Tag Archive for bicycle fatality

Update: Whittier cyclist killed when 78-year old driver backs over her in parking lot

“She looked real happy this morning.”

That’s how her stepmother described 26-year old Rosie Manzanares on the last day of her life. Just a few hours later, she lay dead in a parking lot, victim of a 78-year old driver who lost control of her car after visiting the hairdresser.

The collision occurred around 1:30 pm in the parking lot behind Celebrity Burgers, 11270 Whittier Blvd in Whittier.

According to the L.A. Times, the Toyota driven by Angelica Cuevas accelerated unexpectedly as she was backing out of her parking space, hitting Manzanares before coming to a stop on top of her.

No explanation is given for why the car accelerated; maybe the car malfunctioned, or maybe Cuevas panicked and hit the gas instead of the brake after seeing Manzanares behind her.

Either way, an innocent woman is dead. And an older woman has to spend the last years of her life knowing she took another.

It’s likely to be a very long time before either family — the driver’s or the victim’s — will have another happy morning.

This is the 11th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the second in Los Angeles County — both of which occurred in Whittier.

My heart and prayers go out to Rosie, and her family and loved ones.

Update: According to the Whittier Daily News, Cuevas had stopped her car halfway out of the parking space, then inexplicably accelerated as Manzanares rode behind her; Manzanares was pronounced dead at the scene.

Relatives say she had borrowed a bike in order to return a bracelet. Her father said she was getting help for a bipolar condition, and was in the process of straightening her life out.

Now she’ll never have the chance.

Distracted killer of an 8-year old OC cyclist walks without a single day in jail

I really don’t want to write about this.

I’ve been putting it off since a pair of noontime emails alerted me to a plea agreement in the case of Anita Sue Cherry, the driver charged in the death of 8-year old Andrew Brumback in January of last year.

AJ, as his family and friends called him, was hit by Cherry’s car as he rode his bike to school in January of 2011. He was riding shortly ahead of his sister when he crossed into the Westminster intersection; Cherry initially claimed he “came out of nowhere,” police later concluded that she had been looking down — at what, they never said — when the impact occurred.

In other words, she broke the most basic rule of driver by failing to maintain awareness of what was in the road directly in front of her.

And that single moment of distraction took the life of an innocent boy.

Fortunately, his sister did not see the collision, though what she did see afterward must have been almost as devastating.

It certainly was for the owner of the house in front where he died; you can still see the ghost bike and roadside memorial that sprang up afterwards in the Google Street view photo. And I’m told the Westminster Little League players will wear his initials on a patch this season.

Cherry, who stayed at the scene, was reportedly distraught at taking AJ’s life.

Maybe that’s why the D.A. seems to have been so lenient in this case, offering her a plea deal without a single day behind bars.

She had been charged with a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, with a maximum sentence of one year in jail; instead, she pled guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving.

With a limp wrist slap sentence of three years informal probation and 300 hours of community service.

Frankly, I don’t know what to think.

Sending her to jail won’t bring AJ back. And it won’t ease the pain of his family, as shown by the witness statements quoted by the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

At the sentencing today, Brumback’s mother and brother gave victim impact statements to the court. His mother Debbie said, in part, “The loss of AJ has severely wounded our family and deeply injured a community of adults and children who knew him as a friend. I have had a year to put this letter together and am still at a loss for words. How do I continue to move each day without my little boy? My daughter Anna still will not open up and talk about the incident. She was blaming herself for a long time and is longing for her brother and best friend. My son Aaron won’t admit to new friends that he even had a brother because he would have to explain what happened. My husband Bill misses his ‘little buddy’ that used to watch all sports events with him. At school, AJ’s friends tell me how much they miss him. His best friend, Ryan, has been in therapy and hurts to find a friend to play with and share his secrets with. He misses the love of his friend. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my little AJ.”

If Cherry has any conscience whatsoever, having to wake up every morning with the weight of AJ’s death on her shoulders is a far greater penalty than any jail sentence could have been.

