Tag Archive for Mission Bay

Bulgarian tourist dies following hit-from-behind collision in San Diego’s Mission Bay Park

Sadly, this one does not come as a surprise.

Yesterday, news broke that a young woman had suffered life-threatening injuries when her bike was hit-from-behind by a car in an early morning collision in San Diego’s Mission Bay.

Today, multiple reports confirm that 21-year old Stela Hristova, a tourist from Bulgaria, died of her injuries yesterday afternoon.

Hristova was riding south on the 2500 block of Ingraham Street on Vacation Island when she was hit from behind by a sedan around 3:30 am. According to police reports, the driver reportedly swerved into the left lane when he encountered her riding in the middle of a traffic lane, but wasn’t able to avoid hitting her bike.

Which traffic lane wasn’t specified; if she was in the right lane, she would have been riding exactly where she should have been in a traffic lane that does not appear to be wide enough to share. However, it would appear from the news reports that the police are blaming her for not hugging the curb, instead.

She was transported to a hospital with what a police spokesperson described as “major, life-threatening injuries,” where she died at 2:05 pm, less than 12 hours after the collision.

Bike SD notes that the 2002 San Diego bike plan called for bike lanes on Ingraham; if had the city followed their own plan, Hristova might be alive today. Instead, Ingraham — one of the main roadways through the city’s primary beachfront resort and playground area for tourists and locals alike — remains a virtual highway designed to transport the maximum number of vehicles at the highest possible speeds.

And evidently, without regard to the cost, human or otherwise.

I frequently rode through that section when I lived in San Diego over two decades ago. Even then, it was an uncomfortable stretch of roadway that, by design, encouraged speeding and needlessly close passes by drivers.

There’s no word on whether Hristova, who was in the city visiting relatives, was using lights or reflectors in the early morning hour. If she was, there is no excuse for the driver to have failed to see her until it was too late; yet all the news reports focus on the motorist’s seemingly heroic efforts to avoid her, rather than his failure to see her in the first place.

News reports also indicate that she wasn’t wearing a helmet. Whether or not that could have made a difference depends entirely on the speed of the vehicle that hit her, which has not been mentioned yet in any of the stories reporting the collision or the death that resulted.

Commenters to the stories will undoubtedly question why someone would be riding a bike at that hour; yet no one would similarly wonder what a motorist was doing in that area in the middle of the night.

And it makes me heartsick to think that we are once again sending a visitor to our country home in a box simply because we can’t seem to tame the carnage on our streets.

Or care enough to do anything about it.

This is the 64th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in San Diego County; it’s also the third in the City of San Diego since the first of the year. That compares with 11 in the county, and six in the city, for all of last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Stela Hristova and all her family and loved ones. 

Bike rider killed in San Bernardino; San Diego cyclist critically injured, as is racing legend Dale Stetina

They say bad things come in three.

That seems to be the case this holiday weekend, with fatal and near fatal collisions here in Southern California, and a cycling legend clinging to life in Colorado.


According to the San Bernardino Sun, 27-year old San Bernardino resident Russell Alvin Burrows was riding south on the 18700 block of Cajon Boulevard around 8:10 pm Saturday when he was apparently hit from behind by a 2007 Toyota Corolla traveling in the same direction. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Toyota has not been publicly identified.

A satellite view shows a four lane roadway, dropping to two lanes, with little or no shoulder, suggesting Burrows was most likely riding in the traffic lane.

Depending on exactly where the collision occurred, it’s also possible that he was right-hooked, as there are a number of driveways and a freeway on- and off-ramp in the area.

No other details are available at this time, and no word on whether he was using lights or reflectors, as it would have been nearing full dark at the time of impact.

This is the 63rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in San Bernardino County. That compares to 10 bike-related deaths in the county in all of 2012, and six in 2011.


A 20-year old bike rider suffered life-threatening injuries in another struck-from-behind collision early Sunday morning, this time in San Diego.

The victim was riding south in a traffic lane on the 2500 block of Ingraham Street on Vacation Island in San Diego’s Mission Bay Park at 3:30 am when she was hit by a sedan. The driver reportedly swerved into the left lane when he saw her, but wasn’t able to avoid hitting her bike.

She was transported to a hospital with what a police spokesperson described as “major, life-threatening injuries.”

A street view shows the two lane roadway increasing to three lanes with no shoulders. The right lane appears to be of substandard width, suggesting that she was legally within her rights to take the lane — as well as following the advice of most bike safety advocates to avoid riding near the curb if the lane is too narrow for a bike and car to safely share.

Again, no word on whether she was using lights or reflectors as required by law.

However, police and the press are usually quick to say if a victim didn’t have lights after dark.


Word broke Saturday night that an American cycling legend had suffered life-threatening injuries in a fall caused by an out-of-control driver in Boulder, Colorado’s Lefthand Canyon.

In the 1970s and early ’80s, Dale Stetina and his brother Wayne dominated American bike racing, with Wayne winning the Red Zinger/Coors Classic — then the country’s leading bike race — in 1977, and Dale winning in ’79 and ’83.

The two riders were both inducted into the US Bicycling Hall of Fame for their dominance of the sport in this country, and their role in paving the way for the first generation of American international riders that followed — riders with better known names like Andy Hampsten, Davis Phinney, Olympic gold medalist Alexi Grewal and the country’s only current Tour de France winner, Greg Lemond.

