Tag Archive for bicycling fatality

73-year old handcyclist killed in Palm Desert collision on Monday; first SoCal bicycling death this year

A bike rider from Colorado lost her life riding in Southern California, just five days into the new year.

According to the Desert Sun, 73-year old Rose Peters of Durango CO was hit by a car in Palm Desert this past Monday, and died after being taken to a local hospital.

The collision occurred around 11:30 am at the intersection of Mesa View and Highway 74. There’s no word on who may have been responsible, though the paper says drug or alcohol use is not believed to be a factor.

Her hometown Durango Herald adds more information, reporting that she was hit in a left cross when the driver made a left turn directly into her bike, striking it on the side. She suffered extensive injuries, dying about an hour later.

Tragically, Peters’ husband, who was waiting for her further down the road, was unaware of her death until several hours later; according to the Durango Herald, he got the news after calling several area hospitals to learn her condition.

The couple had been married for over 50 years, and had often ridden together on tours such as the Ride the Rockies and the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, as well as riding across the country a few years back.

She was a volunteer with Incight, an organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities reach their full potential. The couple was spending the winter in the area, living in a mobile home.

The wreck is still under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact Palm Desert Police Deputy Chris Lauer at 760/836-1600; you can also call anonymously at 760/341-7, re: incident #T150050062.

This is the first bicycling fatality in Southern California this year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Rose Peters and all her loved ones.

Thanks to Zak and new BikinginLA sponsor Michael Rubinstein for the heads-up. 

 

Update: The holiday bloodbath continues — teenage bike rider killed in Rialto

Word is just coming in that a young bike rider was killed in a Rialto collision this evening, the fourth SoCal cyclist to die in the last three days.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the collision occurred around 5:40 Monday evening near the intersection of Riverside Avenue and South Street; police found the victim on the sidewalk in front of 335 S. Riverside Ave.

He was unresponsive and suffering from major injuries when police arrived, and died after being taken to a local hospital.

The paper identifies the victim only as a juvenile Hispanic male; other sources that aren’t available online yet give his age as 13.

The paper reports the driver remained on the scene and is cooperating with investigators; alcohol is not believed to be a factor. Which could mean that the driver was sober, or had not consumed enough to be intoxicated.

No other information is available at this time, and no word on how the collision occurred.

This is the 85th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th in San Bernardino County. It’s also the first cycling death in Rialto in the last four years.

And hopefully the last.

Update: The victim has been identified as 16-year old Ryan J. Martinez of Rialto. 

According to the Press-Enterprise, Martinez was riding near his father’s home on a new bike he’d just gotten for Christmas. He was reportedly going the wrong way on Riverside when he was hit head-on by a northbound car. 

He died one day after his mother’s birthday. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the Ryan Martinez and his family and friends.

36-year old bike rider killed in Fountain Valley collision; third Southern California bike fatality in three days

Then there were three.

After going a full 30 days without a bicycling fatality, three Southern California bike riders have lost their lives in the past three days, as a rider succumbs to injuries suffered in a Fountain Valley collision on Saturday.

According to KTLA-5, 36-year old Westminster resident Vinh Tran was riding south on Brookhurst Street at Heil Ave when he was struck by a Jeep driven by William Joseph Klein of Santa Ana.

Tran was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he died earlier today.

He was reportedly riding next to the curb when he was rear-ended by Klein. A street view shows three southbound lanes on Brookhurst, with right turn lane near Heil; it’s possible Klein may have been attempting to make a right turn when he ran into Tran.

Then again, it’s also possible Klein may not have been in control of his vehicle, since he was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a prescription drug. He was taken into custody on Saturday on suspicion of felony DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter, and is being held on $100,000 bond.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Fountain Valley Police Department at 714-593-4484.

This is the 84th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 19th in Orange County; that compares with 12 in the county last year. It’s also the second cycling death to occur on Brookhurst in Fountain Valley in the last three years, just 2.6 miles apart.

My deeper sympathy and prayers for Vinh Tran and all his loved ones.

81-year old cyclist killed in San Bernardino rear-end collision

After going nearly a full month without a bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California, we now have two deaths just days apart in the Inland Empire.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, 81-year old San Bernardino resident William Francis Easley, a well-known business owner, philanthropist and political leader was killed while riding his bike early this morning.

Easley was riding with another cyclist just after six am when he was struck by a car on the 1000 block of E. Lynwood Ave. His riding partner, a local physician, immediately began CPR, but Easley died after being transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center.

The paper reports both riders were using rear flashers and reflectors in the early pre-dawn hour, and that Easley was wearing a helmet; however, it does not note whether he suffered a head injury.

