A nearly three-week streak without a bicycling death in Southern California ended early Saturday morning.
And once again, a hit-and-run driver was to blame.
According to My News LA, the victim was riding north on Pacific Avenue in Venice when he was run down from behind at 12:40 am.
The victim died at the scene.
The site puts the location at just south of Channel Street; however, that address doesn’t seem to exist. Those two streets actually meet in San Pedro, several miles south near Long Beach.
There is a Channel Pointe in Venice, but that doesn’t intersect with Pacific, so it’s unclear just where the crash occurred.
There was no ID or description given for the male victim.
According to police, the driver did not stop or identify themself before fleeing the scene. The only description of the suspect vehicle is a small, light-colored vehicle, which doesn’t give much to go on.
However, they did urge anyone with information to call the LAPD South Traffic Division Detectives Moreno and Flannery at 323/421-2500 between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday, or 1-877/527-3247 any other time.
Which is far from the same thing.
This is at least the ninth bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the third that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County; it also appears to be the first in the City of Los Angeles.
Four of those deaths have been hit-and-runs.
Update: The victim has been identified by the Daily Bulletin as 51-year old Oscar Montoya, no city of residence given.
The paper also clarifies that the crash occurred on Pacific Avenue, just south of Channel Street, in San Pedro, not Venice.
Update 2: The LAPD has provided security cam video from the scene, showing the suspect vehicle as the driver briefly paused before speeding away. The car is described only as a light colored vehicle, possibly a Toyota Scion, although it looks more like a Kia Soul to me.
A Good Samaritan attempted to provide aid, but to no avail.
This is how Montoya’s adult son described him.
“He was a loving man. If you ask anybody, they’ll say he was this big teddy bear. He was, like, this big man that you could run up into and give him a big hug and he would embrace you with open arms,” Joshua told KTLA. “He was a family man, he was my father.”
Meanwhile, Twitter user Guy Paddock reports that he frequently rides that route, even though he finds the gap in the bike lane on Pacific terrifying.
— Guy Paddock (@gpaddock) March 8, 2023
Update 3: Police arrested 27-year old Anisha Marie Lockhart, accusing her of being the driver who killed Montoya.
According to KCAL News,
“On March 7 … citizens provided tips that led detectives to the suspect’s vehicle, a 2009 Scion XB, which was taken into custody,” police said. “On March 9 … South Traffic Division Detectives utilizing department
resources and other tips from citizens apprehended the driver, Anisha Lockhart.”
She was reportedly under the influence at the time of the crash, and on her way to another bar when she slammed into Montoya, who was just picking up an order from a food truck.
Lockhart was being held on $100,000 bond, on a charge of felony hit-and-run.
Meanwhile, it’s likely that someone will receive the $50,000 reward if Lockhart is convicted.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Oscar Montoya and all his loved ones.