Update: Bicyclist killed in fall on Santiago Canyon Road Wednesday

More bad news.

According to the Orange County Register, a 56-year old Aliso Viejo man was killed when he fell off his bike on Santiago Canyon Road on Wednesday.

The paper reports he suffered significant injuries when he fell west of the 241 Freeway, suggesting he may have been traveling at a high rate of speed.

He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Photos from the scene show around eight to ten other riders waiting as police investigate, suggesting he may have been on a group ride when he crashed.

He is the third SoCal cyclist whose death has come to light in the past 24 hours, all of whom appear to have been involved in solo crashes or falls while riding with a group.

This is the 47th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County. It’s also at least the third fatal bike crash on Santiago Canyon in the last six years.

Update: I’m told the victim was Aliso Viejo resident John Smith; reports indicate his front tire blew out after hitting a sharp rock at 40 mph.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for John Smith and all his loved ones.



  1. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of the victim.

  2. It’s very sad to hear of such a terrible crash in one of the best riding areas of Orange County. The man’s family and friends are in my prayers.

  3. David says:

    My Favorite area to ride. Sorry to hear this tragic news.

  4. bikinginla says:

    I didn’t know John Smith, and I’ve never ridden Santiago Canyon, but his death — and the other two that came to light in the past 24 hours — have really disturbed me.

    There have been so many times that it could have been me. When I’ve gone down hard, but things broke just right to leave me injured but alive. Or when a crash seemed inevitable, but some combination of skill and luck — more likely, the latter — kept me safe to ride another day.

    There but for the grace of God…

    My heart truly goes out to Smith’s family and friends, as well as those of Gary Thomsen and Brian Villa. I hope they can all find comfort and peace in their time of need.

  5. Tim Grange says:

    John Smith was a great rider & even better man! Those are all my friends standing around him in the photos from the OC Register article. The thing that scares the hell out of me about this one, was that there was nothing he could have done. If it happened to any of us, the same outcome could occur. This was just a front tire blow out, but at a high speed, slightly left hand curve. Nobody could have pulled that one off. Their Garmins read 40 mph at the time of the accident. John, like the rest of us, loved cycling and was trying to get a workout in before work. John, you will be missed. Godspeed.

  6. Sharon Chase-Jones says:

    I have been privileged to know John Smith. He was an avid and safe cyclist. I’m heartbroken to hear of his death. My heart goes out to his wife Kris, family and friends.

  7. D. Scott Walker says:

    So very sad. John was one of the good guys. We shared a passion for cycling and talked about it all the time at work. As Tim stated, a front tire blow out at high speed is the cyclist’s worst nightmare and comes without warning. Prayers to his family and friends.

  8. Garrett says:

    This is very very sad news to me. I worked with Gary for many years at Vision. He was a true legend. Always fun and great laughs and he was so healthy and strong. What an amazing loss for all of us. You will be missed my friend. RIP!

  9. Bob Ott says:

    I really enjoyed riding to work with John back in the AMO days. He truly was one of the good guys all of the time. He taught me the importance of interval training and showed me the best hill routes to prepare for my century rides. He loved to ride Santiago Canyon Road and as a lot of us do. He will be missed, but never forgotten especially during the rides in the canyon and on Pacific Island Drive. R.I.P John.

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