Tag Archive for bicycling fatality

Update: 36 year old bike rider killed in Newport Coast

Sadly, another bike rider has died days after she was injured, in a case that hasn’t made the news.

According to the Orange County Coroner’s office, 36-year old Monterey Park resident Yeny Vergara was injured when she came off her bike around midnight last Wednesday, at 35 Crystal Cove in Newport Coast.

Vergara OC Coroner

She died just after noon on Saturday; no cause of death is given.

A satellite view of the location shows a narrow roadway turning to a dirt road as it leads to the beach. However, it’s possible that she was riding on PCH or bike path next to it, and the coroner simply gave the closest street address.

Unfortunately, no other information is available at this time.

The age and city of residence match a 36-year old master’s racer who has competed in several Southern California races this year. However, that is unconfirmed at this time, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

This is the 39th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County.

Update: A response from the Newport Beach Police Department indicates her fall occurred on state property on the trails deep within the Crystal Cove State Park near the 73 Freeway. The NB Fire Department responded to the call as the closest agency; police never responded since it was reported as strictly a medical call. 

No word on whether she fell, had a medical issue, or collided with another rider, although the latter would seem unlikely if her injury occurred at the late night hour indicated by the coroner. 

Update 2: The Orange County Register reports that Vergara was apparently injured in a fall while riding on the Elevator Trail around 3:45 pm on the 22nd, rather than midnight as the coroner’s report listed. 

She was found lying unconscious on the trail, suffering from an obvious head wound despite wearing a helmet.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Yeny Vergara and all her family.

Thanks to Bill Sellin and Lois for the heads-up.

 

Anaheim Hills bike rider died from solo fall last year; his family makes moving video calling for helmet use

Too often, when a bike rider is seriously injured, it never makes the news. Especially if there’s not a car involved.

Even if it does, there’s seldom any word on what happens after that; no one other than family and friends usually know if the victim bounces back or suffers permanent injuries, or worse.

That’s what happened last year in Anaheim Hills, when bike rider died a month after he was injured in a solo fall.

According to the Orange County Register, 25-year old Gary Lofgren died in an Orange County hospital last October after falling while riding to a park to play football with friends.

A heartbreaking Facebook page created by his sister adds more information.

Lofgren was just two blocks from his home when he fell while riding downhill on September 20th. A neighbor heard him crash as he fell into some trash cans, and ran out to see him try to stand before collapsing hard onto the street.

That was 19 years to the day after his father died.

He was hospitalized with multiple brain bleeds as well as a fracture. And died exactly one month later, apparently without regaining consciousness, a few days after he was taken off life support.

And no, he was not wearing a helmet.

With the help of two friends, his family made a very moving video showing just how much they have lost. And calling for cyclists to wear helmets to keep others from suffering the same fate.

If you’ve been reading this site for awhile, you may know that I never ride without a helmet. But I am also aware of their limitations.

Bike helmets aren’t designed to protect against high speed collisions, where the force of impact can exceed their design capacity. They aren’t a substitute for riding safely, and should be seen as the last line of defense when all else fails.

But relatively slow speed falls like this are exactly what they are designed for.

A bike helmet is a cheap form of insurance against traumatic brain injury, as I know all too well. In 30 plus years of riding, I have only needed my helmet once; in that case, it probably saved my life.

Whether or not to wear one is your choice, as it should be. But like losing weight or giving up smoking, it’s something you do as much for those you’d leave behind, as much as you do for your own benefit.

As this video drives home quietly, and powerfully.

This raises the number of bicycling fatalities in Southern California last year to 86, with 20 in Orange County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Gary Lofgren and all his loved ones.

San Diego-area bike rider killed when minivan driver drifts into bike lane

Bad news from San Diego’s North County, as a 46-year old man was killed while riding in Carlsbad Wednesday evening.

According to the San Diego County Coroner’s office, Eric Steven Glasnapp was riding in a marked bike lane on College Blvd roughly one mile north of Palomar Airport Road at 6:32 pm when a minivan drifted into the lane and hit him from behind.

Despite the efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene just nine minutes later.

No drug or alcohol use was suspected.

And yes, Glasnapp was wearing a helmet; it clearly wasn’t enough to make a difference. A street view shows a virtual freeway with a 50 mph speed limit; a collision at that speed is not likely to be survivable, with or without a helmet.

Sadly, he leaves a wife behind.

This is the 38th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the seventh in San Diego County; it’s also at least the fourth cycling death in Carlsbad since 2010. That compares to 56 in SoCal this time last year, and four in the county.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Eric Steven Glasnapp and all his loved ones.

