In any bicycling crash, the question is whether there were any witnesses other than the driver.
Because too often, the victim is in no shape to tell his or her side of the story.
That’s what happened in Oxnard this morning, where a bike rider was killed after allegedly swerving in front on an oncoming SUV.
According to the Ventura County Star, the victim, identified only as a 44-year old woman from Port Hueneme, was riding west on Hemlock Drive near Seaside Drive around 5:30 am, when she allegedly swerved into the path of the 26-year old driver.
He was unable to stop in time, and slammed into her bike.
She was taken from Oxnard to the Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, where she died.
The driver remained at the scene, and cooperated with investigators. Police don’t suspect he was under the influence.
Unfortunately, Oxnard police didn’t indicate whether there were any other witnesses, or if they were relying on strictly on the driver’s description of what happened.
Bike riders often call crashes like this an SWSS, or single witness suicide swerve, because in the absence of any other witnesses, it’s just as likely that the driver drifted to the right to hit the victim as she rode in the bike lane.
Especially at that hour, when the driver is likely to be sleepy and inattentive.
It’s also possible that she was in the traffic lane, and the driver failed to see her until the last moment, and mistakenly assumed she swerved in front of him.
And it’s possible, if not likely, that the driver was exceeding the 40 mph speed limit, which would have reduced his reaction time, and given the false impression that she had sufficient time to safely move to the left.
Chances are, we’ll never know.
This is at least the 36th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 2nd that I’m aware of in Ventura County; the previous death was in Oxnard, as well.
Update: The victim has been identified as Port Hueneme resident Dana Kuehl; she was actually 39, not 44.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Dana Kuehl and her loved ones.
Thanks to Victor Bale for the heads-up.