Tag Archive for Riverside County

Update: 15-year old bike rider killed in Metrolink collision; first SoCal bike death in nearly a month

We almost made it.

It’s been exactly 26 days since the last bicycling fatality anywhere in Southern California. Lately I’ve kept my fingers crossed the we could make it to a full four weeks; a much needed respite in what has been a very bad year for SoCal cyclists.

Sadly, we didn’t make it.

And neither did a young Riverside man.

News is just breaking that a teenage boy was killed in a collision with a Metrolink train in Riverside earlier this evening; KCBS-2 originally identified him as 15 years old, but later removed that from their story.

According to Murrieta Patch, the young man, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing the tracks at Madison Street near Indiana Avenue at 5:58 pm Thursday when he was struck by a train headed from Orange County to San Bernardino.

A satellite photo shows standard drop-bar crossing arms on both sides of the tracks.

No word on which direction he was riding, or how he ended up on the tracks as the train was coming through. However, a division chief for the Riverside Fire Department speculated that there may have been a second train coming in the opposite direction after the first train had passed.

There are few things easier to avoid than a wreck with a train. Unlike cars, they can’t deviate from a set track; all you have to do is stop when the barricades come down, and wait until they go back up before crossing the tracks — regardless of how safe it may seem at the time.

This is the 68th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Riverside County. That compares with 62 and 11, respectively, this time last year.

He is also the sixth Southern California bicyclist to be killed by a train this year, compared to just two in all of last year, and four in 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all his family and friends; this news will be devastating for whatever school he may have attended.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: A report from KNBC-4 confirms that the victim was 15-years old, and that witnesses said he waited for one train to pass, then was hit by second train coming from the opposite direction when he attempted to cross the tracks. 

Update 2: According to the Press-Enterprise, the victim was riding south on the sidewalk on the west side of Madison Street when he stopped for the first train. 

A witness who recognized the boy waved at him, and watched the wreck unfold. 

“We saw him riding his bike, and we just waved at him,” said Soto, who was heading to a friend’s home in the Casa Blanca neighborhood. “He stopped right there at the (crossing) light” when an eastbound freight train passed by.

“It passed by and 30 seconds later we’re still just waiting there for it (the crossing gate) to lift up. I see a train coming and oh, it’s another train,” Soto said. “I could see the kid go straight and I guess he didn’t look to his left and he got hit. It was a loud pop. At first … I didn’t believe it.”

The witness, who said he was scarred for life by what he’d seen, went on to say that the victim may have been fooled when the warning gate started to lift before coming back down again. 

“I thought something was wrong with it,” he said, “so I guess he (the boy on the bicycle) saw that with the corner of his eye and went straight. I guess now he’s in heaven.”

Update 3: The San Bernardino Sun identifies the victim as Serafin Gonzalez of Riverside.

Update 4: According to the Press-Enterprise, Gonzalez was just out for a quick ride when he was killed; he was dragged over 170 feet by the force of the impact.

He was described by his teachers as an extremely good young man without a mean bone in his body. 

And in an indication of a serious problem, the paper reports that Gonzalez was the fourth person in Riverside to be struck and killed by a second train after waiting for the first train to pass in the last four years.

Update 5: A vigil was held in Gonzalez’s memory Friday night. In a tragic irony, he lived on Railroad Avenue, paralleling the tracks he died on. 

Moreno Valley is killing its bike riders — 2nd cycling fatal cycling collision on same day

Last Thursday was a very bad day for Moreno Valley bike riders.

In addition to the death of Tracey Gage on Perris Blvd, news is just breaking that another rider has died from injuries suffered in a collision just four miles — and four hours — apart.

In a typically crappy cryptic news story that didn’t even get the name of the victim right, the Press-Enterprise reports that a cyclist was injured in a collision on Moreno Beach Drive near John F. Kennedy Drive; the victim died Saturday evening at Riverside County Regional Medical Center.

