Archive for Injuries and Fatalities

Update: Arrest made in horrifying high-speed Highland Park fatal hit-and-run

North Figueroa was supposed to be safer by now.

Had LADOT been allowed to carry out it’s plans, the street would have undergone a road diet. Not just to install bike lanes, but to calm dangerous high-speed traffic.

Now a bike rider is dead, the victim of a speeding hit-and-run driver.

According to the LA Times, two bike riders were crossing Figueroa at Marmion Way in the crosswalk at 3:02 am when one was hit by car traveling at what police estimated as 80 mph, based on witness reports.

At that speed, there is virtually no chance of survival. Especially since the victim was dragged several hundred feet underneath the car as it sped away.

Witnesses say the driver never braked, before or after hitting the victim.

The second rider wasn’t struck. No word on whether they were riding or walking in the crosswalk.

The victim has not been publicly identified; he is described only as a man in his 20s.

The car’s bumper was left lying in the road, which should make the car easy to identify if it can be found. Police are looking for a small black sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima.

There should be an automatic $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver, based on the hit-and-run reward program recently passed by the city council.

Despite overwhelming support in public meetings, plans for a road diet to improve safety on North Figueroa were halted by Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Cedillo claimed he was canceling the plans for safety reasons, an argument this morning’s wreck has proven wrong.

Now he has to answer to the victim’s family. And the rest of us.

This is the 34th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in LA County; it’s also the eighth in the City of Los Angeles.

Update: An arrest has been made in the case.

According to KTLA-5, a witness tipped police to the location of the abandoned vehicle, which had biological matter from the victim on it.

That led them to 21-year old Alexis Virto, who was found asleep in bed with his girlfriend at 7:15 am, roughly four hours after the collision.

Virto was still drunk when he was taken into custody. He insisted that he wasn’t the driver; however, he had injuries consistent with a crash, and windshield debris clinging to his hair.

He was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder and felony drunk driving with great bodily injury.

The LA Times reports the victim is a 33-year old man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification of his family.

The Times also says there were 68 collisions that resulted in severe injuries to bicyclists on that stretch of North Figueroa between 2002 and 2012; there were also nine pedestrians killed in that time period.

Meanwhile, anti-bike Figueroa activist and Boulevard Sentinel editor Tom Topping had this to say:

Why was this person on the street at 3am? Usually only meth-head criminals looking for something to steal are riding around on bikes at that hour.

Update 2: The LA District Attorney’s office has finally identified the victim as Jose Luna, also known as Bizzy.

According to the press release, his alleged killer, Alexis Virto, has been charged with one count each of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage causing injury, driving with a .08% blood alcohol content causing injury and hit and run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person. Not surprisingly, he entered a plea of not guilty to each count.

Virto reported drove the length of two football fields with Luna on the hood of his car.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jose “Bizzy” Luna and his family. 

Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to this story. And thanks to fig4all and Terri Moore for their help in IDing the victim.

Suspected DUI driver kills adult trike rider and her dog in Garden Grove

No one is safe from intoxicated drivers.

Not women on adult tricycles. Or the dogs they carry with them.

That’s exactly what happened last night in Garden Grove, as  suspected DUI driver killed a cyclist, and her little dog, too.

According to the Orange County Register, a woman believed to be in her 50s was riding her adult tricycle eastbound on Chapman Ave near Faye Ave, carrying a small dog in the bike’s basket, when she was struck from behind by a pickup around 9:45 pm.

One of the Register’s photos from the scene shows damage to the hood of the truck, suggesting she was thrown onto it by the force of the impact, while KTLA-5 says the dog was thrown several feet away, still inside the basket.

No word on whether she was using lights or reflectors after dark.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene; she has not been publicly identified. Her dog died later at an Orange County Animal Services clinic.

The driver, 58-year old Rita Faye McLaughlin of Santa Ana, remained at the scene, and was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI after failing a field sobriety test.

Anyone with information is urge to call the Garden Grove Police at 714/741-5800.

This is the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County; that compares with 10 in the county this time last year. It’s the first bicycling death in Garden Grove since November, 2012.

Update: A comment from the victim’s sister identifies her as 55-year old Suzi V. Ramage, along with her dog Sonny. 

It’s the second family member she’s lost to a drunk driver; her son was killed in 2003.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Suzi V. Ramage and her loved ones.

 

Hemet mountain biker found dead on trail after being reported missing

Police have finally made the connection that seemed to be obvious.

The Press-Enterprise reported yesterday that a man had been found dead on a bike trail near Hemet on Sunday, a day after a mountain biker had been reported missing in the same area.

