Tag Archive for Los Angeles County

Update: Driver arrested on murder charge for intentionally running down a Claremont bike rider

Wrecks are seldom accidents.

But they’re usually not on purpose, either.

Yet that was the case in Claremont today, where a driver is facing a murder charge for intentionally running down a woman as she rode in a bike lane.

According to the Daily Bulletin, 54-year old Leslie Pray was riding north along the 1900 block of North Mills Avenue near Radcliffe Drive around 11:30 am today when she was deliberately struck by the driver of a 1996 station wagon.

Pray was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrested 61-year old Claremont resident Sandra Wicksted at a nearby hospital after a brief investigation.

There’s no word on how — or why — the crash happened, or whether the two women knew each other.

Wicksted is being held on $2 million bond. Then again, if she could pay that, she probably wouldn’t be driving a 22-year old station wagon.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Claremont Police Department at 909/399-5411.

This is at least the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 21st that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

And the first one that was, allegedly, on purpose.

Update: KABC-7 reports that Wicksted was driving in the opposite direction on Mills, and swerved across the road to strike Pray’s bicycle.

The presence of skid marks on the street demonstrates her path across the road, as well as indicating she was braking as she crossed the roadway. Which is odd for a driver who was attempting to hit someone. 

However, the station also says other bike riders told police that Wicksted had swerved towards them just moments before she killed Pray.

She is also suspected of being under the influence; several empty liquor bottles were found in her car after the crash.

Tragically, Pray had just started riding a bike this summer.

Update 2: A ghost bike will be installed at 7 pm today

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

Thanks to Erik Griswold and Megan Lynch for the heads-up. Photo by Erik Griswold. 

Unidentified man killed in Van Nuys hit-and-run; suspect arrested nearby

Another day, another fatal hit-and-run on the mean streets of Los Angeles.

In what’s rapidly becoming an everyday occurrence, a man was killed riding his bicycle in an early morning crash, and left to die by the heartless killer who ran him down.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the hit-and-run was reported around 3:45 am at Haskell Ave and Stagg Street.

When police arrived, they found the victim dead at the scene next to his crumpled fat tired bicycle, after being thrown approximately 40 feet from where he was rear-ended.

The belligerent, and apparently intoxicated, driver was arrested about a mile away at Woodley Ave and Satticoy Street near the Van Nuys Airport, with the arrest filmed as it happened by KTTV Fox11.

He insisted that he is in the army and serving our country, demanding the officers respect him while swearing at them and refusing to obey orders. However, police suspect the camo uniform he wore was nothing more than a Halloween costume.

KTTV places the time of the crash at around 3:15 am. At that hour, it’s most likely that the victim was either homeless, or riding to or from work.

No word on whether he had lights on his bike, how fast the driver was going, or what direction they were traveling.

A ghost bike will be installed at 7 pm Friday.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that this hit-and-run epidemic will continue until our elected officials finally care enough to actually do something about it.

Or more likely, when we do.

So if you haven’t already demanded action from your state legislators, maybe it’s time to start.

This is at least the 41st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 20th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

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

Update: Man killed in hit-and-run while riding in Sun Valley bike lane

Now it’s confirmed.

This morning we mentioned a late night news report from KABC-7, which said a man had been killed in an apparent hit-and-run in Sun Valley on Sunday.

Now their brief story has finally been posted online.

The Los Angeles Daily News adds more details, indicating the victim was riding east in the bike lane on Strathern Street at Bellingham Avenue in Sun Valley when he was rear-ended by the driver of a dark colored SUV around 8:30 pm.

The driver reportedly stopped for a few moments before fleeing the scene.

Paramedics took the victim, publicly identified only as a 45-year old man, to Holy Cross Hospital, where he died.

Judging by photos on the Daily News story, he does not appear to have had lights on his mountain bike, though you can see wheel reflectors in some photos.

A street view shows a two lane road with bike lanes on either side on Strathern, with a 35 mph speed limit and minimal street lighting approaching the uncontrolled intersection.

Some reports place the crash scene in North Hollywood, though most call it Sun Valley.

This is at least the 37th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 19th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

Update: The LA Daily News identified the victim as 45-year old Panorama City resident Roberto Perez.

The story also confirms that he didn’t have lights on his bike, and was riding on a dark street wearing dark clothing. Local riders gathered for Wednesday’s ghost bike installation complained about the dark conditions on the bike lane. 

Like any fatal hit-and-run in Los Angeles, there is an automatic $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver. 

Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Javier Avila, of the Valley Traffic Division at 818/644-8034, or the LAPD tip line at 877/527-3247.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Roberto Perez and his loved ones. 

Thanks to Steve S for forwarding the Daily News piece, and the photo of Perez’ ghost bike.

