Tag Archive for bicycling fatality

Update: Arrest made in horrifying high-speed Highland Park fatal hit-and-run

North Figueroa was supposed to be safer by now.

Had LADOT been allowed to carry out it’s plans, the street would have undergone a road diet. Not just to install bike lanes, but to calm dangerous high-speed traffic.

Now a bike rider is dead, the victim of a speeding hit-and-run driver.

According to the LA Times, two bike riders were crossing Figueroa at Marmion Way in the crosswalk at 3:02 am when one was hit by car traveling at what police estimated as 80 mph, based on witness reports.

At that speed, there is virtually no chance of survival. Especially since the victim was dragged several hundred feet underneath the car as it sped away.

Witnesses say the driver never braked, before or after hitting the victim.

The second rider wasn’t struck. No word on whether they were riding or walking in the crosswalk.

The victim has not been publicly identified; he is described only as a man in his 20s.

The car’s bumper was left lying in the road, which should make the car easy to identify if it can be found. Police are looking for a small black sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima.

There should be an automatic $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver, based on the hit-and-run reward program recently passed by the city council.

Despite overwhelming support in public meetings, plans for a road diet to improve safety on North Figueroa were halted by Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Cedillo claimed he was canceling the plans for safety reasons, an argument this morning’s wreck has proven wrong.

Now he has to answer to the victim’s family. And the rest of us.

This is the 34th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in LA County; it’s also the eighth in the City of Los Angeles.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

According to KTLA-5, a witness tipped police to the location of the abandoned vehicle, which had biological matter from the victim on it.

That led them to 21-year old Alexis Virto, who was found asleep in bed with his girlfriend at 7:15 am, roughly four hours after the collision.

Virto was still drunk when he was taken into custody. He insisted that he wasn’t the driver; however, he had injuries consistent with a crash, and windshield debris clinging to his hair.

He was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder and felony drunk driving with great bodily injury.

The LA Times reports the victim is a 33-year old man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

The Times also says there were 68 collisions that resulted in severe injuries to bicyclists on that stretch of North Figueroa between 2002 and 2012; there were also nine pedestrians killed in that time period.

Meanwhile, anti-bike Figueroa activist and Boulevard Sentinel editor Tom Topping had this to say:

Why was this person on the street at 3am? Usually only meth-head criminals looking for something to steal are riding around on bikes at that hour.

Update 2: The LA District Attorney’s office has finally identified the victim as Jose Luna, also known as Bizzy.

According to the press release, his alleged killer, Alexis Virto, has been charged with one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08% blood alcohol content causing injury and hit and run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person. Not surprisingly, he entered a plea of not guilty to each count.

Virto reported drove the length of two football fields with Luna on the hood of his car.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose “Bizzy” Luna and his family. 

Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to this story. And thanks to fig4all and Terri Moore for their help in IDing the victim.

Suspected DUI driver kills adult trike rider and her dog in Garden Grove

No one is safe from intoxicated drivers.

Not women on adult tricycles. Or the dogs they carry with them.

That’s exactly what happened last night in Garden Grove, as  suspected DUI driver killed a cyclist, and her little dog, too.

According to the Orange County Register, a woman believed to be in her 50s was riding her adult tricycle eastbound on Chapman Ave near Faye Ave, carrying a small dog in the bike’s basket, when she was struck from behind by a pickup around 9:45 pm.

One of the Register’s photos from the scene shows damage to the hood of the truck, suggesting she was thrown onto it by the force of the impact, while KTLA-5 says the dog was thrown several feet away, still inside the basket.

No word on whether she was using lights or reflectors after dark.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene; she has not been publicly identified. Her dog died later at an Orange County Animal Services clinic.

The driver, 58-year old Rita Faye McLaughlin of Santa Ana, remained at the scene, and was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI after failing a field sobriety test.

Anyone with information is urge to call the Garden Grove Police at 714/741-5800.

This is the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County; that compares with 10 in the county this time last year. It’s the first bicycling death in Garden Grove since November, 2012.

Update: A comment from the victim’s sister identifies her as 55-year old Suzi V. Ramage, along with her dog Sonny. 

It’s the second family member she’s lost to a drunk driver; her son was killed in 2003.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Suzi V. Ramage and her loved ones.

 

Hemet mountain biker found dead on trail after being reported missing

Police have finally made the connection that seemed to be obvious.

