Tag Archive for solo bike collision

Orange County bike rider killed in solo fall; 50th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year

Sad news from San Clement.

According to the Orange County Coroner’s office, 59-year old Henry Miller III collided with a pole at 243 Calle Empalme in San Clemente around 5:40 pm Wednesday. He died at the scene.

A satellite view show a quiet, winding residential street.

The Orange County Register adds a little more information. According to the paper, Miller was riding east on Calle Empalme when he somehow lost control of his bike and hit the curb, and was thrown headfirst into a lamppost.

Police were unable to find a reason why Miller lost control. There was no debris in the street and no other vehicle appeared to have been involved. The street does have a downhill slope, but levels out about 50 yards from the crash site.

It’s possible that he may have picked up too much speed going downhill, or that he lost control after a close pass by a car, without getting. Or he could have become distracted or disoriented in some way.

The paper also notes that Miller was not wearing a helmet.

There’s no way to say if wearing one would have made a difference. However, relatively slow speed falls like this are exactly what bike helmets are designed to protect against.

Anyone with information is urged to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714/647-7000.

This is the 50th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Orange County. That compares with 67 this time last year, and 14 in the county.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Henry Miller III and all his family.


Update: 23-year old Newport Beach e-bike rider died after colliding with parked van

A bike rider has died after he was critically injured while riding in Newport Beach Sunday afternoon.

According to the Orange County Register, 23-year old Corona del Mar resident Jonathan Wilson died about an hour after he collided with a parked minivan.

The paper reports the collision occurred around 1:27 PM at 1801 Bayside Drive, while Corona del Mar Today places the location further up the road near the intersection of Bayside and El Paseo Dr.

Matching photos from the scene with a street view suggest he was riding north on Bayside, in between the two locations.

No explanation is given for how or why he hit the van.

Photos accompanying the Register story show a mountain bike lying near the curb, with the back of the van in badly damaged. That suggests Wilson somehow hit it at a high rate of speed, which is surprising given the flat road surface.

Even though the road has sharrows, the impact point on the van is just to the left of the curb. So the question becomes why he was riding so close to the curb, and how he reached a high enough speed to cause so much damage.

And whether he didn’t see the row of parked cars directly ahead of him, or was forced to the right in some way.

Unless a witness turns up, we may never know.

This is the 40th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the ninth in Orange County. That compares with 57 in SoCal this time last year, and 12 in the county.

Wilson also the 11th cyclist killed in Newport Beach in the past five years, and second to die in a solo crash in the city in just the last two weeks.

Update: According to the Newport Beach Police Department, Wilson was riding an electric bike, would could explain the force of impact evident from the damage to the minivan. 

He was initially found conscious and responsive, while suffering from numerous lacerations. 

And no, he was not wearing a helmet.

Update 2: Corona del Mar Today cites a police spokesperson as saying neither drugs or alcohol appeared to be a factor, and it did not appear that Wilson was forced into the van by another vehicle.

Update 3: Customers at the Corona del Mar Starbucks where Wilson worked as a barista remembered him as kind, sometimes silly and always friendly.

Update 4: Wilson may have been using his cell phone at the time of the crash, though it’s not clear if he was texting, talking or performing some other task. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Jonathan Wilson and all his loved ones.


Update: 55-year old Masters cyclist dies following apparent solo fall in Huntington Beach

More bad news, in what is turning out to be a very bad weekend for SoCal cyclists.

According to the Huntington Beach Police Department, a 54-year old bike rider was found lying in the street on the 5100 block of Skylark Drive around 12:30 pm this past Thursday.

The unconscious victim, whose name has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was transported to UCI Medical Center in critical condition. Sadly, he died earlier today, apparently without regaining consciousness.

HBPD officers had found him near a red and black Specialized road bike. They believe he was riding west on Skylark when he lost control of his bike for undetermined reasons and fell to the ground, striking his head.

He was not wearing a helmet.

The report says no other vehicle appeared to be involved, and the site was free of any obvious hazards; a street view shows a wide, flat and unobstructed street.

Of course, it’s always possible for a close pass by a car, or for an animal or some other object, to cause a fall, without actually making contact or damaging the bike.

Anyone with information is urged to call Huntington Beach Police Accident Investigator Josh Page at 714/536-5670 or Accident Investigator Bob Barr at 714/536-5663; call 714/960-8825 after hours or on weekends.

