Tag Archive for bicycle fatality

Second cyclist found dead in less than one week; strong arm bike-jack attempt on L.A.’s 7th Street

For the second time in less than a week, a Southern California cyclist has been found dead, apparently of natural causes.

Just five days after an unidentified 70-year old rider was found alongside the road near Fillmore, a rider was found unconscious and unresponsive along the Stevenson Canyon trail on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.

According to Temecula Patch, the rider was discovered by other cyclists, who attempted to administer CPR until paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead. He was discovered around 8:10 am Sunday, near the intersection of Clinton Keith and Tenaja Roads west of Murrietta.

Patch reports that the rider, who has not yet been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was 60 years old and a resident of Temecula.

The death is still under investigation; no information yet on whether he may have fallen or died of natural causes.

We have no way of knowing how or why this man died.

But it’s a good reminder to check with your physician first if you’re new to riding or coming back after a long layoff.

You may feel healthy. But there may be things going on inside that you don’t know about.

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Sunday morning I received an email from an anonymous reader reporting a very frightening attack against a local cyclist with an unusually positive attitude.

Tony is the nicest guy, and he owns a little shawarma place on 7th Street, right in front of the new westbound bike lane.  He’s about as bikey as any small-business proprieter in L.A. can be (and that’s even if you include Josef Bray-Ali.)   That’s Tony on the sandwich board in his delivery bike’s basket:

He lives in mid-Wilshire and commutes by bike, too.  Very recently, he bought a shiny new Fuji to replace his old commuter.

On Friday when I popped in to refuel before Mass, his arm was in a sling, so I asked why.  He told me.

The night before, Thursday, he was on his way home from the restaurant, waiting at a stoplight on Wilshire.  A motorcycle came up behind him, and its passenger jumped off and kicked him over!  Tony hit the asphalt hard, and the creep tried to jack his bike.  Still on the ground and unaware of the extent of his injuries, Tony had the presence of mind to hook a leg through the frame.  After several yanks, the creep gave up and fled with his accomplice.

Witnesses called 911 and stayed with him until the police & medics arrived.

Tony has a fractured scapula and some bruising, but he still has his bike.  And he’s still confident enough to commute, even with a busted shoulder!   I asked if he isn’t worried now about riding so late (his restaurant closes at 11pm weekdays, and 2am Fri/Sat), but he said naw, there are more good people than bad people, and “people always help.”

I am kind of a pessimist, so I held my tongue about how “helpful” the perpetrator was.  Next visit, I’m going to actually read the little scroll of Scripture hanging by the kitchen, ’cause I bet anything its sentiment reflects Tony’s philosophy.

Also, I’m shooting an email to Sgt. Krumer to see whether there have been any similar thefts lately with the same unusual modus operandi, although given the biking demographic in this area, a lot of such crimes, even when accompanied by physical violence, probably aren’t reported.

For several months now, I’ve been reading about similar strong-arm bike-jackings from other cities across the country — including several right here in California  —in which thieves have used everything from baseball bats to brute force to knock riders off their bikes before riding off with them.

Hopefully, this is just an isolated incident and not the beginning of yet another dangerous trend local riders have to worry about.

Maybe Tony’s positive attitude and willingness to fight for his bike will send a message to potential thieves to find another way to get their prey. Or maybe find another line of work altogether.

And maybe I need to stop in for a little shawarma next time I ride those new 7th Street bike lanes.

……..

One last note.

A great story from a formerly auto-centric Toronto columnist who tried biking to work at the urging of a local bike activist and blogger.

And liked it.

Thanks to Taylor Peck for the heads-up.

And a happy All Hallows Eve to all you bike-born boys and ghouls.

Breaking news: Cyclist killed early this morning after leaving her job at Disneyland

This is not the way we wanted to start our day.

The Daily Breeze was the first to report that an employee of Disneyland was hit by an SUV and killed on her way home from work this morning.