Breaking News: 58-year old bike rider killed in Garden Grove, reportedly ran red light

News is just coming in that a bike rider was killed in Garden Grove this morning.

The Orange County Register reports the 58-year old Victorville resident was riding west on Century Blvd at Euclid Street when he reportedly went through a red light and was struck by a 22-year old woman driving south on Century.

He died after being transported to UCI Medical Center.

The driver remained at the scene; police appear to hold her blameless in the collision.

As always, who was really at fault depends on whether there were any independent witnesses, which the story does not mention.

This is the 38th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County. It’s also the second in OC in just the last two days.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his family.

 

Update: 13-year old bike rider killed in Santa Ana crosswalk

Every traffic death is tragic, but some hit a little harder than others.

Especially when it involves a child riding her bike.

According to multiple sources, a 13-year old girl was killed in a collision with a truck belonging to the Santa Ana Unified School District this morning.

The collision occurred between 7:45 and 7:50 am at the intersection of West Edinger Avenue and South Center Street in Santa Ana, as the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding her bike in the crosswalk.

She suffered major head and chest injuries, and died at the scene, despite the efforts of emergency personnel. The driver was reportedly extremely distraught and remained at the scene to cooperate with investigators.

A report from KTLA-5 says the victim was an eighth grader at Spurgeon Intermediate School, despite the presence of two other schools at that corner. No word on whether she may have been attending summer classes or participating in some other activity at either school.

The station also reports that the truck was making right turn from Center Street onto Edinger when he hit the girl on her bike.

Judging by photos from the scene, as well as a satellite view, it appears the truck was headed south on Center, attempting to turn west onto Edinger. Most likely, the driver was looking left towards oncoming traffic and did not see the girl ride off the sidewalk to his right and into the crosswalk; however there could be other possibilities, as well.

Her bike was still lodged under the truck after the driver stopped some distance from the intersection. Up to 100 people were gathered at the intersection following the crash, according to the Orange County Register, many crying as they sat on the curbs.

This is the 37th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 7th in Orange County; that compares with 11 in the county this time last year. It’s also the 2nd bicycling death in Santa Ana in the last two months; the other victim was also killed while riding in a crosswalk.

Update: KNBC-4 has identified the victim as Priscilla Vallejo. According to the station, she was not on her way to summer school, and would have entered 8th grade in the fall.

Friends described her as a jokester who was fun to be around. 

Sadly, her mother arrived just after she was pronounced dead. No parent should ever have to see their child like that.

Update 2: The Orange County Register has corrected Vallejo’s age as 13, not 14, as originally reported; she would have turned 14 this Friday.

Update 3: Not surprisingly, the driver won’t be cited or charged in this collision; Santa Ana police say it’s just a tragedy. After all, no driver could be expected to actually look where he’s going before turning right, right?

My deepest prayers and sympathy for Priscilla Vallejo and all her loved ones.

Wednesday night hit-and-run death of Montebello bike rider confirmed

Sadly, we’ve gotten confirmation of another bicycling fatality.

Last night we mentioned unconfirmed reports that a bike rider had been killed in a hit-and-run earlier this week.

Scene of the collision; all photos by Danny Gamboa

Scene of the collision; all photos by Danny Gamboa

Today, the Whittier Daily News reported that 24-year old Steven Garcia was hit by a car around 10:30 pm Wednesday at the intersection of Whittier Blvd and Bluff Road in Montebello.

The driver — or possibly more than one, according to a Gofundme page set up to help raise fund to pay his funeral expenses — fled the scene, leaving him lying severely injured in the street.

He was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he died early Friday morning.

No description was available of the vehicles or drivers involved. And no details on how the collision occurred or who might have been at fault.

According to the paper, he lived in Montebello and worked at a local painting and sandblasting business. The Gofundme page says he was returning home from his job when he was struck.

Ghost bike and memorial for Steven Garcia

Ghost bike and memorial for Steven Garcia

A ghost bike ceremony was held in his honor Saturday night.

This is the 36th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 17th in Los Angeles County.

My deepest sympathy for Steven Garcia and his family and friends.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

 Steven-Garcia-Crowd

Alleged red light running cyclist killed in Hawthorne collision

A bicyclist has lost his life after allegedly running a red light in Hawthorne Friday evening.

According to the Press-Telegram, 49-year old Los Angeles resident Fernando Gamboa was struck by a car while riding on Imperial Highway east of Sundale Avenue, in the shadow of the 105 Freeway, around 6:58 pm Friday.

The CHP reports he was riding against the light when he rode out in front of a 2015 Camaro, and was thrown 20 feet through the air. He was pronounced dead at the scene just minutes later.

