A police chase has turned deadly in Loma Linda, as a Loma Linda bike rider was run down by a suspect fleeing from San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies.
According to a notice released by the department, deputies were attempting to serve a domestic violence warrant on 37-year old Eric Tafoya of Rancho Cucamonga at a residence on Benton Court in Loma Linda this morning when they saw him leave the home.
They attempted to stop his car as he drove away, however, Tafoya continued driving, apparently traveling south on Benton Street before turning west on Barton Road.
As he approached the intersection with Anderson Road at 10:48 am, he smashed into a bike rider, then continued on without stopping, until he crashed into a van and fled on foot. He was taken into custody a short time later after being located by a police dog.
The victim, whose identity is being withheld pending notice of next of kin, was taken to nearby Loma Linda Medical Center, where he died at 12:18 pm.
No other information is available at this time.
There’s no word on how fast Tafoya’s vehicle was traveling, or whether the victim was struck on Barton or crossing at the intersection.
However, a street view shows a four lane street that could invite high speeds, with a bike lane on the right shoulder.
Tafoya now faces a possible murder charge, in addition to the original warrant.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Region 1 Major Accident Investigation Team at 909/918-2305; anonymous tips can be made at 1-800/782-7463.
This is the 52nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in San Bernardino County; it’s also the second in Loma Linda since the first of the year.
Update: The victim has been identified as 62-year old Redlands resident Randolph Stephenson.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Randolph Stephenson and his loved ones.
Thanks to Kate for the heads-up.
We lift up our prayers for the family and friends of the victim in this horrible tragedy.
“However, a street view shows a four lane street that could invite high speeds…”
What a stupid comment. The perpetrator was high on meth and fleeing from the sheriffs, who were trying to arrest him for beating his ex almost to death. Whatever the speed limit (for the record, it’s 45mph, but the traffic signals are set to go red if any vehicle approaches them significantly over that, even if no-one is approaching the intersection on Anderson: speeding on that stretch of Barton is not a significant problem), someone who is prepared to do what this homicidal moron did is not going obey it, or any other traffic law he finds inconvenient, for that matter.
I know that this is a pro-cycling propaganda site, but trying to insinuate that low-level carelessness on the part of an average motorist could have had anything to do with this homicide does nothing good for its credibility.
Thank you for your comment.
However, I’d like to know where you see any comment whatsoever about the average motorist. The sentence you cite above refers to the street, and, taken in context with the sentence immediately before it, that it’s highly possible that the person you call a “homicidal moron” was traveling at a high speed, even though that wasn’t mentioned in the police report.
Nor was there anything in the report issued by the SBSD about meth or intoxication by any substance, though that wouldn’t surprised me. There was also nothing in the police report about why the sheriff’s deputies were attempting to serve the warrant, beyond simply “domestic violence.”
So you evidently know far more about this case than the sheriff’s department has publicly released, or has been mentioned in any news story I’ve yet seen.
You are correct that this is a bicycling site, and I freely admit to a pro-bicyclist bias. However, I do my best to be fair and honest in relating the news, especially when writing about a fallen cyclist.
In this particular case, I think you’re reading something into it that just isn’t there.
I live three blocks from the location of the incident, so yes, I do have knowledge that is circulating locally, but which has not yet been published (but which will doubtless emerge at the trial).
My point is that if the murderer was traveling at excessive speed, it wasn’t because the road “invites” it: it was because he has absolutely no respect for the rule of law, is a textbook example of why we still need the death penalty in this state, and likely would have done that on any road, even a single track one with hairpin bends.
For the record, speeding is simply not an issue on that stretch of Barton. The incident took place right alongside Loma Linda University Medical Center, a large hospital that generates a lot of traffic, 24/7. I work in a movie theater and therefore frequently drive home past the scene of this murder at 1-2am: even then, the volume of traffic is usually high enough that if you are inclined to break the speed limit, good luck trying. On a typical weekday mid-morning, traffic typically flows at 25-35mph. There is also a dedicated bicycle lane, making the stretch of Barton Road between Colton and Redlands probably one of the safest for cyclists in the Inland Empire. Sadly, though, no amount of infrastructure upgrades or speed limit enforcement will protect anyone against someone who chooses to do what this individual did.
I am trying to make contact with the family I need to share something with them I feel they need to hear.
I’m not exactly sure how our family can share our contact information with you without it being publicized. We would love to hear the information you are trying to share with us.
I can access your email addresses from your comments. If either of you wants to give me permission, I’ll be happy to forward it to the other one.
Maia, please accept my deepest condolences.
5/9/17. Whatever happened to Eric Tafoya? Any trial? What was the outcome?
Good question. I can’t find any mention of him on the San Bernardino DA’s website, and there’s been no follow-up in the press.