The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was crossing over the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) on eastbound Ball Road just outside the park when she was hit from behind by an Ford SUV around 12:30 am. The vehicle hit her at an estimated speed of 40 mph, throwing the rider 60 feet before landing on the pavement. She was taken to UCI Medical Center in nearby Orange, where she was pronounced dead.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that area, but as I recall, 40 mph is within or near the speed limit in that area. However, it is widely reported that someone hit at that speed has only a 20% chance of survival, making most major surface streets in Southern California death traps for anyone not wrapped in a ton or more of steel and glass.

(The Minnesota DOT cites a 15% survivability rate at 40 mph [pp15] , while the Times of London cites a 10% survival rate in an article dated May 16, 2008, but won’t allow me to link to it.)

At 40 mph — let alone being thrown 20 yards — whether or not she was wearing a helmet is largely irrelevant, as the rate of speed far surpasses the design capabilities of any bicycle helmet. And helmets can’t protect against injuries to any other part of the body, which are highly likely at that speed.

What is far more relevant is whether she was using lights and reflectors to ride at night. Judging by photos of the scene, she should have been easily visible on the overpass; even without lights, most freeway overpasses are well lighted at night.

The driver did stop at the scene, and passed a field sobriety test. While it sometimes seems like most collisions are hit-and-runs, the driver actually remains at the seen 68% of the time, according to statistics from Bikeside LA.

This is also the 2nd hit-from-behind fatality since Gov. Brown vetoed the three-foot passing law.

How much blood will he have on his hands before he admits the massive mistake he made in taking the advice of two state agencies that care far more about moving cars than protecting cyclists?

This is the 58th confirmed traffic-related bicycling fatality in the greater Southern California area, and the 7th in Orange County, which is a significant improvement over the county’s average of over 1 fatality per month.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Anaheim Police at (714) 765-1900.

My heart and prayers go out to all her family and friends.

……..

I have a long list of links for your reading pleasure, but it always seems inappropriate to attach them to a tragic story like this. I’ll try to get them online later today.

27-year old Pomona cyclist killed in Chino Hills, one day after Gov. Brown vetoes 3-foot passing law

On a weekend devoted to celebrating cycling — and just one day after Governor Jerry Brown vetoed California’s three-foot passing law — a cyclist was killed in a hit-from-behind collision in Chino Hills.

According to the Orange County Register, 27-year old Omar Gomez of Pomona was riding east on Carbon Canyon Road near Fairway Drive around 9:46 am when he was hit by a car driven by Augustin Bruno of Anaheim.

Bruno was driving an 1995 Acura Integra, which the Press-Enterprise suggests may not belong to him. What is clear, however, is that Bruno did not have a valid license to drive. The Register reports he will face charges for driving without a license; any other potential charges remain to be determined.

The impact of the collision threw Gomez to the side of the road; he was taken to Chino Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The driver reportedly looked away from the road momentarily before hitting Gomez; according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, drugs or alcohol did not appear to be factors in the collision.

It isn’t clear from the news reports whether Bruno ever saw Gomez, or if he lost track of him while distracted.

What is clear is that hit-from-behind collisions are the leading cause of death for California cyclists. And our governor just vetoed a law designed to help prevent them.

Whether it would have made a difference in this case we may never know. But thanks to Governor Brown, it won’t make a difference for anyone else, either.

This is the 57th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 5th in San Bernardino County. That compares to six cycling deaths in San Bernardino County in 2008, and 4 in 2009, the last two years on record.

My deepest sympathy to Gomez’ family and loved ones.

74-year old cyclist killed in Moreno Valley; fifth SoCal cycling fatality in two weeks

Please, not again.

For the second time in less than a week, a cyclist in his 70s has been killed on the streets of Southern California. And the fifth area cyclist to die in the last two weeks, after going over three weeks without a single fatality — four in traffic incidents and one by shooting.

According in the Southwest Riverside News Network, as well as a other sources which published identical stories, 74-year old Vernon Slade of Moreno Valley was killed early Sunday morning when he was hit by a truck on the 13100 block of Heacock Street.

Detail are sparse.

The collision was reported at 3:27 am, and Slade was pronounced dead at Riverside county Medical Center at 3:56 am. The driver who hit him was traveling north on Heacock Street in a Dodge Ram truck; no information on where Slade was positioned on the roadway or if he was using lights, or anything else that might help make sense of his death.