Sadly, family members somehow arrived on the scene, and were informed of Gamboa’s death.

No one should ever have to see a loved one like that, or live with that kind of memory.

Unfortunately, the satellite view of the street is obscured by the highway overhead. However, based on the limited description, it would appear Gamboa was trying to cross the busy street at some point east of Sundale Ave, and was struck by a car that continued through the intersection.

As always, the question is whether independent witnesses saw him crossing against the light, or if the driver is the only surviving witness.

This is 35th confirmed bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th in Los Angeles County. That compares with 53 in SoCal last year, and 20 in the county.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Fernando Gamboa and all his loved ones.

Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Weekend Links: Unconfirmed report of fatal Montebello hit-and-run; the tragic fall of the Godfather of BMX

Still waiting for official confirmation, but it doesn’t look good.

A Gofundme page is raising funds to help pay burial expenses for a bike rider named Steven. The page says he was killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike home from work near Whittier Blvd and Bluff Road in Montebello.

A Facebook post identifies him as Steven Garcia, and says a ghost bike dedication and vigil will be held in his honor at 8 pm tonight.

Hopefully we’ll get more information soon.

………

A heatbreaking story in the Desert Sun recounts the rise and tragic fall of Scott Breithaupt, revered as the Godfather of BMX racing. And tells how addiction eventually led to his death under a tent in a vacant lot.

Meanwhile, his mother describes his final months.

………

As expected, Wednesday’s Tour de France leader Tony Martin crashed out with a broken collarbone just before the finish line on Thursday. Then again, Alberto Contador hit the pavement before he even made it to Friday’s starting line, when Mark Cavendish rode to his 26th career Tour win.

Chris Froome inherited the yellow jersey, but didn’t wear it Friday out of respect for Martin; American Tejay van Garderen sits a surprising third. Daniel Teklehaimanot donned the polka dot jersey as the first black African to lead the competition for King of the Mountain.

The doping era still casts a shadow over this year’s TdF, as Italian rider Luca Paolini was bounced from the tour after testing positive for coke. And not the bottled kind.

Legendary photographer Frank Capa turned his lens towards the Tour de France in 1939, while Bicycling continues the tale of the man who punched the great Eddy Merckx in the ’75 Tour. And Business Insider recommends 10 can’t-miss movies to watch when the day’s racing is over, even if you think you don’t care.

Evidently, an apology and a donation to charity is enough to make up for a racist slur uttered by a cyclist “in the heat of battle.” In the US, that would be followed by a stint in rehab.

Checking in on stage six of the Gira Rosa, the only women’s Grand Tour stage race, as American Megan Guarnier still holds the leaders pink jersey; just 14 seconds separate the top three riders. Meanwhile, American time trial specialist Carmen Small had her custom Cervelo stolen, along with other bikes belonging to her teammates.

………

Local

The Times looks at the lawsuit over the single-sidewalk redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.

Richard Risemberg says a road diet isn’t worth the pavement it’s painted on if the city doesn’t bother to maintain it.

CiclaValley looks at bicycling improvements that may be coming to the Valley as part of Metro’s biennial Call for Projects.

LA Street Services addresses the problem of how to keep protected bike lanes clean with a petite new street sweeper.

Santa Monica police bust a homeless bike thief on Pico Blvd.

Apparently not grasping the irony, Westside Councilmember Paul Koretz will officially name the intersection of Westwood Blvd and La Grange Ave for the man who started LA’s leading riding group this Sunday, labeling it as Raymond Fouquet Square in honor of the late Velo Club La Grange founder. Even though, thanks to Koretz, Westwood remains unfriendly to bike riders, officially and otherwise.

Help the East Side Riders Bike Club build bikes for children this Christmas on the 18th.

Also on the 18th, Long Beach is hosting a bike-in screening of the Wizard of Oz; not the least bit ironic since the only bike rider in the movie turns out to be a wicked witch.

The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments discusses transportation funding on the 23rd.

 

State

Orange County bike riders get the shaft when NIMBYs pressure a county supervisor and parks staff to unexpectedly oppose a long-planned bike trail in Peters Canyon.

A San Diego Amazon delivery driver is out of a job after being mistaken for a bike thief.

An 18-year old San Diego cyclist is expected to be okay after breaking his lower back in collision. Naturally, the driver claimed she never saw him riding his bike in the crosswalk, and needless to say, no charges have been filed.

A Coronado letter writer complains about visual pollution caused by bike lanes, and suggests that unused bike racks should be removed. Good idea; let’s do the same with excess parking spaces.

Cyclelicious points out some cyclists have opposed separated bikeways since 1898.

