It’s happened again.
One man was killed, and another bicyclist seriously injured, when they were struck by an allegedly speeding driver during today’s Tour de Palm Springs.
According to the Desert Sun, the victims were struck when a speeding driver lost control of his car on Dillon Road in Indio Hills, south of Tinker Road, around 9:25 am.
However, that location doesn’t show up using any map site.
The paper reports the driver came up from behind a number of cyclists as they were riding east on Dillon, allegedly traveling at over 100 mph — twice the posted speed limit. He veered onto the dirt shoulder on the wrong side of the road, lost control and veered back across the road to hit the two riders.
The crash reportedly occurred among the trailing riders on the century ride.
Fortynine-year old Lake Stevens, Washington, resident Mark Kristofferson died at the scene.
The other victim was airlifted with serious injuries, while the driver was transported to a local hospital by ambulance.
The case is still being investigated, and no charges have been filed at this time.
This the second death in the 20-year history of the Tour de Palm Springs. It comes just four years after 55-year old La Vonne Koester of Alta Loma was killed during the 2014 edition of annual event, when she allegedly ran a stop sign.
However, other reports indicated that a driver had stopped to wave a group of riders through the intersection, when a second driver came up from behind and was unable to stop before plowing into the riders.
No one was ever charged in that case.
This is the seventh bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in Riverside County.
Update: The Desert Sun has updated their story to say 21-year old Desert Hot Springs resident Ronnie R. Huerta Jr. has been arrested on a charge of vehicular manslaughter.
The story also corrects Kristofferson’s age as 49, rather than 54 as originally reported; that change has been made to this story, as well.
The second victim has been identified as 50-year old Alyson Lee Akers of Huntington Beach. She is being treated for what is described as major injuries, including a head laceration.
Huerta was also treated for moderate injuries before being taken to jail on the manslaughter charge, where he is currently being held.
Update 2: At the request of Mark Kristofferson’s family, I have removed a bike cam video of the crash scene taken half an hour after the collision, which briefly showed the tarp covering his body.
Update 3: According to the Desert Sun, CHP investigators report the driver did not appear to be under the influence at the time of the crash, but are still waiting for the results of drug and alcohol tests.
Huerta was released on $75,000 bond, and isn’t expected to appear in court until April.
The crash location was corrected to Dillon Road near Avenue 30. The story reports that there were several police officers stationed at key intersections along the route, but none along the 25-mile stretch where the crash occurred.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mark Kristofferson and his loved ones. And best wishes to Alyson Lee Akers for a full and fast recovery.
Thanks to Tom Morash and Wes R for the heads-up.