Suspected DUI driver kills adult trike rider and her dog in Garden Grove

No one is safe from intoxicated drivers.

Not women on adult tricycles. Or the dogs they carry with them.

That’s exactly what happened last night in Garden Grove, as  suspected DUI driver killed a cyclist, and her little dog, too.

According to the Orange County Register, a woman believed to be in her 50s was riding her adult tricycle eastbound on Chapman Ave near Faye Ave, carrying a small dog in the bike’s basket, when she was struck from behind by a pickup around 9:45 pm.

One of the Register’s photos from the scene shows damage to the hood of the truck, suggesting she was thrown onto it by the force of the impact, while KTLA-5 says the dog was thrown several feet away, still inside the basket.

No word on whether she was using lights or reflectors after dark.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene; she has not been publicly identified. Her dog died later at an Orange County Animal Services clinic.

The driver, 58-year old Rita Faye McLaughlin of Santa Ana, remained at the scene, and was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI after failing a field sobriety test.

Anyone with information is urge to call the Garden Grove Police at 714/741-5800.

This is the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County; that compares with 10 in the county this time last year. It’s the first bicycling death in Garden Grove since November, 2012.

Update: A comment from the victim’s sister identifies her as 55-year old Suzi V. Ramage, along with her dog Sonny. 

It’s the second family member she’s lost to a drunk driver; her son was killed in 2003.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Suzi V. Ramage and her loved ones.



  1. JD says:

    We offer up our prayers for the family and friends of the woman and her dog.

  2. mwandaw says:

    Our sympathies to the victim’s family.

  3. Sheila Purcell says:

    The woman who was riding the adult tricycle with her little dog was my little sister, Suzi. She was 55 years old. Her little buddy was Sunny. They loved to go on bike rides together. This is the second time in 12 years that a drunk driver has taken one of my loved ones. I am MADD. This needs to stop people. Please DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE you might kill your own loved one. Broken Hearted.

    • bikinginla says:

      Sheila, I’m so sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and all your family.

      There is no excuse, ever, for driving drunk or high. Period.

      • Sheila Purcell says:

        Thank you for your comforting words and your agreeing that there is no excuse to drive drunk or high.

        • bikinginla says:

          The coroner still hasn’t publicly identified the victim in this case. Can you give us your sister’s full name so we can remember her properly?

          • Sheila Purcell says:

            Her name is Suzi V. Ramage, she was 55 years old. Her little buddy was Sonny and he was about 9 years old. Suzi is the second person in my family to be killed by a drunk driver. Our son, Justen Purcell was killed on Jan 11, 2003 while at work as a tow truck operator when he was killed by an underage drunk driver. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.

            • bikinginla says:

              Thank you, Sheila. Again, my deepest sympathies.

              I share your pain; I lost a cousin and a good childhood friend to drunk drivers.

    • Jim Mazza says:

      So very sorry to hear about your little sister. I haven’t seen her in many years, probably since Owen’s funeral.
      I remember her so well when she was 3 or 4 years old.

  4. Erika says:

    @ Sheila Purcell…
    My name is Erika Rasmussen and I’ve known Suzi for 2 years. First off, my most sincere condolences to your family. I am having a very hard time coming to terms with the knowledge that I won’t be seeing her ever again. She and I were the local cat ladies I live in the complex next to her. Is it possible for you to get ahold of me please? I left a letter in her mailbox at our home last night and I really would like to attend her service if possible? Thank you so much.

  5. Mabel Ayotte says:

    The memorial service will be on 7/17 at 7:00 pm at the Garden Grove Church of the Nazarene on Trask and Euclid.

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