Tag Archive for Riverside County

Update — Bike rider killed in Coachella collision

On a day when LA bike riders safely celebrated one of the city’s most iconic streets, the news from further east was much more troubling.

According to the Desert Sun, an unidentified bike rider was killed in a collision with a pickup at 6:30 Sunday evening at the intersection of Vista del Norte and Dillon Road. The paper reports the victim died at the scene, and that drug or alcohol use did not play a role in the collision.

Unfortunately, no other details are available at this time.

This is the 28th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Riverside County already this year, compared to just two in the county this time last year.

And it’s a reminder that too many of our streets remain dangerous for those who choose to travel unprotected by a few tons of glass and steel.

Update: The Desert Sun has identified the victim as 48-year old Atwater resident Larry Dale Taylor. According to the Riverside County coroner, he was wearing a helmet, which may or may not be relevant depending on the victim’s injuries and how the collision occurred.

 Thanks to attorney James Johnson for the heads-up.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Larry Taylor and his loved ones.

Update 2: KESQ.com report that Taylor was riding east on the shoulder of Vista Del Norte just west of Dillon Road when he inexplicably turned left directly in front of the pickup in what sounds like a classic SWSS.*

Reports like that should always be taken with a grain of salt, unless there are independent witnesses other than the driver, which is not clear in this case. Often when the victim is unable to give his side of the story, police are forced to rely on statements from the driver, who has an inherent interest in seeing his or her actions in the best possible light.

It’s always possible that instead of the victim turning in front of the vehicle, the driver may have drifted to the right or not seen the cyclist riding in front of him.

*Single Witness Suicide Swerve

Update: Corona mountain biker found dead after being lost overnight

This is why you don’t ride off road in threatening weather.

Word broke last night that a bike rider was lost in the Cleveland National Forest above Corona; today rescuers found 34-year old Corona resident Andres Marin’s body North Main Divide Road in Orange County.

Weather Saturday’s severe storms played a role in his death was unclear, however, they delayed rescue attempts by 12 hours until conditions improved.

According to the Press-Enterprise, Marin had gone out for an 18-mile ride on the Skyline Trail above Corona, intending to return home Saturday afternoon — tragically, to celebrate his birthday.

Unfortunately, he failed to return.

The paper reports that his wife posted on Facebook that he called around 5:15 pm, saying he was injured and didn’t know where he was. She said his words sounded slurred and he seemed disoriented.

The Temecula Grapevine website says he was going to try to make it out of the mountains before dark. When he did not return, a search was initiated at 5:45 pm.

Using trail maps and cellular towers, rescuers were able to identify his probable location as the southwest side of the Skyline Trail, according to the Riverside County Sheriffs Department. Unfortunately, that could not be confirmed, and attempts to contact Marin were unsuccessful.

Bad weather kept rescuers from accessing the trail and prevented the use of helicopters. However, by 6 am Sunday, weather conditions had improved enough to allow a search to begin.

Unfortunately, Marin’s body was found around 10 am on an Orange County Section of North Main Divide Road; no cause of death was reported pending further investigation.

According to his Facebook page, Marin died just 17 days before his 14th anniversary; he leaves behind four children.

This is the 19th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 4th in Orange County already this year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Andres Marin and all his family. 

Update: As Anthony Ryan pointed out, it is also unwise to hike or bike in the backcountry alone. A riding partner can often help you get out safely or go for help if something goes wrong.

Update 2: The Press-Enterprise has updated their story to say Marin had left at 7 am Saturday on an 88-mile ride, which his wife said he had done before, rather than the 18-miler initially reported. 

In addition, she reports authorities were initially confident Marin would survive the night, despite his thin riding clothes and lack of food. Hypothermia is the suspected cause of death, likely due to being caught in the heavy rain overnight.

Update 3: The Press-Enterprise quotes Marin’s wife, Christyna Arista, as saying she was angry about the delay in rescuers going out to look for Marin. 

According to the paper, Arista and a group of volunteers set out at 3:45 am to look for him, against the advice of sheriff’s deputies. Another volunteer found Marin’s purple-hued body, still seated on his bike leaning against a hillside, with his feet on the pedals.

Sheriff’s officials explained their decision to wait based on adverse conditions.

Sheriff’s Lt. Zach Hall said ideally, the department would have sent a helicopter to follow the approximately 53-mile route that Marin, 34, had planned to follow along Skyline Trail, Main Divide Road and Indian Truck Trail.

But the steady rain that night prevented the helicopter from flying, Hall said. Rescuers also ruled out using motorized vehicles that normally would be able to navigate the dirt road because Friday’s heavy rain left the clay soil too slick. The conditions also made hiking to wherever Marin might have been dangerous.

“We could have set up ourselves for a self-rescue. I would not have sent people up there to get hurt,” Hall said.

His wife also confirms that Marin told her he had fallen; while he was found with just minor cuts and scratches, her description that he was lost and slurring his words during the call suggests a significant head injury.

The paper reports Marin had just bought the bike he died on two weeks earlier, and there was no discussion of postponing the trip — even though an employee at a local bike shop said the route, with a 4,000 foot elevation gain, would have been unridable after Friday’s storm.

Update 4: Marin’s wife, Christyna Arista, invites everyone to view her Facebook page to keep up with the latest information. And a fund has been established to contribute to the family in their hour of need.

Update: 13-year old bike rider killed in Murrieta collision; 4th SoCal bike death in just 48 hours

The bad news just keeps coming.

For the fourth time in less than 48 hours, a Southern California bike rider has lost his life on the bumper of a motor vehicle.

According to Murrieta Patch, a 13-year old boy was riding his bike south across Los Brisas Road on Bolina Drive yesterday when he was hit by a car traveling west on Los Brisas at 4:05 pm. The victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was taken to Rancho Springs Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The woman driving the car said the rider appeared suddenly, and she was unable to stop in time to avoid him. According to police, the vehicle appear to be driving at the 35 mph speed limit; there was no stop sign for the car at the intersection, nor was there any crosswalk.

There appears to be bike lane on Los Brisas, though not on Bolina. But the question is why there wouldn’t be a stop sign or a crosswalk just one block from an elementary school.

The Press-Enterprise reports the victim was riding a fixed-gear bike with no brakes; depending on the skill of the rider, it’s possible that he may not have been able to stop in time to avoid darting out in front of the car. It’s also possible that the driver may have been distracted in some way, and didn’t see something she should have been able to stop for.

According to Patch, no one observed the actual collision.

“We had a number of witnesses,” the sergeant told Patch.  “They reported to us hearing a noise, looking that direction, and seeing the boy go down on the roadway, but nobody actually saw the accident occur.”

This is the 17th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and frighteningly, the fifth in Riverside County in the last two months. He was also the second vulnerable road user killed in Murrieta yesterday alone.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family. 

Thanks to Zak for the heads-up.

Update: Commenters on the Patch story have given the first name of the victim as Brennan, and report seeing a helmet in some of the news stories. 

Update 2: The Press-Enterprise has identified the victim as 13-year old Brennen Faith of Murrieta. And yes, he was riding brakeless, and with a helmet. 

Update: Tour de Palm Springs rider killed in Thermal collision

Up to 30,000 riders participated in today’s Tour de Palm Springs.

One less will be returning home tonight.

According to the Desert Sun, 55-year old Alta Loma resident Lavonne Koester was in the 67th mile of the century ride when she was struck by a Dodge truck at the intersection of 60th and Harrison Street in Thermal, south of Coachella.

The collision occurred at 12:12 pm; she was pronounced dead at 1 pm at JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio.

No information is available yet on how the collision happened. According to the site, the driver remained on the scene and no arrest was made; drug or alcohol use was not suspected.

Like many such fundraising rides, the Tour de Palm Springs takes place on public roadways that remains open to vehicular traffic. There’s no word on whether the intersection was controlled in any way, or if drivers were warned of the presence of bicycles in the area.

According to the website, the ride raises funds for over 150 non-profits in the Coachella Valley.

This is the 13th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year. Remarkably, her death is the 4th in Riverside County already this year, compared to 12 for all of last year.

My deepest condolences and prayers for La Vonne Koester and all her family and loved ones.

Thanks to Zak for the heads-up.

Update: In a follow-up story, the Desert Sun corrects the spelling of the victim’s name as La Vonne, rather than Lavonne.

According to the paper, she was riding west on Avenue 60 when she crossed Harrison Street in front of a southbound 1999 Dodge truck; it’s unclear if speed may have been a factor. 

In a comment below, Aaron Hultin describes coming on the scene shortly afterwards.

My son and I road the 100 yesterday and came upon this tragedy minutes after it happened while the medics where attempting cpr. It was a bleak reminder of our fragile nature on a bike as well as a reminder to follow the road rules. This was a 2 way stop with the opposing traffic having no stop sign and there was no police control as there was at many of the major intersections.

Just to be clear, that does not necessarily mean Koester ran the stop sign. She may have stopped before proceeding through the intersection, unaware of the oncoming truck or the lack of a stop sign on the cross street.

The Desert Sun reports this appears to have been the first fatality or serious injury in the event’s 16 year history. Participation was estimated at nearly 10,000 riders, a significant decrease from the up to 30,000 predicted in pre-event news stories.

The paper also quoted a portion of the standard waiver form signed by participants in which they waive the right to damages against the firm hosting the event or any of its employees in the event of injuries or other damages.

However, a waiver like that can be often invalidated if it is shown they were negligent in some way, such as failing to direct traffic or offer warnings at intersections such as the one where this collision took place.

Update 2: The Inland Empire Biking Alliance quotes a witness explaining how the collision happened. 

We have a statement from a witness of yesterday’s collision that killed La Vonne Koester. She was crossing the intersection at 60th and Harrison Street. It was a 2-way stop with her direction having to stop. A motorist was kind enough to stop and let the cyclists through. Unfortunately the truck coming from behind swerved to miss hitting the stopped car and hit La Vonne. There is no statement yet that speed played a factor. We will be waiting for the police report.

If the police investigation bears out that description, authorities will be hard-pressed not to charge the driver with vehicular homicide. There is simply no excuse for going around a car stopped at an intersection without knowing why the car is stopped, or having to swerve to avoid a stopped car other than in a panic stop situation.

Thanks to IE Bike for the heads-up.

Update 3: Well, that didn’t take long. Despite the comment above suggesting that the driver was clearly at fault, it only took the CHP two days to blame the victim in this case.

As usual.

According to the Desert Sun, CHP officials now say La Vonne Koester ran the stop sign, and the driver was not speeding. And apparently, did not do anything else wrong in fatally running down a bike rider.

Another Facebook post I read earlier today, which I have unfortunately lost, said Koester was part of a group of riders that stopped at the stop sign before proceeding across the intersection. As the trailing rider in the group, she was a sitting duck when the driver went through the intersection. 

Either way, at least two witnesses say she stopped at the intersection, and the truck driver either swerved around a stopped car ahead of him, or was somehow unable to see a large group of riders crossing the road ahead of him. 

All I can say is that if I am ever hit by a car, I pray that the CHP is not involved in the investigation.

Palm Springs bike rider dies in solo fall

A bad weekend just keeps getting worse, as a bike rider was killed in a solo fall in Palm Springs this morning.

According to Palm Springs Patch, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on a bike path on the 3100 block of East Palm Canyon Drive around 8:38 am when he somehow lost control of his bike. He veered down an embankment, and landed head-first on the pavement at the bottom.

He was pronounced dead at Desert Regional Medical Center.

A satellite view shows a separated bike path on the east side of the street, with a drop off leading to the parking lot next to it.

No word on whether the victim was wearing a helmet. However, relatively slow speed falls, like this appears to be, are exactly what bike helmets are designed to protect against.

This is the fifth bicycling fatality this year; remarkably, it is already the third death in Riverside County — or four if you count Phil Richards, who died yesterday of injuries he suffered in a Calimesa hit-and-run December 29th.

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

 

 

More bad news — Calimesa hit-and-run victim dies two weeks after collision; 89th cycling fatality of 2013

More bad news.

According to a report on Don Davidson’s Facebook page, Phil Richards has died of the injuries he suffered in a Calimesa hit-and-run just before New Years.

I’m deeply saddened to share the news that my very dear friend Phil Richards passed away at 5 p.m. today. I send my sincerest thanks to everyone who offered prayers, love and support to Phil, his wife Annette and their family during the difficult days since his accident Dec. 29. Words cannot express what he meant to me and how he shaped my life. … He will be deeply missed.

As you may recall, Richards was riding south on Calimesa Blvd just north of Singleton Rd around 12:25 pm on Sunday, December 29th, when a car allegedly driven by 42-year old Calimesa resident William Donald Johnson crossed the centerline and hit Richards head-on at an estimated 50 mph. Johnson fled the scene, leaving his victim critically injured in the roadway.

The experienced 55/60+ racer underwent a number of surgeries over the past few weeks, but ultimately, his medical team was unable to save him.

Hopefully, the felony hit-and-run charge against Johnson will be upgraded to a homicide charge.

This is the 89th bicycling fatality in Southern California resulting from injuries suffered in 2013, and the 12th in Riverside County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Phil Richards and all his family and loved ones.

Update: The San Bernardino Sun says Richards was a 64-year old resident of Beaumont. 

 

Update: 16-year old bike rider killed in Desert Hot Springs hit-and-run

Then there were three.

Just 10 days into the new year, Southern California has already suffered three cycling fatalities, continuing the bloody pace from last year, when at least 88 riders lost their lives on SoCal streets.

The latest came last night, as a 16-year old bike rider was killed while riding with a friend in Desert Hot Springs.

According to The Desert Sun, Reuben Guzman was sharing a single bike with another boy when they were hit by a Nissan pickup at 5:35 pm at the intersection of West Drive and Desert View Ave. One boy was pedaling the bike north on West Drive while the other rode on the handlebars; no word on whether Guzman was on the seat or the handlebars, or whether the other rider was injured.

The boys reportedly veered into the traffic lane where they were struck from behind by the truck; the driver fled the scene, leaving the victims bleeding in the street.

Guzman died at 11:05 pm at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.

Police are looking for a blue or gray Nissan pickup with major front end damage.

This is the third bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Riverside County already this year; there were 11 bicycling deaths in the county last year.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Desert Hot Springs Police Department at 760/329-2904.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Reuben Guzman and all his loved ones.

Update: According to KESQ.com, Guzman was pedaling the bike while his friend rode on the handlebars on their way to a local bike park. The other victim has been released from the hospital.

Update: Riverside bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver; first SoCal bike fatality of 2014

That didn’t take long.

Just five days into the new year, Southern California has suffered its first bicycling fatality, as a Riverside rider was run down by a suspected drunk driver on Sunday.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 22-year old David Mendez was riding east on Central Avenue, approximately three-quarters of a mile west of Victoria Ave, at 3:47 pm yesterday when he was hit from behind by a suspected drunk driver. An earlier story puts his location close to the Olivewood Cemetery.

The story says he was riding in the far left lane, suggesting that he may have been preparing for a turn.

Mendez was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead half an hour later. The story reports he was wearing a helmet; clearly, it was not enough to protect him from the force of the impact.

The 20-something driver was detained at the scene on suspicion of DUI; no word on whether he was arrested.

Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Detective Ken Madsen at 951/826-8723.

This is the first bicycling fatality in Southern California this year and the first in Riverside County; there were 11 cycling deaths in the county last year. Mendez is also the fifth bike rider to be killed in the City of Riverside since 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for David Mendez and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Zak and West Seegmiller for the heads-up.

Update: As a comment from John McB notes, the Press-Enterprise story has been corrected to say Mendez was riding in the far right lane nearest the curb, rather than the left lane as originally reported.

The story also reports that the driver, 31-year old Christopher R. Banning was arrested at the scene on suspicion of vehicle manslaughter without gross negligence and driving under the influence. Any charges will be determined by the Riverside district attorney’s office.

Update: Calimesa hit-and-run victim dies two weeks after collision

This is not what I wanted to write about today.

I was hoping to end this year on a positive note. But maybe the good news is simply that this bloody year, with its epidemic of hit-and-runs and far too many cyclists killed or injured, is finally coming to an end.

And maybe the new year that starts tomorrow will be a better one for all of us.

………

News broke today that a cyclist in Calimesa suffered major injuries in a Sunday hit-and-run.

