.

Whether the driver saw this victim, or he or she even could have gotten out of the way of the truck is yet to be determined.

This is the 30th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Diego County. That’s nearly twice as many as the 16 SoCal deaths recorded this time last year.

Update: According to CBS-8, the victim was a 22-year old exchange student at nearby Palomar college.

The cement truck reportedly stopped at the red light on Las Posas before making a right on the red onto Grand Ave. Witnesses say the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk on Las Posas, then rode out into the intersection as the truck was turning; he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

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

Update — bike rider killed in Huntington Beach hit-and-run

Another Orange County bicyclist has been killed by a heartless hit-and-run driver.

KABC-7 reports that a 34-year old woman, whose has not been released, was struck by a white van around 8:25 last night near the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Utica Ave.

The driver fled the scene without stopping. Meanwhile, the victim was taken to UCI Medical Center, where she died.

The Orange County Register reports she was in a crosswalk on Utica when she was struck; a satellite photo shows four well-marked crosswalks at the intersection. They also report that the van was last seen fleeing north on Beach Blvd.

No further details are available at this time. Anyone with information is urged to call police Huntington Beach police accident investigators Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Robert Barr at 714-536-5666

Read more: http://ktla.com/2014/04/07/driver-sought-after-cyclist-killed-in-huntington-beach-hit-and-run/#ixzz2yFUMPpW8

This is the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County since the first of the year, three of which have been hit-and-runs.

She is also the second bike rider killed in a Huntington Beach hit-and-run in the last two months, and the fifth rider to die in a hit-and run in the city since 2010.

Looks like there’s a serious problem there.

Update: Still no ID on the victim; however, KTLA-5 reports that she was a resident of Huntington Beach.

The Register has removed the paywall from their article, which says the driver appears to have been headed north on Beach, while the victim was riding east on Utica. Police are now looking for a white sedan with probable front-end damage; earlier reports suggested the vehicle was a white van.

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 34-year old Genevieve Ann Hall of Huntington Beach. Meanwhile, the suspect vehicle has been identified as a 2006 to 2013 Chevy Impala with damage to the front bumper. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update 3: Friends and family members struggle to deal with Hall’s death. And a fundraiser will be held at Mama’s On 39 in Huntington Beach on Wednesday night to help pay her funeral expenses.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Genevieve Ann Hall and her loved ones.

Update — Bike rider killed in Coachella collision

On a day when LA bike riders safely celebrated one of the city’s most iconic streets, the news from further east was much more troubling.

According to the Desert Sun, an unidentified bike rider was killed in a collision with a pickup at 6:30 Sunday evening at the intersection of Vista del Norte and Dillon Road. The paper reports the victim died at the scene, and that drug or alcohol use did not play a role in the collision.

Unfortunately, no other details are available at this time.

This is the 28th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Riverside County already this year, compared to just two in the county this time last year.

And it’s a reminder that too many of our streets remain dangerous for those who choose to travel unprotected by a few tons of glass and steel.

Update: The Desert Sun has identified the victim as 48-year old Atwater resident Larry Dale Taylor. According to the Riverside County coroner, he was wearing a helmet, which may or may not be relevant depending on the victim’s injuries and how the collision occurred.

 Thanks to attorney James Johnson for the heads-up.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Larry Taylor and his loved ones.

Update 2: KESQ.com report that Taylor was riding east on the shoulder of Vista Del Norte just west of Dillon Road when he inexplicably turned left directly in front of the pickup in what sounds like a classic SWSS.*

Reports like that should always be taken with a grain of salt, unless there are independent witnesses other than the driver, which is not clear in this case. Often when the victim is unable to give his side of the story, police are forced to rely on statements from the driver, who has an inherent interest in seeing his or her actions in the best possible light.

It’s always possible that instead of the victim turning in front of the vehicle, the driver may have drifted to the right or not seen the cyclist riding in front of him.

*Single Witness Suicide Swerve

Former Pasadena councilman Sid Tyler dies after bicycling fall

Sad news this morning, as word broke yesterday that a longtime Pasadena city council member died after falling from his bike on Thursday.

Sid Tyler, who served on the council from 1997 to 2009, was disconnected from life support on Friday after family members arrived from around the country to be at his side. According to the Pasadena Star-News, he was in his early 80s.

Unfortunately, few details are available, and there are conflicting reports about just what happened.

The Star-News reports he was riding on California Blvd when he signaled for a left turn, lost his balance and fell into the street. He reportedly suffered a severe neck injury as a result.

The paper notes witnesses said he was wearing a helmet; unfortunately, a helmet offers no protection against a neck injury, and may exacerbate it under certain circumstances.

However, the Pasadena Now website suggests he may have suffered a heart attack and fallen into the path of an oncoming car. They place the site of the fall as California Blvd near Morengo Ave.

Tyler was a former Marine, and long-time employee of Tenet Healthcare, retiring in 1994 as executive vice president. He leaves behind his wife of 60 years, as well as four grown children.