Yet even after authorities identified the victim, they wouldn’t say if he was the person who had been reported by his family when he failed to return from a Saturday off-road ride.

That changed tonight when police finally confirmed that 33-year old Hemet resident Shane Gainer had been found dead after riding in the hills a mile north of Simpson Park.

Police located his car in the park’s parking lot, then conducted a search of the area before finding his body in a ravine off one of the trails in the area.

No cause of death was evident; the Press-Enterprise reports it could take up to six weeks to get the results of an autopsy and toxicology report.

However, the paper reports temperatures in the area reached 100 degrees on Saturday, which could easily have resulted in dehydration or heat stroke.

This is the 32nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Riverside County. That compares with eight in the county this time last year.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Shane Gainer and his family.

 

LA bike rider attacked with machete, bad news from Hemet, plus Bicycle Coffee and pleasant private bike cops

In one of the most horrifying attacks in recent memory, a Los Angeles man may have kept his bike, but lost one of his thumbs.

And nearly his life.

According to multiple sources, a 43-year old man was walking — or possibly riding — his bicycle near the intersection of West 12th Street and South Burlington Avenue around 12:30 am Sunday, when he was attacked by four men who tried to steal his bike and wallet.

One of them hacked at him with a two-foot machete, resulting in a severe cuts to both arms, as well as a fractured skull, in addition to having his left thumb cut off; early reports suggest he was likely to lose his right hand, as well.

Despite his injuries, he somehow managed to run a few blocks to get help; at last report, he was hospitalized in critical condition. However, he was able to keep both his bike and his money.

The attackers were described only as young adult men, possibly 18 – 21 years old, who fled in a green four-door sedan. According to police, the attack did not appear to be gang related.

For some reason, the victim was initially described as an 18-year old man before police corrected the report.

Let’s hope he recovers quickly, and that police catch his attackers.

And let this be a reminder that no bike is worth your life.

………

Brace yourself for bad news.

A man was found dead on Hemet biking trail on Sunday, hours after a 33-year old mountain biker was reported missing.

The victim has not been identified yet, and here’s no confirmation yet that it’s the missing cyclist. But it doesn’t look good.

Hopefully, we’ll learn more soon.

Update: Authorities have identified the man found dead as 33-year old Hemet resident Shane Gainer, but for some reason, won’t confirm if he is the missing cyclist. No cause of death has been determined. 

………

Bicycle-Coffee-1Now let’s switch to a happier subject.

On Sunday, my wife and I made a short trip to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market at Ivar and Selma, just a few blocks from the Hollywood and Vine Metro station.

Sans bikes, since she doesn’t ride. And without the Corgi, since even well-behaved dogs aren’t allowed under LA County health rules.

The purpose of our journey was to find the elusive Bicycle Coffee Company.

Elusive, because the LA branch at Santa Monica and Western is only open Friday though Sunday. And despite our best efforts, we hadn’t been able to get there when the doors were open.

Bicycle-Coffee-3On the other hand, we knew they were at the farmer’s market every Sunday, just a short subway ride way from our apartment.

It took some searching to find their Nishiki-towed bicycle cart — yes, there’s a reason for their name — hidden back behind the other vendors near the Arclight, nee Cinerama, Theater, and just in front of Umami Burgers.

We left with a couple bags of what is reputed to be some of the area’s best coffee, each accompanied by a free cup of joe with purchase.

And the knowledge that next time, we can just order our beans and they’ll deliver by bike within a roughly 10-mile radius.

……..

On the way out, I stopped to admire a bike belonging to one of the security guards with the BID Patrol at the farmer’s market.

Rosales-1And found myself talking with retired LAPD officer and dedicated cyclist Jim Rosales, who was happy to point out the 29” wheels and disc brakes, as well as the rear rack for the panniers he usually uses but decided to leave at home that day.

We talked about his volunteer work patrolling the Santa Monica mountains, the road bike he rides in his spare time, and the fixie he’s currently building. As well as his favorite bike shops, including the Performance Bike his brother-in-law wrenches for in Pasadena.

Kanagi-bikeAll in all, a pleasant talk with another rider. And one more example of a conversation that would never have happened behind the wheel.

Then just as we were about to leave, I noticed the pink handgrips on his partner’s bike. So he called her over, and fellow BID security officer Cortney Kanagi was happy to show us her matching pink handcuffs and the pink grip on her handgun.

Proof that you can be feminine while riding a bike.

Or subduing a suspect.