The Riverside County Coroner’s office identifies the victim as 63-year old John Nodd of Moreno Valley, and says he was struck by a sedan. They identify the site of the collision as just five feet from Moreno Beach Drive, placing it in or near the crosswalk.

A satellite view shows a six lane roadway with bike lanes on each side on Moreno Beach, and two lanes with a bike lane and turn lanes on Kennedy.

No other information is available at this time.

This is the 67th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in Riverside County. It’s also the fifth cycling death in Moreno Valley in just over two years, suggesting something is seriously wrong in the city of less than 200,000.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for John Nodd and all his loved ones.

Cyclist killed in Moreno Valley collision; 4th bike death in city in just over two years

You knew it wouldn’t last.

After going nearly two weeks since the last fatal bicycling collision in Southern California, a bike rider was killed in Moreno Valley yesterday.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 56-year old Moreno Valley resident Tracey Gage was riding north on Perris Blvd between Krameria Ave and Northern Dancer Drive when his bike was rear-ended by a car around 3:40 pm; KESQ-3 places the exact time at 3:44 pm.

Gage was struck by a blue Toyota Corolla driven by 19-year old Steven Gomez of Perris. He was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering major injuries.

The street view shows an unobstructed four lane roadway with limited space to the right of traffic, and a 50 mph speed limit. At that speed, a collision is unlikely to be survivable.

Drug or alcohol use does not appear to have been factor. However, that raises the question of why the driver was unable to see a bike rider directly in front of him in full daylight.

Anyone with information is urged to call the  Moreno Valley Police Department Traffic Division at 951-486-6900.

This is the 65th fatal bicycling collision in Southern California this year, and the eight in Riverside County; that compares to 53 and 9, respectively, for this time last year. And it is the 4th bike death in Moreno Valley in the last 26 months.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Tracey Gage, and all his family and loved ones.

Update: Riverside County cyclist killed on Friday; bike rider injured in Van Nuys hit-and-run

Sometimes, news seems to take a long time to file in from the Inland Empire.

I’m just now learning about the collision that took the life of a Riverside County bike rider on Friday. Although the liability lawyers seem to have found out about it long before I did.

And as usual for most collisions that occur east of the LA County line, the details are sparse, at best.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 57-year old Perris resident Pascual Vega Jr. was hit by a pickup on Menifee Road near Long Street at 8:30 pm, in the unincorporated Nuevo area east of Perris. He was pronounced dead at the scene 10 minutes later.

That’s it.

Not one word that isn’t contained in the equally sparse Coroner’s report, such as how the collision occurred.

Less, in fact, as the Riverside County Coroner places the collision about 500 feet north of Long Street, in an area that doesn’t appear to have cross streets or driveways, suggesting that it was most likely a hit-from-behind, or possibly head-on, collision.

And based on previous experience, I wouldn’t count on a follow-up report, either from the local press or the Coroner’s office.

This is the 61st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh in Riverside County. That compares with 47 SoCal bike deaths this time last year, and nine in Riverside County.

My sympathy and prayers for Pascual Vega Jr and all his loved ones.

Update: Surprisingly, there’s has been a follow-up from the Press-Enterprise adding a little more information. 

According to the paper, Vega was riding north on Menifee when he was hit from behind by a 2000 Nissan Frontier driven by 59-year old Carlos Hernandez Sr. of Nuevo. The truck was reportedly traveling at 40 mph when he hit Vega’s bike, which did not have lights or reflectors, even though it was roughly an hour after sunset at the time of the collision. 

Tragically, a comment from Joyce reveals he was a cousin of Michael Vega, killed by a hit-and-run driver in Rancho Cucamonga last August.

………

The Daily News reports that a bike rider was injured in a Van Nuys hit-and-run Monday night.

According to the paper, the collision occurred on the 13000 block of Oxnard just before 8:30 pm. However, the report also places the location as near the intersection of Oxnard Street and Buffalo Ave, which is several blocks west of the 13000 block. The second location might make sense, since it’s a crossing point for the Orange Line bike path.

