Tag Archive for Orange County

62-year old crosswalk rider killed in Santa Ana left cross collision

Bad news from Santa Ana.

I learned late last night from a source in Orange County that a bike rider was killed in a left cross while riding in a crosswalk Monday evening.

The victim, identified by the Orange County Coroner as 62-year old Robert Horton, was riding in a crosswalk along 17th Street when he hit by a car turning left onto the northbound I-5 Freeway onramp around 5:20 pm.

He was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he was pronounced dead at 6:06 pm.

Presumably, Horton was riding on the sidewalk when he rode into the crosswalk; no word on which side of the street he was on or which direction he was riding.

Riding on the sidewalk is banned in the downtown area in Santa Ana; whether that would apply along the freeway is unclear. Depending on how the local police apply the confusing laws on riding in a crosswalk, he could be blamed for the collision if he was riding against traffic.

However, looking at Google Earth, it’s unclear how the driver could have made a legal left turn onto either onramp, since they appear to be designed for right turns only, with left turns blocked by the median.

And while the Orange County Register identifies the make and model of the car, there’s no word on the driver. Or even if the car had one.

This is the 17th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Orange County. That compares with 38 and eight, respectively, this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Robert Horton and his family. 

Thanks to James Johnson of Johnson Attorneys Group for the heads-up.

Update: Guilty plea in case of fallen OC cyclist Joseph Robinson

A source calling from the courthouse in Orange County has just reported that the driver who killed 21-year old Jax Bicycle Center employee Joseph Robinson has pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and drug charges, and will face significant jail time.

Sommer Niclole Gonzales, just 18 at the time of the collision, was sentenced to spend the next 11 years of her life behind bars after she admitted responsibility and waived her right to appeal.

Robinson was taking the long way to work on a sunny February morning last year when he was run down from behind while riding in the bike lane on Santiago Canyon Road.

He was hit with enough force to knock him and his bike completely off the roadway; his body was only discovered because an off-duty fire captain spotted a car with a shattered windshield speeding in the opposite direction, then saw a single shoe lying on the side of the roadway.

Gonzales was arrested in a parking lot a short time later as a friend helped her transfer her belongings into another car, in an apparent attempt to cover up her responsibility for the crime. She was found in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the time of her arrest.

No word on why her friend wasn’t charged for assisting in the attempted coverup.

The victim’s family was reportedly in tears following the sentencing.

According to the source, the judge’s final words to her were “What a tragedy. Just because you wanted to do meth.”

Update: I corrected the above quote from the judge, which was off slightly due to a bad phone connection.

Gonzales will get credit for 888 days served, reducing her sentence by nearly two-and-a-half years; she’ll also serve three years parole upon her release.

Update 2: According to a press release from the Orange County DA’s office, Gonzales was found guilty of:

  • Felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
  • Felony hit and run with death
  • Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor use and under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia
  • Along with a sentencing enhancement allegation for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter

Robinson’s family offered emotional impact statements, including this video from his mother showing him riding in happier days.

Then there’s this moving quote from his sister.

“My heart literally hurts when I think about my brother, I can’t think about him without crying. My drive to work takes me right past the accident site where his ghost bike is still hanging. Every morning and night as I pass that spot, I tell Joey aloud that I love him and cry.”

If you’ve ever wondered what harm driving under the influence can cause, that pretty much sums it up.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the press release.

Update 3: My News LA adds more details, including quotes from Robinson’s family members and his girlfriend. 

The story also quotes Gonzales’ attorney explaining that she had first tried marijuana at age 12, and quickly moved on to meth, which she had been her drug of choice ever since.

According to the attorney, she knew she had hit something, and stopped to see what it was, but continued on when she didn’t see Robinson or his bike. 

Update: 41-year old bike rider killed in Anaheim collision with tanker truck

April is already off the a bad start, after a remarkably safe first three months of the year for Southern California bike riders.

According to the Orange County Register, a bike rider was killed Wednesday evening in a collision with a truck in Anaheim.

Very few details are available at this point.

The victim was hit by a truck around 7:15 pm at the intersection of Orangewood Ave and Harbor Blvd. Anaheim police arrived at the location to discover that the victim had been pronounced dead at the scene by members of the Garden Grove fire department.

No word on how the collision occurred, or the identity of the victim. Needless to say, the truck driver was uninjured.

A satellite view shows a bike lane on Orangewood east of Harbor, but none to the west of the busy intersection, and no bike lanes in either direction on Harbor.

This is the 11th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Orange County. That compares with 28 in SoCal, and five in Orange County this time last year.

Update: The Register reports the victim has been identified as 42-year old Timothy Binau; no city of residence was given.