A Berkeley-based HuffPo writer says maybe it’s time for bike licenses to curb all that scofflaw riding.

 

National

Bill Nye the Science Guy is one of us, too.

A new series of videos will help you improve those mad mountain biking skills.

Caught on video (sort of): A road raging Chicago driver jumps out of his car to pummel a cyclist, after trying to squeeze the rider out of the bike lane to bypass stalled traffic, then punches another rider who tried to intervene.

A Minnesota cyclist offers advice on how to avoid a right hook. Although he failed to mention moving out into the traffic lane at intersections to avoid being overtaken and cut off by turning vehicles.

Minneapolis approves plans for 30 miles of new protected bike lanes.

Times are good for Boston’s high-end custom bike makers.

New York’s Citi Bike employees become the nation’s first bikeshare employees protected by a union contract.

Caught on video: A passing bike rider reaches out and snatches a smartphone from the hands of a New York woman crossing the street.

Blocking motor vehicle access around the White House is bad enough; a local pol says blocking bike and pedestrian access has got to stop. Meanwhile, DC cyclists form a human shield to press for a protected bike lane.

New bike racks in Richmond VA would honor Union soldiers held prisoner in the Civil War.

The hit-and-run driver who nearly killed a bike-riding three-year old Florida boy was only 14-years old and driving a van he borrowed from his mother without permission; a kind-hearted vet bought the victim a new bike.

 

International

Vancouver’s Chris Bruntlett says expecting drivers and cyclists to play by the same rules is like equating shotguns and water pistols.

A Canadian cyclist injured in the First Responders race that took the life of a Brazilian investigator earlier this month has been released from the hospital.

The Guardian looks at the gender imbalance on London streets, and asks if the city can make them safe for everyone.

The Brits threaten to bring back the Road Tax, just as cyclists were finally starting to convince drivers it doesn’t exist; a bike rider says he’d gladly pay if the numbers just added up.

A UK site asks if cyclists should be allowed to jump red lights, saying tests show it reduces collisions, while noting Paris has virtually eliminated cycling fatalities. So yes, it can be done.

A British letter writer says cyclists should rein it in on the Promenade or else ride in the road, rather than people just, you know, reining in their dogs. Another urges cyclists to slow down after her kitten is killed on a pathway by a rider who didn’t stop.

A Brit cyclist thinks he didn’t do anything wrong in spitting at and racially abusing a motorist; the judge disagreed to the tune of £1,500 — the equivalent of $2,300.

A British cyclist’s planned seven-week tour of the UK with his dog is still ongoing a full year later, and he sees no reason to stop now.

Sixteen months and 14,000 miles later, an Irish rider completes his journey around the world to raise attention for suicide prevention; he was the only one of four cyclists who set out on the World Cycle Race last year who actually finished.

In Denmark, even royals ride cargo bikes.

A Malaysian writer questions if cyclist safety is being taken seriously enough, after witnessing the aftermath of a fatal hit-and-run. Even there, some drivers refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

 

Finally…

Cyclists on a San Jose area bike trail will now ride past a mammoth sculpture, and not just in the big sense. Lots of criminals make their getaway by bike these day, although not many flee from New Hampshire to Florida.

And who knew bikes had steering wheels? Let alone that they could fall off?

 

20-year old OC driver faces 10 years for 2014 DUI death of Dana Point cyclist

Ten years.

That’s what a 20-year old driver is facing for the drunken collateral damage death of a cyclist in April of last year.

Thirty-nine-year old Haitham Gamal was riding south on PCH in Dana Point when Dominic Devin Carratt lost control of his car at high speed, drifting 200 feet through a bend in the road before slamming into Gamal’s bike.

Carratt’s car continued to drag him another 500 feet — nearly twice the length of a football field — before hitting a curb and flipping over. Gamal was pronounced dead at the scene, simply because he was in the way.

Carratt and his passenger were taken to a hospital with slight injuries, where he was found to have a blood alcohol level of .15.

Normally, that would be almost twice the legal limit. But as an under-aged driver, the legal limit in this case would be zero.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Carratt will be arraigned today on felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit causing bodily injury, along with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.

I’d call death great bodily injury, all right.

Unlike the LA County DA’s office, the OC DA tends to take cases like this seriously, and is more than willing to throw the book at killer drivers. And they seldom bargain away a case just to get a conviction.

That may be a product of a lighter case load, or more jail space to house convicted drivers.

Or maybe they just give a damn. And take traffic crime seriously.

Thanks to attorney and cyclist Ed Rubinstein for the heads-up.

 

Dominic-Carratt-arraignment

 

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.

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