78-year old bike rider killed in Moorpark hit-and-run

Once again, a cryptic CHP dispatch hinted at a horrible cycling collision long before anyone else.

A transmission early Thursday afternoon told of a damaged bicycle on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark, with debris in the roadway — and a body in a tree.

And someone — maybe a passerby, maybe the driver involved — was waiting on the right shoulder to guide CHP officers to the collision site.

Now the Ventura County Star and Moorpark Patch confirm that 78-year old Simi Valley resident Bernard Cooper was killed in a rear-end collision while riding on the right shoulder of Tierra Rejada east of the Moorpark Freeway around 1:20 pm Thursday; the CHP puts the initial report at 1:28 pm.

After hitting Cooper with enough force to throw his body into a tree, 20-year old Nicolas Santiago of Ridgecrest drove for another mile-and-a-half before evidently having a change of heart and returning to the scene. The CHP dispatch identifies the vehicle waiting for them as a Nissan Xterra; unfortunately, there’s no word on what kind of car Santiago was driving or whether he returned after the collision had been reported.

Both Cooper and Santiago were headed east on Tierra Rejada; a satellite view of the roadway shows a wide shoulder where Cooper should have been safely out of the line of traffic, while a Google street view shows a 55 mph speed limit in the area.

Not surprisingly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash was still being investigated Thursday evening, however, the CHP reports that alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.

Santiago was arrested at the scene for hit-and-run. However, based on similar cases, the fact that he returned to the scene of the collision — apparently voluntarily — suggests that the charge is unlikely to result in significant penalties.

This is the fifth cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Ventura County; that compares to three bicycling deaths in Ventura County in all of 2012.

My prayers and condolences for Bernard Cooper and all his family and loved ones.

Update: A comment below says the driver of the Xterra was the one who called 911, and was not involved in the collision.


  1. carolyn says:

    so sorry to hear….prayers to Bernards family….:(

  2. katie says:

    The passerby driving the X-terra was not involved in the collision, but was the person who called 911.

    Our deepest condolences and prayers to Mr. Coopers family.

  3. Chris Staley says:

    My Moorpark group ride stopped at the site of the accident this last Saturday. We said a prayer for Bernard’s family and I will continue to keep them in our thoughts. We had seen Bernard on the road several times. His lose affects all who love the sport of bicycling.

  4. Stefanie says:

    Thank you for your prayers and condolences. Bernie Cooper was my father. He left behind many who are grieving for his loss, amplified by the tragic, senseless way in which he died. I pray that no other families have to go through this.

    • anthony says:

      Sorry for ur loss stefanie. Sounds like your father was a greatman. Men a friend put up d ghost bike for your dad but we put in the wrong location sorry ill relocate bike. God bless

      • Stefanie says:

        Thanks, Anthony. My brother sent us a photo of the ghost bike memorial (three of Bernie’s children live out of state). Dad’s widow and all the family were very touched by your kindness and thoughtful wishes. Thank you again so very much!

  5. Rick Fergus says:

    I was a good friend of Bernie Cooper and I live in Simi Valley. I believe I saw the ghost bike and if it’s color is white, it has been placed in the wrong location. Bernie’s accident was located just east of the Golf Driving Range which is east of the 23 frwy. Thank you for your support and thoughtfulness.

    • anthony says:

      Hello mr fergus I did relocate bike last night in my way to palmdale to set up another ghost bike. I move it over in front of golf course. I looked around for any signs of flowers ballons or anything there were no marking on street buy police dept. I usually like to set the ghost bikes as close as possible. Stop buy I hope is close enough. If it ain’t let me know may b a ballon marking the spot will help. Thank you and sorry for your loss. From the Anthony Martinez Jr.(RIP 11.24.2011) Ride of silence famally. Come n join us 5.15.2013 in oxnard will b paying. Our respect for all the bike riders that have being hurt or killed since 11.24.11 to present date from Ventura county. Any more info feel free to contact me. Or you can go to Ride of silence 2013 all the info should b posted with in the next week or so.