More details come from the Riverside Press-Enterprise, which clarifies that the riders were struck from behind while headed west in the right lane on Lynwood. A satellite view shows an extremely wide right lane; however, it’s likely there were cars parked along the curb at that hour, which could have forced the riders into the traffic lane to void the door zone.

The unlicensed driver remained at the scene and reportedly cooperated with investigators.

Easley was an experienced rider, according to the Sun, and would regularly ride with a small group of cyclists.

He had started his career as an accountant, and had gone to own a chain of business interior companies, as well becoming involved in restaurants and real estate, and had been active in local politics.

His death comes just two days after another rider lost his life in Riverside; prior to that, it had been a full month since the last fatal bicycling collision in Southern California.

This is the 83rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in San Bernardino County; he is also the sixth bike rider to lose his life in the city of San Bernardino in just the last three years.

My deepest sympathy and prayers to William Easley and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Mark Friis, Executive Director of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance for the heads-up.

 

Riverside bike rider killed in sideswipe collision; 1st cycling fatality this month

It couldn’t last.

For the first 26 days of this month, there hadn’t been a single bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California. It looked, for a time, like we might actually finish the year without another rider losing his life

Sadly, that ended today.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, 68-year old Israel Cerda Contreras was riding east in the right lane of Central Avenue east of the 91 Freeway just after noon today.

Witnesses told police that he began weaving as he struggled to ride uphill. As he did, he reportedly drifted into the far left lane on the six lane street, and was clipped from behind by a car traveling in the same direction.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver stopped, and was not suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To make matters worse, Mark Friis reports the collision occurred in the same spot where David Mendez lost his life earlier this year. Mendez was the first bike rider killed this year; with luck, Contreras will be the last.

This is the 82nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Riverside County.

Let’s hope we can finish the year without another one.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Israel Contreras and all his family.

Guest Post: A view from the courtroom

It’s one of the more heartbreaking cases in recent history.

It was just two days before Christmas last year, when a young Australian man working in Chicago was flying back home for the holidays, leaving his girlfriend of five years behind. Faced with an extended layover at LAX, James Rapley decided to rent a bike on a sunny Sunday morning for a ride along the beach.

He never made his flight home.

Rapley was riding in the uphill bike lane on Temescal Canyon Blvd when he was run down from behind by another young man, who was allegedly under the influence at 9 am, and reportedly admitted to texting behind the wheel when he drifted into the bike lane, taking the Aussie’s life in an instant.

I’ve often wondered what James Rapley’s thoughts were in those last few moments as his life drifted away. Whether he thought of the woman he loved, or the family he would never see again.

Or just wondered why.

Mohammed Kadri, the driver who took his life, was recently charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent volunteered to be in the courtroom for Kadri’s Preliminary Setting on Thursday. Here’s her report.

……..

This morning, Mohammed Kadri was actually present in court. I didn’t see anyone in the tiny courtroom who looks 20 years old, because Kadri is kind of hirsute, so he looks older; the kid probably has a 5 o’clock shadow by noon. He’s not very tall, but his suit fit well, and posture is good and it indicated that he understands the gravity of his situation.

The Deputy DA assigned to the case requested a continuance. The judge asked a little impatiently why they shouldn’t proceed today. The prosecutor stated that she needs time to speak with the victim’s family. (Because what better time than the holidays?!?) The next court date is Friday, January 16th.

Incidentally, the prosecutor is Danette Meyers. She’ll prosecute viciously. The victim impact statements will be absolutely integral to the case, though. Even if the family can only provide written statements.

From the glass elevators at the courthouse, you can see planes coming in to LAX. I looked at those tubes of tin and thought of all the souls on board. James had flown into LAX a day early because he was worried that bad weather would delay his flight home to Australia. I wondered if any of today’s arrivals had chosen an early flight for the same reason, to play it safe so they can get home to their families for the holidays. And then I prayed every single one of them will be on their connecting flights. Because James Rapley never got the chance.

Just as an aside, and I could be wrong, but… In the hallway outside the courtroom, an older guy intercepted Kadri’s lawyer as we (me & the guy who turned out to be the lawyer) reached for the courtroom door at just about the same moment. This older guy may be a relative. Right after Kadri’s appearance, I went into the hallway to type some quick notes on my laptop. This same older guy walked by, very clearly looking down at the screen. I scowled at him and he pivoted away. I think he noticed the LACBC sticker on the front and suspects I’m some agent of theirs. Well, let the defense worry that so many eyes are on them.

I’d love to see Kadri quake beneath the gaze of an angry guardian angel the size of the Bike Coalition.