The story reports that the driver of the truck was cooperative. And not surprisingly, was not injured in the collision.

Slade represents the 56th traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California since the start of the year — one more than the annual total for the last two years on record. He is also the 10th cyclist killed in Riverside County, and the second in Moreno Valley; that number matches the annual average for the county.

And it’s only October.

Another seven cyclists have died in shootings since the first of the year, one in San Diego and six in L.A. County.

My deepest sympathy for Slade’s family and loved ones.

And thanks to Rex Reese and an anonymous source for the links.

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A few other quick notes.

The bike rider killed in the shooting in Long Beach on Saturday night has been identified as 29-year old Reynard Lionell Fulton of Palmdale.

Sam Ollinger of Bike San Diego offers more information about the dooring death of Justin Newman.

KPCC remembers extended station family member, and fallen cyclist, Alan Deane. Meanwhile, the recent deaths have Pasadena officials concerned; I should certainly hope so. Although a Whittier writer says it’s still safe to ride in the L.A. area, despite recent events.

……..

Come back later for a little good news, for a change, as my dog sled racing big brother offers his perspective on taking up cycling many decades after he set his bike aside at 16.

Update: Second cyclist killed in Pasadena in less than a week; charges filed in Downtown L.A. death

Update: The victim has been identified as Alan Deane, a popular L.A. cyclist and musician; tragically, he died on his 61st birthday. There will be a memorial ride in his honor on Sunday the 25th, starting at 6 pm at Pasadena Memorial Park; a ghost bike will be installed at the site of the collision.

Update 2: the Glendale Noon Concerts wrote the following about Alan on Facebook:

The October 5th concert will be dedicated to the memory of Alan Deane, musician and devoted friend of the Glendale Noon Concerts, who passed away yesterday, September 22nd, his birthday. In his long career, Alan had been guitarist/vocalist for the Captain & Tennille, the Grass Roots, Johnny Rivers and countless television and film projects. He was also an actor and green transport activist.

Thanks to Vincent Chang for the link.

………

This has been a bad week for Pasadena bicyclists.

Just days after Jocelyn Young was killed in an alleged drunken hit-and-run after falling off her bike, news came today that another bike rider has died on the streets of Pasadena.

According to the Pasadena Star-News, the 61-year old Los Angeles resident, who has not yet been publicly identified, was riding east on the sidewalk bordering Colorado Boulevard when he entered the crosswalk at Terrace Drive at 6:13 pm Thursday.

He was hit by car driven by an unidentified 19-year old Pasadena man who was making a left onto Terrace Drive from the opposite direction on Colorado Blvd. The victim was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Unlike the earlier case, in which Nicholas Avila allegedly fled the scene after running over Young, the driver remained at the scene. And not surprisingly, was uninjured in the collision.

The Star-News reports that the victim was not wearing a helmet; whether that could have made any difference remains to be determined.

The case is still under investigation; however, state law is unclear on whether it’s legal to ride a bike in a crosswalk.

A recent attempt to clarify the matter failed when the state legislature passed a law allowing bicyclists to ride along a crosswalk. It’s unclear, though, whether that means cyclists can ride in the crosswalk or next to it; the state Attorney General’s office has declined to clarify the matter despite repeated requests.

This is the 52nd confirmed bike-related traffic fatality in southern California this year, and the 18th in the Los Angeles area. It’s also just the 2nd cycling death in SoCal this month.

But even one is one too many.

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In another case, LAPD Sgt. David Krumer reports that charges have been filled in the death of a cyclist in Downtown Los Angeles last July.

This is the case in which the rider was initially reported to be collateral damage in a road rage dispute between two drivers; however, the road rage angle was quickly dropped by police investigators for lack of supporting evidence.

The driver, who has not been publicly identified, will face a charge of vehicular manslaughter. Sgt. Krumer identifies the applicable section of the penal code as section 192(c)2:

192.  Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.

