Tag Archive for San Diego County

Update: San Marcos bike rider killed by cement truck

According to several sources, a bicyclist was killed in a collision with a cement mixer in San Marcos in North San Diego County this morning.

The wreck occurred at the intersection of South Las Posas Road and Grand Avenue around 9:35 this morning.

Unfortunately, very little information is available at this time, including the identify — or even the sex — of the victim, or any word on how the collision occurred. A report from the San Diego Union-Tribune could not even confirm whether the victim was a pedestrian or on a bike.

A video report from San Diego’s 10 News shows a mangled bike trapped beneath the massive truck, as well as a shrouded canopy in the crosswalk, suggesting that was where the victim’s body was found. However, it’s impossible to tell from the video where the truck was stopped in relation to the crosswalk.

Cement mixers are among the most terrifying vehicles on the road, as their lumbering size limits maneuverability and ability to stop, while giving operators only a limited view of the roadway. Even a close call can be deadly if a startled rider swerves the wrong way or tumbles beneath the wheels.

As a result, it’s long been my practice to get off the road when one approaches, rather than risk yet another too close pass or apparent failure to even see me on my bike.

Whether the driver saw this victim, or he or she even could have gotten out of the way of the truck is yet to be determined.

This is the 30th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Diego County. That’s nearly twice as many as the 16 SoCal deaths recorded this time last year.

Update: According to CBS-8, the victim was a 22-year old exchange student at nearby Palomar college.

The cement truck reportedly stopped at the red light on Las Posas before making a right on the red onto Grand Ave. Witnesses say the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk on Las Posas, then rode out into the intersection as the truck was turning; he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

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

Update: Chula Vista bike rider killed by drunk driver in stolen car

A drunk driver. A stolen car. A dead cyclist.

A San Diego area bike rider has lost his life at the hands of a criminal apparently too drunk to control the car he stole.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, 29-year old Michael Reyes was traveling westbound on Chula Vista’s East J Street at Dennis Avenue around 4:15 pm Monday when he somehow crossed into oncoming traffic. He hit cyclist head-on before crossing over the sidewalk and crashing into a utility pole.

Reyes allegedly admitted to the police that he had been drinking, and that the silver Nissan Maxima  he was driving had been stolen earlier that afternoon. Inside the car, police found property that appeared to come from other car burglaries.

The 44-year old bike rider, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center where he died.

There was nothing the victim could have done to avoid the collision. He does not appear to have done anything to contribute in any way to his own death, other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, sharing the same planet with a drunk on a crime spree.

If there is any justice, his killer won’t be back behind the wheel of any car, stolen or otherwise, for a very long time.

This is the 20th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego County. This is also the fourth cyclist killed in Chula Vista since 2012.

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

Update: The victim has been identified as 44-year old Chula Vista resident David Voight. According to San Diego’s 10News, Voight was a regular bike commuter, and was just eight blocks from his home when he was killed. 

Another bike victim In San Bernardino; cyclist seriously injured in Chula Vista; and charges in October OC hit-and-run

Let’s hope bad news just comes in twos this time.

Less than 24 hours after news broke that a bike rider had lost his life at the hands of a drunk driver in Huntington Beach Wednesday night, news is coming in that another rider died earlier that evening, this time in San Bernardino.

According to the Press-Enterprise, the 43-year old cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was riding west on the 1200 block of West Kendall Drive around 6:40 pm when she swerved across the roadway. While riding against traffic in the number 1 (left) lane of the roadway, she was apparently hit head-on by an eastbound Mustang driven by a 20-year old woman.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

No word on why she suddenly started riding against traffic. But let this serve as a reminder to never ride salmon — let alone in the middle of the roadway — and always be aware of other traffic on the roadway before making any sudden moves.

This is the 15th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in San Bernardino County.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and all her loved ones.

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More bad news comes from San Diego County, where a bike rider suffered life threatening injuries in a collision with a truck in Chula Vista.

According to San Diego’s 10News, the victim was apparently crossing the offramp to the southbound I-805 at Bonita Road when he was hit by a truck exiting the freeway around 10 pm Wednesday.

Google’s satellite view shows what appears to be a bike lane leading up to the offramp.

Police say the driver stayed at the scene and did not appear to be under the influence.

The station reports initial evidence suggests the rider was at fault. However, traffic exiting the freeway is required to yield to through traffic; unless the victim was riding against traffic or failed to observe a traffic signal, it’s hard to imagine how he could have been at fault.