Kanagi-2

Former OC lawyer gets max sentence in drug-fueled death of bike rider

Four years.

That was the sentence a judge finally issued Friday, after repeated delays, for the death of bike rider Eric Billings in Mission Viejo 27 months earlier.

Former immigration attorney Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti, who goes by the name of Hayley, had unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March of this year.

According to the OC DA’s office, she had a near-lethal dose of Xanax and Suboxone in her system when she ran down Billings’ bike from behind on March 15, 2013, as he rode in a marked bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway.

My News LA reports that investigators found a bottle of Xanax in her car following the collision; despite being filled just two days earlier, there were already 75 pills missing.

She reportedly ignored several text messages prior to the wreck from friends who begged her to stop driving and sober up. Yet despite claims that she was screaming and “pulling her hair out” following the crash, her first call was to her pharmacist, not 911.

She had faced a possible sentence of 16 months to four years for the conviction. She was also sentenced to an additional three years, to be served concurrently, after being caught with Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, while she was behind bars.

In addition, Fahkrai-Bayrooti’s license to practice law has been suspended by the California Bar, and stands to be permanently revoked after her sentencing.

My News LA reports that her defense attorney — at least the third one she has had in this case — claimed she had been dependent on prescription drugs since an “early, early age,” and may have early onset dementia as a result.

She expressed remorse at the hearing while pleading for mercy, saying she is no longer in denial about the damage she has caused. Although that denial appeared to be in full force in comments she left on this site just one day after pleading guilty.

A press release from the DA’s office quotes Billing’s wife from the victim’s statements given at an earlier hearing, offering just a hint of the loss her family has suffered.

The victim’s wife said in part, “The void that is left by this tragic and senseless accident is overwhelming. The fact that it isn’t just an accident, but rather an accident committed by one under the influence, is ironic in that Eric never had a drink in his life, would not even take a Tylenol, and would barely take a pain killer after surgery.” She went on to say, “Although I have chosen not to be bitter and have forgiven this woman, I would like her to have consequences for her actions.”

Fahkrai-Bayrooti now faces a long stay in state prison because she didn’t get the help she so clearly needed before she took an innocent man’s life.

Let’s hope she finally gets it while she’s behind bars.

And is never, ever allowed to drive again.

 

Newport Beach bike rider dies after fall, apparently due to natural causes

Another cyclist has died on the streets of Southern California.

For once, though, no one seems to be at fault.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a 61-year old Costa Mesa man apparently fell off his bike while riding in Newport Beach; sadly, he passed away after being taken to Hoag Hospital.

The Orange County Register reports that police responded to word of a collision on Jamboree Road north of San Joaquin Hills Road at 10:32 am Thursday.

When they arrived, they found the victim in the roadway with no sign of a collision. He appeared to have suffered some sort of medical emergency and stuck his head while falling; no word on whether he was wearing a helmet.

It’s not clear whether his death was due to the head injury or some other cause. An autopsy will be performed later this week.

This is the 31st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in Orange County. That compares to 47 in SoCal this time last year, and ten in the county.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

 

Morning Links: Hermosa backs safety improvements; San Diego details deaths in the county, including on bikes

A reader sends word that Hermosa Beach is backing up its commitment to bike safety.

Literally.

A married couple were exploring the new bikeways on Harbor and Herondo linking Redondo Beach and Hermosa when they came upon some odd markings on the street next to a new bike lane.

Photo by Allison Sheridan

Photo by Allison Sheridan

A quick look online confirmed they are reverse-angled parking spots, designed to improve bike safety by increasing visibility for drivers as they pull out of the spots (scroll down to pages 26-29). Although I neglected to ask just which street they were on.

I’m told these could be the first reverse-angle parking in the South Bay. And one of the few anywhere in the LA area.

So hats off to Hermosa for reversing the usual risky angled parking to help keep riders safer.

Update: A comment from Margaret says the street is Herondo; this is what it used to look like. And Vince points out that the south half the street is actually in Redondo Beach, so they should get credit, as well.

Thanks to Margaret for the heads-up and the correction.

……..

Philip Young of the San Diego Wheelmen forwards a series of annual reports from the San Diego Medical Examiner examining the causes of deaths in the county for the years 2011 through 2013; he notes the 2014 report hasn’t been released yet.

According to Young, the reports show nine bicyclists were killed in San Diego County in 2011, ten in 2012 and seven in 2013.

Although my records indicate a higher bicycling fatality rate for each year — twelve in 2011, eleven in 2012 and eight in 2013.