 

Update: Bike rider killed on Winnetka Blvd in the San Fernando Valley

Word is just breaking that a man in his 60’s was killed yesterday while riding his bike in the Winnetka neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley.

The victim was reportedly riding his bike in the crosswalk on westbound Lanark Street crossing Winnetka Ave when he was struck by the driver of a 2001 Toyota Corolla around 6:30 pm.

He was taken to Northridge Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A street view shows a wide four lane roadway on Winnetka, with a center left turn lane and a bike lane in both directions, and an uncontrolled crosswalk on the west side.

No other details are available at this time.

This is at least the 35th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 18th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

A ghost bike ceremony is tentatively scheduled for 9 pm tomorrow night. (Note: This originally said it would be held on Tuesday, but it will be Wednesday, instead.)

Update: According to a source with the LAPD, the victim is an unidentified, 72-year old ebike rider.

He was struck when he rode off the north sidewalk on Lanark into the crosswalk, and was struck by a driver headed north on Winnetka. 

This is yet another reminder of the dangers of sidewalk riding. Drivers often aren’t looking for you there, so you have to assume they don’t see you. Even if you have the right-of-way, it’s often safer to wait until cross traffic has passed. 

And always carry some form of ID. This crash is even more tragic knowing that the victim’s loved ones may have no idea he was killed.

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

Thanks to Zachary Rynew and Steve for the heads-up. Photo of the victim’s ghost bike from Steve.

 

Update: Bike rider killed in early morning Torrance hit-and-run

Yet another person riding a bike has been murdered by a heartless hit-and-run driver.

According to KTLA-5, police responded to a report of a crash involving a bicyclist in Torrance around 5 am today.

KCBS-2/KCAL-9 reports the victim wasn’t breathing when officers found him lying in the street at Hawthorne Boulevard and 227th Street. They attempted CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

He has been identified only as an adult male.

Police are looking for a tan or light gold 2006 to 2009 Toyota 4-Runner with front-end damage and part of the bumper missing. A security camera may have captured video of the crash and could show the suspect vehicle.

No other information is available at this time.

A street view shows a two lane residential street controlled with a stop sign on 227th, while Hawthorne has four wide lanes in each direction with no traffic signals for several blocks, allowing drivers to go as fast as traffic will allow.

Which means he or she could have probably traveled as fast as he or she wanted at that hour.

Just to be clear, there is simply no excuse, ever, for hit-and-run.

Drivers who leave their victims to die in the street should face a charge of felony murder, because they made a conscious decision to let a human being die rather than make a simple call for help.

Maybe then this hit-and-run epidemic would finally stop.

This is at least the 34rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 17th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

Update: KNBC-4 reports the victim, who still hasn’t been publicly identified, was a man in his 40s. 

They also say the speed limit on that stretch of Hawthorne is 45 mph. Chances are the driver was going faster. 

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 32-year old Jonathan Valbuena, who is described as being homeless. Which does not change tragedy or outrage in the slightest. 

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

Thanks to Brian McCarthy and Serena Grace for the heads-up.

 

Woman killed in Lancaster bike crash earlier this month

Somehow, we missed this news earlier this month.

Looking for information about yesterday’s fatal collision in Lancaster uncovered news of a woman who was killed while riding her bike in the same city on Monday, August 13th.

According to the Antelope Valley Times, the victim, identified only as a Hispanic woman in her 50s, was riding north in the bike lanes on Sierra Highway below Oldfield Street when she was struck and killed.

The paper reports that she attempted to cross the five lane Sierra Highway, unexpectedly swerving left in front of an oncoming driver traveling in the same direction.

She was taken to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries.

A statement from the sheriff’s department said it doesn’t appear that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, nor was excessive speed.

As always, the question is whether there were independent witnesses to the crash. Drivers who drift to the right or fail to see a bike rider often assume the victim must have swerved in front of them, when that’s not always the case.

Anyone with information is urged to call traffic investigators at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station at 661/ 948-8466.

This is at least the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

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

Bike rider killed in Lancaster rear-end collision Saturday morning

A man was killed Saturday morning when he was the victim of a rear-end collision in Lancaster.

According to a news release from the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the victim was struck from behind while riding his bicycle west on Avenue K east of Stanridge Ave around 6 am.

A driver traveling in the same direction reportedly swerved into the bike lane, throwing him forward. However, there are no bike lanes visible in a street view or satellite image of the seven lane street.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The male driver apparently stayed at the scene. The report says it does not appear that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, although authorities are investigating whether speed played a role.

It’s unclear what the speed limit is on the street. However, the straight roadway and wide lanes, with long segments uninterrupted by traffic signals, would appear to encourage high speeds, regardless of the posted speed.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Traffic Investigators at 661/948-8466.