If police are saying he did go through a red light, the question is whether there are any independent witnesses other than the truck driver to attest to that, and if the signalization provided enough time to get across the intersection.

Either way, it sounds like prayers or good wishes are in order once again.

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Jeffrey Fylling forwards word that Orange County prosecutors have filed charges against the truck driver who killed 19-year old cyclist Manuel Morales Rodriguez last October.

Forty-eight year old Filemon Reynaga was to be arraigned on Friday on one count of felony hit-and-run causing death and a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

Reynaga is accused of hitting Rodriguez as he pulled his semi truck out of an Anaheim driveway, then dragging the victim and his bike under his truck for up to 150 feet before fleeing the scene without stopping. Rodriguez was then hit by a second vehicle, which remained at the scene, and died as a result of inures suffered in the two collisions.

If convicted, Reynaga faces up to five years in state prison. He’s currently free on a ridiculously low $50,000 bail.

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Finally, while we’re on the subject, I received this email from a rider troubled by all the recent bicycling deaths in Orange County, following the death of Matthew Liechty on Edwards Street in Huntington Beach on Wednesday. (Note: I added the links.)

But take fair warning. It’s a difficult read. And the last line hits like a punch in the gut.

Edwards became an alternate commute route for me after Roger Lippmann’s slaughter… until I realized that swinging over to PCH took me right past Becki Lee James’ house, which creeps me out. And now I’m disinclined take Goldenwest (whose “vicious hills” had become “gentle rollers” pretty quick after I abandoned the flat PCH commute) because I’ll picture the crunched-up Camry in the Ralph’s parking lot.

Have I ever passed this Matt Liechty on my commute? Was he the guy with the really, really bright headlamp? Were the distant sirens I heard last night responding to this incident?

What. the. holy. serious. fuck. Can’t I have a single fucking street on my commute where somebody hasn’t been slaughtered? Is that too much to ask?

And that piece you linked to recently about ghosts… I see those ghosts everywhere, sometimes in visual incarnations. New flowers on Lippmann’s memorial, a year and a half later? I hit the brakes and looked out at the sunshine sparkling on the water and wanted to apologize to him at the top of my lungs because he got a death sentence and his killer only got six years. Every time I pass 9th Street in Sunset Beach, every time, I still see the sea breeze blowing the ashes left behind by the flares set down for the investigation of Kenneth Prevatte’s death: gray ashes, grey asphalt, gray clouds. At 43rd & Wadsworth, where nobody from Perry’s office which announced it could be bothered to show up for a joke of a so-called press conference, I nearly caused a pile-up on RWNN last summer when I recognized the intersection as we entered it and idiotically froze, because I was seeing the ghost that no one else on that ride saw.

I see these ghosts because if I forget then I’ve left a rider behind and I can’t leave a rider behind.

Bike rider shot and killed in South LA; unidentified Pasadena cyclist suffers critical injuries; SD road rage charges

Evidently, 2014 is getting off to a challenging start.

Following a year in which Los Angeles had the lowest number of homicides in nearly 50 years, the city suffered its first homicide of the new year early Sunday morning.

And it was a bike rider who got killed.

According to the LA Times, 46-year old Don Johnson was riding his bike southward on the 10000 block of South Main Street in South LA around 12:20 am when an unknown assailant walked up and shot him multiple times; KABC-7 says a witness heard six shots.

Johnson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

KTLA-5 reports he was shot as he rode in front of a church, most likely the Holy Pathway Missionary Church; he was apparently riding in the bike lane visible on the street leading up to the church.

A report on KNBC-4 — which does not appear to be available online — suggested that authorities suspect it was a gang-related shooting, though there was no indication Johnson was a gang member.

He may have just been the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

And paid for it with his life.

Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at 213/465-4341 or 877/527-3247, or submit anonymous tips at 800/222-8477.

My prayers for Don Johnson and his loved ones.

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A bike rider is in critical condition in a Pasadena hospital, the apparent result of a solo crash. And sadly, authorities have no idea who he is.

The Pasadena Star-News reports the victim, identified only as a white male in his 20’s, was found lying in the roadway on Glenullen Drive at Malcom Drive just before 3 pm Saturday. Police initially suspected hit-and-run, but concluded the victim probably lost control riding downhill and crashed into a tree.

He was not carrying identification, and was unable to speak due to major head injuries.

And no, he was not wearing a helmet. However, there is no way of telling if one would have made a difference in this case, though it probably wouldn’t have hurt.

