Tag Archive for Donald McCluskey

14-year old bike rider fatally shot, a painful email from the family of a fallen cyclist, and I beg shamelessly

Before we start, several people have asked me lately how they can support the new BikinginLA.

The easy answer is just keep reading, and keep coming back. And keep sending in those news tips, whether in the comments or through the email address on the About page.

But if anyone wants to contribute financially to help support me and my work here, you’ll now find a Donate page on the links at the top of this page. There will be more options for donations, sponsorships and advertising soon, but for the time being, you can contribute directly to my PayPal account.

Please don’t feel pressured or any obligation. Especially this time of year, there are so many demands on your wallet, and so many higher priorities.

But any contribution, in any amount, is greatly appreciate.

………

One more bike rider is dead. Yet another young woman will never grow up.

This time, it wasn’t the result of a careless or distracted driver, or even scofflaw cyclist. It was a different kind of violence on our streets that took the life of 14-year old Alicia Gomez, gunned down as she rode her bike in Compton.

Police have described her as a known gang member, and characterized the shooting that took her life at the corner of Elm and Alameda streets as gang-related.

That’s exactly where most of us stop paying attention. Another gang shooting, another homicide in Compton, where 213 people, innocent and otherwise, have been murdered in the city since 2007.

She may have died a gang member, but she also died as one of us.

And more importantly, she died a young woman barely in her teens, who will never be a day older. Another life lost to the violence we continue to tolerate on our streets.

Let’s pray that she’s the last one.

………

Every bicycling death is tragic. Every fatality leaves a heartrending hole in the lives of his or her loves ones, and in our world.

Yet some seem to be particularly haunting, a metaphorical ghost bike within our own hearts, remaining long after the news has faded.

For me, the needless death of Donnie McCluskey is one of those.

Maybe it’s because it could have happened to any one of us. He was nothing more than collateral damage in a wreck between a drunk driver and a red light running minivan operator; after the initial impact, the van spun out of control and smashed into McCluskey as he waited at the red light.

If he’d run the light, as so many accuse us all of doing, he might be alive today.

Or maybe it’s because of the online conversations I’ve had with his family from time to time, as they’ve shared the latest updates on his case, or just the pain of his loss in the year and a half since he was taken from them.

It makes me feel like I’ve lost a friend I never knew.

Over the weekend, I heard from his sister Pattie McCluskey-Andre once again, this time to report the final disposition of the case against the driver responsible for Donnie’s death.

With her permission, I’ll share it with you.

Dear Ted,

Re: Donny McCluskey, bicyclist, killed April 18, 2012 in Rancho Mirage while waiting for the light to green.

Final day in court was December 13, 2013.  The DA never lowered or altered the original charges (not sure how much our participation from the start helped). Much to our collective relief, the driver and the judge all seemed to understand the devastation caused by this accident.  My brother was honored with a judge who appreciated that this was a death that was indeed avoidable and gave Donny his day in court.

The driver had lost 80 pounds since the accident; he spoke of his nightmares and his thoughts of Donny every time he entered an intersection. The driver cried during the entire sentencing. His remorse was so complete that he stated that he wished daily that it had been him instead of Donny who was killed.

The judge suspended his driver’s license for a year, placed him on probation for 3 years. He was not given jail time secondary to our family’s request that he perform community service instead, which was also given to him.

Ultimately, there is no closure but the ability to go forward and pay it forward. Drivers need to be held accountable whenever they are negligent and dangerous causing the death of another human. I truly feel the driver in this accident placed a deeper punishment on himself then we would ever impose. My family offers forgiveness to this man so he can forgive himself.

RIP Dear Brother, we love you, we miss you everyday and we will continue to tell your story.

Again, thank you for being the voice of cyclists,

Patti

There’s a lot of pain and a surprising amount of compassion in that email. Let’s hope, now that the case is settled, the family can finally find peace.

And this holiday season, they can remember the joy they shared with him, instead of their loss.

………

News of this weekend’s upcoming Route 66 ride promoted Alan Thompson to send word that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has been working with the Adventure Cycling Association, Caltrans and local advocacy groups to develop a SoCal leg of the planned Bike Route 66. It will follow the path of the legendary highway, giving riders a route from Chicago to LA.

I wonder if my wife would let me ride that one.

………

LA County Sheriff’s deputies have now been involved in the deaths of three people in the last week.

………

Turns out a new Calgary cycle track not only boosts ridership, but improves the flow of motor vehicle traffic, as well.

………

Finally, an Aussie cyclist responds to a roadway dispute by reaching into the driver’s car and riding off with his keys. A Menlo Park rider brings home the family Christmas tree by bike. And there may be a reason the next cyclist you see is smiling and moaning uncontrollably; then again, it’s not exactly a new idea.

 

Guest post: No justice, no closure for family of a fallen Palm Spring cyclist

This story breaks my heart. And it scares the crap out of me.