According to Pasadena Now, flags were lowered to half staff at Pasadena City Hall in his honor.

This is the 27th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Los Angeles County. He is also the third Pasadena bike rider to lose his life in the last nine months.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Sid Tyler and all his family. 

15-year old bike rider killed in Fountain Valley, just days before his birthday

Ghost bike for Sean Severson; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Ghost bike for Sean Severson; photo by Danny Gamboa.

Every death on our streets is needless tragedy. Every fallen rider a heartbreaking loss.

But some tug a little harder at the heartstrings.

Like when a young boy with a lifetime of possibilities is taken from us before he can even grow up or become who he was destined to be.

On Thursday, 15-year old Sean Severson was hit and killed while riding his bike in Fountain Valley at 7:47 am, most likely while on his way to school.

According to a press release from the Fountain Valley Police Department, Severson was riding along the west curb line of Bushard Street north of Rose Avenue when he rode out into the traffic lane and was hit by a Volvo Sedan.

The report doesn’t say why he went out into the traffic lane, or wether he was riding with or against traffic, rear-ended or hit head on.

He was transported to a local hospital in critical condition; according to the Orange County Coroner’s office, he died at 11:50 am this morning, just four days short of his 16th birthday.

The driver remained at the scene, and there was no suspicion of drug or alcohol use. Anyone with information is urged to call the Fountain Valley Police Department at 714-593-4484.

This is the 26th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County.

I’m told a ghost bike will be installed for Sean on Saturday morning.

This one will devastate a lot of people, including his schoolmates, as well as those of us who never knew him.

And now never will.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Sean Severson and all his family and loved ones. 

Update: I’m told by Danny Gamboa that there are no brake marks on the street anywhere near where the collision occurred, indicating that the driver made no attempt to stop. Which suggests that Severson either made a last-second swerve to the left that the driver was unable to avoid, or that the driver never saw him.

Unfortunately, Sean isn’t around to tell his version of events.

Update: BMX rider killed riding against traffic in Twentynine Palms Thursday night

A salmon cyclist was killed in Twentynine Palms last night.

According to the Hi Desert Star, a 32-year old man, whose identity has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was riding against traffic on the north shoulder of Valley Vista Road west of Sherman Hoyt Road at 8:31 pm, when he reportedly attempted to cross the road. Note: The coroner’s office lists the victim’s age as 31.

He was struck by a westbound car driven by 31-year old Ann Marie Platzke of Twentynine Palms. The story inexplicably says he was struck from behind, which would be impossible given that they were traveling towards one another.

Other sources suggest the collision was head-on, which makes more sense. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:03 pm.

Investigators found an open container of alcohol near the victim, implying that he may have been riding under the influence, which is illegal under California law.

Drunk or not, the victim should have been able to see a car approaching directly in front of him on such a flat, straight road. Why he might have attempted to cross the road at that point will remain a tragic mystery.

This is the 25th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in San Bernardino County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 31-year old Micky James Mroz of Lucerne Valley. 

My prayers and sympathy for Micky James Mroz and his loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Breaking news: Wendy Villegas accepts plea in September hit-and-run death of cyclist Andy Garcia

Ghost bike being installed for Andy Garcia; photo from Ghost Bike Luis "Andy" Garcia Facebook page

Ghost bike being installed for Andy Garcia; photo from Ghost Bike Luis “Andy” Garcia Facebook page

News is just coming in that Wendy Villegas has been convicted in the hit-and-run death of cyclist Luis “Andy” Garcia.

According to Danny Gamboa, Villegas changed her plea to no contest for the September 14th collision that took the life of Garcia, and left two other riders seriously injured.

Gamboa reports she accepted a plea bargain of three years and eight months in prison for felony hit-and-run and DUI. That represents a gift from the DA’s office, as she had been facing a minimum of five to seven years for vehicular manslaughter, DUI and felony hit-and-run, with a maximum of 10 to 15 years.

In other words, she was sentenced to just 20% of what she could have faced.

Garcia was riding with Ule Melgar, Mario Lopez and two other riders on the LA River Bridge on Cesar Chavez Avenue near Mission Road at 2:45 am on Saturday, September 14th, when they were hit from behind with no warning by Villegas’ car.

She proceeded to drive home, dragging Garcia’s bike several hundred feet beneath her car according to LA Streetsblog. She was reportedly still drunk when she was taken into custody several hours later.

Meanwhile, her victims remained where they’d fallen. Lopez had been tossed into the air, breaking his back and leg; Melgar was nearly knocked over the guardrail and into the LA River below.

Garcia was left lying in the roadway, where he was run over by a second vehicle. Whether he could have survived the initial impact had Villegas stopped as the law requires will never be known.

Many reports suggested that the 21-year old Villegas never seemed to grasp the seriousness of her actions, as exemplified by this courtroom incident reported by Sahra Sulaiman in the Streetsblog story above.

