Update: Ventura bike rider killed in midnight hit-and-run

A Ventura bike rider has been left to die by a heartless and cowardly driver.

According to KABC-7, a male bike rider was hit by vehicle at Telegraph Road and Saticoy Avenue shortly after midnight today.

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. 

11 comments

  1. Another hit and run tragedy. We as a society need to do better.

    I’m so sorry for the victim and his loved ones.

  2. Until motor vehicle assaults are treated the same as any other assault with a deadly weapon these things will continue to happen

  3. JD says:

    We offer up our prayers for the family, friends, and classmates of young Mr. Hernandez.

  4. Camran T. says:

    I don’t see how a murder charge is applicable here, since the teen ran a red light? However, leaving him in the street is not what he should have done. I guess after viewing the video of the accident, police didn’t find the tow truck driver at fault. Otherwise he would’ve been arrested. It’s impossible to draw any conclusions without seeing proof (video). The intersection photos show it being free of obstructions (trees, etc). I don’t understand how the teen did not see or hear the vehicle headed his way? Was he wearing earphones maybe or under the influence? Everyone knows you need to look both ways before crossing. He obviously didn’t. Why??

    • bikinginla says:

      The reference to a murder charge is not because of the crash, but because of the drivers’ conscious decision to flee the scene without reporting the crash, and leave a 14-year old boy to die in the street. Hit-and-run is a serious crime with serious, sometimes fatal, consequences, yet one that police and prosecutors seldom treat that way.

      In this case, the first driver swears he was unaware that he hit the boy’s bike, which I find very hard to believe; it makes me question what he was doing besides driving that he wouldn’t see, feel or hear the collision, no matter how it occurred. If he had stopped, Hernandez might not have been hit by the second driver; whether that would have been enough to save him is impossible to know, as is why he allegedly rode through the light.

      However, reports are he was very emotional following the family meeting. Let’s leave it there, rather that speculating about things for which there is no evidence.

      • John says:

        Ditto seems you have speculated alot in not only your comments but your report.

      • John says:

        Ditto seems you have speculated alot in not only your comments but your report. Beside aren’t bikes consider a motor vehicle when on the road? Running a red light with no reflectors or bike lights is against the law.
        One more thing have you ever driven anything bigger than your sedan or suv, most likely not. A flatbed tow truck is a very different kind of ride one that I’m sure you’ve been in

        • bikinginla says:

          I couldn’t agree more that riding at night without lights or reflectors is against the law; however, I have seen no reports that say he didn’t have them. Maybe you know more than I do on that. Or are you speculating?

          And yes, it is against the law to run a red light. But which is the worse crime — an emotionally upset kid blowing a red light, or leaving that kid to die alone on the street?

          As for speculating, we have no way of know if Hernandez could have survived the initial impact; all we know for certain is that he didn’t survive the second, which probably would not have occurred if the first driver had stopped and rendered aid as the law requires.

          And yes, growing up in farm country, I’ve driven tractors and flatbeds, as well as moving vans. In my experience, if you hit anything you know it — if you’re not distracted.

          Which doesn’t mean either driver was in this case. But I certainly question it, as should the police.

  5. justin thawt says:

    RE: because of the drivers’ conscious decision to flee

    Did tow guy tell you this? how do you know what his
    conscience thoughts were? Maybe you know something the rest of us don’t.. (esp or..using the force?). Otherwise, maybe we should not assume things we really know nothing about. ;-》

    • bikinginla says:

      Let’s see. The driver hit a boy on a bicycle with enough force to cause what the police describe as major front end damage, then drove away.

      Are you trying to suggest that his foot accidentally hit the gas pedal, and he couldn’t figure out how to stop until he got home? Or that he could hit someone that hard — with the front of the truck, no less — and be totally oblivious to the collision?

      Unless he was under the influence or suffering from some sort of altered state, he had to know he hit someone. Which means that he made a conscious choice to drive away afterwards, leaving a young boy to die in the street.

      Clearly, the Ventura County DA agrees, as evidenced by the felony hit-and-run charge that was filed today, as well as an additional charge for concealing evidence.

      So please, tell me again what I know nothing about.

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