Update: Cyclist killed in Newport Beach hit-and-run — 2nd Newport bike fatality in less than 24 hours

Photo of the collision scene, courtesy of David Huntsman


Frank Peters of cdmCyclist forwards word of another cycling fatality in Newport Beach in less than 24 hours.

According to the Newport Beach Police Department, a 57-year old Irvine woman was riding north on Newport Coast Drive between Ocean Vista Drive and Vista Ridge Drive when she was hit from behind by a pickup truck at around 9:45 am. She was apparently riding in a bike lane, on a street with a 60 mph speed limit.

The driver fled without stopping, continuing northbound on Newport Coast.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where she later died of her injuries.

The suspect vehicle is described as a black full-sized pickup truck, possibly a 2001-04 Toyota Tacoma, with significant damage to the front end.

Anyone with information is urged to contact NBPD Traffic Investigator Eric Little at (949) 644-3746 or email at elittle@nbpd.org.

This is the 55th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in Orange County — all but one the result of traffic collisions — and the second cycling fatality in Newport Beach in less than 24 hours.

It’s also the 12th hit-and-run death of a cyclist in Southern California in 2012.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and her loved ones.

Thanks to Frank Peters, David Huntsman and Amy Senk of CdM Today for the heads-up.

Update: Corona del Mar Today and the Orange County Register have identified the victim as Cathy Ritz of Irvine. 

Some of the comments below, and others I’ve seen expressed elsewhere, point the finger at poorly designed, high speed streets with traffic lanes that are too wide, encouraging drivers to speed even above the already excessive speed limits, in this case and too many others. Newport Beach, and the other Orange County cities, needs to take a long, hard look at themselves and question just how many fatalities they’re willing to accept before redesigning roadways to work for everyone.

Not just overly aggressive drivers.

Update 2: Bike Newport Beach has identified the victim as highly respected local physician Catherine A. Champion M.D.; no explanation on the discrepancy in naming the victim. 

Update 3: I’m told Ritz/Champion was riding with her husband when she was killed, and that the discrepancy in names may have been the result of keeping her name for professional purposes following her marriage.


  1. […] Breaking news: Cyclist killed in Newport Beach hit-and-run — 2nd … This entry was posted in Blog Search and tagged bike, california, cdmcyclist, collisions, county, […]

  2. MARK NEUMANN says:

    The former president of Southbay Wheelmen was hit by the mirror of a black suv today while riding south bound on pch in Malibu today. Luckily he was ok. Hit in butt and hand by mirror.
    The sad part was the left or middle lane was empty and the suv could have easily given 3 feet.
    The suv did not stop to see if anyone was hurt, may not have even known he hit a cyclist.

    Keep up the good work you do.

    Sent from my wireless etch-a-sketch

    • bikinginla says:

      Glad he’s okay. I don’t think many drivers realize how dangerous those wing mirrors can be. Even a light bump that doesn’t cause any injury on its own can be enough to send a rider tumbling, with possibly catastrophic results.

      I’m firmly convinced that many, if not most, of the cases in which riders have been found severely injured or dead on the side of the road with no apparent explanation result from brush-by collisions just like that.

  3. KillMoto says:

    Time to fit all cars with 21st century technology. Cars should not operate without scanning a thumb print, grabbing a SSL certificate from the license smart-chip, and having the driver’s PIN. Then as cars move about, black box should check in at every intersection with telemetry about major (e.g., collision) events. We would know who the hit and run drivers are in near real time. Crime would not pay.

    God I wish USA would join us in the 21st century.

  4. Matt O'Toole says:

    Most, if not all the recent fatalities in Newport Beach were on roads with wide outer lanes and/or bike lanes, which most people feel are safe for cycling. But these wide open roads just encourage uncareful driving, like speeding or reaching for the phone. I can’t imagine what else could have caused this morning’s tragedy.

    Yesterday’s took place at the end of a block-long, extra-wide right turn lane, where drivers race past stopped traffic into a shallow-angle corner that can be taken at high speed. They’re almost goaded into it.

    We need to quit building racetracks, and calm the ones we already have.

    About 21st century technology: there’s no reason cars shouldn’t have “black boxes,” like airplanes’, to record the few seconds before any impact — and a time stamp to match with cell phone records.

    • Patti A says:

      Last year when my brother was killed while waiting for a light by a driver who ran a red light, we found out that as part of our terrorist plan there are cameras at every major intersection in the US. I checked it out and there are cameras at most intersections. Police reviewed videos with Donny and saw what happened. My brother did not ride anything but trails, bike routes and races. I think cyclists need to report all vehicle clippings and near misses to document this phenomena. A diligent police department could provide data and maybe even fidentify the drivers and let them know what hsppened or give them tickets if it is likely they were aware.
      Gov Brown just vetoed the three foot law. It is so basic that drivers need to pay attention and cyclists need to do the same. Ultimately, in the State of California despite our need to have alternative transportation and activity- the cyclist gives their life and the distracted driver gets a ticket (unless texting or under the influence)
      RIP little brother Donny McCluskey and my sympathy to all of the families who have had their loved one lost forever by a very preventable accident!

  5. I agree with you KillMoto. More so, in the past 3 months, 2 of the deaths that have occured on PCH in Huntington Beach, happened during the day and involved cyclists being hit by DUI! They should put some sort of chip to check whether or not these people are sober before they get behind the wheel. I ride these roads ALL THE TIME and I agree with Matt O’Toole about the wide outer lanes/bike lans. They leave more room for cars to speed like maniacs on some of the most populated roads in orange county.

  6. JD says:

    The State of California needs to take an emergency active role and improve conditions along with educating drivers. We are all an inch from death, as a mirror on a car going 50 mph clipped my left brake lever a few weeks ago. I was in a bike lane at the time. The “bike friendly” city didn’t give a rip, and continues to ignore requests to tidy up the area that it happened in.

  7. […] the hill. It has a clearly marked bike lane, and I know it’s usually a low-traffic area. (Click here for a picture.) It honestly makes me feel like the driver of the truck probably wasn’t paying attention […]

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