Update: 34-year old woman killed in La Jolla collision; eighth bicyclist killed in San Diego County already this year

What the hell is going on in San Diego this year?

News is just breaking that a woman was killed in a collision while riding in La Jolla yesterday afternoon, continuing the county’s unusual rash of bicycling deaths.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which appears to be the only source reporting on the story so far, the crash occurred in the south lanes of North Torrey Pines Road approaching La Jolla Village Drive around 4:20 pm.

The victim, identified only as a 34-year old woman, was reportedly riding in the right lane of the roadway when she merged into the left lane, and was struck by a 74-year old driver.

She died at the scene.

The driver remained following the crash — which should not need to be said, but sadly, does — and was not suspected of being under the influence.

However, the report raises a few questions, since there is a bike lane on Torrey Pines Road where she would have presumably been riding, unless she had shifted into the right lane in preparation for merging into the left lane.

In which case, why didn’t she see the large oncoming Mercedes to her left — and why didn’t the driver see her?

There is also the question of why she was merging into the left lane, since there is no street to the left on the three-way intersection. It’s possible she was attempting to make a U-turn, or may have been turning onto a pathway that appears to lead to the UCSD campus on the north side of the roadway.

And as always, the question is whether there were any independent witnesses, other than the driver, who actually saw her move in front of the car that killed her. Although there should have been several people around the busy intersection at that hour who may have seen the crash.

The story reports that the collision is still under investigation, so hopefully we’ll learn more soon.

This is at least the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth that I’m aware of in San Diego County already this year, in what is turning out to be an exceptionally bloody year.

Update: The victim has not been publicly identified. However, comments below indicate she was from India with her husband, and the mother of a one-year old child.  

Meanwhile, Douglas Alden left the following comment.

I passed by the crash on my bike commute home shortly after it happened. It occurred in the southbound lanes of North Torrey Pines Road just north of the intersection with Revelle College Drive. The police had closed the road in both directions and several cars were pulled over. The body of the woman that was killed was covered by a yellow sheet and was still lying in the street in front of the car. It is possible that the cyclist was crossing lanes to make a left from southbound North Torrey Pines onto Revelle College Drive. There is a protected left turn lane at the intersection. It is hard to speculate without knowing all the facts.

There are a number of other comments below that add insight to this tragedy.

Update 2: The victim has been identified as 34-year old Swati Tyagi, a postdoctorate researcher with the Salk Institute, who was working on the aging process and neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia. 

Which raises the tragic question of what scientific breakthroughs in the field could be lost or delayed because of her needless death. 

Tyagi leaves behind her husband of six years, a scientist at The Scripps Research Institute, and their 11-month old son, who is just shy of his first birthday. 

Meanwhile, her parents and other family members have been unable to enter the US due to Covid restrictions in India, or to get her body sent back to the country of her birth, compounding the tragedy. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Swati Tyagi and all her loved ones. 

22 comments

  1. Douglas Alden says:

    I passed by the crash on my bike commute home shortly after it happened. It occurred in the southbound lanes of North Torrey Pines Road just north of the intersection with Revelle College Drive. The police had closed the road in both directions and several cars were pulled over. The body of the woman that was killed was covered by a yellow sheet and was still lying in the street in front of the car. It is possible that the cyclist was crossing lanes to make a left from southbound North Torrey Pines onto Revelle College Drive. There is a protected left turn lane at the intersection. It is hard to speculate without knowing all the facts.

  2. Barack says:

    She is my brother’s wife.I need some help can anyone please help.She is an Indian citizen

    • Deepak says:

      Brother send me full details of the incident. I am the brother of the deceased.from India my phone no +919837135063

      • Raj Chaudhary says:

        I am sorry to know, Swati is a daughter of my Friend Naresh in Ghaziabad India. Please let me know if I can do anything for the family, I am in Texas.

    • Raj Chaudhary says:

      Hello, what can I do for you? Please let me know. I am in Texas and she is my friend’s daughter from Ghaziabad, India.

      • Deepak says:

        I am the son of Naresh Tyagi’s brother who lives in the village. His name is Suresh what can you do American government is not giving permission to come there even when we have visa

  3. Sierra says:

    My husband and I drove by shortly after the accident happened. It took us a few moments to make sense of what we had seen, but it was immediately evident that she was deceased. The driver and a single police officer were on the scene when we went by, and EMS arrived minutes later. While we didn’t see the accident take place, our best guess at the time was that she was merging left in anticipation of the upcoming intersection and intended to turn left into the campus when she was struck from behind. We’re still pretty shook up by what we saw, but we both believe it happened so quickly she had little suffering. Our thoughts have been with her, her family, and the driver since the accident. We wish peace and healing to everyone—such a tragic turn of events.

  4. Christian says:

    Some knowledge of the area, scouted the route for our century rides from OC to DTSD. The bend on N. Torrey Pines Rd. is pretty sketchy. Ridden that area 3x and each time i was on pins and needles, head on a swivel. The speeds pick up cuz there’s a steep grade that drops down to La Jolla Village Dr. Cars are going pretty fast with a long unimpeded stretch north of intersection. The problem lies at the intersection where the bike lane merges w the far right lane to go straight and allow cars to make a right to continue on N. Torrey Pines. When the cars are backed up or slowed by the traffic light, bikers are in dangerous position of descending at 30+mph and having to pass or weave thru cars on their RIGHT now going slower. 1) drivers wanting to merge right to turn won’t expect a cyclist passing them on their right. 2) if she wanted to turn left onto Revelle College Dr. it would really dangerous to do so from the left turn lane cuz she’s going at speed and oncoming traffic is going even faster. I would’ve pulled over and used crosswalk.