The victim was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries; no word yet on his or her condition or any identification. And no description on the suspect vehicle or how the wreck happened.

Let’s hope this one doesn’t turn out to be serious. And that the cowardly jerk behind the wheel is quickly brought to justice.

Update: Three bike riders hit by bus on Camp Pendleton, one killed

Confirmation is just coming in that a bicyclist has died as a result of injuries in a crash at Camp Pendleton yesterday.

I had received an email about the collision earlier this afternoon; however, I was unable to confirm the death until now.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, three cyclists, identified only as civilians, were hit by a bus while riding through the Marine base; the paper uses the word “slammed” to describe the impact. The collision occurred around 1 pm on Stuart Mesa Road near Cook Crossing.

The paper reports that two of the riders were transported by ambulance, with the third flown out by helicopter.

Unfortunately, the LA Times writes that one of the riders has died, confirming the report in the email; according to the Times, one of the surviving riders remains in critical condition, while the third is listed as serious.

The Times reports the bus belonged to the North County Transit District.

No word yet on how or why the collision occurred.

Civilians are usually allowed to ride through the military base, except during war games or security alerts, and it is one of the most popular routes in North County San Diego cyclists.

This is the 57th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in San Diego County; that compares with 10  in the county this time last year.

Update: Three days later, there has still been no follow-up from the press on this tragedy, and no confirmation from the San Diego coroner’s office. However, the name of the victim has become common knowledge in the San Diego cycling community, identifying him as Udo Heinz. 

Some of the comments below are from people who knew him, and worth reading to get a feeling for the kind of man he was. If anyone wants to provide more information about Heinz, or how the collision happened, let me know; you can find my email on the About page. 

And a quick note to commenters. My policy is to allow any discussion that is courteous, avoids personal attacks and does not disrespect fallen riders. At this time, we have no idea how this collision occurred or who was at fault. So if you feel a need to criticize bike riders, for whatever reason, find another post to leave your comments. This is not the place for it.

Update 2: If you haven’t read the comments below, please do. It’s obvious that Udo Heinz was well-loved, not just a cyclist, but as a father and friend, as this column on Mountain Bike Review makes clear; thanks to Lois for the heads-up.

Update 3: The Union-Tribune finally followed up on their initial story and provided a little more information. 

Heinz, a 43-year old resident of Encinitas, was riding south on Stuart Mesa Road through Camp Pendleton with two other riders around 1 pm Sunday when a North County Transit District bus traveling in the same direction attempted to pass. The bus went into the northbound lane to pass the three riders, then cut back and hit them; the paper does not say if there was oncoming traffic or some other reason the bus came back into the lane before clearing the cyclists. 

There were roughly a dozen passengers on the bus who may be able to help explain what happened, and there should be video from the bus itself.

According to the U-T story, one of the other riders, 62-year old John Edwards, suffered what was described as “serious permanent injuries.” The third rider was hospitalized, but no further information was available. 

A member of the Ranchos Cycling Club, Heinz was a mechanical engineer with two master’s degrees and vice president of commercial products for TUV Rheinland Group.

He leaves behind a wife and children.

Update 4: More details on how the collision occurred and the injuries suffered by Edwards are included in a brief posted online by Edwards’ attorney. Apparently, the driver made no attempt to avoid the riders, despite video from an onboard camera showing them riding directly in front of the bus. 

My prayers for Udo Heinz and the other victims and all their families and loved ones. Let’s hope the two survivors make a full and fast recovery.

Update: Bike rider killed in hit-from-behind collision; 5th cyclist killed in Lake Elsinore in past three years

We ended last week with a fallen cyclist.

And tragically, we start the week with another.

Just two days after James “Mitch” Waller was killed and another rider seriously injured when they were run down from behind while riding in Laguna Canyon Road near Laguna Beach, word comes of yet another Southern California bicycling fatality.

