A Ventura bike rider has been left to die by a heartless and cowardly driver.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene; his identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The driver fled the scene, leaving his victim lying in the road, where he was found by police responding to the call.
No word yet on how the collision may have occurred.
A satellite view shows the area is a mixture of farmland and housing developments. There appears to be a substandard bike lane headed east on Telegraph, with only a fragmentary bike lane westbound at the intersection with Saticoy, giving way to a narrow shoulder to the west with a 50 mph speed limit. Meanwhile, Saticoy is marked as a bike route, with no improvements to the street.
Police are looking for a white, four door Nissan sedan with substantial front end damage. Anyone with information is urged to call the Ventura Police Department’s Traffic Unit at 805/339-4323.
This is the 19th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third in Ventura County. That exceeds the total for all of last year in the county.
Update: The victim has been identified as 14-year old Jonathon Hernandez of Ventura; KABC-7 reports he was a football player at Buena High School in Ventura.
He was apparently riding at that hour because he was upset after an emotional family meeting to mark his sister’s birthday, who died of leukemia a few months earlier; family members did not know he had gone out. He had called friends to say was coming over because he needed to talk.
Surveillance video shows he was struck by a white flatbed tow truck driving east on Telegraph, which should have major front end damage based on evidence at the scene.
He was then struck by a silver or light-colored SUV as he lay in the road, which also continued east on Telegraph without stopping.
Based on the description, the tow truck driver should face a murder charge once he’s apprehended, since Hernandez wouldn’t have been struck by the second vehicle if the driver had stopped as the law and basic human decency requires. Which does not absolve the second driver of his or her own responsibility.
A fund has been established to pay for funeral expenses. As of this writing, it had raised nearly $6,000 of the $10,000 goal in just seven hours.
Update 2: Police have identified the driver of the tow truck as Martin Henderson, the owner/operator of a towing company that contracts with Ventura.
They say he had the right-of-way as Hernandez allegedly ran the red light; presumably they base that on the same surveillance video that showed the two collisions.
Regardless of who may have been at fault, it does not excuse leaving a young man to die on the street.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jonathon Hernandez and all his loved ones.
Thanks to John Damman for the heads-up.