  5. Robert Andrews says:

    I have lived in the village and bicycled there for 61 years. A bicyclist takes their lives in their hands, every time we venture onto a city street. There is no enforcement of speed laws and drivers impatiently bully cyclists and brush too close to them with their massive SUVs and out-sized pickup trucks. We forget that bicycles, scooters, motorcycles and, yes, even electric rental scooters, have exactly the same legal rights as motorists. Slow down and expect the unexpected when you see small wheeled vehicles. Their operators have no protection, should you collide, and death or terrible injury results. Juries sympathize with victims on light vehicles often times. Make the Golden Rule your guide!

  6. Jason Fleischer says:

    I used to work with the deceased. I’d be very interested in contributing to a ghost bike or other memorial, but I have no experience in how to make sure these things stay in place. Would love to hear input from those who do.

    My condolences to S.T.’s family. Since some of them are commenting here please reach out if there’s anything I can do. –Jason

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m not sure who does ghost bikes in San Diego, but I suspect it’s already being taken care of. And thank you for not naming her until we know her relatives in India have been notified.

  7. Brad says:

    I had some of the same questions posed here when I read the U-T article. For all its bike lanes, this part of San Diego very much poses a safety problem for cyclists, with little impeding high, dangerous driver speeds and wide, fast turns.

    Near here, the bottom of Gilman Drive that forces downhill cyclists to mix with a high-speed driver merge onto I-5 South has long been a similar disaster waiting to happen. I hold my breath every time I ride through.

    My heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased.

    • Christian says:

      Exactly, our first century ride our lead rider missed the Gilman Dr. turnout and lead us across the I-5 bridge on La Jolla Village Dr. over into UTC area. The route to bypass Mission Bay and get us to DTSD is a bike trail at end of Gilman, and along Moreno Bl. But yeah, the descent down La Jolla Village was pretty hairy to say the least. We were going almost 50ish mph and had to intermingle w cars trying to merge onto Gilman Dr. and then the I-5 on/off ramps on a bridge that is 8-10 lanes wide.

  8. Raj Chaudhary says:

    I just heard, she is a proud daughter of my friend in India and a mother of nearly one year old son. I am shocked to know this sad news. Overspending must be the main reason of her death on the spot. I am sorry for everything. RIP.

  9. Raj Chaudhary says:

    Yeah, parents are notified and they are coming.

  10. Deepak says:

    अमेरिकन एंबेसी के द्वारा सहयोग नहीं मिल रहा है वीजा होने के बाद भी परमिशन नहीं है वहां आने के लिए अभी हमारे पास

    • Tamara says:

      Maybe try to contact her university. Maybe they can help, or at least tell you what to do in order to be let in.

  11. Tamara says:

    Maybe try to contact her university. Maybe they can help, or at least tell you what to do in order to be let in.

  12. A. Sachs says:

    So Sad.
    We passed by around 6pm, as the police had the street blocked and one could see the yellow sheet.
    Feel so bad for her boy and husband.
    Heartened to see how the Indian community is rallying to help.
    And as others have said, We cyclists and drivers have to be so careful. And when we are behind the wheel of a car, remember how vulnerable our cyclist friends are.

  13. Chris D says:

    Very sad to hear. My girlfriend and I both work at UCSD, she works at the aquarium and we both ride bikes every day to work. Whenever I meet her near the aquarium to ride home together I always insist that we go across the campus to avoid La Jolla Village Dr and that steep decent at all cost. It’s a little farther but the campus has nice bike lanes and much slower traffic. Be safe fellow riders

    • Lori S says:

      My condolences to the family. I was a research fellow at the Center for US-Mexico Studies many years ago, and agree that riding thru campus is much safer than on nearby surface streets, especially in the afternoon during commute hours.

      Perhaps the city should post signs to recommend cyclists choose a route thru campus, as people approach on No. Torrey Pines, after crossing the intersection with Genesee?

      The surface street traffic around La Jolla Village at that southern end of UCSD is often going at freeway speeds, as people use this route to get on the freeway or avoid I-5 congestion.

      There are also many lanes and a curve that make it difficult for cyclists to see oncoming cars and estimate their speed, and/or be seen as cars drive south towards Gilman.

      I hope the victim’s family gets support after this tragic accident.

  14. Antonio Kinsey says:

    I did not witness the accident, only the scene when the deceased was already covered with a yellow tarp under a black car. I was with my kids driving eastbound on La Jolla shores drive (driving away from the beach). We were about to turn right onto southbound Torrey Pines road. It was at that intersection that the south bound TP rd was blocked by two police on foot, and a police suv. We continued straight across the intersection and turned right onto the frontage road going southbound. To our right, the first sign of the incident we saw was a black bicycle in the middle of the Torrey pines road south bond lanes. We continued on the frontage road to the next available intersection of TP rd to continue towards Gilman. As we were waiting to turn left onto Torrey pines road, to our right, we could see the scene in full view and the yellow tarp underneath the front of a black car. It’s now Friday, I don’t remember if the car was positioned on the left lane, or on the left most left hand turn lane, but definitely not the right lane.

    Our heartfelt sympathies to the family.

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