Breaking old news: Doored Santa Monica cyclist died over a week ago

Word broke early this morning that the cyclist who was doored in Santa Monica on June 8th has died of his injuries.

According to Santa Monica Patch, 40-year old Antonio Cortez of Los Angeles passed away on June 22nd, the same day Roger Lippman was killed in Huntington Brach.

Police continue to blame the victim for being drunk and not wearing a helmet, even though the latter is perfectly legal, if ill advised, and drunkenness cannot legally be considered the cause of a collision.

This is the 28th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 8th in Los Angeles County. Cortez’ death also marks the 8th fatality in a horrible month of June.

Thanks to Evan for the heads-up. And no thanks to SaMo authorities for failing to keep the public informed on this case.


  1. Petros says:

    I read your posts regularly, and am thankful for the ‘heads up’ and informational entries.
    I have to disagree with you on this one, though. We are all part of the cycling community and we have our biases and way of looking at things. We also need to stay loud so that we are not drowned by the sounds of motor vehicle exhausts. However, your comment above (“drunkenness cannot legally be considered the cause of a collision”) crosses the line.
    The overall message we cyclists keep pushing to the motoring public is that bicycles should be treated as vehicles on the road. With the same rights and, in my humble opinion, the same RESPONSIBILITIES. I seriously doubt you’d use the same quote if the person in question was a drunk driver. I would not expect you to.
    Sometimes the victims ARE at fault. Either by being plain stupid (no helmet), or by being irresponsible and driving / riding under the influence.

    • bikinginla says:

      Petros, my comments had nothing to do with taking or avoiding responsibility. If you clicked on the link to the previous story about the collision, I pointed out there that under California law, intoxication cannot be considered the cause of any collision, but rather, comes into play as a separate violation after cause has been determined.

      For instance, if a sober driver runs a stop sign and collides with a drunk driver, the one who ran the stop sign would still be at fault for the collision; however, the drunk could be held responsible for driving under the influence.

      In this case, if Cortez had survived, he could have been charged with bicycling under the influence, which is a crime in this state. But his intoxication is irrelevant to the actual cause of the collision, which would appear to be either a) carelessness on the part of the bicycle rider, or b) a violation of CVC 22517, which prohibits leaving a car door open any longer than necessary.

      Or both could be at fault to some degree.

      Unfortunately, the Santa Monica police appear to be publicly blaming the victim — even though neither Cortez’ drunkenness or lack of a helmet were the actual cause of the collision — and calling this an accident, which makes it appear they’re washing their hands of the investigation simply because the victim is dead and unable to defend himself.

      All I ask of any police department is a fair, complete and honest investigation, and that cyclists and drivers be held to the same standard. If intoxication could not be considered the cause of a collision for a motorist — and as pointed out above, it can’t under California law — then it can’t be considered the cause of a collision for a cyclist.

    • Not wearing a helmet does not make someone at fault for a collision, ever, not to mention the fact that it is not even a legal obligation. Whether one does or does not wear a styrofoam hat has absolutely zero relevance to who is at fault, and if someone rides without a helmet, they are never “asking” to be hit.

  2. […] Doored Santa Monica Cyclist Dies.  SMPD Can Barely Contain Their Boredom. (Biking In L.A.) […]

  3. Mark Elliot says:

    I agree with Ted’s thrust here: the police operate by-the-book, so we should expect not to have loose talk about factors that *may* have contributed to a collision. Those causes need to be documented or they shouldn’t be part of the conversation, drunkenness or not. Sometimes we hear responding officers (or worse a spokesman removed from the scene) hypothesize, but that doesn’t get us to safer streets. Nor does it encourage careful driving or cycling for that matter.

    Rather, peeling back the suppositions do get us part of the way there. Those terms matter: when it’s called an ‘accident,’ that serves to brush away identifiable cause(s). It can help reduce the work necessary to investigate. But it is also unconsciously purposeful in that it recalls preconceptions about careless cycling or cyclist disregard of the law. Like Ted suggests, we need be suspect when responsibility is heaped on the injured or dead cyclist, whatever the cause.

    Most worrisome is how off-the-cuff analyses tend to trade on racial or class-based stereotypes. I’m not saying that’s the cause here, but at its worst it can include coded language that resonates (the “dog whistle” effect) with some who then take away a very different message.

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