This should also be a reminder to everyone to carry — or wear — ID every time you ride.

Best wishes for the victim for a full and fast recovery.

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An unidentified San Diego cyclist may see justice after all.

According to San Diego’s NBC-7, 50-year old Douglas Lane faces a felony count of reckless driving with injury for his part in an October road rage incident that left a bike rider seriously injured as collateral damage.

The ironically named Lane was reportedly jockeying for lane position with another driver on State Route 67 just north of Poway Road where two northbound lanes merged into one. Lane lost control of his truck when the vehicles sideswiped one another, and swerved into the bike lane where he hit a 38-year old woman participating in the Pedal the Cause bike ride.

Neither the victim, who was hospitalized with major non-life-threatening injuries, nor the other driver has been publicly identified.

Both vehicles continued without stopping; earlier reports indicated Lane had no idea he’d hit anyone.

He was arrested Saturday, though the warrant was issued in mid-November, and booked on $50,000 bond.

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Thankfully, not all the news is bad.

In fact, when it comes to the economic benefits of bicycling, it looks pretty damn good.

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Don’t forget to voice your opinion — either online or in person this Wednesday — on the necessity of putting bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Grey Hole of Beverly Hills when the iconic boulevard undergoes reconstruction in 2015.

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Nice profile of Long Beach bike advocate Melissa Balmer and the new statewide Pedal Love Project, described in the story as a love letter to California bike culture.

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The San Diego Bicycle Coalition moved to new offices on Friday. By bike, of course.

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Hats off to Burbank, which hasn’t had a bicycling fatality in the last two years, and just one pedestrian death last year, down from two in 2011.

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Finally, royal in-law Pippa Middleton clips in for the first time, and likes it. Meanwhile, another rider admits to turning into a royal jerk whenever she slips onto the saddle.

And we wonder why some people hate us.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Bulgarian tourist dies following hit-from-behind collision in San Diego’s Mission Bay Park

Sadly, this one does not come as a surprise.

Yesterday, news broke that a young woman had suffered life-threatening injuries when her bike was hit-from-behind by a car in an early morning collision in San Diego’s Mission Bay.

Today, multiple reports confirm that 21-year old Stela Hristova, a tourist from Bulgaria, died of her injuries yesterday afternoon.

Hristova was riding south on the 2500 block of Ingraham Street on Vacation Island when she was hit from behind by a sedan around 3:30 am. According to police reports, the driver reportedly swerved into the left lane when he encountered her riding in the middle of a traffic lane, but wasn’t able to avoid hitting her bike.

Which traffic lane wasn’t specified; if she was in the right lane, she would have been riding exactly where she should have been in a traffic lane that does not appear to be wide enough to share. However, it would appear from the news reports that the police are blaming her for not hugging the curb, instead.

She was transported to a hospital with what a police spokesperson described as “major, life-threatening injuries,” where she died at 2:05 pm, less than 12 hours after the collision.

Bike SD notes that the 2002 San Diego bike plan called for bike lanes on Ingraham; if had the city followed their own plan, Hristova might be alive today. Instead, Ingraham — one of the main roadways through the city’s primary beachfront resort and playground area for tourists and locals alike — remains a virtual highway designed to transport the maximum number of vehicles at the highest possible speeds.

And evidently, without regard to the cost, human or otherwise.

I frequently rode through that section when I lived in San Diego over two decades ago. Even then, it was an uncomfortable stretch of roadway that, by design, encouraged speeding and needlessly close passes by drivers.

There’s no word on whether Hristova, who was in the city visiting relatives, was using lights or reflectors in the early morning hour. If she was, there is no excuse for the driver to have failed to see her until it was too late; yet all the news reports focus on the motorist’s seemingly heroic efforts to avoid her, rather than his failure to see her in the first place.

News reports also indicate that she wasn’t wearing a helmet. Whether or not that could have made a difference depends entirely on the speed of the vehicle that hit her, which has not been mentioned yet in any of the stories reporting the collision or the death that resulted.

Commenters to the stories will undoubtedly question why someone would be riding a bike at that hour; yet no one would similarly wonder what a motorist was doing in that area in the middle of the night.

And it makes me heartsick to think that we are once again sending a visitor to our country home in a box simply because we can’t seem to tame the carnage on our streets.

Or care enough to do anything about it.

This is the 64th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in San Diego County; it’s also the third in the City of San Diego since the first of the year. That compares with 11 in the county, and six in the city, for all of last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Stela Hristova and all her family and loved ones. 