The Press-Enterprise reported yesterday that a man had been found dead on a bike trail near Hemet on Sunday, a day after a mountain biker had been reported missing in the same area.

Yet even after authorities identified the victim, they wouldn’t say if he was the person who had been reported by his family when he failed to return from a Saturday off-road ride.

That changed tonight when police finally confirmed that 33-year old Hemet resident Shane Gainer had been found dead after riding in the hills a mile north of Simpson Park.

Police located his car in the park’s parking lot, then conducted a search of the area before finding his body in a ravine off one of the trails in the area.

No cause of death was evident; the Press-Enterprise reports it could take up to six weeks to get the results of an autopsy and toxicology report.

However, the paper reports temperatures in the area reached 100 degrees on Saturday, which could easily have resulted in dehydration or heat stroke.

This is the 32nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County. That compares with eight in the county this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Shane Gainer and his family.

 

Former OC lawyer gets max sentence in drug-fueled death of bike rider

Four years.

That was the sentence a judge finally issued Friday, after repeated delays, for the death of bike rider Eric Billings in Mission Viejo 27 months earlier.

Former immigration attorney Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti, who goes by the name of Hayley, had unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March of this year.

According to the OC DA’s office, she had a near-lethal dose of Xanax and Suboxone in her system when she ran down Billings’ bike from behind on March 15, 2013, as he rode in a marked bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway.

My News LA reports that investigators found a bottle of Xanax in her car following the collision; despite being filled just two days earlier, there were already 75 pills missing.

She reportedly ignored several text messages prior to the wreck from friends who begged her to stop driving and sober up. Yet despite claims that she was screaming and “pulling her hair out” following the crash, her first call was to her pharmacist, not 911.

She had faced a possible sentence of 16 months to four years for the conviction. She was also sentenced to an additional three years, to be served concurrently, after being caught with Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, while she was behind bars.

In addition, Fahkrai-Bayrooti’s license to practice law has been suspended by the California Bar, and stands to be permanently revoked after her sentencing.

My News LA reports that her defense attorney — at least the third one she has had in this case — claimed she had been dependent on prescription drugs since an “early, early age,” and may have early onset dementia as a result.

She expressed remorse at the hearing while pleading for mercy, saying she is no longer in denial about the damage she has caused. Although that denial appeared to be in full force in comments she left on this site just one day after pleading guilty.

A press release from the DA’s office quotes Billing’s wife from the victim’s statements given at an earlier hearing, offering just a hint of the loss her family has suffered.

The victim’s wife said in part, “The void that is left by this tragic and senseless accident is overwhelming. The fact that it isn’t just an accident, but rather an accident committed by one under the influence, is ironic in that Eric never had a drink in his life, would not even take a Tylenol, and would barely take a pain killer after surgery.” She went on to say, “Although I have chosen not to be bitter and have forgiven this woman, I would like her to have consequences for her actions.”

Fahkrai-Bayrooti now faces a long stay in state prison because she didn’t get the help she so clearly needed before she took an innocent man’s life.

Let’s hope she finally gets it while she’s behind bars.

And is never, ever allowed to drive again.

 

Newport Beach bike rider dies after fall, apparently due to natural causes

Another cyclist has died on the streets of Southern California.

For once, though, no one seems to be at fault.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a 61-year old Costa Mesa man apparently fell off his bike while riding in Newport Beach; sadly, he passed away after being taken to Hoag Hospital.

The Orange County Register reports that police responded to word of a collision on Jamboree Road north of San Joaquin Hills Road at 10:32 am Thursday.

When they arrived, they found the victim in the roadway with no sign of a collision. He appeared to have suffered some sort of medical emergency and stuck his head while falling; no word on whether he was wearing a helmet.

It’s not clear whether his death was due to the head injury or some other cause. An autopsy will be performed later this week.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County. That compares to 47 in SoCal this time last year, and ten in the county.

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

 

Update: Bike rider run over and killed in Stanton hit-and-run after falling in the street

More bad news, in what has been a very bad few days.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s department, as well as various news reports, a bike rider was killed in a hit-and-run after falling in Stanton early today.

In a press release sent out earlier this morning, the department reports deputies discovered a man lying in the street at 4:43 this morning after receiving reports of a traffic collision involving a bicyclist.

The victim was dead when officers arrived.

He had apparently been riding in an alley next to Beach Blvd between Cerritos Ave and Main Street when he fell off his bike for some reason, and was run over by an SUV headed south on Beach.

