For the 11th time in the last 18 days, someone has been killed riding a bicycle in Southern California.
And once again, it may be murder.
Multiple sources are reporting that a man was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Willowbrook this morning, and dragged nearly a mile under the killer’s van.
As if that was gruesome enough, witnesses report the crash appeared to be intentional, as well.
The victim was riding on Broadway at 117th around 9:15 Tuesday morning when he was struck by the driver of an older van; security cam video shows the driver continuing south on Broadway without slowing down.
According to KABC-7, the driver turned right on 120th, followed by a left on Athens Way. That was followed by another left at 124th, and a right on Broadway — all the while dragging the victim under the van.
His body was finally deposited at El Segundo Blvd and Broadway, in the LA’s Athens neighborhood.
KABC reports the victim’s mangled bicycle was found at the scene, and his shoes were strewn about on the street outside of Bo’s Mini Market at the initial point of impact.
Police are looking for a Hispanic man with long gray or salt-and-pepper hair, driving an older model white Chevy van with distinctive stripes on the side.
A police spokesperson would not confirm that this is being treated as a murder investigation, saying only that they need to speak to the suspect first. Because of course he’ll just admit to doing it intentionally.
Anyone with information is urged to call the LAPD at 877-LAPD-247. As always, there is a standing $50,000 reward for any fatal hit-and-run in the City of Los Angeles.
This is at least the 46th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, the 12th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County, and the seventh in the City of Los Angeles. It’s also the 16th time someone riding a bicycle has been killed in a hit-and-run since the first of the year.
Update: Police have arrested 66-year old Compton resident Felipe Avalos for the grisly hit-and-run, after a witness provided the license plate number of the van. He was taken into custody as he was getting into the van, which matched the images provided by security cam.
Avalos has been booked on a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter — which carried a maximum penalty of six years — rather than murder, despite witnesses saying the crash appeared to be intentional.
Update 2: The victim has been identified as 65-year old Francisco Gonzalez, as police have been unable to confirm whether the crash was intentional.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Francisco Gonzalez and his loved ones.