An update to the original story says Binau was riding south on Harbor when he was hit by a southbound tanker truck. The paper reports investigators aren’t sure how the collision occurred.

Photos show he was riding a mountain bike, but don’t give any insight into the collision. 

However, raw video from the scene shows the covered body of the victim lying by the right curb several feet before the intersection, and police examining the middle of the rear tanker trailer of the truck. (Warning — the unedited video may be too graphic for some viewers.)

That suggests that the rider may have been sideswiped by the trailer or right hooked as the truck prepared to turn. However, there may be other possible explanations for how the wreck took place.

What is highly unlikely is the Register’s suggestion in the headline that the victim “crashed into” the truck.

Update 2: I’m told that Binau lived in the Anaheim area, and may not have had lights on his bike as the sun was setting at the time of the collision.

I’m also told the tuck driver was so disturbed by the collision that he was taken to a hospital for observation. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Timothy Binau and his or her loved ones.

 

Breaking news: OC lawyer guilty in 2013 DUI death of cyclist Eric Billings

Word is just coming in that an Orange County attorney has been convicted in the DUI death of cyclist Eric Billings two years ago.

According to a press release from the OC District Attorney’s office, Hasti Fakhrai-Bayrooti pled guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated on Tuesday.

The DA reports the 41-year old Rancho Santa Margarita woman had prescription drugs — including 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 in Mission Viejo.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti was apparently unable to plead down to a lessor charge; she was convicted on the same count she was originally charged with, which is unusual in cases that don’t go to trial.

According to the press release, she is currently out on $100,000 bond, and faces up to four years in state prison when she is sentenced on May 8th.

She also faces possible removal from the state bar following her conviction; she has been an active member of the bar since 2005.

Thanks to Edward Rubinstein, and Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the head-up. (And apologies for misspelling Rubinstein’s name at first.)

 

Weekend Links: OC hit-and-run driver charged in death of PCH cyclist; fund set to help injured bike rider

It looks like LA’s District Attorney could learn something from her counterpart in Orange County when it comes to traffic crime.

The OC DA announced Thursday that 20-year old Dylan Thomas Randluby of Emerald Bay has been charged with felony hit-and-run with injury and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence in the death of 55-year old cyclist John Colvin.

Colvin was riding in the bike lane on North Coast Highway last June when he was run down from behind by Randluby’s car. Randluby allegedly kept driving despite a shattered windshield; he was followed by a pair of witnesses and arrested after stopping a mile later.

In too many other cases, hit-and-run has been essentially forgiven when drivers stopped nearby, returned to the scene later or turned themselves in even days later. It’s nice to see Orange County prosecutors treat it like the serious crime it is, even if the charges could be a little stiffer.

Randluby has apparently been released on $50,000 bond; KTLA-5 reports that no one by that name was in custody as of Thursday.

Thanks to Amy Senk and Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.

………

A Giveforward account has been established to help raise $30,000 for a bike rider who was severely injured when she was hit from behind at an estimated 50 mph while riding in a bike lane.

And an LA rider wants your help thanking the firefighters who came to his aid when he was injured on Angeles Crest.

………

Local

KNBC-4 says LA has a crack problem — potholes and surface cracks in the streets that can seriously injure cyclists. And quotes BikinginLA sponsor Jim Pocrass, as well as frequent contributor Patrick Pascal.

The LACBC shares an interview with new Executive Director Tamika Butler.

Santa Monica officials propose naming their coming bike share program “Breeze;” the city is also hosting a Valentine’s Day Kidical Mass family ride.

 

State

Rather than improve safety on the Coast Highway, Laguna Beach installs sharrows and signage to steer riders away from it.

Does a bike co-op by any other name smell as sweet? Santa Barbara City College opens a DIY bike shop.

A Danville court case could determine whether the safety of cyclists should be considered in the environmental review process for new developments. Maybe we should be classified as an endangered species.

One of the victims in that recent Mendocino County collision where an 18-year old driver mowed down five riders in rapid succession recounts her story in horrifying detail; she remembers seeing the driver sneer at her through the windshield before she fell under the car and was dragged 400 feet.

 

National

If you wondered who would ever buy that $20,000 S-Works McLaren Tarmac, the answer is cyclist and former baseball great and alleged doper Barry Bonds.

Charges have been dropped against a 74-year old Arizona woman who kept going after hitting a bike rider, blew through a red light and t-boned a truck, killing the driver — while on Ambien, no less — because she was found incompetent to stand trial. And to drive, evidently.

After a 14-year old Kentucky boy with Cerebral Palsy has his bike stolen, a stranger reaches out to buy him a new one.