The driver reportedly slowed for a few minutes, then sped off down Beach, and was last seen approaching Katella Ave. The vehicle was described only as a dark colored SUV; no description of the driver.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Traffic Bureau at 714/647-7000 or 949/425-1860.

This is the 30th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County. That compares with nine in the county this time last year.

It’s also the seventh SoCal bicycling death this month, and the fifth in just the last six days.

Update: The Orange County Coroner’s office has identified the victim as 40-year old Jorge Covarrubias. 

Update 2: A witness who saw the wreck says he ran up to help after seeing Covarrubias fall off his bike, and got within a few feet before the SUV ran over him. He leaves behind a girlfriend and two children. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jorge Covarrubias and his loved ones.

Thanks to James Johnson of the Johnson Attorneys Group and Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the heads-up, and thanks to Bill Sellin for the first update.

Update: San Diego cyclist killed by distracted driver; fourth SoCal bicycling fatality in just the last four days

Yet another bike rider has lost his life, in what has turned out to be a horrible few days for Southern California bike riders.

According to the Union-Tribune, a bicyclist was killed while riding in San Diego’s Torrey Highlands neighborhood Sunday afternoon.

The victim was riding in the bike lane on Camino del Sur near Torrey Meadows Drive around 3:24 pm, when a southbound car driven by a 40-year old distracted driver drifted into the bike lane and hit the victim.

Correction: The Union-Tribune reports they gave the wrong location for the collision due to inaccurate information from the police. The wreck actually occurred Camino del Sur near Carmel Valley Road.

Distracted driving usually refers to using a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle; however, it can also refer to anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road. In this case, the paper does not explain how the driver was distracted, though it does mention that her six year old daughter was in the car.

The victim has been identified only as a man around 50. He died after being transported to a hospital. Note: earlier information said he died at the scene.

This is the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in San Diego County; it’s also the fourth in the city of San Diego. That compares to four in the county, and none in the city, this time last year.

This is also the fourth SoCal bicycling death in just the last four days.

Update: The victim has been identified as 64-year old Roger Roux, senior vice president and CFO for Rady Children’s Hospital in Serra Mesa. He is survived by a wife and son, and two grandchildren.

Just one more reminder that no one is safe from traffic violence.

The wreck is still under investigation.

Update 2: NBC San Diego confirms that police suspect the driver was somehow distracted by her child when she drifted into the bike lane and hit Roux’s bike. They also quote a defense attorney who questions why she hasn’t been charged.

And they note that Roux was wearing a helmet; clearly, it wasn’t enough to save his life.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Roger Roux and his loved ones.

Thanks to James Johnson of Johnson Attorneys Group for the heads-up, to Lois for the update and to John McBrearty for the second update. And thanks to Christine for the correction.

Update: 55-year old Masters cyclist dies following apparent solo fall in Huntington Beach

More bad news, in what is turning out to be a very bad weekend for SoCal cyclists.

According to the Huntington Beach Police Department, a 54-year old bike rider was found lying in the street on the 5100 block of Skylark Drive around 12:30 pm this past Thursday.

The unconscious victim, whose name has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was transported to UCI Medical Center in critical condition. Sadly, he died earlier today, apparently without regaining consciousness.

HBPD officers had found him near a red and black Specialized road bike. They believe he was riding west on Skylark when he lost control of his bike for undetermined reasons and fell to the ground, striking his head.

He was not wearing a helmet.

The report says no other vehicle appeared to be involved, and the site was free of any obvious hazards; a street view shows a wide, flat and unobstructed street.

Of course, it’s always possible for a close pass by a car, or for an animal or some other object, to cause a fall, without actually making contact or damaging the bike.

Anyone with information is urged to call Huntington Beach Police Accident Investigator Josh Page at 714/536-5670 or Accident Investigator Bob Barr at 714/536-5663; call 714/960-8825 after hours or on weekends.

This is the 28th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Orange County; that compares to nine in the county this time last year. And also the 12th bike-related death in Huntington Beach since December, 2010.

Update: The victim has been identified on Facebook as Steve McDonald; a memorial ride will be held in his memory on Saturday. 

An email identifies him as a Masters racer new to the 55/60 age group, and reports that the fall may have been the result of a broken chain.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Steve McDonald and his family.

Thanks to Calvin Design for the first link, and Cleave Law for the update.

 

 

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.

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