And like the others, she died after her bike was struck from behind.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 38-year old Lake Elsinore resident Lucia Ruano was riding south on Grand Avenue at Marvella Lane in Lake Elsinore when she was hit by a silver Ford F150 pickup at 8:37 am. She was pronounced dead just 35 minutes later at the Inland Valley Medical Center.

A street view indicates what looks like a rough shoulder there.

As too often happens with fatal collisions in the Inland area, there’s just too little information in the story to give a clear idea what happened. However, a comment on the Lake Elsinore – Wildomar Patch site offered a second-hand report that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, trapping the bike underneath.

And yes, the witness says the victim was wearing a helmet; from the sound of it, it probably didn’t matter.

Depending on exactly where the collision occurred, the driver may have drifted off the roadway, or Ruano may have entered the traffic lane to avoid an obstacle on the shoulder. Or the driver may have hit her while turning onto Marvella.

This is the 42nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County; that compares to 29 and five, respectively, this time last year. Remarkably, it’s also the fifth cycling fatality in tiny Lake Elsinore, population 53,000, since 2010, and the second on Grand Avenue.

And if that doesn’t indicate a serious problem, I don’t know what does.

Meanwhile, bicycling fatalities are nearly 45% ahead of last year in the seven-county SoCal area just halfway into the year. And this comes as we head into the 4th of July weekend, which is traditionally one of the most dangerous times of year for area bike riders; last year seven cyclists were killed within a week of Independence Day.

One death is one too many; 42 in just six months is an obscenity.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Lucia Ruano and her family. 

Thanks to Zak and Walter Lars for the heads-up.

Update: Call this one a homicide. 

According to the Press-Enterprise, CHP officers arrested the driver, 40-year old Lake Elsinore resident Jay Dustin Sorrell, an hour after the collision for investigation of drunken driving and gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to authorities, Sorrell allowed his truck to drift onto the right shoulder, where he hit Ruano’s bike at around 40 mph, killing her. 

Yes, he was too drunk to drive at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. 

And now an innocent woman is dead because of it.

70-year old bike rider killed in Cathedral City hit-and-run; DUI driver turns himself in later

It’s happened again.

According to the My Desert website, a Cathedral City cyclist was killed leaving a shopping center last night. And once again, the driver fled the scene.

But for a change, he turned himself in later.

The site reports that 70-year old Edward James Shaieb had just left the Canon Plaza shopping center on his bike just before 8 pm, apparently after collecting plastic bottles for recycling. An SUV driven by 27-year old Brandon Melton of Palm Springs was traveling west on East Palm Canyon Drive east of Golf Club Drive when he hit Shaieb; no word on which direction the victim was riding or where he was positioned on the street.

A number of motorists stopped to help Shaeib, including a doctor and nurse, but they were unable to resuscitate him; he died at the scene, with the bag of plastic bottles he’d been carrying scattered across the roadway.

Melton called police about 20 minutes later after he’d arrived back at his home. KESQ-3 reports he was arrested on manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and DUI charges.

Based on a number similar cases, however, the hit-and-run charge is unlikely to stick, since he called police himself.

There was also a female passenger in the SUV, which may be why he turned himself in.

My Desert notes that Shaeib was not wearing a helmet; whether it would have done any good depends a lot on the speed of the vehicle that hit him.

This is the 17th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Riverside County. Shaeib is also the second victim — or maybe third — victim of a fatal hit-and-run since the first of the year.

My sympathy and prayers for Edward Shaieb and all his loved ones.

Update: More bad news — bike rider killed in Blythe Friday evening

Evidently, Friday was a very bad day for SoCal cyclists.

First we got word that a Los Angeles rider had died in a Hollywood dooring a week earlier; then an Orange County rider was killed while riding in a Mission Viejo bike lane.