Deadspin drops in, unwelcomed, on the nation’s second-oldest alley cat race in Minneapolis; thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the link.

A Maryland county finds drivers are at fault in 58% of collisions involving bike riders.

The Baltimore paper looks at why some drivers flee after a collision; maybe because they’re at fault 58% of the time.

A Florida county becomes the first in the state to criminalize harassment of bicyclists, pedestrians and people in wheelchairs.

 

International

Get your video fix from Road.cc with this roundup of the year’s best bike videos, including a texting driver shouting at a rider to get in the bike lane and a massive pile-up in the Tour Down Under.

The head of London’s licensed taxi drivers association says maybe he went a tad too far in comparing bicyclists to terrorists. If we were really like ISIS he would have been beheaded for that remark.

In yet another pie-in-the-sky — or maybe pie-in-the-ground, in this case — plan, a London design firm proposes converting abandoned subway tunnels into underground bikeways.

Kind-hearted Londoners raise £6,000 to send the body of a bike rider killed in the city back home to Greece.

British authorities have finally dropped charges against a bike rider who was fined £50 after he swerved out of a bike lane to go around a phone booth. Yet no one seems to ask why was there a phone booth in the bike lane to begin with.

A Brit bike rider is called the most hated man on two wheels after using his helmet cam to help police convict 70 scofflaw drivers.

A Czech group has sent 200 bikes to Cameroon to help protect African elephants. And no, they aren’t so the elephants can ride them to safety whenever poachers show up.

In one of the most over-the-top editorials in recent memory, a “hard-hitting” writer for the Sydney, Australia Telegraph accuses the Lord Mayor of desecrating the city with gridlock-inducing bike paths.

 

Finally…

Plans for a Halifax, Nova Scotia bike lane are put on hold when a hot dog vendor complains it will put him out of business; evidently, bike riders don’t eat hot dogs in the Great White North. A British bike lock goes high fashion.

And if mountain biking isn’t challenging enough, maybe it’s time to try it with one wheel. Or perhaps racing through shopping malls.

 

A rider fallen, family and friends shattered, and a young woman on the verge of hard time

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year.

Yes, all traffic deaths are tragic.

But some seem more troubling than others, haunting the edges of memory until something — an anniversary, a ghost bike, a news story — brings it back full force. And you’re struck once again by the incredible waste of it all.

A life taken for no reason.

Other than a driver’s carelessness and — alleged — criminal behavior.

A 21-year old bike shop worker taking the long way to work early on a Sunday morning, run down from behind by an 18-year old girl accused of having meth in her system from the night before.

It was exactly one year ago today that Joseph Robinson was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding in a bike lane on Santiago Canyon Road in Orange while on his way to Jax Bicycles in Irvine. Sommer Gonzales was charged with the crime after being arrested in a parking lot not far away on Santa Margarita Parkway, reportedly while hiding evidence in a friend’s car.

It was thanks to an off-duty firefighter that Robinson was discovered off the side of the road, on the verge of death. And that a police officer had the information he needed to spot Gonzales’ car and make an arrest.

OC Battalion Chief Mark Stone was on his way to work when he spotted the badly damaged car traveling in the opposite direction, and began looking for what — or who — the car had struck. The only visible sign of the crash was a tumbleweed smashed against a guardrail, and a single bike shoe resting on the road.

Evidently, I’m not the only one who’s been haunted by Robinson’s needless death.

A memorial ride was held in Irvine this morning; hundreds of riders were expected to participate, escorted to the site of his ghost bike by Irvine police and CHP officers.

Meanwhile, Gonzales faces felony charges for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence of drugs causing bodily injury, hit-and-run causing death and possession of a controlled substance.

In addition, she’s charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, with sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury and fleeing the scene of a crime, according to the MyNewsLA website.

The site reports she could spend over 15 years in state prison if convicted on the felony charges, with an additional six months in county for the misdemeanor count.

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent was in the courtroom recently for the preliminary hearing for Sommer Gonzales.

………

The preliminary held Wednesday, January 21st, was lengthy and at one point during some protracted questioning by the defense, the judge interrupted to remind him that the purpose of the prelim is to present only the most germane facts.

And the facts appear to be these:

Sommer Nicole Gonzales had been hanging out at a private residence in Anaheim on Saturday night. About 3 am on the morning in question, she allegedly smoked meth. A couple hours later, she began her drive to visit a 24-year-old gentleman friend in South County, taking a route familiar to her. Her undamaged vehicle is seen on the video surveillance of a Villa Park 76 Station shortly before she reached Santiago Canyon Road. At 6:47 am she texted a reply to the persistent gentleman friend, saying she was going through Santiago Canyon.

