For the second time in less than a month, a Southern California bike racer has died — a reminder of just how dangerous it is to compete at the higher levels of our sport.
I began getting reports yesterday that a bike racer had died, but couldn’t find any confirmation. However, San Diego’s Fox 5 now reports that Jackie Price Dunn has died following a fall at the San Diego Velodrome Tuesday evening.
Reports are she was left brain dead after touching wheels with another rider and hitting her head hard on the riding surface. According to the Fox report, she was kept on life support until her organs could be harvested for transplant.
She was 33 years old.
According to the Crank Cycling website, Dunn only recently began bike racing, rapidly rising to Cat 3 in less than two years after taking up the sport in 2012. The site reports she took up boxing after her naval officer husband was transferred to San Diego in 2008, losing over 80 pounds.
As she continued to get in shape, she discovered bicycling through competing triathlons, and started track racing in recent months. She was a member of the Catalyst Racing Cycling team, which offered a brief memorial on their Facebook page.
Her death comes less than a month after Chris Cono was killed during a criterium in Rancho Dominguez, leaving the tight knit racing community doubly shaken.
The San Diego Reader reports the San Diego Velodrome Association is currently being sued, along with the City of San Diego, by a cyclist who suffered a fractured skull and collarbone when the rider next to him hit a rough spot on the track and swerved into him.
The suit alleges that the group governing the Velodrome knowing allows cyclists to ride a dangerous and defective track. The outdoor track was last resurfaced in 2010.
This is the 37th cycling fatality in Southern California since the first of the year, and the fifth in San Diego County. She is also the 6th cyclist to die in the past week.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jackie Dunn and her family.
Update: In a comment below, Matt Ruscigno says he was there on Tuesday night, and that there seemed to be nothing about the relatively slow-speed fall that seemed out of the ordinary at the time. And he notes there will be a memorial ride in Coronado this Saturday.
There has also been a memorial fund set up to help defer expenses for her family.
Update 2: VeloNews offers a look at what happened, and who Jackie Dunn was. Then there’s this from the Catalyst Facebook page I linked to above:
In the past year Jackie decided that cycling was going to be her newest and greatest adventure. In that short amount of time Jackie made a huge impact in SoCal women’s cycling, quickly catting up from the 4s to the 3s, racing as much as she possibly could on the road & on the track. Along the way she recruited a ton of women into the sport with her contagious passion and positive attitude. This season almost every local women’s Cat 3/4 race podium has either been graced by Jackie’s presence or by someone who was encouraged into the sport by her.