On the other hand, letting her walk feels like a failure of the judicial system.

It’s a perfect example of why children and cyclists and pedestrians continue to die on our streets, when the judicial system refuses to hold drivers accountable for their actions or the lives they take.

Maybe this was a fair outcome.

Maybe not. It certainly doesn’t seem like it to me.

I’ve been angry and depressed all day since I got the news. And more committed than ever to support Safe Routes to School.

Because eight-year olds shouldn’t die on their way to class.

And AJ deserved better.

Breaking News — Cyclist killed in Irvine collision

This is exactly what I was afraid of.

Maybe it was the distraction of Valentines Day. But there was an unusually high number of bicycling collisions reported over the weekend, continuing through this morning. And sooner or later, it’s almost inevitable that one  or more of those collisions will turn out to be life-threatening.

That’s exactly what happened today, as a 28-year old cyclist died as a result of a Tuesday morning collision in Irvine.

According to the Orange County Register, Christian Rhineer of Irvine was hit by a Volvo Sedan at the intersection of Von Karman Avenue and Michelson Drive just before 8 am. He was taken to Western Medical Center with severe injuries, where he died at 6:30 pm.

The 26-year old driver remained at the scene. It was unclear who had the right of way; no one was arrested or cited at the scene.

And yes, the Register notes that the victim was not believed to be wearing a helmet; whether it would have done any good under the circumstances is not clear. Hopefully, we’ll get more details later.

This is the sixth traffic-related cycling fatality so far this year, and the second in Orange County; a third Orange County cyclist died of natural causes after a fall while mountain biking.

My sympathy and prayers for Rhineer and his family and loved ones.

Update: An anonymous source confirms that Rhineer was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. And thanks to Vinh Nguyen for the heads-up on the Register story.

Update: Comments to the original article in the OC Register from a man who claims to be a witness indicate that Rhineer ran the red light. In addition, he was reportedly wearing headphones, which is against the law in California; a single headphone in one ear is allowed, but not in both while riding.

People who knew Rhineer describe him as a great guy and former Mormon missionary who recently moved to Irvine from Salt Lake City along with his wife.

Bear in mind, though, that witness reports can be wrong, and comments on internet news stories aren’t always true. When I was injured in a road rage collision, a supposed witness lied to the police to make it look like I was at fault — even though the way he described the events was physically impossible.

There’s no reason to suspect that the witness in this case isn’t telling the truth, but take all unconfirmed reports with a grain of salt.

Thanks to ValleyBall1 for the tip.

……..

On a related note, the driver who ran down a 13-year old girl in Santa Ana earlier this month, leaving her bleeding in the street as he fled the scene, has finally turned himself into the police.

According to KABC-7, the family of Arif Abdul Sattar convinced him to turn himself in after seeing news reports, along with his admission that he may have been in a collision.

Don’t expect me to get all teary eyed because he did the right thing. The right thing would have been to stop at the scene and try to help the little girl he nearly killed, rather than run away like a coward before surrendering to the police over a week later  — after retaining an attorney, of course.

Fortunately, his victim, Teresa Pham, is recovering and has been released from the hospital. Let’s hope she continues to improve.

And that the man who put her there gets the justice he so richly deserves.

Bad day in San Diego area, as one cyclist is killed and another critically injured

Just heartbreaking.

A 77-year old cyclist was killed while riding past a school in Chula Vista Thursday morning, and another cyclist suffered life-threatening injuries in a second collision Thursday afternoon.

In the first case, the victim was riding past Chula Vista’s Rice Elementary School when an employee of the school, described only as “elderly,” pulled out of the parking lot around 8:30 am, hitting the cyclist with her Jeep Cherokee. The rider, whose name has been withheld, was taken to a nearby hospital where he died about an hour later.

It’s unsure if the driver will face charges, though the police note the victim did have the right-of-way.

This is the 5th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego County. And we’re less than three weeks into the new year.

