Drivers are expected to see what’s in the road directly in front of them.
Except too often, they don’t.
That was the case in tiny Bonsall yesterday, just west of Camp Pendleton, where a man from Colorado was killed when he was rear-ended by a 19-year old motorist.
The victim, publicly identified only as a 63-year old man, was riding westbound on State Route 76 near Thoroughbred Lane when the driver slammed into him from behind around 9:50 am Wednesday.
He was thrown from his bike, and died at the scene before paramedics could arrive.
The San Diego Union Tribune describes him as riding a Cannondale road bike, “in full biking gear and wearing a helmet.” Which clearly wasn’t much benefit in the crash, with a likely impact speed at or above the posted 55 mph speed limit.
The driver continued a short distance to a nearby strip mall, where he pulled over to call 911 and wait for the CHP to arrive, telling them he never saw the man he killed until after the impact.
A CHP spokesperson says he was not under the influence.
No mention is made of whether he was driving distracted, however, or if there was some other reason why he couldn’t see a grown man on a bicycle right in front of his car.
Investigators are unsure where the victim was riding prior to the crash, although it’s likely he was riding in the painted bike lane on the right shoulder. Which raises the question of whether he left the lane for some reason, or if the driver somehow drifted into it.
No word on whether the victim was visiting from Colorado, or living in the area.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the CHP’s Vista office at 760/643-3400.
This is at least the 71st bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, but just the fourth that I’m aware of in San Diego County.
Update: The victim’s hometown newspaper has identified him as 63-year old William Tyson, an experienced bike rider who lived part-time in the San Diego area.
According to the paper, police suspect Tyson swerved into the traffic lane in order to make a left turn at the upcoming intersection, and that the driver was unlikely to be charged as a result.
However, that doesn’t explain why an experienced bicyclist would swerve into the traffic lane without apparently looking on a highway with a 55 mph speed limit. Or why the driver failed to see him until the moment of impact, when he should have at least been aware of someone riding in the bike lane in front of him.
There are still far too many questions out there to accept such a simplistic answer. Especially coming from the CHP.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for William Tyson and his loved ones.