Some drivers will tell you they’ve never seen a cyclist stop for a red light.
Yesterday, proving them wrong cost a 49-year old Palm Springs man his life.
Donald McCluskey was stopped at the red light on southbound Da Vall Drive at Ramon Road in Rancho Mirage around 12:15 pm Wednesday when a 2010 Chrysler Town and County minivan traveling in the opposite direction ran the red light.
The van overturned after it was hit by a 1998 GMC Sierra pickup traveling west on Ramon, plowing into McCluskey, as well as the car stopped next to him. He was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 1:40 pm.
Remarkably, Larry Wayne Goodman of Cathedral City, the driver who had the green light — not the one who ran the red light — was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence. No word on the identity of the Chrysler driver, who was hospitalized with moderate injuries, or why he blew through the light.
In other words, the two people who caused the collision were both breaking the law, while the person who died as a result of their actions apparently did everything right.
This is the 14th cycling fatality in Southern California since the first of the year, and the third in Riverside County. It is also the second bike death today, and the third in the last seven days.
My deepest sympathy to Donald McCluskey and his loved ones.
This is your sister and we are so heartbroken. You were so full of life and we love you so. You are a beautiful example of a brother, son, friend and husband. This is so unfair. You will be missed each and every day. People make such stupid mistakes which cause you your life. You were doing everything right. Thank you for always holding our family together and the live you had for us. I love you! Your sissy!!!
Diane, I’m so sorry for your loss. Please accept my prayers and condolences for you and your family.
Dear Diane ,
I am just a stranger that has been deeply impacted by this . I witness this accident on my way to work , know that your brother was surrounded by caring people . I want to send my condolences and prayers to your family. This weighs so heavily on my heart I have Been praying for your family everyday. So sorry for your loss. * hug*
Thank you for your kind words. Your prayers had helped us. We so appreciate you.
I have enclosed my email address and would love to send you a beautiful picture of Donny. We would love to share good things about Donny to help with the pain you had to see.
I was so sorry to hear about this terrible tragedy. I have gotten into bicycle riding lately for exercise. I live in a gated community in Cathedral City. I have been riding mostly inside my gated community, but after a while it gets really boring riding the same route over and over. So I decided to start riding outside the complex some. I have been riding lately to run errands, instead of driving and so forth. Then I heard about this happening and it makes me afraid to ride outside the gated community. Even though it is much more boring, it is definitely safer. I had heard about a number of other bicycle fatalities over the past year in this area, but then was thinking this was probably because the bicyclists may have not been following traffic rules. I always ride with traffic and stop at red lights and stop signs and respect vehicular traffic. However, after hearing this, it evidently isn’t good enough. It’s a terrible tragedy that your brother died, but especially when he was doing the right thing and respecting the laws as is required. I’m so sorry for your loss!
Tim, don’t let this stop you from riding. Unfortunately, bad things can happen whenever you leave home — or when you don’t, for that matter. Statistically, you’re more likely to be seriously injured riding in a car than on a bike for a comparative amount of time.
The key is to keep doing what you’ve been doing. Always ride with traffic and use lights after dark, obey traffic signals and always signal your turns. Also, it may sound counter intuitive, but you’re actually safer riding assertively in the traffic lane than hugging the curb or riding on the sidewalk.
And always, always ride defensively. Watch other traffic, and be prepared in advance for anything they might do at any time. It may seem scary at first, but in time it will become second nature.
I would also highly recommend taking one of the League of American Bicyclists’ Traffic Skills courses. If you can’t find a League Certified Instructor in your area, email me and I’ll see if I can find one willing to travel out your way; you can find my email address on the About page.
Good luck, and keep riding.
i think you’re first two sentences have something confused. did the cyclist stop or didn’t he?
Thanks shmooth. I was in a rush to get this story online last night, and while it seemed perfectly clear at the time, I can see how it might have been confusing.
I’ve made a correction that should make it clearer.
Thank you for your message. Life will never be the same for Donny’s wife, and family. He impacted alot of people’s life.