In the second case, a cyclist in his mid 40’s was riding in the bike lane on Sorrento Valley Blvd east of Whispering Heights Lane when he was rear-ended by a Toyota driven by a 75-year old woman about 1:05 pm.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports the rider was thrown from his bike and run over by the car, which ended up against a tree with the unconscious cyclist trapped underneath. A police spokesman said at least three witnesses saw the collision; one told police the driver was using a cell phone just before the collision.

According to the paper, doctors say he will be a paraplegic if he survives.

My heart and prayers to both victims and their loved ones.

Update: The victim has been identified as Robert Howard Marshall of Chula Vista, a 20-year Navy veteran of Korea and Vietnam. He leaves behind his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

That’s what’s so heartbreaking about any traffic fatality. It’s not a statistic, but a real human being with a life and loved ones. And whose death leaves a huge hole that can never be filled in the live of everyone who knew him.

Thanks to Philip Young for forwarding the identification.

……..

A couple of other quick notes.

A memorial service will be held for Hollywood writer/producer Carol Schreder at noon Sunday, March 4th at the Aero Theater at Montana and 14th in Santa Monica. As you may recall, she was killed by an out-of-control van on Mulholland Hwy in the Malibu Hills last month; at last word, the CHP was still unwilling to take action against the driver, despite repeated reports that he was speeding and driving recklessly prior to the collision.

Bike advocate Richard Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation, writes to remind us about this weekend’s midnight bike movies at the Vista Theater in Silverlake, with four short films all set in the world of L.A. bicycling.

Finally, congratulation to new LACBC board members Herbie Huff, Lynn Ingram and Efren Moreno. Alex Amerri was elected board president at the board meeting on Wednesday, with Steve Boyd as Vice President and Greg Laemmle elected Treasurer; Scott Moore continues as Secretary. Alex replaces outgoing President Chet Kostrzewa, who has done a great job guiding the Coalition through a period of rapidly expanding influence over the past few years and will be very missed.

My apologies to everyone looking for an analysis of last year’s cycling fatalities, as I had promised on Twitter Thursday. Unfortunately, today’s bad news takes precedence; barring any further breaking news, I’ll have the story online Monday. Look for some very surprising findings, including the possibility that neither L.A. or the door zone is as dangerous as you might think.

Update: OC Cyclist killed in Lake Forrest hit-and-run identified

It’s happened again.

A heartless killer runs down a cyclist and flees the scene, leaving his or her victim crumpled and bleeding in the street.

This time, it happened in Orange County, as a 47-year old cyclist was hit and killed near the intersection of Serrano Road and Ridge Route Drive in Lake Forest around 10:10 pm last night. The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo suffering from severe head trauma, where he was pronounced dead early this morning.

Police are looking for a white van with possible front-end damage, which was last seen leaving the crash scene northbound on Serrano.

Photos from the scene show a mangled mountain bike with the headlight still glowing long after the crash, a lone sneaker giving mute testament to the fallen rider.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 855-TIP-OCCS or 855-847-6227.

This is the 11th traffic-related bicycling fatality in Orange County this year, and the 67th in the greater Southern California area. Of those deaths, 12 have been hit-and-runs, with 2 in Orange County.

That compares with a five-year average of 13 deaths in Orange County each year, and 68 in SoCal; however, it is far above the total of 55 cycling deaths in the SoCal area for the last two years on record.

The only area which has not yet recorded a bike death this year is sparsely populated Imperial County.

Update: LAist reports that the victim was turning onto Serrano from Ridge when he was struck by the van as it travelled north on Serrano. 

Update: KABC-7 identifies the victim as 47-year old Randy Isaacs of Lake Forest.

“He was going to another house down the street three blocks away from us. He had put his daughter to bed, kissed her goodnight and said ‘Jesus loves you and so do I.’ And the next thing we know, we get a call from the hospital that he’s dead,” said Ute Ford, the victim’s mother. 