And now comes news that a cyclist was killed in Blythe, just miles from the Arizona border.

Unfortunately, very few details are available at this time.

The Riverside County Coroner’s office reports that 49-year old Alvin Aguirre was hit by an apparently driverless sedan, no make or model given, while riding on the 2200 block of West Hobsonway. The injury occurred at 6:22 pm, and he was pronounced dead at 6:41.

No word on how or why the collision occurred, or who may have been at fault. And no mention of whether the driver remained at the scene.

This is the ninth bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, which equals the total for this time last year, and the first in Riverside County. It’s also the second cycling fatality in the tiny desert town in less than two years.

My prayers and condolences for Aguirre and his family. 

Update: The Desert Independent finally offers more information on Alvin Aguirre’s death. 

According to the paper, he was riding west on Hobsonway while pulling a trailer with his bike; witnesses reported seeing him ride unsteadily, weaving within the traffic lane prior to the collision. They saw him swerve into the path of a 2012 Nissan Sentra driven by 26-year old Ramon Torres of Blythe with no explanation, where he was hit from behind. 

Passing Border Patrol agents attempted to revive Aguirre before paramedics arrived; he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Torres was tested at the scene, but showed no sign of impairment. 

Jurupa Valley rider killed in rear-end collision

It’s been a bad several days for Inland bike riders.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 47-year old Riverside resident Aristeo Vallardares was hit from behind while riding on the 5900 block of Limonite Avenue in Jurupa Valley at 7:31 pm. Witnesses performed CPR until paramedics arrived and transported Vallardares to Riverside Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 8 pm.

The satellite view shows a wide, divided roadway with little or no shoulder — exactly the sort of road that forces riders to compete for space with high-speed traffic.

Yet once again, there’s no word on how the collision occurred, other than it was a rear-end collision — a pattern that seems to be common in Riverside and San Bernardino County bicycling deaths.

There’s no mention on whether he was using lights, or why the driver failed to see a bike rider who was apparently on the road directly in front of him.

And as usual, no mention of who the victim was beyond the most meagre description. No word on what he did for a living, whether he had a family or if there is anyone besides his fellow bicyclists to morn his death.

This is the 71st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, one more than last year’s already too high total. It’s the 13th cycling death in Riverside County, two above the total for last year.

And Vallarades is the third rider to die in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in just the last five days, and the 4th killed in Southern California in the past 10 days.

My deepest condolences for Vallarades and all his family and loved ones.

News just coming in: Bike rider killed in Corona crosswalk on Sunday

The Press-Enterprise is reporting that an unidentified cyclist was killed in Corona on Sunday.

The man was riding south in a crosswalk on the west side of Garretson Avenue at East Grand Avenue when he was hit by an Acura Integra driven by Simitrio Martinez of Corona. According to the paper, he died at the scene.

The Riverside County Coroner places the time of the collision as 8:48 pm, and lists the same time of death, suggesting he was killed instantly.

Neither the coroner or the Press-Enterprise offer any information on how the collision occurred.

The fact that the rider died on impact would suggest a high rate of speed. A street view shows Grand is uncontrolled at the intersection, while Garretson has a stop sign in both directions, making it most likely that the driver was traveling on Grand when he hit the cyclist.

However, that is merely a guess based on extremely minimal evidence.

There is a street light right next to the crosswalk, but there’s no way of knowing if it was working at the time of the collision, or if the rider was using lights.

This should serve as a reminder to everyone to always carry ID every time you ride. I keep my driver’s license in my seat pack, as well as emergency contact information in a small ziplock in my jersey or pants pocket.

And despite their annoying commercials, Road ID or other similar products are always a good idea.

This is the 61st cycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 11th bike-related death in Riverside County; nine of those were a result of traffic collisions, while the other two were a result of health issues that may have been caused by riding.

My prayers for the victim and his family and friends.

Update: The victim has been identified as 55-year old Ignacio Prado Cuevas of Corona.

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