I haven’t had a chance to dig through the reports to figure out the reason for the discrepancy yet. However, they may classify bicycling fatalities more conservatively than my records; I include anyone who was riding or walking a bike at the time of their death, including solo falls and bike-related medical conditions, as well as traffic collisions.

Update: Ed Ryder sends word that SWITRS shows 15 bicycling fatalities in 2011, which makes more sense.

I track fatalities primarily through news reports, as well as other sources, so my records may undercount the actual totals if the death of a cyclist never makes the news; that often happens if the victim dies several days or weeks after a collision.

The real question is, why does the Medical Examiner’s report undercount bicycling fatalities for that year by over 50 percent?

……..

The Women’s Tour of Britain is helping to bridge the equality gap in pro cycling, while a writer for Britain’s Guardian says it’s time for cycling to lose the podium girls.

Let alone bikini girls at women’s races.

Twenty-three-year old Astana women’s pro Anna Solovey has been canned by the team for “unprofessional behavior;” she was previously banned for two years for doping before she was even in her 20s.

And you’d think someone who once sponsored a major bike race would get that 72 years old isn’t too old to race, let alone ride. Thanks to Megan Lynch for the link.

……..

Local

A Metro survey shows 37% of LA voters think separated bike paths are very important, while only 10% say they’re not important at all.

Pasadena gets that intersections are dangerous places for bike riders; the city is painting a new bike lane that remains green all the way through the intersection of Marengo and Orange Grove.

CiclaValley tells you why to get excited about the upcoming LA River Ride, set to roll on the 28th. And if you’re not too worn out from the River Ride, join CICLE, the Bike Oven and Metro for the Spintacular Fireworks Neighborhood Ride later that day.

 

State

Dozens of Santa Ana homes will be demolished to widen a dangerous Santa Ana street, including wider medians and sidewalks. And yes, bike lanes. I guess performing a road diet and keeping the houses would be out of the question in auto-centric OC.

Oceanside police will team up to compete in RAAM; the team competition starts on Saturday.

A San Diego County supervisor may have committed an ethics violation in nixing a bike lane that could have affected the value of a restaurant he’s a partner in. Although as a new study shows, he may have shot himself in the foot.

Coachella Valley bike riders are urged to donate old bikes, locks and helmets to benefit the local Boys and Girls Clubs.

 

National

A writer for People for Bikes says you don’t have to give up your car to live mostly car-free. I’ve put less than three hundred miles a year on mine for the last five years.

Someone is groping and harassing women riding on Phoenix bike paths; one woman was punched in the face by a homeless man.

Boulder CO moves forward with right sizing three major streets to make room for wider bike lanes.

A Chicago runner and firefighter makes a commitment not to use his cell phone when he drives.

Don’t believe everything your GPS tells you. A Minnesota girl learned that the hard way after her smartphone guided her and her bike onto a freeway.

Evidently, it takes concrete barriers to keep New York drivers from parking in bike lanes, green or otherwise. Maybe we could use some here to keep cops out.

Bike commuting in the DC area jumped 450 percent in just three years, while auto commuting has remained steady; now another area county plans to ramp up their bike network.

 

International

Twelve reasons why you should take a foldie when you explore Cuba. Which is sort of legal for Americans these days. Visiting Cuba, that is.

A group of 17 friends will team together to finish the epic ride a UK man had planned before he was killed in a collision earlier this year.

A British woman can ride a bike for the first time after being fitted with the world’s most lifelike bionic hand.

An Irish mom says yes, cyclists face dangers on the roads, but pedestrians run a risk from us, as well.

Tim Robbins casually rides a bike in Milan. Just don’t ask him about The Shawshank Redemption.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is riding his new bicycle on his Bulgarian set as he recovers from knee surgery.

Reckless Japanese bike riders can now be required to take safety lessons, and can face steep financial liability for injuring others.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Eating behind the wheel is one thing; eating cereal out of a bowl is another. Eight years old may be just a tad too young for a naked Brit bike ride, by about a decade or so.

And when your name is Outlaw, it’s probably not a good idea to steal a bike, unlocked or otherwise.

Or anything else, for that matter.

 

Update: Bike rider run over and killed in Stanton hit-and-run after falling in the street

More bad news, in what has been a very bad few days.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s department, as well as various news reports, a bike rider was killed in a hit-and-run after falling in Stanton early today.

In a press release sent out earlier this morning, the department reports deputies discovered a man lying in the street at 4:43 this morning after receiving reports of a traffic collision involving a bicyclist.

The victim was dead when officers arrived.