Bike rider killed in San Bernardino; San Diego cyclist critically injured, as is racing legend Dale Stetina

They say bad things come in three.

That seems to be the case this holiday weekend, with fatal and near fatal collisions here in Southern California, and a cycling legend clinging to life in Colorado.

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According to the San Bernardino Sun, 27-year old San Bernardino resident Russell Alvin Burrows was riding south on the 18700 block of Cajon Boulevard around 8:10 pm Saturday when he was apparently hit from behind by a 2007 Toyota Corolla traveling in the same direction. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Toyota has not been publicly identified.

A satellite view shows a four lane roadway, dropping to two lanes, with little or no shoulder, suggesting Burrows was most likely riding in the traffic lane.

Depending on exactly where the collision occurred, it’s also possible that he was right-hooked, as there are a number of driveways and a freeway on- and off-ramp in the area.

No other details are available at this time, and no word on whether he was using lights or reflectors, as it would have been nearing full dark at the time of impact.

This is the 63rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in San Bernardino County. That compares to 10 bike-related deaths in the county in all of 2012, and six in 2011.

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A 20-year old bike rider suffered life-threatening injuries in another struck-from-behind collision early Sunday morning, this time in San Diego.

The victim was riding south in a traffic lane on the 2500 block of Ingraham Street on Vacation Island in San Diego’s Mission Bay Park at 3:30 am when she was hit by a sedan. The driver reportedly swerved into the left lane when he saw her, but wasn’t able to avoid hitting her bike.

She was transported to a hospital with what a police spokesperson described as “major, life-threatening injuries.”

A street view shows the two lane roadway increasing to three lanes with no shoulders. The right lane appears to be of substandard width, suggesting that she was legally within her rights to take the lane — as well as following the advice of most bike safety advocates to avoid riding near the curb if the lane is too narrow for a bike and car to safely share.

Again, no word on whether she was using lights or reflectors as required by law.

However, police and the press are usually quick to say if a victim didn’t have lights after dark.

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Word broke Saturday night that an American cycling legend had suffered life-threatening injuries in a fall caused by an out-of-control driver in Boulder, Colorado’s Lefthand Canyon.

In the 1970s and early ’80s, Dale Stetina and his brother Wayne dominated American bike racing, with Wayne winning the Red Zinger/Coors Classic — then the country’s leading bike race — in 1977, and Dale winning in ’79 and ’83.

The two riders were both inducted into the US Bicycling Hall of Fame for their dominance of the sport in this country, and their role in paving the way for the first generation of American international riders that followed — riders with better known names like Andy Hampsten, Davis Phinney, Olympic gold medalist Alexi Grewal and the country’s only current Tour de France winner, Greg Lemond.

It was also long rumored that the two brothers were the inspiration for the cycling cult classic American Flyers.

So it was devastating news that 57-year old Dale Stetina was critically injured when a driver pulled onto the shoulder on the wrong side of the popular riding route, then swerved back to the other side just as a group of riders came around bend in the road.

All of the cyclists were able to avoid colliding with the car; however, Stetina reportedly went over his handlebars, landing face first on the pavement.

Despite wearing a helmet, he suffered major face and eye injuries, as well as loss of responsiveness; a CAT Scan revealed additional injuries to his brain stem. According to the Boulder Daily Camera, he remains in a medically induced coma in critical condition.

He is also the father of rising Garmin-Sharp rider Peter Stetina.

And he’s long been a personal hero and inspiration to me, dating back to when I first started riding seriously in the 1980s.

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My prayers and deepest sympathy for Russell Alvin Burrows and all his family and loved ones.

And I hope you’ll join me in offering prayers and best wishes for Dale Stetina and the publicly unidentified victim in San Diego; may they both recover quickly and completely. 

A look at Camp Pendleton collision site; a killer driver may be back on the streets three years early

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent took a trip down to San Diego County in the wake of the Camp Pendleton collision that killed Udo Heinz and left fellow rider John Edwards critically injured.

Did you know you’re required to wear a helmet to ride at Pendleton? Learned that the Del Mar gate. So I own a helmet now. (And I want to read Heinz’s autopsy report to see whether his helped any.)

The site of the collision is on a shoulder-less stretch of two lane road, divided with a double yellow, between two guardrails. Signs indicate the bike route, set the maximum speed at 45 mph, and remind cyclists to ride single file. The shoulder completely disappears as the road crosses what appears to be a broad wash; the lanes may be substandard width, but I was too scared to stop to measure, partly because I was going too fast to discern whether there was non-sloping space on the other side of the guardrail to set my bike, and partly because there was just enough traffic to disincline me from stopping (or even slowing) long enough to find out.

