Once again, a cryptic CHP dispatch hinted at a horrible cycling collision long before anyone else.
A transmission early Thursday afternoon told of a damaged bicycle on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark, with debris in the roadway — and a body in a tree.
And someone — maybe a passerby, maybe the driver involved — was waiting on the right shoulder to guide CHP officers to the collision site.
Now the Ventura County Star and Moorpark Patch confirm that 78-year old Simi Valley resident Bernard Cooper was killed in a rear-end collision while riding on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada east of the Moorpark Freeway around 1:20 pm Thursday; the CHP puts the initial report at 1:28 pm.
After hitting Cooper with enough force to throw his body into a tree, 20-year old Nicolas Santiago of Ridgecrest drove for another mile-and-a-half before evidently having a change of heart and returning to the scene. The CHP dispatch identifies the vehicle waiting for them as a Nissan Xterra; unfortunately, there’s no word on what kind of car Santiago was driving or whether he returned after the collision had been reported.
Both Cooper and Santiago were headed east on Tierra Rejada; a satellite view of the roadway shows a wide shoulder where Cooper should have been safely out of the line of traffic, while a Google street view shows a 55 mph speed limit in the area.
Not surprisingly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash was still being investigated Thursday evening, however, the CHP reports that alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.
Santiago was arrested at the scene for hit-and-run. However, based on similar cases, the fact that he returned to the scene of the collision — apparently voluntarily — suggests that the charge is unlikely to result in significant penalties.
This is the fifth cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Ventura County; that compares to three bicycling deaths in Ventura County in all of 2012.
My prayers and condolences for Bernard Cooper and all his family and loved ones.
Update: A comment below says the driver of the Xterra was the one who called 911, and was not involved in the collision.