A spokesperson for the OC Sheriff’s department says that Issacs appeared to be riding on the sidewalk, and rode into the crosswalk where he was hit by the van.

KTLA-5 offers a good video report on the case, which leaves three children without their father just a week before Christmas.

My heart and prayers go out to the Isaacs’ family and loved ones.

Yet another L.A. County cycling fatality, as La Puente man killed by train on Saturday

Evidently, Saturday was a very bad day for local cyclists.

Following the news that Carol Schreder was killed on Mulholland Hwy in the morning, a 57-year old cyclist was killed in La Puente that afternoon.

According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the rider, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing the railroad tracks near Valley Boulevard and 7th Avenue around 4:30 pm when he was hit and killed by a westbound freight train . Reportedly, he was riding slowly across the tracks, and the train, which was traveling at 70 mph, was unable to stop in time.

The paper reports that the crossing arms and signals at the intersection were working properly; no explanation why the rider was on the tracks.

This is the 66th confirmed traffic-related biking fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County; that matches the total for the county for 2009, which is the last year on record. He was also the second cyclist killed at a train crossing in L.A. County in 2011, and the 5th in Southern California.

No wonder we continue to die on California streets, when CHP says killing a cyclist is just an accident

This morning I received the following email from Chris Willig regarding the tragic death of Hollywood writer/producer Carol Schreder while riding on Mulholland Hwy last Saturday.

A public spokesperson for the CHP West Valley station stated in a phone call Monday that no citation has been issued nor is there likely to be one in the December 3rd death of cyclist Carol Schreder in a tragic traffic incident on Mulholland Highway in Malibu.

He indicated that it was a “unfortunate accident” caused when a possibly inexperienced driver of a van towing a trailer applied the brakes too hard. This caused the trailer to force the van to the right in a jack-knife. The rear end of the van caught Carol who was riding on the right of the fog line severely injuring her. She later died in hospital. Because there was no “criminal intent”, charges against the van’s driver are not being considered.

Wait a minute.

Since when has “criminal intent” been a required element for a traffic infraction?

Under that standard, no one would ever be held accountable for any traffic violation in California. No tickets for running red lights. No violations for driving drunk, since it would be impossible to ever prove intent.

Not even a ticket for distracted driving, since drivers could claim they just broke the law without thinking, and didn’t really mean to do it.

You know, just one of those things.

Like killing a cyclist.

And that, in a nutshell, is why you can count the number of knowledgeable cyclists who still have faith in the CHP on one hand, and have enough fingers left over for a well-deserved gesture.

After all, this is the same organization that said cyclists are responsible for the overwhelming majority of bike-involved collisions — based strictly on their own auto-centric investigations, as well as their pronounced lack of training in the rights and responsibilities of of cyclists and the physics of bicycling collisions.

Let alone that this is the same organization that advised Governor Brown to veto the state’s three-foot passing law.

And despite the fact that it only takes a quick scan of the California Vehicle Code to find a number of violations for which the driver could, and perhaps should, have been cited.

Like the California Basic Speed Law, for instance.

CVC 22350.  No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.

Even if strong crosswinds contributed to this collision, as some have suggested, the driver would have been in violation of the requirement mandating due regard for weather. And at least one other cyclist reports that the van was seen traveling at an excessive rate of speed just prior to the collision.

Then there’s the requirement to follow at a safe distance; the fact that the driver had to brake sharply to avoid the vehicle ahead offers prima facie evidence that the driver was in violation — let alone that there was a stop sign just 260 feet ahead of the point of impact.

CVC 21703.  The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.

And most damning of all is the requirement for drivers towing a trailer to maintain control of both vehicles.

CVC 41104.  In any case, involving an accident or otherwise, where any rear component of a train of vehicles fails to follow substantially in the path of the towing vehicle while moving upon a highway, the vehicle shall be presumed to have been operated in violation of Section 21711.

CVC 21711.  No person shall operate a train of vehicles when any vehicle being towed whips or swerves from side to side or fails to follow substantially in the path of the towing vehicle.