At approximately 6:55 am, she left a frantic message on another friend’s mom’s voicemail, stating that she had “hit something” and needed help. (The mom, for the record, disapproves of her son’s acquaintanceship with Gonzales, and immediately deleted the message.)

Although video surveillance from the gated entrance of the nearby Loma Ridge Emergency Operations Center didn’t capture the impact that flung Joey’s body 200 feet through the air, it shows that Gonzales stopped and exited her damaged vehicle. She did not walk back towards the site of the collision. Instead, twenty-five seconds later, she got back in the driver’s seat and continued driving southbound on Santiago.

OCFA Battilion Chief Marc Stone, commuting northbound, noticed the smashed hood and shattered windshield of Gonzales’ car as it passed him by the south entrance of Irvine Lake. The magnitude of the damage to her windshield initially, very briefly, made him think the car had struck a deer, but his intuition instantly put him on alert. Three miles up the road, he spotted crunched-up tumbleweeds and a lone bike shoe nearby. The same surveillance video shows his truck slow and flip a U-turn. Off camera, he found Joey’s body and dialed 911. Just up the hill, the dispatchers at the Loma Ridge Facility, which houses the county’s emergency communications bureau, relayed the description of the damaged maroon Toyota to law enforcement.

A sharp-eyed Sheriff’s deputy located the suspect’s vehicle, along with the suspect and her 24-year-old gentleman friend, in a parking lot. She had burn marks on her lips and paraphernalia in her purse. She had all sorts of nystagmus and was uncooperative with officers who attempted to administer a field sobriety test. After very few questions, she was taken into custody.

The judge listened to both sides impassively, examining all the exhibits and asking pertinent questions. Throughout the hearing, he was observant, neutral and unreadable, even during the defense’s closing arguments that dropped jaws in the audience.

The defense, possibly sensing the hopelessness of requesting a dismissal of charges, contended that Gonzales’ behavior that night did not meet the definition of gross negligence. The judge disagreed, and stated several reasons to support his opinion: She was high. She was texting. She was on a road familiar to her as one popular with cyclists. She, for whatever reason, maneuvered her vehicle straight into a marked, eight-foot wide bike lane. She failed to investigate the cause of the damage to her vehicle. Fifteen miles away from the scene, she parked her car head-in so that the damage would not be so visible to passers-by. She called pretty much everybody except 911. She made conflicting statements to law enforcement. Her “credibility,” concluded the judge, “is a question for the jury to decide.”

And, despite his calmly expressed finding that the evidence in the case clearly merits a more thorough examination by trial, there was no mistaking his own incredulity at the defense’s claims. I’m fairly sure everyone else in the courtroom (with the exception of Gonzales and her lawyer) wanted to yell “YESSS!” and add a fist pump for good measure.

………

She goes on to offer her personal take on the case:

Gonzales is an idiot for not taking whatever lenient plea deal she was offered, because it’s off the table now. Let alone for not learning anything about how to manage her addiction during three (count ’em, three) stints in rehab as a minor.

And it’s disgusting that her gentleman friend hasn’t been charged as an accessory after the fact. He was helping her remove her possessions from her damaged vehicle when the two were discovered. He’s also the brilliant mind who suggested that she reposition her vehicle so that the damage would be less noticeable, and “accidentally” deleted the texts he sent and received that morning (it took a subpoena to his carrier, but the DA has them all).

Meanwhile, Orange County traffic engineers still think 55 mph is an acceptable speed on a downhill stretch with a blind vertical curve. And the tower visible off in the distance from where Joey was killed, the one that looks like a steeple?

It belongs to the county’s 911 dispatch center.

………

Two lives were destroyed that morning; two families shattered and countless friends shaken.

Sommer Gonzales may have a chance to rebuild hers once she finally gets out of prison — assuming she’s convicted, of course.

Joseph Robinson will never get that chance.

 

 

36-year old bike rider killed in Fountain Valley collision; third Southern California bike fatality in three days

Then there were three.

After going a full 30 days without a bicycling fatality, three Southern California bike riders have lost their lives in the past three days, as a rider succumbs to injuries suffered in a Fountain Valley collision on Saturday.

According to KTLA-5, 36-year old Westminster resident Vinh Tran was riding south on Brookhurst Street at Heil Ave when he was struck by a Jeep driven by William Joseph Klein of Santa Ana.

Tran was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he died earlier today.

He was reportedly riding next to the curb when he was rear-ended by Klein. A street view shows three southbound lanes on Brookhurst, with right turn lane near Heil; it’s possible Klein may have been attempting to make a right turn when he ran into Tran.

