Cyclist killed in early morning North Hills hit-and-run; BOLO for dark blue SUV with front end damage

This is not the news any of us wanted to wake up to.

Numerous sources are reporting that a cyclist was killed early Friday in a North Hills hit-and-run, when a rider was hit from behind  on Nordhoff Street near Gaviota Avenue.

According to a release from the LAPD, the rider was riding eastbound near the curb when his bike was hit, throwing him onto the street and into a raised planter box in the Auto Zone parking lot; a witness report says he bounced off the SUV’s windshield.

According to both KABC-7 and KCBV-2, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was doing everything right when he was hit.

“This bicyclist did all the right things. Unfortunately, this accident occurred. I mean, he had a helmet on, the reflective vest, the bike headlights. He was an avid bicyclist. He had all the right things on,” said Capt. Ivan Minsal with the Los Angeles Police Department.

The avid bicyclist remark appears to stem from the fact that the victim was wearing bike shorts and appeared to be riding for exercise or recreation, despite the late hour.

Descriptions of the victim vary. The L.A. Times describes him only as a 53-year old male, while KABC-7 says he was a Hispanic man in his 50s or 60s; the LAPD release describes him as a whit male in his late 60s or early 70s.

Police are looking for a dark colored, possibly dark blue, Chevy Blazer or similar mid-size SUV with front end damage, most likely with a broken windshield.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department, Valley Traffic Detectives, Detective II James Deaton #24252 at 818 644-8035 or Detective III William Bustos #25029 at 818 644-8021 during normal business hours.

Police also note that you don’t have to reveal your identity.

After-hours calls may be directed to a 24-hours, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text “Crimes” with a cell phone or log onto WWW.lapdonline.org and click on Web Tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “LAPD.” Tipsters may remain anonymous.

At least in this area, Nordhoff is essentially a six lane, high-speed throughway that encourages motorists to drive far above the speed limit, particularly in the late night hours when light traffic essentially allows drivers to go as fast as they want.

The new L.A. bike plan calls for bike lanes on Nordhoff, though I don’t find it on the five-year implementation plan. Hopefully, it will include a road diet to slow traffic speeds; otherwise, a simple line of paint wouldn’t do a damn thing to stop a driver who couldn’t seem to see a cyclist lit up like a Christmas tree.

And keep an eye out for an SUV that matches the description. Anyone who could do something like this and then heartlessly run away like the coward he or she is belongs behind bars.

This is the 23rd cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in Los Angeles County; it’s the first bicycling death in the City of Los Angeles in 2012. This is also the fourth bike-related fatal hit-and-run in the seven county SoCal region this year.

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

Thanks to LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas for the heads-up.

Update: The LAPD has identified the victim as 76-year old Northridge resident Paul Albert Helfen; a $50,000 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of his killer.

11 comments

  1. Vic Cooper says:

    I hate when they call occurrences like this an “accident.” We’ll see what happens when the facts play out, but given the circumstances, my bet is that the driver was either drunk or otherwise distracted. And when people drive that way, the consequences aren’t exactly an “accident.” They’re an inevitable consequence of a knowing deliberate decision. The only uncertainty is where and when the crash will happen and who the victim will be.

    If it looks like the perpetrator is about to be caught, they’ll no doubt turn themselves in, after they’ve sobered up. The time for increasing the penalties for hit and run driving is long overdue.

    • bikinginla says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more, on all counts. I’d take it a step further and say there is no such thing as an accident on the streets; virtually every collision is the result of someone being careless and/or breaking the law, or poor road design.

      • Peter says:

        There are accidents that occur on our streets: strokes and seizures at the wheel of an automobile are example causes of such rare occurrences.

        • Erik G. says:

          Unless the person with the stoke or seizure had been advised of their condition by a doctor, but luckily for them, that’s covered by HIPPA, I think.

  2. Michael says:

    You are so right about Nordhoff. I grew up there 30-40 years ago when it was four lanes and bad enough then. Now it just seems hopelessly uncomfortable and uninviting for anyone on a bike.

  3. Michael says:

    Oh, by the way, since I know you are from Colorado, did you read about the Governor signing into law the “end hits and run loophole bill”, allowing for increased penalties for hit and run crimes in that state?

    • bikinginla says:

      I did see that, just haven’t had a chance to comment on it yet. About time someone took action to eliminate the incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene.

  4. Awful. This is my stomping grounds. I’m a Devonshire fan because of the bike lanes, but this is almost exactly where they stop there. I’ve been on Nordhoff many times, but it’s scary. I used to have ride Roscoe (another one of these awful Valley super highways) and it was the reason I have a rear facing camera on my bike. Lots of bullying and honking.

  5. Wes Oishi says:

    People make mistakes. The problem here is the car vs. car “accident” and the car vs. bike “accident” are too different events, when we look at injury. Both are accidents, but as the bike rider is not surrounded by steel, he/she does not fare well. Should there be a separate set of laws for car vs. car crashes, as opposed to car vs. bike crashes?

  6. Karl says:

    Recent events show what happens when something ‘really’ offensive occurs and we do what can be done to obtain cooperation from those who know or might learn what we need to know- we offer a reward.

    So if the vehicle abuser hasn’t been found yet let’s do what we can as individuals to somehow setup a fund- and I am only unashamed of my ignorance of how are the analogous offensive incidents are in which the reward increased rapidly to lottery level amounts in just days but kept going up for weeks and may have continued to rise.

