An Arcadia cyclist has died three days after he was injured in a collision.
According to the Pasadena Star-News, 16-year old Roger A. Lewis of Arcadia passed away Tuesday morning after he was taken off life, following a collision just before 10 pm Saturday at Santa Anita Blvd and Duarte Street.
Lewis was stopped at the red arrow in the southbound left turn lane of Santa Anita; shortly after the light at the intersection changed to green, he reportedly swerved to the right and was hit by a 2008 Chrysler Sebring coming up from behind in the next lane. He was thrown from the bike, suffering major head injuries.
No explanation is given for why the victim might have moved out of the left turn lane and into the path of the car. And yes, police suggest that there were witnesses in addition to the driver.
It would seem more likely that the driver drifted into the left turn lane where the rider was waiting. However, it’s also possible that Lewis may have changed his mind and decided to go straight without checking for traffic behind him, or that he might have been forced to swerve for some reason.
Unlike motor vehicles, the small size and weight of a bike and rider often make it difficult, if not impossible, to determine the exact point of impact in a bike-involved collision. As a result, determining exactly what happened and who was at fault usually rests on witness statements.
In this case, the question is whether there were in fact independent witnesses who saw Lewis swerve to the right, aside from the driver and/or passengers in the car.
Toxicology tests were pending on both the victim and the 26-year old driver, who was not identified. However, police note that drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the collision.
The paper also notes that Lewis was riding a fixed-gear bike; however, that would not seem to have played any role in the collision as it was described. They also note that he wasn’t wearing a helmet; whether that could have made a difference in this case would depend on the speed of the car that hit him.
This is the 66th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, which equals the six-year annual average for the region. It’s also the 22nd bicycling death in Los Angeles County, which is just two below last year’s total.
My prayers and sympathy for Roger Lewis and all his family and loved ones.
Update: Roger Lewis’ former classmates react to his death, via Arcadia Patch.
Meanwhile, Boyonabike! stopped by to remind us that the Arcadia City Council rejected plans to develop a new bike plan, with the Mayor of the city — who claims to be an avid cyclist — stating he doesn’t think bicycling can be a legitimate form of alternative transportation. This death can, and should, be laid directly at their feet.
The description in the press of how this collision unfolded continues to eat at me, as it just doesn’t seem to make sense that he would wait in the left turn lane until the light changes, then swerve to the right without warning. But I guess anything is possible.