Then again, it’s also possible Klein may not have been in control of his vehicle, since he was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a prescription drug. He was taken into custody on Saturday on suspicion of felony DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter, and is being held on $100,000 bond.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Fountain Valley Police Department at 714-593-4484.

This is the 84th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 19th in Orange County; that compares with 12 in the county last year. It’s also the second cycling death to occur on Brookhurst in Fountain Valley in the last three years, just 2.6 miles apart.

My deeper sympathy and prayers for Vinh Tran and all his loved ones.

74-year old Laguna Woods bike rider dies following collision two weeks ago; OC bike deaths 50% above last year

More bad news on a weekend dedicated to giving thanks.

Sadly, a 74-year old bike rider has died from injuries he received in a Laguna Woods collision just over two weeks ago.

According to NBC-4, the victim was riding on southbound Moulton Parkway near Santa Maria around 5:57 am on Saturday, November 15th, when he was hit by a 2006 Honda Civic. He was transported to a nearby hospital in grave condition.

Now the Orange County Register reports that Cesar Labastida succumbed to his injuries earlier today.

Both sources report that the driver, who has not been publicly identified, stopped to call 911 and render aid, and that police don’t suspect drugs or alcohol played a role.

No information is available on how the collision occurred or who may have been at fault.

The crash is still under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to call traffic investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000 or 949-425-1860.

This is the 81st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 18th in Orange County; that compares to 12 for all of last year in the county.

My sympathy and prayers for Cesar Labastida and all his loved ones. 

Thanks to Frank Peters for the heads-up.

Update: Bike rider killed in Santa Ana; 73-year old cyclist gravely injured in Laguna Woods

This was a bad day for bike riders in Orange County.

According to the Orange County Register, a bike rider was killed in a collision with a vehicle in Santa Ana somewhere near the intersection of West 5th Street and North Harbor Blvd.

The New Santa Ana website places the time of the collision around 5:30 pm Saturday, and identifies the victim as an adult male. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both sites report the driver stayed at the scene. No other information is available at this time.

This is the 78th bicyclist killed in Southern California this year, and the 17th in Orange County; that compares with 12 in the county last year. And he’s the third bike rider killed in Santa Ana since the first of the year.

Update: Bill Sellin forwards an email from the Santa Ana police reporting the collision occurred at 300 N. Harbor Blvd. The victim was riding against traffic and attempting to cross the street when he was hit by a car traveling north on Harbor. 

Sadly, police are still attempting to identify the victim. A reminder to always carry some form of identification when you ride. 

Update 2: The Orange County coroner has identified the victim as 69-year old Hassan Davoodiaria. Thanks to Bill Sellin for the information

My deepest sympathy and prayers Hassan Davoodiaria and his loved ones.

Thanks to Natalie and Bill Sellin for the heads-up. 

……..

Meanwhile, KNBC-4 reports a 73-year old bike rider is in grave condition after he was hit by a Honda Civic on southbound Moulton Parkway near Santa Maria in Laguna Woods just before 6 am Saturday morning.

Sound like prayers or good thoughts are in order.

Bike riding mother of eight killed in Anaheim hit-and-run

Yet another innocent person has been murdered by a heartless coward in a motor vehicle.

Just one day after three teenage girls were killed by a hit-and-run driver in Santa Ana, a mother of eight has been killed by a driver who fled the scene in nearby Anaheim.

Forty-four-year old Anaheim resident Daniella Palacios was apparently riding her bike across Magnolia Avenue just south of La Palma Ave around 9:10 pm Saturday, when she was struck by a vehicle whose driver ran away rather than stop and aid the victim or take responsibility for his actions. Palacios was found lying in the street by one of her nieces, just a few blocks from her home.

She was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where she died at 12:46 am.

According to the Orange County Register, witnesses reported seeing a white pickup in the area at the time of the collision. Police are looking for the driver, who reportedly fled north on Magnolia, although the truck does not yet appear to have been tied directly to the crash.

A street view shows a six lane street, with the wide lanes typical of Orange County that can encourage speeding, especially at off hours such as a Saturday night. In addition, there don’t appear to be any crosswalks or traffic signals until Crescent, several blocks south of La Palma.

According to KABC-7, Palacios often brought food to homeless people living in the area, after once being homeless herself.

Anyone with information is urged to call Anaheim Police Department at 714/765-1991.

As I have said before, the driver of this or any other fatal hit-and-run should face a murder charge, on the assumption that the victim might have survived if she’d gotten help on time.

And they should be banned from driving for the rest of their lives.

This is the 75th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in Orange County, which compares to 12 for all of last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Daniella Palacios and all her family. 

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

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