This is at least the 32nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

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

Update: 27-year old bike rider killed in Bellflower crash Monday afternoon; fifth SoCal bicycle death in 10 days

It’s already been a bad month for Southern California bicyclists.

And today it got worse.

According to the Press-Telegram, a 27-year old man was killed riding his bike in Bellflower Monday afternoon.

The paper reports the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was hit by the driver of a truck at the intersection of Somerset Boulevard and Woodruff Avenue around 2:40 pm.

A Bellflower Facebook group says the victim was African American.

The driver remained at the scene, and was cooperating with investigators.

Unfortunately, no other details are available at this time.

A street view of the intersection shows two lanes and a left turn lane in each direction. No word on which way the victim or the driver were going, or how the crash occurred.

A photo taken by Serena Grace shows an older SUV with the right rear window broken out, and pulling a trailer.

Photo by Serena Grace

This is at least the 32nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

It’s also the fifth SoCal bicycling death in just the last ten days.

Update: The victim has been identified as 27-year old Bellflower resident Timothy Maurice Lewis.

The Press-Telegram reports that Lewis was riding against traffic on eastbound Somerset when he was hit struck by the driver of a truck traveling north on Woodruff.

There’s no word on how the crash occurred.

However, given the limited description, it’s most likely the truck driver, who hasn’t been identified, was turning right and didn’t see Lewis coming from the wrong direction. Otherwise, it would mean that one of the two had to have run the red light.

Lewis’ older sister has started a GoFundMe page to help pay his funeral expenses. So far, it’s raised just $265 of the $5,000 goal.

He leaves behind his long-time girlfriend, a five-year old daughter and a two month old son.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the Timothy Maurice Lewis and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Serena Grace for the heads-up. 

Photo of Lewis’ ghost bike by Chris Goodwin.

 

Update: 67-year old bike rider dies days after Glassell Park collision

Sad news from Glassell Park, where a 67-year old man has died after his bike was stuck by an SUV driver earlier this week.

However, it’s unclear what day the crash happened.

According to The Eastsider, the victim, identified as Apolinar Venancio, was struck on Avenue 34 east of Eagle Rock Boulevard in LA’s Glassell Park neighborhood.

The crash occurred around 6:15 pm either Wednesday or Thursday; the story cites both days in different places.

Police report Vanancio was riding on the sidewalk along Avenue 34 when he allegedly rode out off the sidewalk between two cars, and into the path of the SUV. He was knocked to the street, suffering a head injury.

He died at a local hospital around 9:30 am Saturday, surrounded by his family.

The driver remained at the scene following the Glassell Park crash.

A street view shows a narrow, unmarked two lane roadway on 34th, with curbs along most of the street.

The question is where Vanancio came off the curb, and why he wouldn’t have been aware of the SUV bearing down on him, if the collision occurred as it was described by police.

Anyone with information is urged to call LAPD Central Traffic Division Detectives at 213/833-3713 or the Central Traffic Division Watch Commander at 213/388-3746.

This is at least the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 14th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

It’s also the fourth bicycling death in the seven county SoCal region in just the last eight days.

Update: A GoFundMe page for the man friends called Don Polo has raised over $2,200 of a $20,000 goal to pay his funeral expenses. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Apolinar Venancio and all his family. 

Thanks to Walk Eagle Rock for the heads-up. 

Photo of Apolinar “Don Polo” Venancio from the GoFundMe page; other photos courtesy of Felicia G.

 

35-year old San Pedro man killed in Long Beach collision Thursday morning

A San Pedro man rode his new e-bike to work for just the second time yesterday.

And the last.

According to the Long Beach Post, 35-year old Ben Rael — described by his brother as having “the biggest damn heart you can imagine” — had saved up for six months to buy the bike he lost his life riding.

The Press-Telegram reports Rael was riding west on the south sidewalk on 7th Street approaching Martin Luther King Jr. Ave around 6:35 am Thursday. Witnesses say he rode off the sidewalk and into the street against traffic, and was immediately struck by the driver of a large pickup.

Rael was apparently thrown into the back of the truck, where the driver performed CPR until paramedics arrived; he died after being taken to a nearby hospital.

Police said alcohol was not a factor.

However, damage to the truck, and Rael’s shattered bicycle, suggest that speed may have been. It’s possible that the driver may have been speeding, or that Rael may have been traveling at a high speed when they hit head on.

Or both.

Either could explain why he apparently rode out directly into the path of an oncoming truck, which is the lingering question in explaining what happened.

This is at least the 28th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Los Angeles County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Ben Rael and all his family and loved ones.

 

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