    Those who are unwilling to say they happened to be behind the wheel when the largely inevitable from unnecessary use of such monstrous machines, who deny us that precise argument- with all it’s merit, that’s it’s not them, the drivers, the drivers who hit, but all of us who drive, who pick up this gattling gun and put those of us who choose not to or refuse to regardless of the price, andit’s tobe in front of the gun instead of fingers on it’s trigger, are rare enough, that we can all afford to be very dangerous to out them- and should.

    THe anonymous crime line’s can administrate rewards and should.

    It’s important to note that risking one’s life not being surrounded by deadly steel to those who risk there lives not surrounding themselves with deadly steel is usually the right thing to do. I would only point out that in wearing the helmet a message of danger is conveyed that dilutes the tragedy to those of us who did not know him- it does, as the actual danger of death is as as small as it being the only death so far in the city in half a year or more. How many have died from lack of exercise driving instead imposed? Where one is too many in either case few have died on the bike instead of of the side effects of not being.
    We should mourn like we mourn those in blue when killed- a hero, not a fool, has perished.

    Those who point out driving on streets used by bikes is lethal to bikes should be seen as willing to sacrifice such who do- and not respected at all for there willingness.

    When we die- we should not do so with shame, with those surviving raging wrongly and mainly only then. It should be far more expensive to drive so much as to have deaths occuring routinely.

    We should not be willing to offer as a reward more from our own pockets then not driving would cost. Yet this is clearly the case now.

    We point out humbly it would be cheaper to bike safely- better in every way, not more expensive . I just finally checked online this week- multiple companies now make bikes with motors that charge the batteries while being ridden. They don’t cost much but the people hired to market them to english reader can’t write. Almost as if by design the silly term “hybrid” has been used, preemted, to describe a relatively mundane style of biking.

    Biking in danger for exercise is not right. Biking to not drive is though- helmetless all the better. We step onto planes- without parachutes as well, doing so saves fuel, enough to make those of us who die for lacking a chute expendable- those are the facts.

    Yet we carry on planes,some of us, in the past, big bottles of shampoo, andstill complain we can’t anymore. Parachute massed amounts of shit- relatively needlessly.

    This driver needs a movie made of them- of there trial, there witch trial, to show they are us who do not risk our lives out of moral necessity.

    Our anger should be directed at those who drive- period, almost.

    IT should be acted on with calls tothe garages that shut every night and are empty- forcing drivers to drive there entire trips instead of using what insignificant transit we have andthey are financed ever so more recklessly for being inefficeintly and so utterly underutilised as that- again, i’m not making this up- but the new train garage is not for those taking it downtown who live beyond it- only for those downtown heading to the beach arguably- but why?

    Why are we not asking how many lives per however many years that decision will cost? Volunteering to help administer the useu of the garage overnight if that’s obscenely argued as an issue? (to call thebluff)

    I mean, if you have something to do, like talk on the phone- then why bike or drive, when you could be driven and get that done far better? Why no ‘U.N.’ style (dictation) gas mask microphones being used which is all nothaving acar but ridingthe train etc. required to talk only to someone not present in your commute? But instead it being legal to risk ‘unsteeled’ lives b y wasting energy hearing whoever talking back to youon big speakers alone in some deathmobile? Why are we still driving whencomputers give us things to do when we can ride instead,ride in safe vehicles driven better by them as welll then anyone?

    Why do we seem so primitive to sacrifice in other words regardless ofhow few anyone still forwhat? TO pay salaries to lube pits, warm the globe too much, plod on irrationally asif without any brain at all?

    The choice to consider owning and driving to kill others and spare one’s own life, the choice that almost everyone in cities makes, can be evolved beyond- if facebook byand large was required to carry public service adds, to give equal time, like media used to, probably would of already been by now Isay.

    Isaythat.

    I meant it.

    Waiting till. now for that was so unacceptible- It’s not when in the future but our failing to not have it be in the past that should be our first thought every time someone’s choice is made more obviousby being there when it occurs. Wrong choice- not merle ywrong place nd time!

    Wrong choice.

    Not normal- not rigth because everyone is doing it- some of us, like theslaain, where not!

    Many of us woudl say we would rather be the guy onthe bike then the guy killling him.

    MOre of usthen who act onthata for sure.

    On saturday you can take your helment off and everything else if penance is your thing. It’s the least any of us can do.

    Paint this mans name on your body. DO it for him.
    When asked why your suffering that insult- sayit’s so fewer are to suffer his fate.

    If you do this, yo uwill feel it, that I promise- try telling such a truth- it is better then life itself- it is what liberty is supposed to allow us to thrive and evolve doing.

    Make it so.

  7. Karl says:

    with some reluctance i having read many awkward typo’s point out only that the “dangerous” instead of “generous” one is best amplifieed by saying merely insert “Ly generous” as to do either, to bike or fund a reward to hear and see the people who kill [‘brought to justice (see as that)] , tosee theM AS ‘quite’ normal, not otherwise not monsters, is quite “dangerously” GENEROUS, nobly so was the motivation on my part intaking this time and being wiling to donate if someone else helps set it up for sure… with even half going tothe bail fund and the legal defense fund not just the scape goat reflex satisfaction needs.

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