Tag Archive for Compton

14-year old bike rider fatally shot, a painful email from the family of a fallen cyclist, and I beg shamelessly

Before we start, several people have asked me lately how they can support the new BikinginLA.

The easy answer is just keep reading, and keep coming back. And keep sending in those news tips, whether in the comments or through the email address on the About page.

But if anyone wants to contribute financially to help support me and my work here, you’ll now find a Donate page on the links at the top of this page. There will be more options for donations, sponsorships and advertising soon, but for the time being, you can contribute directly to my PayPal account.

Please don’t feel pressured or any obligation. Especially this time of year, there are so many demands on your wallet, and so many higher priorities.

But any contribution, in any amount, is greatly appreciate.

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One more bike rider is dead. Yet another young woman will never grow up.

This time, it wasn’t the result of a careless or distracted driver, or even scofflaw cyclist. It was a different kind of violence on our streets that took the life of 14-year old Alicia Gomez, gunned down as she rode her bike in Compton.

Police have described her as a known gang member, and characterized the shooting that took her life at the corner of Elm and Alameda streets as gang-related.

That’s exactly where most of us stop paying attention. Another gang shooting, another homicide in Compton, where 213 people, innocent and otherwise, have been murdered in the city since 2007.

She may have died a gang member, but she also died as one of us.

And more importantly, she died a young woman barely in her teens, who will never be a day older. Another life lost to the violence we continue to tolerate on our streets.

Let’s pray that she’s the last one.

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Every bicycling death is tragic. Every fatality leaves a heartrending hole in the lives of his or her loves ones, and in our world.

Yet some seem to be particularly haunting, a metaphorical ghost bike within our own hearts, remaining long after the news has faded.

For me, the needless death of Donnie McCluskey is one of those.

Maybe it’s because it could have happened to any one of us. He was nothing more than collateral damage in a wreck between a drunk driver and a red light running minivan operator; after the initial impact, the van spun out of control and smashed into McCluskey as he waited at the red light.

If he’d run the light, as so many accuse us all of doing, he might be alive today.

Or maybe it’s because of the online conversations I’ve had with his family from time to time, as they’ve shared the latest updates on his case, or just the pain of his loss in the year and a half since he was taken from them.

It makes me feel like I’ve lost a friend I never knew.

Over the weekend, I heard from his sister Pattie McCluskey-Andre once again, this time to report the final disposition of the case against the driver responsible for Donnie’s death.

With her permission, I’ll share it with you.

Dear Ted,

Re: Donny McCluskey, bicyclist, killed April 18, 2012 in Rancho Mirage while waiting for the light to green.

Final day in court was December 13, 2013.  The DA never lowered or altered the original charges (not sure how much our participation from the start helped). Much to our collective relief, the driver and the judge all seemed to understand the devastation caused by this accident.  My brother was honored with a judge who appreciated that this was a death that was indeed avoidable and gave Donny his day in court.

The driver had lost 80 pounds since the accident; he spoke of his nightmares and his thoughts of Donny every time he entered an intersection. The driver cried during the entire sentencing. His remorse was so complete that he stated that he wished daily that it had been him instead of Donny who was killed.

The judge suspended his driver’s license for a year, placed him on probation for 3 years. He was not given jail time secondary to our family’s request that he perform community service instead, which was also given to him.

Ultimately, there is no closure but the ability to go forward and pay it forward. Drivers need to be held accountable whenever they are negligent and dangerous causing the death of another human. I truly feel the driver in this accident placed a deeper punishment on himself then we would ever impose. My family offers forgiveness to this man so he can forgive himself.

RIP Dear Brother, we love you, we miss you everyday and we will continue to tell your story.

Again, thank you for being the voice of cyclists,

Patti

There’s a lot of pain and a surprising amount of compassion in that email. Let’s hope, now that the case is settled, the family can finally find peace.

And this holiday season, they can remember the joy they shared with him, instead of their loss.

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News of this weekend’s upcoming Route 66 ride promoted Alan Thompson to send word that the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has been working with the Adventure Cycling Association, Caltrans and local advocacy groups to develop a SoCal leg of the planned Bike Route 66. It will follow the path of the legendary highway, giving riders a route from Chicago to LA.

I wonder if my wife would let me ride that one.

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LA County Sheriff’s deputies have now been involved in the deaths of three people in the last week.

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Turns out a new Calgary cycle track not only boosts ridership, but improves the flow of motor vehicle traffic, as well.

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Finally, an Aussie cyclist responds to a roadway dispute by reaching into the driver’s car and riding off with his keys. A Menlo Park rider brings home the family Christmas tree by bike. And there may be a reason the next cyclist you see is smiling and moaning uncontrollably; then again, it’s not exactly a new idea.

 

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 cyclist dies after being hit by alleged drunk driver

On Friday, April 22nd, 12-year old Shantrel Kailyn Williams was riding her bike on the sidewalk in front of her home on west Arbutus Street in Compton when she rode out a few feet into the street to turn around.

A few seconds later, the honor student at Long Beach’s Tincher Preparatory Academy lay in a crumpled heap on street, the victim of an alleged drunk driver.

According to her mother, she wasn’t wearing her helmet — even though state law requires helmets for riders under 18 — because Kailyn thought it was ugly, and her mother believed riding on the sidewalk in front of the house would be safe.

Despite surviving emergency brain surgery, doctors made it clear from the beginning that she wasn’t survive long, and that a difficult decision would have to made.

Last Sunday, after over a week in a medically induced coma, Kailyn was taken off life support and died later that night.

According to KCBC-2, 60-year old Thomas Abraham Long was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence; at last report he was still being held on $100,000 bond.

Her mother offers advice for other parents — and all bike riders:

I would tell everyone you need a helmet because you may control what you do, but you can’t control what someone else do.

This marks the 27th cycling death in Southern California this year, and ninth in L.A. County since the first of the year.

My heartfelt prayers and sympathy to Kailyn’s family and friends. Thanks to Allan Alessio for the heads-up.

Yet another cyclist killed in a hit-and-run

According to KABC Channel 7, a cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision in Compton this morning at the intersection of Dwight Avenue and Compton Boulevard.

The rider, described as a Hispanic man in his 30s, was riding north on Dwight when he was struck by a minivan driving east on Compton. Surveillance video shows the driver pull over, get out to look at the victim, then get back in his car and flee the scene.

The vehicle is described as a 1990s Ford van, possibly an Aerostar van, colored silver or gray. Anyone who may have information regarding this incient is asked to contact the Compton Sheriff’s Station, 310/605-6500.

Note: I selected the Channel 7 report because it offered a little better coverage than some of the other reports available online. It’s a very sad commentary when the hit-and-run murder of a bike rider is only worth 5 sentences from the local paper.

Update: The Times increased their coverage today, adding an additional sentence for a total of 6. But they did embed coverage from KTLA.

According to KTLA, the victim was Ovidio Morales, a 40-year old father of five who worked hard to send money back home to his family in Guatemala. He was crossing Compton in the crosswalk with the green light, when a driver who witnesses say was talking on a cell phone went through the red light, striking Morales and dragging him several feet.

The suspect is described as a very tall African American man, possibly around 7 feet tall.


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