According to the standard set forth in CVC 41104, the simple fact that the collision occurred in the way it did is demonstrates a clear violation that the driver should have been held accountable for, regardless of a possible lack of experience.

And proof that the driver should have been found at fault for the collision, and the death that resulted.

By failing to hold a killer driver responsible for his actions, the CHP has not only failed Carol Schreder, her family and loved ones, but the entire cycling community.

Because we will continue to die on California roadways as long as authorities allow drivers to break the law with impunity.

And just drive away, regardless of the consequences.

If you’re not pissed off yet, maybe you should go back and read this again.

Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the CHP West Valley Station 5825 De Soto Ave, Woodland Hills 91367-5297; 818-888-0980; maybe if they hear from enough witnesses they’ll reverse this outrageous decision.

Breaking news — cyclist killed on Mulholland Hwy

Photo of crash scene by Chris Willig

I received word late Sunday afternoon that a cyclist was killed in the hills above Malibu on Saturday morning.

According to an email from Chris Willig, she was riding east on Mulholland Highway at Kanan Road around 9:30 am Saturday when she was hit from behind by a white van.

The victim was reportedly riding on the shoulder of the road, to the right of the fog line, when the van ran off the road. The bicycle was crushed underneath the van; unconfirmed reports indicate the driver may have been speeding and tailgating another vehicle.

Reading between the lines, it’s possible that the driver may have been trying to get around the slower car on the right when he or she hit the rider; however, that’s pure speculation on my part.

CHP reports confirm the collision, and indicate that the rider was transported to UCLA Medical Center at 2 pm in extremely critical condition.

The Flickr account RockStorePhotos.com identifies the victim as Carol Schreder, a regular Saturday rider, and reports that she passed away in the ICU around 10:45 pm.

As Willig put it, this is madding in its senselessness. Schreder appears to have been doing everything right, but died anyway due to a driver’s carelessness and/or impatience.

My prayers for Carol, and all her family and loved ones.

This is the 65th confirmed traffic-related bike fatality in Southern California this year, and the 21st in Los Angeles County.

While the SoCal total is well above the 55 cycling fatalities for each of the last two years on record, it is far below the horrific total of 89 bicycling deaths recorded in 2006. The Los Angeles figure is one below the total of 22 in 2009, the last year on record, as well as below the five-year average of 24.2 fatalities in L.A. County each year.

And please note that the totals for this year are only the fatalities that I am aware of and have been able to confirm in some way. It’s entirely possible there may have been others that I don’t know about.

Photo by Chris Willig

Update: IMDB lists Carol Schreder as a writer and producer on a number of titles, including Mama Flora’s Family, In Love and War, Call to Glory, the Burning Bed and Calendar Girl Murders; there’s also a Carol Schreder listed as owner of the Carol Schreder Company in Topanga, and as a finisher in a number of marathons and triathlons, as well as the Mulholland Challenge century.

Then there’s this piece written five years ago, almost to the day, extolling the virtues — and risks — of riding Topanga Canyon, not far from where this collision occurred.

Update 2: I just received the following comment from Heidi Christensen, who came along the scene shortly after the collision:

My husband and I rode up on the scene about 10 minutes after it happened. Carol was hit by a van pulling a trailer; the driver stopped. From what we heard, the driver said the car in front of him hit the brakes suddenly, then he hit his brakes, jack-knifed, and lost control. It’s hard to figure out, though, because it happened maybe 50 yards from the Mulholland/Kanan intersection (between the Calamigos Ranch driveway and Kanan)….the cars should have already been braking and not carrying much speed. Very tragic and just horribly sad. Judy, our thoughts and prayers are with you, Carol’s family, and all those dear to her.

Oh, and by the way, the EMTs identified her by her Road ID.

Update: Six-year old Oxnard boy killed while riding bike on Thanksgiving

The Ventura County Star reports the heartbreaking news that a six-year old boy was killed while riding his bike in Oxnard on Thanksgiving Day.