He had apparently been riding in an alley next to Beach Blvd between Cerritos Ave and Main Street when he fell off his bike for some reason, and was run over by an SUV headed south on Beach.

The driver reportedly slowed for a few minutes, then sped off down Beach, and was last seen approaching Katella Ave. The vehicle was described only as a dark colored SUV; no description of the driver.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Traffic Bureau at 714/647-7000 or 949/425-1860.

This is the 30th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Orange County. That compares with nine in the county this time last year.

It’s also the seventh SoCal bicycling death this month, and the fifth in just the last six days.

Update: The Orange County Coroner’s office has identified the victim as 40-year old Jorge Covarrubias. 

Update 2: A witness who saw the wreck says he ran up to help after seeing Covarrubias fall off his bike, and got within a few feet before the SUV ran over him. He leaves behind a girlfriend and two children. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jorge Covarrubias and his loved ones.

Thanks to James Johnson of the Johnson Attorneys Group and Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the heads-up, and thanks to Bill Sellin for the first update.

Update: San Diego cyclist killed by distracted driver; fourth SoCal bicycling fatality in just the last four days

Yet another bike rider has lost his life, in what has turned out to be a horrible few days for Southern California bike riders.

According to the Union-Tribune, a bicyclist was killed while riding in San Diego’s Torrey Highlands neighborhood Sunday afternoon.

The victim was riding in the bike lane on Camino del Sur near Torrey Meadows Drive around 3:24 pm, when a southbound car driven by a 40-year old distracted driver drifted into the bike lane and hit the victim.

Correction: The Union-Tribune reports they gave the wrong location for the collision due to inaccurate information from the police. The wreck actually occurred Camino del Sur near Carmel Valley Road.

Distracted driving usually refers to using a handheld cell phone while operating a motor vehicle; however, it can also refer to anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road. In this case, the paper does not explain how the driver was distracted, though it does mention that her six year old daughter was in the car.

The victim has been identified only as a man around 50. He died after being transported to a hospital. Note: earlier information said he died at the scene.

This is the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the sixth in San Diego County; it’s also the fourth in the city of San Diego. That compares to four in the county, and none in the city, this time last year.

This is also the fourth SoCal bicycling death in just the last four days.

Update: The victim has been identified as 64-year old Roger Roux, senior vice president and CFO for Rady Children’s Hospital in Serra Mesa. He is survived by a wife and son, and two grandchildren.

Just one more reminder that no one is safe from traffic violence.

The wreck is still under investigation.

Update 2: NBC San Diego confirms that police suspect the driver was somehow distracted by her child when she drifted into the bike lane and hit Roux’s bike. They also quote a defense attorney who questions why she hasn’t been charged.

And they note that Roux was wearing a helmet; clearly, it wasn’t enough to save his life.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Roger Roux and his loved ones.

Thanks to James Johnson of Johnson Attorneys Group for the heads-up, to Lois for the update and to John McBrearty for the second update. And thanks to Christine for the correction.

Update: 55-year old Masters cyclist dies following apparent solo fall in Huntington Beach

More bad news, in what is turning out to be a very bad weekend for SoCal cyclists.

According to the Huntington Beach Police Department, a 54-year old bike rider was found lying in the street on the 5100 block of Skylark Drive around 12:30 pm this past Thursday.

The unconscious victim, whose name has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was transported to UCI Medical Center in critical condition. Sadly, he died earlier today, apparently without regaining consciousness.

HBPD officers had found him near a red and black Specialized road bike. They believe he was riding west on Skylark when he lost control of his bike for undetermined reasons and fell to the ground, striking his head.

He was not wearing a helmet.

The report says no other vehicle appeared to be involved, and the site was free of any obvious hazards; a street view shows a wide, flat and unobstructed street.

Of course, it’s always possible for a close pass by a car, or for an animal or some other object, to cause a fall, without actually making contact or damaging the bike.

Anyone with information is urged to call Huntington Beach Police Accident Investigator Josh Page at 714/536-5670 or Accident Investigator Bob Barr at 714/536-5663; call 714/960-8825 after hours or on weekends.

This is the 28th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Orange County; that compares to nine in the county this time last year. And also the 12th bike-related death in Huntington Beach since December, 2010.

Update: The victim has been identified on Facebook as Steve McDonald; a memorial ride will be held in his memory on Saturday. 

An email identifies him as a Masters racer new to the 55/60 age group, and reports that the fall may have been the result of a broken chain.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Steve McDonald and his family.

Thanks to Calvin Design for the first link, and Cleave Law for the update.

 

 

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