Last spring, Donny McCluskey was waiting at a red light when he became collateral damage in a violent vehicular collision.

He did everything right. He was exactly where he was supposed to be, and obeying the law in every way.

And yet he still died when a speeding driver ran a red light, and was broadsided by a drunk driver who was crossing on the green, sending the van tumbling into him.

The pickup driver who was otherwise obeying the law was arrested on the spot for DUI. Yet the driver who caused the collision and took the life of an innocent cyclist got a relative slap on the wrist, charged with a single count of misdemeanor vehicular homicide.

The victim’s family thought they’d see justice and get closure at his hearing. They were mistaken.

I’ll let his sister, Patti McCluskey-Andre tell the story.

No JUSTICE

Update on Donny McCluskey’s case with opening court date completed on February 13, 2013. It appeared to be held in Indio traffic court where most of the crimes were DUI, not showing up for DUI work (warrants) or driving without a license. After hearing these cases, there was Donny’s case: MISDEMEANOR vehicular manslaughter. No bail, no driving suspension, no reason to even show up in court for the driver (Armando Gomez of Cathedral City) who killed Donny-HE NEVER has to go to court because as the judge said several times: he was only charged with a misdemeanor (never mentioned manslaughter again) and he hired an attorney to represent him.

The judge explained the charges and the law as the DA had but the DA had no way of knowing he had hired a lawyer. As a family, we believed we would see the man and have some kind of closure. We agreed it was a terrible tragic accident caused by one man’s inattention and selfishness but not intentional. Yet, after court we realize the man who killed my brother, NEVER HAS TO GO TO COURT. Court was imagined as a form of cathartic movement for us to check off our grief list. We know there is no bringing Donny back, no matter what our actions are. We left the court in disbelief as to what kind of message are these charges delivering? Donny’s life was not worth more than paying a lawyer and going on with your life without much ado?

I could literally feel my 82 year old dad’s heart break as he sat next to me. I sensed him using sheer will to keep on breathing through the impersonalization and lack of importance attached to the death of his son. He also had to go home to tell Donny’s wife and mom what occurred. My heart breaks for everyone. My sister, my dad and I came to INDIO as we felt it was Donny’s day in court and since he was dead, his family would represent him.

Seems there are no laws protecting cyclists who die from gross vehicular operation unless the driver was texting, drunk or leaves the scene. Mr. Armando Gomez ran a light and accelerated an additional 30 mph when he realized it. Unfortunately, Mr. Gomez and his van were hit by a truck traveling through a green light resulting in his van flipping and skidding into my brother causing massive life ending injuries (Donny was following ALL the laws).

Mr. Gomez’s lawyer actually stated it was possibly the OTHER man’s fault. Now that is taking responsibility for your actions. I don’t know what the green light man did, but he was arrested at the scene for being under the influence. Maybe he could have stopped, if he was not under the influence but he was not the root cause of the accident. I am sure this driver will have more profound consequences.

Meanwhile, we grieve and acknowledge every month that goes by without our amazing husband, brother, son and uncle. Today is the 10 month anniversary. February 28th would have been his 50th birthday.

We need to change CA law. A car is a weapon and when not following laws that govern their use, even if you did not intend to kill someone and you do, then there needs to be consequences. It could be you or someone you love next time!

We need guidance on how to change these laws!
Patti McCluskey-Andre

The scary thing is this could happen to any of us. The actions of a careless driver can cause a chain reaction that can put us at risk; I’ve jumped the curb myself to avoid a car careening from a collision.

And if it does, the driver will probably get off. Or face the most meagre of charges, despite the damage he or she may cause.

Patti’s right.

The law has to change to ensure lawbreaking drivers who kill or maim innocent people face consequences equal to their actions.

Because their victims do.

Palm Springs cyclist dies in collateral damage collision; 2nd fatality today, 3rd this week

Some drivers will tell you they’ve never seen a cyclist stop for a red light.

Yesterday, proving them wrong cost a 49-year old Palm Springs man his life.

Donald McCluskey was stopped at the red light on southbound Da Vall Drive at Ramon Road in Rancho Mirage around 12:15 pm Wednesday when a 2010 Chrysler Town and County minivan traveling in the opposite direction ran the red light.

The van overturned after it was hit by a 1998 GMC Sierra pickup traveling west on Ramon, plowing into McCluskey, as well as the car stopped next to him. He was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 1:40 pm.

Remarkably, Larry Wayne Goodman of Cathedral City, the driver who had the green light — not the one who ran the red light — was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence. No word on the identity of the Chrysler driver, who was hospitalized with moderate injuries, or why he blew through the light.

In other words, the two people who caused the collision were both breaking the law, while the person who died as a result of their actions apparently did everything right.

This is the 14th cycling fatality in Southern California since the first of the year, and the third in Riverside County. It is also the second bike death today, and the third in the last seven days.

My deepest sympathy to Donald McCluskey and his loved ones.

%d bloggers like this: