Tag Archive for Riverside County

Update: Bicyclist killed in Menifee collision; Riverside County bike fatalities twice as high as last year

A bad year for Riverside County bicyclists just keeps getting worse.

According to the Press-Enterprise, two cyclists were riding east on Domenigoni Parkway at Lindenberger Road in Menifee when they were rear-ended by a motorist around 5:20 pm. One rider, who has not been publicly identified, was killed, while the other was not seriously injured.

DailySoCal lists the location as Winchester, and describes the car as a single passenger vehicle driven by a man, who was cooperating with investigators.

No other details are available at this time.

A satellite view of the intersection shows what looks like a bike lane, suggesting the riders may have been in their own lane and should have been out of the way of through traffic when they were hit. No explanation was given for why the driver apparently drifted out of his or her lane to hit the riders.

This is the 55th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Riverside County. That compares with just five in the county this time last year, and 12 for all of 2013.

Update: According to Menifee 24/7, the victim, described only as a man in his 50s, was declared dead at the scene.

The website also places the location at the top of a hill east of Lindenberger, and describes the roadway as the primary route between Menifee and Hemet. A photo shows a narrow, half-gutter bike lane or shoulder next to a thoroughfare with a 55 mph speed limit; however, Google’s street view shows a lane wide enough for two cyclists to ride abreast leading up the hill.

The site quotes Menifee resident Stephen Kaas as saying he was riding just ahead of the victim when the collision occurred.

I didn’t really see what happened,” Kaas said. “He was riding behind me. I just heard it and saw him flying through the air.

It’s unclear from the description whether the two cyclists were riding together, or if Kaas’ bike was struck, as well.

Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Cail at 951/210-1068.

Update 2: Menifee 24/7 has identified the victim as 55-year old Menifee resident Matthew Carp, who was riding in the bike lane with Stephen Kass when he was hit from behind by a car driven by 23-year old Luis Aranda Llamas of San Jacinto. 

Despite wearing a helmet, Carp suffered major head trauma and internal injuries. According to the site, Kass barely avoided injury himself. 

Llamas was reportedly driving at a high rate of speed when he hit Carp. While bike helmets can protect against injury at slower speeds, they aren’t designed to protect against high speed collisions, and do nothing to prevent injuries to other parts of the body.

Still no word on why Llamas drifted into the bike lane; he was booked for vehicular manslaughter and for displaying a fictitious license plate.

Update 3: More on the collision from a rider who lived nearby, and knew both the victim and his companion. Witnesses reported seeing the driver weaving in and out of the bike lane as if distracted; investigators seized his phone as evidence. Thanks to C Menjou for leaving the link in a comment below.

In a demonstration of just how hard this has struck the local community, Danny Gamboa tells me the city of Menifee reached out to ghost bike volunteers to request an installation in memory of Carp, and will be closing the street from 4 to 5 pm Saturday for a memorial. He also says the city recently removed a bike lane on another street, forcing riders onto Domenigoni where Carp was killed.

And in a heartbreaking tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, Carp’s oldest son apparently took his own life following his father’s death.

There are no words.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Matthew and Cameron Carp and all their family and loved ones.

Thanks to Zak for the heads-up.

Sad news, as 15-year old Canyon Lake bike rider declared brain dead; 50th SoCal cycling fatality this year

The news did not look good last night.

And today, our worst fears were confirmed as news came that a 15-year old bike rider was declared brain dead following a Tuesday collision in Canyon Lake.

As noted earlier, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported yesterday that the rider suffered major injuries when he broadsided a Cadillac Escalade after crossing into an intersection following a steep descent on a side street.

The collision occurred around 4:30 pm on Tuesday in the 22800 block of Vacation Drive; based on the satellite view, it appears he must have been descending from Old Wrangler Road.

As of Wednesday morning, the victim was hospitalized in critical condition with major head trauma. The impact was hard enough that the side airbags deployed on the SUV; the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police.

The Friday Flyer reported today that the victim, Sam Siroky of Canyon Lake, was declared brain dead Wednesday evening. According to his father, his body was being kept alive so his organs could be harvested for transplant.

Matthew Siroky says the family thanks everyone for their wonderful support, and they want something positive to come out of this terrible circumstance. Matthew says, “We know Sam would want to help as many people as possible, so we are donating his organs.”

A website has been established to help cover his memorial and medical expenses.

Both stories note that Siroky was not wearing a helmet, even though that’s required for all cyclists below the age of 18 under California law.

It’s possible a helmet may have made a difference in this case, since he died of brain injuries; however, given the apparent force of the impact, it may not have made a difference.

This is the 50th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and ninth in Riverside County; that compares with just five in the county this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Sam Siroky and all his family.

Bike rider killed in Riverside collision; eighth bicycling fatality in Riverside County this year

More bad news for Bike Week.

According to the Press-Enterprise, a forty-year old bike rider was attempting to cross Van Buren Ave Blvd at Doolittle Ave in Riverside around 10:15 pm Wednesday when he was hit by a late-model Ford traveling north in the center lane.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 pm.

The Riverside County coroner lists the victim’s age as 32, and places the location as 1600 feet north of Arlington Ave.

While the article makes no mention of which way the victim was riding, Doolittle does not cross Van Buren, so he could only have been riding east. No explanation is given for why he was attempting to cross the road; however, he may have been trying to reach the bike lane on the northbound side and wasn’t able to get across the the six-lane boulevard in time.

A street view shows a 55 mph speed limit north of Arlington. Whether the driver may have been speeding or the victim simply misjudged his ability to cross before oncoming traffic caught up to is yet to be determined.

This is the 39th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth already this year in Riverside County, compared to just two this time last year.

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

Update: Bike rider killed in Riverside County; 2nd IE death today

Word is just coming in that a second Inland Empire bike rider has lost his life today, this time in Canyon Lake.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the victim was struck by a vehicle shortly before 10 am in the eastbound lanes of Railroad Canyon Road near Blackhorse Drive, a street described as a virtual freeway. A satellite view shows what appears to be a bike lane in both directions.

He died sometime later at a nearby hospital.

No other information is available at this time, including the name or any description of the victim.

This is the 35th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh already this year in Riverside County, compared to just two this time last year.

Update: The victim has been identified only as a man in his 60s

Update 2: The Valley News identifies the still unnamed victim as a 61-year old Menifee resident, and places the location in Perris, on the 3100 block of Railroad Canyon Road. According to the paper, he was attempting to cross the eastbound lanes from the center median when he was struck by a car driven by a 21-year old Yucaipa resident. 

A Riverside County Sheriff’s sergeant reports that the victim suffered major head trauma and internal injuries, despite wearing a helmet.

It’s important to note that while bike helmets can provide protection in solo falls and low speed impacts, they are not designed to protect against high speed collisions, and offer no protection against injuries to any other part of the body. 

While I am a firm believer in helmet use, they should be considered a last line of defense. It’s far better to avoid collisions than to count on your helmet to protect you.

Update 3: The coroner’s office has identified the victim as 61-year old Conrad Pasco of Menifee.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Conrad Pasco and his family. 

Thanks to Zak for the heads-up.

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. 

 

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