Update: 71-year old man riding bike killed by hit-and-run driver in San Diego’s Valley Center neighborhood Saturday

Go ahead and call it murder.

Because once again, a heartless coward has left an innocent victim to die alone in the street.

This time in San Diego.

According to multiple sources, the victim was riding north on the shoulder of Cole Grade Road above Horse Creek Trail in the city’s Valley Center neighborhood when he was apparently run down from behind by the driver of a northbound pickup or SUV around 5:34 Saturday evening.

The victim, identified only as a 71-year old Valley Center man, died at the scene.

The driver fled, leaving behind their right front headlight; police are looking for a Ford Expedition SUV or F Series pickup, no model year or color given.

There’s no word on how fast the killer driver was going at the time of the crash, or how long the victim lay in the street before paramedics arrived. Or whether he could have been saved if the driver had called for help after the crash.

But clearly, whoever was behind the wheel didn’t care enough find out.

A street view shows one lane in each direction, with left and right turn bays leading west to Horse Creek Road. Sadly, there is a bike lane on the recently repaved southbound side of Cole Grade, but not on the northbound side where the victim was riding.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Oceanside Area CHP office at 760/643-3400.

This is at least the 80th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 11th that I’m aware of in San Diego County.

At least 25 of those have been killed hit-and-run drivers.

Update: The victim has been identified as 71-year old Mario Lucero of Valley Center; community members described him as a beloved grandfather, landscaper and friend.

The Oaxaca, Mexico native leaves behind his son and daughter, as well as six grandchildren. Family members are trying to return his body to Oaxaca for burial. 

Lucero was killed on his way home, shortly after stopping at his favorite restaurant after work. 

His 20-year old granddaughter wonders if he could have survived if the driver had stopped and called for help. 

Good question. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Mario Lucero and all his family and loved ones.

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