The Airport courthouse has no bike parking, but the security at the garage entrance suggested locking up to the handicap parking sign. The courthouse is conveniently nestled in the armpit of the 105/405 interchange, and miserable to reach by any way but car. If you look at Google Maps, it’s right there by the Green Line station, but you can’t access it by 116th street (unless you scale two chain link fences, and people clearly do this.) Nope, you have to go down to 120th and head back north. If you’re on a bike on 120th & La Cienega, it’s terrifying to wait in the eastbound left turn lane (whose sensor doesn’t register bikes), because the westbound traffic shooting out from the freeway underpass seems to be COMING RIGHT AT YOU thanks to the wacky angle at the intersection. By the time that oncoming wall of FedEx truck zoomed at me like Jaws, my heart rate was about 160. It’s not much lower right now, what with the rage about how we practically require vehicular manslaughter defendants to arrive at the courthouse by automobile.

……..

After I got her report, I emailed a member of Rapley’s family in Australia to let them know about the January 16th court date.

The response I received broke my heart.

The next court date will be just days after the one year anniversary of his funeral. And six years to the day that he’d been with his girlfriend. 

……..

The ghost bike for James Rapley is still there, 355 days later.

Maybe you’ve seen it at the corner of Temescal and PCH, and wondered who it was for, or stopped to read the inscription.

It’s been maintained all this time by a grieving father from Oxnard, whose own six-year old son was killed while riding his bike. Since then, Anthony Novarro has dedicated his life to remembering other bike riding sons and daughters who have lost theirs.

He stops by every few weeks to clean the site, and remember a young man none of us ever knew.

But all ghost bikes are removed or stolen sooner or later; it’s unusual that one lasts this long.

There’s a discussion currently underway to make the memorial permanent by installing a bike rack in the shape of a bicycle in Rapley’s honor.

So far it hasn’t gotten past the discussion stage.

But its another reminder that James Rapley hasn’t been forgotten in the City of Angels, even if he died a stranger to us all.

……..

Something else that hasn’t gotten past the discussion stage yet is a proposal to build the city’s first parking-protected bike lane on that uphill side of Temescal Canyon where Rapley lost his life.

Such protected bikeways were just approved by the state legislature earlier this year, and signed into law by Governor Brown. This would be the ideal location for one, with no conflicting intersections or cross traffic for nearly mile from PCH to Palisades High School.

Whether it would have saved Rapley’s life at that early hour is impossible to say; there may not have been enough beachgoers parking their cars to form a protective barrier so early on a winter weekend.

But it might help prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

And if there’s a better way to honor someone who needlessly lost his life in the few short hours he spent in our city, I don’t know what that would be.

……..

Update: A comment below from Jeffrey reminds us that a memorial fund in Rapley’s name has raised over $15,000 for Australia’s Amy Gillett Foundation to improve bike safety, with a goal of eliminating bicycling deaths. And it tells his all-too-brief life story, letting us know just who this man we never knew was.

More impressively, his family donated his life insurance and joined with friends to contribute over $250,000 to establish a scholarship at Whitley College for a Rural Student studying either Engineering or Science at Melbourne University.

But more funds are needed to increase the amount of the annual award, and help make a difference in the world that James Rapley never got the chance to make.

 

74-year old Laguna Woods bike rider dies following collision two weeks ago; OC bike deaths 50% above last year

More bad news on a weekend dedicated to giving thanks.

Sadly, a 74-year old bike rider has died from injuries he received in a Laguna Woods collision just over two weeks ago.

According to NBC-4, the victim was riding on southbound Moulton Parkway near Santa Maria around 5:57 am on Saturday, November 15th, when he was hit by a 2006 Honda Civic. He was transported to a nearby hospital in grave condition.

Now the Orange County Register reports that Cesar Labastida succumbed to his injuries earlier today.

Both sources report that the driver, who has not been publicly identified, stopped to call 911 and render aid, and that police don’t suspect drugs or alcohol played a role.

No information is available on how the collision occurred or who may have been at fault.

The crash is still under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to call traffic investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000 or 949-425-1860.

This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 18th in Orange County; that compares to 12 for all of last year in the county.

My sympathy and prayers for Cesar Labastida and all his loved ones. 

Thanks to Frank Peters for the heads-up.

Monterey Park cyclist killed in right hook earlier this month

Sometimes it takes awhile for bad news to get around.

Earlier this month, a bike rider was seriously injured in a right hook in Monterey Park. Now I’ve received word that she has died of her injuries.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, the victim, identified as 59-year old Ai-Nei Zhou of Monterey Park, was riding in the crosswalk on Garvey Avenue at Orange Avenue when she was hit by a car turning right onto southbound Orange around 3:30 pm on November 15th.

Zhou was hospitalized with serious injuries; the Cyclist Down Facebook page says she died the following day.

The Star-News reports the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police.