The roadway’s in good repair; I didn’t notice any violent bumps or scary surface infrastructure like fissures or moguls. It’s certainly preferable to, say, Wilshire Blvd. This stretch of road is also completely straight, without even the gentlest curve that could possibly impair a driver’s view. The video from the NCTD bus shows absolutely no traffic coming from the opposite direction, although that video makes it seem as if the blind vertical curve ahead is much closer than it is. The hills worried me a lot more than the big vehicles on the road. In fact, the motorists on Pendleton seemed attentive and, frankly, kind of slower than I’d expected, not just in passing but generally. Passing through Oceanside afterwards was unpleasant in comparison.

New infrastructure on PCH stunned me. The stretch through downtown Oceanside is still bike-unfriendly, but going through other towns on the way to Del Mar blew my mind. There’s signage (regulatory & wayfinding), bike lanes, charming bike racks, bulbouts, ped-activated crossings with embedded flashing beacons, and even sharrows. Sharrows! On Highway 101! One town even had a portable message board parked in the median to inform road users what the heck these newfangled sharrows are for.

I crashed the memorial for Udo Conrad Heinz. Attendance was huge (I tried to count, but gave up after several attempts, and have to just estimate “well over two hundred”). Udo’s wife was clearly touched, and his son watched everything somberly with his great big eyes. I spoke very briefly with Susanne Davis, who left a comment on your blog, and she is hoping there will be a push now for a change in legislation to protect vulnerable road users, an Udo’s Law. (Also she mentioned in her comment the friendly attentiveness of the tank drivers at Pendleton, but part of this may be because she’s really attractive.)  The memorial touched everyone, family, friends, neighbors, fellow riders, former colleagues… I’m surprised the guy’s mailman didn’t show (maybe he did?) And the sunset was lovely.

On the return trip, I missed the Coaster because I was taking so many pictures of the aforementioned new infrastructure, so with darkness falling, I decided to catch the bus. I was standing under a lighted street lamp, wearing an extra large ANSI Class III hi-vis reflective vest, and shouldering a chrome bike with two reflective spoke cards. Also my bag, which has a prominent reflective stripe, was sitting on the bus bench next to me. I was almost blinded by the stupid blue-white high-intensity headlights of the approaching NCTD bus, which very clearly wasn’t slowing down or maneuvering towards the curb. I actually had to holler and wave to get the driver to notice me. As I boarded, I apologized sarcastically for my invisibility, and received no response. I’d hate to encounter this oblivious, unapologetic driver while riding.

Very shortly thereafter, the drivers changed shifts at a stop. The first thing the new driver did was wipe the front windows down. There was an amazing difference in visibility. The new driver said that it’s not a requirement for drivers to clean the windows, but it’s something he took upon himself to do as soon as he began driving Route 101, which is the coastal bus, because the sea spray builds up so fast. Sometimes, he said, he’ll even do it mid-route when it’s necessary.

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She also reports that Danae Marie Miller, — the driver convicted of killing Orange County triathlete Amine Britel while allegedly drunk and texting — appears to be out of prison well before her four year sentence is up, with no public explanation.

Danae Marie Miller’s out of prison. There’s no record of her within the California Dep’t of Corrections & Rehabilitation, at any rate. She could have been “realigned” to a county or city jail (not in any of the half-dozen I’ve checked, though.) She could be under monitored house arrest. She could be on unsupervised probation. She could be out there drunk & texting on the roads at this minute. Amine Britel? Still dead.

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LA’s hit-and-run epidemic hit a horrifying climax this past weekend, as four innocent victims lost their lives to murderous drivers who couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to save a life in four separate incidents.

Including a 19-year old woman and a three-year old child.

It’s clear that we need to change the law to halt this bloody crime spree. Including making the penalty for hit-and-run equivalent to drunk driving, to remove the incentive to flee the scene if a driver has been drinking.

If the victim dies, the driver should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim’s life might have been saved if the driver had stopped long enough to render aid or call 911 before fleeing like a coward — let alone lived up to their responsibility as a decent human being.

Yet as the Danae Miller case suggest, the current prison overcrowding crisis means that anyone convicted under such a law is unlikely to serve more than a fraction of their prison term. We need to take steps to insure anyone who flees the scene of a collision loses their privilege to drive for decades.

If not for life.