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the bike rider was riding south on Calimesa Blvd just north of Singleton Rd in the small town east of Redlands and Moreno Valley around 12:25 pm. Witnesses saw a northbound car drift over the centerline and hit the rider head-on before fleeing the scene.

The victim was identified on Don Davidson’s Facebook page as Phil Richards, but it does not mention his age or residence.

In a second Facebook post, he said Richardson coded overnight after spending Sunday afternoon in surgery for multiple injuries, but was revived and in surgery again on Monday morning to stop internal bleeding and relieve pressure in his abdomen. Fortunately, he does not appear to have suffered head or spinal injuries — remarkably, since he was reportedly hit at 50 mph.

The car reportedly struck Richards on the left front, damaging the car’s left side and headlight. The vehicle is described only as a compact four door sedan, light blue or green, driven by an elderly white-haired white or Hispanic man.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the department’s Cabazon Station at 951-922-7100.

Prayers or good wishes are definitely in order.

Thanks to Cleave Law and Tom Herman for the heads-up.

Update: The Riverside Sheriff’s Department has made an arrest in the case. 

According to a press release from the department, a deputy assigned to Calimesa noticed a 2005 Ford 500 matching the description of the suspect vehicle, with damage consistent with the collision, parked in a driveway in the 1200 block of Cherry Lane. 

After towing the car to examine the evidence and talking with the owner, 42-year old Calimesa resident William Donald Johnson was booked for felony hit-and-run.

Then again, Johnson had a full week to sober up if he had been drunk or otherwise under the influence at the time of the collision.

Meanwhile, the victim, who has been identified on Facebook as Phil Richards, remains hospitalized following several surgeries

Thanks to Kevin for the heads-up.

Update 2: I’m sad to report that, according to Don Davidson’s Facebook page, Richards died of his injuries at 5 pm on Saturday, January 11th.

This is the 89th bicycling fatality in Southern California resulting from injuries suffered in 2013, and the 12th in Riverside County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Phil Richards and all his family and loved ones.

……….

In somewhat better news, another hit-and-run driver is in custody as of Monday evening after he ran down a rider on an adult tricycle Monday afternoon.

According to the Ramona Sentinel, 69-year old James Swift was riding south on Montecito Road at around 1:05 pm. He was crossing Main Street on the green light when he was apparently right-hooked by a 2002 Yukon Denali.

Witnesses report the driver actually stopped and placed the stroke victim back on the seat, saying he was sorry before running back to his truck and fleeing as fast as he could.

Fortunately, witnesses got the license number of the truck, and CHP officers were able to convince him to turn himself in. The 31-year old driver, who was not publicly identified, faces charges of hit-and-run and driving without a license.

But at least he said he was sorry, right?

………

Finally, Ed Ryder offer moving photos of the ghost bike for Pete Tomaino, the popular 82-year old cyclist killed in Laguna Hills on Christmas Eve.

The way this year has gone, maybe that’s a sadly appropriate note to end on.

CIMG5054

CIMG5055

CIMG5053

Update: Bike rider killed in Coachella; few details available

Once again, a bike rider is dead in Riverside County. And once again, we have almost no information about what happened.

According to The Desert Sun, the victim was involved in a collision with a car at 5:11 pm, at the intersection of Van Buren Avenue and Avenue 48 in Coachella. He was pronounced dead at the scene; no word on how or why the collision occurred.

The paper identifies the victim only as an older man, while KESQ-TV says he was described as a man in his 50s, wearing dark clothing. The family in the car that hit him is reportedly cooperating with the investigation.

No other information is available at this time.

Hopefully that will change. Because whoever the victim turns out to be, he was someone’s father, son, brother or friend. And he deserves to be remembered for the person he was, instead of a nameless victim.

This is the 79th cycling fatality in the seven-county Southern California area this year, compared to 74 for all of last year, and the 11th in Riverside County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 70-year old Ruben de la Cruz Miramontes, a citizen of Mexico. According to the LA Times, Miramontes was hit while riding in the southbound lane of Van Buren, between Avenues 48 and 49. He was pronounced dead at 5:14 pm. 

Anyone with information is urged to call the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept at 760/863-8990.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Ruben de la Cruz Miramontes and his loved ones.

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