Anthony Martinez was riding on the sidewalk on the south side of the 1300 block of West Olive Street at around 4:20 pm when he reportedly rode into the street and was hit by a full-size GMC Sierra pickup driven by 50-year old Jesus Calderon Ruvalcalba. He was knocked off his bike and run over by the truck.

Despite the fact tat both Martinez and Revalcalba were traveling east, this does not appear to be a right hook; the collision seems to have occurred mid-block rather than at the intersection. There’s no report on how fast the truck was going, or any other factors that could have contributed to this tragedy.

However, the police report indicates that Revalcalba is not suspected of drug or alcohol impairment.

There’s also no word on why the boy may have left the sidewalk and ridden his bike into the street.

However, it’s important to remember that children are wild cards when it comes to traffic; they can often act on impulse with no consideration or awareness of the possible consequence. You should always give children the widest possible berth while driving or biking, and be prepared to respond instantly to unexpected actions.

The investigation is continuing; anyone with information about this collision is urged to contact Senior Officer Maria Peña at 805-385-7750.

This is the 64th confirmed traffic-related bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 4th in Ventura County.

My sympathy and prayers go out to Anthony Martinez’ family and loved ones.

Update: A follow-up story by the Star fills in most of the gaps in the earlier reports.

Evidently, Ruvalcaba, who lived on the same block as the victim’s family, had his view of the sidewalk blocked by a large commercial truck that the victim was riding around. Neighbors described Ruvalcaba as a very cautious driver, who was in tears following the collision.

Meanwhile, Martinez was described as a cheerful, intelligent and outgoing boy, according to the Star.

The 6-year-old boy struck and killed by a pickup while riding a bike near his Oxnard home Thanksgiving afternoon was a smart, athletic child who loved celebrations so much he called himself “Mr. Holiday,” grieving family members said Friday.

“He was just sunshine in our lives,” said his mother, Gloria Burciaga, 40

Unrelenting pace of cycling fatalities continues as Laguna Hills cyclist killed in OCTA bus right hook

It’s happened again.

Just a week after the riding deaths of Sherrie Norton and Robert Hyndman — and critical injuries to two Long Beach riders — an Orange County cyclist has been killed in a right hook collision while riding in a crosswalk.

The Orange County Register offers a confusing description of the collision. But apparently, the cyclist, who has not been publicly identified, was riding north on Paseo de Valencia around 5 pm Saturday, either on the wrong side of the roadway, or more likely, on the sidewalk facing southbound traffic.

As he attempted to cross Alicia Parkway, he was struck and killed an Orange County Transportation Authority bus turning west onto Alicia from southbound Paseo de Valencia.

No other details are available at this time.

However, the driver should have been able to see the cyclist, as the rider appears to have been coming directly towards him in the crosswalk.

The paper notes that the OC Sheriff’s department is continuing to investigate the collision.

This is the 10th confirmed cycling fatality in Orange County this year, and 64th confirmed traffic-related bike fatality in Southern California since the start of the year. That compares with an average of 10 bicycling deaths in Orange County for the last two years on record (2008 and 2009), and 55 in Southern California over the same period.

However, it should be noted that the 5-year average for both is much higher, at 13 and 68.2 respectively.

……..

As long as we’re sharing bad news, an 18-year old cyclist was the victim of a hit-and-run in East Long Beach. Fortunately, his injuries were non-life threatening, although that does not necessarily mean he didn’t suffer serious injuries.

Police are looking for an oversized, dark-colored pick-up with possible damage to the passenger-side front or side window. Anyone with information can contact authorities at www.tipsoft.com

And an 82-year old Mendocino cyclist was killed when he was hit from behind while riding on the shoulder of Highway 1; he was hit by a pick-up operated by an 18-year old driver who drifted off the roadway, hitting the victim at 55 mph.

I want to say that someone still riding at 82 deserves better than that.

But so does every other cyclist, no matter how old.

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