      • Rick Fergus says:

        Hi Anthony. I drove by the location and it’s not quite in the correct place. If you can, please move the bike to the east, go past the driveway to the golf driving range and attach the bike to the next small reflector road side next to the telephone pole. The small reflector road side has the number 52 painted on top. This is the place for the bike. Thanks for your help and thoughtfulness.

  6. Robin says:

    Thanks Rick and Anthony, this is Bernie’s daughter Robin. When it is in the right place, could you please take a picture of it and send it to me via e-mail? I will forward it to the other siblings. When I come to LA this summer, I will see it in person. Rick, I will send you my e-mail address via Facebook. Maybe someone could put a balloon in the spot so Anthony can find it easier.

    • anthony says:

      Hello rick just read email if you could put a ballloon on d sign its hard to z at night ill b out there sat or sund night and ill move it over. Tnks for your help

      • Rick Fergus says:

        Hi Anthony. I will place a Red Balloon Saturday morning where the bike should be placed. It will be on a small street reflector sign. Remember, the number 52 is on the top of the sign. It’s due EAST from where the bike is now. Walk EAST past the Driving Range driveway. Look for the RED Balloon. Thanks for your help. Rick

        • bikinginla says:

          You guys realize you’re awesome for doing this, right? I’m humbled you’re using this space to communicate.

          Thank you.

        • Robin says:

          Thanks to you guys for everything!!

          • anthony says:

            Robin n mr fergus ill like to inform you that the bike has being relocated to its proper place. Where indicate buy mr fergus. It has being ohnor. Rick you might want to install a small plaque on bike you can get the plastic ones made at the mall it would be a special touch. God bless

            • Stefanie says:

              Anthony and Rick, thank you so much for getting the ghost bike set up in the right place. I would love it if you could take a photo of it sometime. Will be in California this summer and will visit it in person. Also, Anthony, my daughter and I will be participating in the Ride of Silence here in Texas. Will be thinking of you and your family then as well.

            • Rick Fergus says:

              Hello Anthony. The bike is located correctly. Thank You very much for your time, effort and thoughtfulness, it is really appreciated by family and friends.

  7. Stefanie says:

    Oh, and BikinginLA, thanks to you for providing us with this forum to connect!

    • anthony says:

      I’m glad that you n your daughter will b part of the ride of silence. And thank you for thinking of us. God bless you n take care.

  8. Robin says:

    I will send the new picture Rick provided to all siblings.

  9. Patricia DeLonga says:

    My sincere condolences go to Bernie’s family. I went to high school with Bernie, Schenley High in Pittsburgh. Very sorry to here that he is gone, but not forgotten. Pat D

  10. Susan Levy says:

    Bernie Cooper’s widow is my cousin. I wanted the biking community to know that Nicolas Santiago pleaded guilty to felony hit and run as well as two misdemeanors. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in about a week; I will post the information when it becomes available.

  11. Susan Levy says:

    SENTENCING UPDATE (information was posted on KCLU.org):

    “A Kern County man has been sentenced to one year in jail, and five years probation for a hit and run traffic accident in Moorpark which left a bicyclist dead.”

    “The CHP says [Nicholas] Santiago fled the scene, and didn’t report the accident, but then returned a half hour later.”

    “Alcohol and drugs were not factors in the accident.”

    “The 22 year old Ridgecrest man pled guilty to felony hit and run causing death, and a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge, setting the stage for his sentencing.”

  12. It was a tragedy that the old man was hit by a car of a 20-year old boy and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Boy who had hit the old man and drove away from the scene for mile-and-a-half and returned back to the scene after changing the mind. As he came back to the scene of the collision voluntarily suggested that the charge was unlikely to result in significant penalties. The people who are driving on the roads should be careful and shouldn’t harm anyone for any reason.

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