(c) Vehicular–

(2) Driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, but without gross negligence; or driving a vehicle in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence.

I’m still working on getting the name of the victim, as well as that of the driver; while the victim’s Central American family has been notified, he has not yet been publicly identified.

One year in jail for underage, allegedly drunk driver who nearly killed cyclist Adam Rybicki.

Is a single year in county jail really enough for an underage drinking and driving spree that injured two cyclists — nearly taking the life of one and leaving him with life-altering injuries?

Sources tell me that a plea deal has been reached in the case of Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, the 19-year old driver accused of plowing into a group of cyclists early on the morning of Sunday, April 3rd — while still drunk from the night before.

In fact, I’m told that at the time of the 7:15 am collision, she still had a BAC of 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.

Reportedly, she will be sentenced to one year in jail, though current jail overcrowding conditions mean she’s likely to serve less than six months.

Maybe far less.

In addition, she’ll face three years probation after her release, including a requirement that she wear the SCRAM alcohol monitor made famous by Lindsey Lohan. We can only hope it will be more effective than it was with her more famous compatriot.

She also have her driver’s license suspended for just one year. This despite at least four moving violations in the last three years, as well as allegedly totaling her car in a previous collision.

Hopefully, it won’t be the year she’ll be in jail and can’t drive anyway.

Meanwhile, I’m told that her primary victim, 49-year old Adam Rybicki of Rancho Palos Verdes, continues to progress, albeit slowly, and faces a long, hard road to recovery; it remains to be seen whether he will ever regain even a semblance of the life he lived before Garcia ran him down.

Those with whom I’ve discussed the case consider the penalties likely to be imposed on Garcia to be very light given the extreme severity of Rybicki’s injuries. However, I’m told that the D.A. handling the case had his hands tied by the penalties allowed under the law for a first time vehicular felon.

One attorney who weighed in on the plea deal said that under current state law someone has to die before a heavy prison sentence can be imposed; from what I understand, Adam Rybicki came very, very close.

In fact, he probably would have if there hadn’t been an orthopedic surgeon on ride.

But at least she’ll have a felony conviction on her record, which will follow her for the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Garcia has written a letter asking for leniency, which has been highly criticized by some who’ve seen it; at least some observers accuse her of failing to take responsibility for her actions and seeing herself as the victim.

“I ended up being involved in an accident where two bicyclists were injured.” (Garcia)

Beyond comprehension. She is the victim here?!? Accident?!? This is a @##$$%^^&&* felony!!! Two bicyclists were injured!?! With a blood alcohol level of 0.15, she drove a vehicle directly into the path of law abiding cyclists and assaulted them with her vehicle.

“One thing that people have said about me is the fact that I was emotionless at the time of the accident. I was far from that.”

Well, yes, people did observe that appearance. She may be on the mark here. She was beyond emotionless; she was nearly unconscious! That, however, does not constitute emotion. Still no responsibility. She certainly did not offer any help at the scene of the accident; compassion, not hardly.

The case has been continued until Monday, September 12th at 8:30 am in Department 5, Room 403 of the Inglewood Superior Court.

At that time, she is expected to change her plea to guilty, and the court will hear statements from the victims — or in Rybicki’s case, his family members — and other interested parties.

And before the day is over, Jaclyn Andrea Garcia is likely to be sentenced for failing to kill Adam Rybicki, if only barely.

Whether justice will be served depends entirely on your perspective.

……..

In another case, Victims Impact Statements will be heard on Wednesday, September 7th in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run in the death of cyclist James Laing; Segal reportedly had a BAC of .26 at the time of the collision. The hearing is now scheduled for 10 am  — I’d previously reported it would start at 8:30 am — in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way.

Cyclists are urged to attend wearing bike jerseys to show support for Laing and his family; however, long pants are required in the courtroom.

Update: 50-year old cyclist killed by hit-and-run driver in South L.A.

As reported here last night, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision in an unincorporated area near Compton.

The bike rider, identified as 50-year old Enrique Lemus Bautista, was riding north on Avalon Blvd when he was hit by a dark colored car travelling west on Redondo Beach Blvd shortly after 9 pm Tuesday. The car, described as a black BMW, never stopped.

