Bicyclist killed in Thermal crash when driver ran stop sign

A 68-year old man riding a road bike is dead because a driver couldn’t be bothered to observe a stop sign.

According to the Desert Sun, 68-year old Bellingham, Washington resident Jack Roger Laird was killed when he was struck by a driver at 12:06 pm yesterday, at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Avenue 62 in Thermal.

The driver, a woman in her mid-20s, reportedly blew through a stop sign and plowed into Laird’s bike; she stayed at the scene and was cooperating with police.

Laird died at the scene.

A street view shows a pair of two-lane roadways converging in the middle of the desert, controlled by stop signs in every direction. A CHP spokesperson says that drivers frequently ignore the stop signs.

There is a 55 mph speed limit on 62nd, and no reason to believe drivers go any slower on Fillmore.

Or that slowly, for that matter.

There’s something seriously wrong when someone can’t visit this state without going back home in a box. Or ride a bike in the middle of nowhere without worrying about drivers to whom a stop sign apparently means nothing.

This is the 61st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Riverside County this year. Laird is the 2nd bike rider to die in Thermal in the last four years.

That compares with 70 in SoCal this time last year, and ten in Riverside County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jack Roger Laird and all his family and loved ones.



  1. Victor Bale says:

    Jack Laird was well known in the Coachella Valley. He was a member of the Desert Bicycle Club and very well liked by all who knew him. He was returning from a ride to the top of Box Canyon when he was killed.

    Condolences and prayers to all his family and loved ones.

    • Victor Bale says:

      By the way, I know the area well and yesterday (same day he was killed), I rode through the same intersection twice. The statement “in the middle of nowhere” is absolutely correct! Traffic in that area is very, very light and drivers usually veer into the oncoming traffic lanes (there’s hardly anyone on the road) to give cyclists a lot of room.

      Having said that I can also say that the speed limit is rarely observed and stop signs are often ignored.

    • Rusty Laird says:

      Thank you Victor for the kind words. My dad spoke very highly of you and always enjoyed riding with you.

  2. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of Mr. Laird.

  3. Biked says:

    If driver was speeding and slowed not at all for stop sign, and this was a common practice, more deterance against it is needed. California is liable not just these two ordinary people.

    We know scientifically few species can be safe around such speeds and must not tolerate such danger at crossings. In silence we can say it could not happen to us, our dad, kid. Speed kills those encouraged to disrespect it most, and such a double stop sign situation left too much discretion to road users. We built it and a sign nobody respects does not excuse us.

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