OC bike rider died a week after she was trapped under car; 80th SoCal cycling death this year

And then there were 80.

On Monday, November 4th, 44-year old Michelle Lounsbury was hit by a car in Costa Mesa in an apparent right hook.

Early last week, I started seeing rumors that she had died; however, it wasn’t until this morning that Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today forwarded confirmation from the Orange County Register that Lounsbury had passed away one week later on November 11th.

For some reason, the story never showed up in any of my internet searches, even though it doesn’t seem to be hidden behind the paper’s paywall for some reason.

According to the original story in the Daily Pilot, the driver — later identified as 48-year old Suja Haq of Costa Mesa — was headed east on Bay Street when he started to turn right onto Newport Blvd. As he turned, he heard a loud noise, and stopped to find Lounsbury trapped under his car.

Rescue personnel had to use emergency equipment to lift the vehicle off her, before rushing her to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. The Register reports that she showed no brain activity shortly after arriving at the hospital; life support was disconnected a week later after family members gave their consent.

The Register describes Lounsbury as a homeless woman who lived in the Costa Mesa area, and was well-liked in the local homeless community.

“She was always there for everybody,” said Ashley Clark, who kept in contact with Lounsbury through the Churches Consortium’s outreach. …

“She had a cruiser, like a black cruiser. It was very Michelle. She’s kind of like a rocker chick, so her bike was black. She had black hair, black outfits, black everything … The homeless people, the thing about them is they stick together,” Clark said. “So when one of them passes away, it’s difficult. … That moral support that they would’ve gotten from her is gone.”

Lounsbury was scrappy, outgoing and direct, and could also be considerate, big-hearted and compassionate, said Clark and John Begin, pastor at Costa Mesa Church of Christ.

As a homeless person, it’s possible that she may not have had lights on her bike; with black clothing and a black bike, she may have been hard to see in the full darkness of the early morning hour. However, the driver still had an obligation to notice and avoid someone anyone on the street, especially at a major intersection that should have been well lighted.

If there is any good news in this story, it is this.

“She didn’t suffer through this,” Begin said. “From the day of the accident, she wasn’t there.”

Police are still looking for two men who may have witnessed the collision. Anyone with information is urged to contact Traffic Investigator Darren Wood at 714/754-5264.

And let’s remember that there are many reasons someone might become homeless. Their lives are no less valuable than those of anyone else, and their deaths no less tragic.

This is the 80th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, in what has turned out to be an exceptionally bloody year for SoCal bike riders. It is also the 11th cycling death in Orange County, as the county maintains its horrible average of one bicycling death per month.

My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Michelle Lounsbury and all her family and friends.

Thanks to Amy Senk for her help in confirming this story.


  1. Anthony Navarro says:


  2. […] to CA for a sad report. OC bike rider died a week after she was trapped under car; 80th SoCal cycling death this year Right hook that was covered in this blog back when it […]

  3. Lois says:

    That’s my hood. There is a heck of a lot of bike traffic in Eastside Costa Mesa. Unfortunately there are a lot of cars as well.

  4. JD says:

    We offer our prayers for the family and friends of Ms. Lounsbury.

  5. Steve says:

    BikinglnLA, Well said and well done. Steve

    Sent from my iPhone

  6. jg says:

    Why the hell was she transported to Western Med? Hoag is less than 2 miles away. Doesn’t it have an ER?

  7. James says:

    Costa Mesa is a miserable and dangerous place to ride a bike. The city is bisected by a freeway and a former main street turned into a virtual extension of the freeway that forms an effective barrier against bicycle and foot traffic. The older streets that could be bicycle friendly like 17th or 19th lack bike lanes and most bike lanes will be found on your typical sunbelt urban highway – 50-60 mph traffic, .5 mile intersection spacing, two foot gutter bike lanes. There is a half assed alternate grid of residential streets that in theory could be considered bicycle boulevards but every time you have to cross a highway you are on your own. Most cyclists seem to be sidewalk bound and on beach cruisers and are constantly cut off by right turning motorists.

    Crossing over the freeway or crossing the highway known as newport blvd requires a good deal of courage and vehicular cycling techniques and is always met with hostility from motorists who seem to think that cyclists should only make right hand turns. I don’t even bother to go into costa mesa anymore.

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