And the car they used to commit the crime is seized and sold, with the proceeds given to the victim; after all, you don’t give a bank robber back the gun he used.

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Last chance to help the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition set the city’s priorities for biking and walking.

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The MyFigueroa project is set for final approval, including LA’s first, albeit reduced in scope, cycle tracks, which even AARP approves of. Though someone might want to mention to LADOT that there are space-saving alternatives to creating semi-permeable car-blocking barriers.

And Streetsblog reports you still have to worry whether the long-planned Expo bikeway will survive latest assault from the wealthy homeowners in Cheviot Hills. These are the same people who argued in the past that a bike path would put their homes at risk from bike riding burglars who might try to peddle away with their 60” flat screens.

Just as an aside, I will be guest curating Streetsblog once again tomorrow.

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Don’t forget tonight’s public meeting to review recommendations to improve safety on PCH in Malibu. If you can’t make it, another meeting will be held on Thursday. This is your chance to stop another serial killer — this time, one of Southern California’s most deadly highways.

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LA traffic would be a lot better if the city’s commuters would follow UCLA’s example. Only 51% of campus employees drive alone, compared to 70% of Los Angeles commuters — and nearly 75% of the university’s students use some form of alternative transportation.

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Finally, anyone into adventure cycling will want to follow the exploits of Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley, who are just eight days into a planned 100 day, 11,184 mile ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa.

You can keep up with Pakravan and Pawley on Twitter as they make their way across three continents.

Memorial for Valley hit-and-run victim Victor Awad; more information on the death of Udo Heinz

My service with the Superior Court of L.A. County is now complete.

As it turned out, I wasn’t asked to sit in judgement of my fellow man. Or woman, for that matter. And unlike my previous round of service, there were no particular insights gained.

Just sitting around waiting in vain for someone to choose me.

In other words, pretty much like sitting around waiting to get picked for a team in grade school.

With pretty much the same result.

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A couple quick notes before I head off to bed to make up for somehow managing to stay awake in the courtroom.

And no, it wasn’t easy.

First up, a memorial service will be held today for Victor Awad, who was killed in a hit-and-run a little over a week ago at Plummer Street and Winnetka along the Northridge/Chatsworth border.

Funeral services for Victor Awad will be held at 10:00am on Thursday, August 15th at the following location:

St Mary & St Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church
17431 Roscoe Boulevard, Northridge, CA 91325-3903

According to the print business he ran, the collision is still under investigation, though an arrest has been made. His father will be taking over day-to-day operation of the business.

Thanks to ValleyBall1 for the heads-up.

………

Second, more details are finally in regarding the collision that killed Udo Heinz on Camp Pendleton on Sunday, August 4th.

Heinz was riding with two other cyclists when they were run down by a North County Transit District Bus. He died at the scene; his riding companions were both injured, one critically.

Now the attorney for John Edwards, the rider who was critically injured, has posted details of the suit he intends to file against the transit district, with the permission of his client.

And it ain’t pretty.

According to the pretrial disclosure, Edwards suffered a fractured right ankle, lacerations to his left ankle, multiple broken ribs, a fractured and lacerated nose, lacerations to his face, and trauma to his heart and other internal organs. He spent five days in the hospital, four them in Intensive Care.

The other rider, though injured himself, did his best to aid and comfort both of his companions in Heinz’ last moments.

Needless to say their bikes were destroyed, as well.

The scary part is, still photos from the onboard bus camera clearly show the driver did not swerve to avoid the three riders, as had been reported, despite doing so to avoid another group of riders moments earlier.

Instead, he drove directly into them from behind, and may have even drifted slightly to the right before hitting them. The pretrial disclosure contends the first moment he seemed to be aware of their presence was when he felt the impact and his passengers screamed as he plowed into them.

I warn you, though, the photos are haunting.

Blurry though they may be, I’ve been troubled ever since viewing them earlier today.

It’s hard to shake the image of three people just seconds before one has his life violently ripped away, and another’s shattered, as seen from the vehicle that did it. They all seem unaware of what is about to happen, failing to react to the bus that’s just seconds from hitting them.

I suspect that image may stick with me for a long time.

Thanks to MarkG for the link.

Update: A memorial will be held for Udo Heinz today as well; thanks to Matt Ruscigno for the information. 

Celebration of Life event for Udo:
Powerhouse Park, Del Mar
Thursday, August 15th, 5pm to sunset
-Beach casual attire please
-Food and beverages served
-Bring blankets and chairs (picnic style)

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.

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