It’s not clear from the article which direction Zhou was riding. Presumably, she was riding on the sidewalk when she entered the crosswalk; if she going west she should have been easily visible as she rode towards the driver. However, if she was riding in the opposite direction, drivers often don’t look for bikes on the sidewalk, and don’t anticipate cyclists riding out into the street.

Which does not in any way excuse the driver’s failure to see her or stop in time to avoid her. But it does explain why cyclists have to be extra careful when approaching an intersection from the sidewalk.

Look carefully for any approaching cars, especially from behind, and assume the drivers don’t see you. Then refuse to enter the street until all the cars have stopped for you or passed through the intersection.

This is the 80th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and 31st in LA County; both of those totals are comparable to this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Ai-Nei Zhou and all her friends and family.

Thanks to Carlos Morales for the heads-up. 

 

 

Update: 39-year old salmon cyclist killed in Venice Thanksgiving night

It wasn’t a good Thanksgiving in Venice Thursday evening.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a 39-year old Venice resident was riding the wrong way on South Venice Blvd just east of Speedway when she was struck by a car turning left onto the one-way street from southbound Speedway.

According to the paper, the collision occurred around 5 pm.

Venice 311 reports the victim, who has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was riding without a headlight shortly after sunset, which occurred at 4:44 pm. The website says she lost balance before being struck, and fell under the car before being dragged roughly 10 feet until the driver was able to stop.

The driver reportedly did not see her riding the wrong direction in the gathering dusk. The visitors from Spain remained at the scene, and immediately called for help.

She was not breathing when firefighters dislodged her from the car, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The Venice 311 story includes a number of photos from the scene, including shots of the bike with the rear racks full and the contents of the handlebar basket spilling onto the street.

This collision serves as a tragic reminder to always ride with traffic, even on quiet streets; drivers won’t be looking for you coming from the wrong direction.

This is the 79th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 30th in LA County. It’s also the 11th in the City of Los Angeles.

Sadly, those numbers will grow, as I’m aware of one more recent fatality in the County of Los Angeles; more on that Friday.

Update: John Montgomery visited the site and offers his insights in the comments below, questioning why the driver took so long to stop, and observes that, as always, the victim is unable to give her side of the story. And notes that the LAPD has conducted a thorough investigation at the scene. 

Meanwhile, I’ve received some criticism for using the term salmon; Patrick Miller calls it a “condescending slur” to describe a cyclist riding against traffic — and New York’s famed Bike Snob, who some credit with originating the term, agrees.

While he undoubtedly popularized the term, it has been in use by cyclists for some time; I first heard it decades ago, and have been using it in conversation with other riders ever since. That is not to say Bike Snob did not come up with the term on his own; his original use of the term could easily have been the first time he and many others had heard it.

I have never considered it to be condescending or a slur in any way. It is simply an apt description of an act that is both dangerous and illegal, and one of the leading causes of bicycling collisions. 

No offense was intended. If any was taken, I apologize.

Update 2: The Free Venice Beachhead has identified the victim as 39-year old Summer Baker.

My deepest sympathy and prayers Summer Baker and her loved ones. 

Thanks to Joe Ryan and Venice 311 for the heads-up. 

Update: Bike rider killed in Santa Ana; 73-year old cyclist gravely injured in Laguna Woods

This was a bad day for bike riders in Orange County.

According to the Orange County Register, a bike rider was killed in a collision with a vehicle in Santa Ana somewhere near the intersection of West 5th Street and North Harbor Blvd.

The New Santa Ana website places the time of the collision around 5:30 pm Saturday, and identifies the victim as an adult male. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both sites report the driver stayed at the scene. No other information is available at this time.

This is the 78th bicyclist killed in Southern California this year, and the 17th in Orange County; that compares with 12 in the county last year. And he’s the third bike rider killed in Santa Ana since the first of the year.

Update: Bill Sellin forwards an email from the Santa Ana police reporting the collision occurred at 300 N. Harbor Blvd. The victim was riding against traffic and attempting to cross the street when he was hit by a car traveling north on Harbor. 

Sadly, police are still attempting to identify the victim. A reminder to always carry some form of identification when you ride. 

Update 2: The Orange County coroner has identified the victim as 69-year old Hassan Davoodiaria. Thanks to Bill Sellin for the information

My deepest sympathy and prayers Hassan Davoodiaria and his loved ones.

Thanks to Natalie and Bill Sellin for the heads-up. 

……..

Meanwhile, KNBC-4 reports a 73-year old bike rider is in grave condition after he was hit by a Honda Civic on southbound Moulton Parkway near Santa Maria in Laguna Woods just before 6 am Saturday morning.

Sound like prayers or good thoughts are in order.

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