It was also long rumored that the two brothers were the inspiration for the cycling cult classic American Flyers.

So it was devastating news that 57-year old Dale Stetina was critically injured when a driver pulled onto the shoulder on the wrong side of the popular riding route, then swerved back to the other side just as a group of riders came around bend in the road.

All of the cyclists were able to avoid colliding with the car; however, Stetina reportedly went over his handlebars, landing face first on the pavement.

Despite wearing a helmet, he suffered major face and eye injuries, as well as loss of responsiveness; a CAT Scan revealed additional injuries to his brain stem. According to the Boulder Daily Camera, he remains in a medically induced coma in critical condition.

He is also the father of rising Garmin-Sharp rider Peter Stetina.

And he’s long been a personal hero and inspiration to me, dating back to when I first started riding seriously in the 1980s.


My prayers and deepest sympathy for Russell Alvin Burrows and all his family and loved ones.

And I hope you’ll join me in offering prayers and best wishes for Dale Stetina and the publicly unidentified victim in San Diego; may they both recover quickly and completely. 

Update 3: Another San Diego tragedy — cyclist killed by motorcycle last night

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this one.

Late last night, news broke that a 59-year old male bike rider suffered severe injuries when he was hit from behind by a motorcycle in San Diego’s Mission Bay area. Now news reports say the victim, who has not been publicly identified, died sometime overnight.

The collision occurred on northbound Moreno Blvd near Sea World Drive; initial reports — which have since been overwritten following the death — indicated that the cyclist was somehow splitting lanes when the motorcyclist came over a hill near Knoxville Street and was unable to stop in time to avoid the rider.

The motorcycle would seem to have been moving an an extreme rate of speed to have been unable to see the cyclist and stop in time; it would take an exceptionally steep hill to block the vision of a rider traveling at normal traffic speeds.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 7th in San Diego County, as they maintain a horrible one-a-month pace; it’s also the 5th this year in the City of San Diego.

My prayers go out for the victim and his family.

Update: Not surprisingly, no major news updates on this story yet, as local media seems to take weekends off these days. However, John forwarded this comment from one of the early news stories about this tragic collision.

“Witnessed this accident happen. The story is all wrong. Bicyclist was headed southeast across Morena in the right hand only turn lane–crossing the street–when the motorcyclist, heading north, was speeding after making the left hand turn from Tecolote onto Morena and could not stop in time and broadsided the bicyclist. The bicyclist had really bad head injuries and was unconscious at the scene and had to be revived with CPR. I hope he is able to recover. Awful to witness. There were at least 6 witnesses on scene that gave similar statements to police so I’m not sure why the police is releasing the wrong information. Also, there is absolutely no hill in this area on Morena–it is flat and straight.”

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time San Diego police have gotten the story wrong in their public statements. Or the first time they let a killer motorist off the hook.

Let’s hope they conduct a full and fair investigation into this collision — wherever the finger ends up pointing.

Update 2: It didn’t take long for San Diego police to blame the victim

Despite the apparent witness comment above that said the rider was crossing the street, the authorities now claim the victim was drunk and riding the wrong way on Moreno Blvd.

The location of the collision, which has jumped all over the map in earlier reports, is now placed on the 1400 block of Moreno Blvd near Knoxville Street. A satellite view shows what appears to be a relatively quiet four lane street between Knoxville and Tecolote Road, where the motorcyclist reportedly turned left onto Moreno; if the collision occurred near Knoxville, he had nearly an entire block to notice the victim and swerve or stop to avoid him, even if he was riding salmon.

Not unlike the recent incident in Santa Monica, the rider is accused of being drunk, yet no blood alcohol levels have been released to support that. And where on earth did that initial report come from that the motorcycle rider was blinded by a hill that clearly doesn’t exist at an intersection that appears to be flat as a pancake?

Maybe it’s true. 

However, given the ever-changing police story that initially attempted to blame cyclist David Ortiz for riding the wrong way on Balboa Blvd — when he was actually riding with traffic on his way to work — I’d suggest taking the updated version with a 10-pound bag of salt, let alone a grain.

 As I said above, all most of us want is a fair investigation, wherever it leads.

But until the police release more details to support such a dramatic turn in the semi-official story, it smells like they may once again be bending over backward to let a motorist off the hook.

And that stinks.

Update 3: I’ve just received the following comment from a witness suggesting that the motorcyclist was riding in a dangerous and aggressive manner just prior to the collision. And that the police didn’t seem very interested in what the witnesses had to say.

I saw this accident happen. The motorcyclist made a left turn onto Morena from Tecolote Road. He took off from the light at a very high speed, cut across a lane without signaling and collided head on with the bicyclist. The motorcyclist was going far too fast and did not even brake before slamming into the bicyclist at high speed. Had the motorcyclist not been driving recklessly and speeding, this accident would certainly have been avoided.

I, and the other witnesses who saw the accident and stopped, gave statements to the police on the scene. It’s fair to say the police weren’t very interested in listening to what the witnesses actually saw although they made some attempt to write them down. That was reflected in the incorrect news reports (citing incorrect/false police information) that surfaced on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The reports have been partly corrected but are still missing some pretty important (and obvious) details.  

Condolences to the family of the deceased.

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