I am so sorry for your loss, im also a cyclist that was hit almost straight on by an oncoming car making a left turn infront of me, im lucky to have survived, we as cyclist know the dangers of our passion, but we are driven to ride on, for Donny we know he is out of pain and left doing something he enjoyed, we are the ones that are left to deal with the hurt and suffer of having to continue on in a loved ones absence but we most be strong and pull through for life goes on and knowing that im sure Donny would all want you to continue on happily, these trying times are never easy, keep your faith strong and always remember the better times….i wish all that knew him the best, much strength to you all.
A little bit about uncle Donny- he would always try to make everyone laugh. He would randomly call us out of the blue to say hi and to tell us that he was thinking of us. He went out of his way to do nice things. He found great joy in giving people things. He loved his nieces and nephews, and great nieces and great nephews. He refused to ever let me pay for anything when we were together. He loved Notre Dame!!! (just kidding Donny!). Donny was a huge USC fan. He was a hard worker, a perfectionist, and a beautiful soul. He loved his wife more than anything. We who had the opportunity to have him in our life are extremely blessed. We love you Donny!!!
Yeah, that’s something that I remember about Donny, he always seemed to be in a good mood and was somebody that would always make me laugh. Haven’t seen him since high school, but I still remember him. Just learned about his passing from a mutual high school friend on Monday. Very sorry for your loss. Great guy.
Update on Donny McCluskey’s case with opening court date completed on February 13, 2013. It appeared to be held in Indio traffic court where most of the crimes were DUI, not showing up for DUI work (warrants) or driving without a license. After hearing these cases, there was Donny’s case: MISDEMEANOR vehicular manslaughter. No bail, no driving suspension, no reason to even show up in court for the driver (Armando Gomez of Cathedral City) who killed Donny-HE NEVER has to go to court because as the judge said several times: he was only charged with a misdemeanor (never mentioned manslaughter again) and he hired an attorney to represent him.
The judge explained the charges and the law as the DA had but the DA had no way of knowing he had hired a lawyer. As a family, we believed we would see the man and have some kind of closure. We agreed it was a terrible tragic accident caused by one man’s inattention and selfishness but not intentional. Yet, after court we realize the man who killed my brother, NEVER HAS TO GO TO COURT. Court was imagined as a form of cathartic movement for us to check off our grief list. We know there is no bringing Donny back, no matter what our actions are. We left the court in disbelief as to what kind of message are these charges delivering? Donny’s life was not worth more than paying a lawyer and going on with your life without much ado?
I could literally feel my 82 year old dad’s heart break as he sat next to me. I sensed him using sheer will to keep on breathing through the impersonalization and lack of importance attached to the death of his son. He also had to go home to tell Donny’s wife and mom what occurred. My heart breaks for everyone. My sister, my dad and I came to INDIO as we felt it was Donny’s day in court and since he was dead, his family would represent him.
Seems there are no laws protecting cyclists who die from gross vehicular operation unless the driver was texting, drunk or leaves the scene. Mr. Armando Gomez ran a light and accelerated an additional 30 mph when he realized it. Unfortunately, Mr. Gomez and his van were hit by a truck traveling through a green light resulting in his van flipping and skidding into my brother causing massive life ending injuries (Donny was following ALL the laws).
Mr. Gomez’s lawyer actually stated it was possibly the OTHER man’s fault. Now that is taking responsibility for your actions. I don’t know what the green light man did, but he was arrested at the scene for being under the influence. Maybe he could have stopped, if he was not under the influence but he was not the root cause of the accident. I am sure this driver will have more profound consequences.
Meanwhile, we grieve and acknowledge every month that goes by without our amazing husband, brother, son and uncle. Today is the 10 month anniversary. February 28th would have been his 50th birthday.
We need to change CA law. A car is a weapon and when not following laws that govern their use, even if you did not intend to kill someone and you do, then there needs to be consequences. It could be you or someone you love next time!
We need guidance on how to change these laws!