According to the Daily Breeze, witness reports conflicted, preventing CHP investigators from determining who had the right-of-way. It was also unknown if the driver was speeding.

No other information is available at this time.

As far as I’m concerned, though, anyone who leaves another human being to die in the street should be charged with murder, regardless of who is at fault.

This is the 50th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in L.A. County. It’s also the 10th fatal hit-and-run involving a cyclist, and the 4th in the County of Los Angeles.

Thanks to Rex Reese for the KCBS-2 link.

Cyclist killed in South L.A.

Dispatches from the California Highway Patrol indicate that a cyclist may have been killed in the South L.A./Compton area tonight.

According to the report, a bicycle rider was hit while crossing the intersection of Avalon Blvd and East Redondo Beach Blvd in West Compton around 9:11 pm; the cyclist was pronounced dead around 9:23.

While the report is listed as a possible fatality, it also indicates that the Coroner was called to the scene.

More details as they become available.

Update: Total Traffic L.A. confirms that a cyclist was killed at that intersection; Redondo Beach Blvd is closed from San Pedro to Avalon. 

This is the 50th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in L.A. County.

Update 2: I’m told that KTTV Fox 11 reported tonight that this collision was a hit-and-run; no link to the story yet. KTLA-5 confirms that it was hit-and-run.

12-year old Victorville cyclist killed near Hesperia

In yet another tragic cycling collision, a Victorville middle school student was killed after reportedly running a stop sign on Saturday.

The San Bernardino Sun reports that 12-year old Zachariah Houck was riding south on Joshua Road in Oak Hills with a group of friends around 6:45 pm when he went through the stop at Mesquite Street, and was struck by a Lincoln Navigator driven by George Peery.

Peery reportedly tried to swerve to the right to avoid Houck’s bike, but was unable to stop in time. Houck was pronounced dead at the scene; tragically, his parents arrived at the scene before police.

He had just started his first week of 7th grade on Thursday. The Victorville Daily Press quotes his aunt speaking for the family.

“We’re all numb,” Sarah Houck-Garcia, Houck’s aunt, said Monday. “It’s been tragic for the entire family. He was just a big love bug.”

According to the Daily Press, his middle school is accepting donations for the family.

Quail Valley is collecting donations for Houck’s family at the front office including gift cards, money or letters and cards of encouragement, according to Principal Dennis Zimmerman. Anyone wishing to make a donation to Houck’s family can visit the school at 10058 Arrowhead Road in Phelan or make out a check in the name of Zachariah Harrison Houck II and take it to a Wells Fargo branch.

This is the 48th confirmed traffic-related cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 3rd in San Bernardino County.

My deepest sympathies to Houck’s family and friends.

Breaking news: Cyclist killed by SUV in Irvine Wednesday afternoon

According to the Daily Pilot, a 42-year old cyclist was killed while riding in Irvine this afternoon.

The collision occurred around 1 pm Wednesday on northbound Shady Canyon Drive south of Quail Hill Parkway when the rider, who has not been publicly identified, was struck from behind by a Mercedes SUV.

The Orange County Register reports that two other cyclists were performing CPR when authorities arrived; the rider was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Not surprisingly, the unidentified 35-year old driver and her infant passenger were uninjured.

The collision is still under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact Sgt. Dennis Maisano at 949-724-7023.

This is the 7th cycling fatality in Orange County this year, and 47th confirmed traffic-related fatality in Southern California.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the tip.

Update: The Contra Costs Times identifies the victim as Duane Parkinson of Irvine, a detective with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department; he leaves behind a wife and three children.

Update 2: According to the Contra Costa Times, a co-worker says Parkinson may have fallen in front of the SUV that killed him; the 15-year veteran is described as someone who was loved by everyone.

“People say `oh he was a great guy,’ about someone but Duane was that really, really great guy,” said Sgt. Phill Dupper who started his career with Parkison at the county jail. “Everybody loved him. He treated everybody the same, from grounds keeper to council members. He loved being a detective, always smiling.”         

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