So, when she and her lawyer complained that wearing an ankle bracelet that would monitor both alcohol intake and movement would be inconvenient to a young, working student as well as a challenge for her to pair it properly with the variety of shoes she wears, Lopez couldn’t take it any more.

“I thought to myself at that moment, ‘Well, what about Andy?’” he wrote. “‘[Andy] was a full time student in college. He had responsibilities. But yet, he can’t and will never be able to fulfill them…And she is worried about her fashion sense! What about the inconvenience she brought upon his family and friends?’”

He finally yelled out, “But she killed someone!”

Maybe a few years in state prison will succeed in driving that home.

Update: KTLA-5 reports that Villegas is scheduled for sentencing on April 22nd. Not surprisingly, the story notes that many of the cyclists in the courtroom were unhappy with the minimal sentence, and the Garcia’s mother was repulsed by Villegas lack of remorse. 

Update: Red-light running cyclist killed in Glendale collision Sunday morning

More bad news on what should have been a weekend of celebration after a last minute reprieve for the Marathon Crash Ride.

KNBC-4 is reporting that a Glendale man in his late 20s was killed after riding his bike through a red light in Glendale this morning.

According to the station, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding at the intersection of Glendale and California Avenues at 7:10 am when he allegedly rode through the light at a fast pace, and was hit by a car. He was taken to USC Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, identified only as a woman in her 40s, remained at the scene and was not arrested.

No other details are available at this time.

As always, the question is whether there were any independent witnesses, other than the driver, who saw him run the red light. It’s too easy to blame the victim when it’s impossible for him to give his side of the story.

This is the 24rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in Los Angeles County.

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

Update: Evidently, there was another witness. According to the Glendale News Press

(Sgt. Tom) Lorenz said a witness at the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf saw the cyclist, headed south on Glendale Avenue, run a red light before being struck by a car headed east. “He didn’t even slow down,” he said, adding the driver of the car, a woman in her 40s, has been cleared of any fault.

Thanks to Rogelio Yanez for the link.

Update 2: the Glendale News-Press has identified the victim as 25-year old Melik Khanamiryan, presumably of Glendale. Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link.

Update: Two people killed while walking their bikes in Norwalk; 10th LA County bike deaths this year

It’s bad enough when one cyclist is killed.

When two bike riders lose their lives in a midnight collision, without even being on their bikes at the time, I don’t even know what to say.

Except to let the facts speak for themselves.

According to the Whittier Daily News, a man and a woman were killed in a single collision in Norwalk early Saturday morning.

The paper reports they were walking their bikes across Rosecrans Avenue at Fidel Avenue at 12:02 am when they were struck by an eastbound Ford F-150 pickup truck, which then veered to the side, striking at least three parked vehicles.

No identification or other information about the victims are available at this time.

The driver, who was uninjured, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, He did not appear to be intoxicated, and was not taken into custody at the scene.

No word on whether the victims were in a crosswalk, marked or not, when they were struck. A satellite view shows a zebra crosswalk on the west side of the intersection, but none on the east.

If they were in the crosswalk, they were doing exactly what most law enforcement agencies recommend by walking in the crosswalk, rather than riding.

The question is why the driver didn’t appear to see two people walking bikes directly in front of him. And how fast he had to be going to take two lives with a single impact.

These are the 22nd and 23rd bike-related fatalities in Southern California this year, and the 9th and 10th in Los Angeles County, compared to just four this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for both victims and their families.

Update: Now it makes a little more sense, while seeming even more needless and tragic. Chris K, who lives in the area, writes to say that the crosswalk seen in the satellite photo has long been a popular crossing for people in the neighborhood to the south to get to the businesses, church and school on the north side of the street. He notes that there has even been a crossing guard there in the mornings.

Unfortunately, when the street was resurfaced recently, the crosswalk was removed, and the crossing guard was shifted the equivalent of three blocks west to the traffic light at Shoemaker Ave.

Chris notes that despite the removal, people continue to cross at that intersection just as they always have, sometimes stepping out in front of oncoming traffic expecting traffic to stop as if it was a marked crosswalk.

It should be noted that under California law, there is a crosswalk at every intersection, marked or not. The only exception is if there is signage prohibiting crossing, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. 

Now two people are dead, apparently because local traffic planners ignored historic pedestrian patterns and removed a marked crosswalk, despite the need for residents to cross the street.

Two more victims to a world where motor vehicles are valued more than people. 

Update 2: Chris K adds that the florescent yellow signage pointing to the crosswalk remains in place, even though the crosswalk itself is gone, creating a confusing situation. 

Update 3: KABC-7 has identified the victims as 23-year old Giovanni Xavier Chaidez and 20 year-old Rosibel Montoya, no hometown given. According to a live report on the station Sunday night, the driver is not expected to be charged. 

Maybe someone can explain that one to me someday. Because unless the victims somehow leapt out into the roadway without warning, the driver should have been able to see them and stop in time.

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