This is the 28th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fourth in Orange County; that compares to nine in the county this time last year. And also the 12th bike-related death in Huntington Beach since December, 2010.

Update: The victim has been identified on Facebook as Steve McDonald; a memorial ride will be held in his memory on Saturday. 

An email identifies him as a Masters racer new to the 55/60 age group, and reports that the fall may have been the result of a broken chain.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Steve McDonald and his family.

Thanks to Calvin Design for the first link, and Cleave Law for the update.



Palm Springs bike rider dies in solo fall

A bad weekend just keeps getting worse, as a bike rider was killed in a solo fall in Palm Springs this morning.

According to Palm Springs Patch, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding on a bike path on the 3100 block of East Palm Canyon Drive around 8:38 am when he somehow lost control of his bike. He veered down an embankment, and landed head-first on the pavement at the bottom.

He was pronounced dead at Desert Regional Medical Center.

A satellite view shows a separated bike path on the east side of the street, with a drop off leading to the parking lot next to it.

No word on whether the victim was wearing a helmet. However, relatively slow speed falls, like this appears to be, are exactly what bike helmets are designed to protect against.

This is the fifth bicycling fatality this year; remarkably, it is already the third death in Riverside County — or four if you count Phil Richards, who died yesterday of injuries he suffered in a Calimesa hit-and-run December 29th.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones. 



Bad news on Christmas Eve — Hero Newport Beach lifeguard dies in apparent solo fall

This is not the news any of us want on Christmas Eve.

According to Corona del Mar Today, a hero lifeguard has died after an apparent solo fall.

Thirty-eight-year old Brian Gray was found laying face down near his bike at 2:02 am Friday at the intersection of 26th Street and Newport Blvd in Newport Beach. A police spokesman says he was simply fell while riding his bike; he died the following day in a local hospital.

The news site reports that Gray, a lifelong resident of Newport Beach, was one of the rescuers who saved the life of 13-year old Dylan Scott of Riverside when he was buried in the sand in 2006; he received the Bravo Award from the American Red Cross, along with other lifeguards involved in the rescue.

In addition to his work as a lifeguard for the past 21 years, Gray worked as a courier for the Newport Beach Fire Department; paramedics reportedly recognized him at the scene.

Of course, as in any solo fall, the question is why.

Given the hour, it’s possible that Gray may have been drinking and simply fell off his bike.

However, it’s also entirely possible that he fell as a result of being brushed or buzzed by a passing car, leaving little or no evidence behind to point to a dangerous pass that may have resulted in the rider’s death — which I suspect happens far more often than any of us realize.

Or he could have simply lost control of his bike for any number of reasons, something that happens to even the best riders, myself included.

This is the 73rd cycling fatality in Southern California this year, three above the total for last year, and the 14th bicycling death in Orange County this year. Remarkably, it’s the third bicycling fatality in tiny Newport Beach, with a population of just 86,000 — though it should be noted that the area is a popular biking destination, drawing in far more riders than its small size would suggest.

Gray is also the 14th SoCal rider to die in a solo fall in 2012, and third in Orange County.

So please, let’s be careful out there.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Brian Gray and all his family and loved ones. It’s hard enough to lose someone you love, but especially tough this time of year.

Thanks to David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Yet another Orange County cycling death, and a long list of bike links for your midweek reading

Word is just crawling in, as an aside to another story, of yet another cyclist succumbing to fatal injuries last week.

Seventy-four year old Orange County resident Lafayette “Lafe” Parkin fell while training for the California Coast Bicycle Classic near the UC Irvine Medical Center on August 31st, resulting in a severe head injury.

His 32-year old son Josh took his father’s place on the tour, finishing the ride on Sunday; his father passed away on Wednesday while his son was filling in for him.

This is the 56th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in Orange County. Parkin is the second rider to die in a solo fall in Orange County in 2012, and the 13th in the seven-county SoCal region.

My deepest condolences and prayers for Parkin, and all his family and loved ones. And my respect for Josh; I can’t imagine the emotions he went through riding in his father’s name under such difficult circumstances.


Elly Blue questions the obvious sexism in bicycle marketing; Bicycling’s Fit Chick says that’s one thing she won’t miss about missing this year’s Interbike.


I have nothing against using sex in advertising. But only when there’s a genuine connection with the product being sold.

Otherwise, it’s just annoying. And ineffective.

And stupid.

Meanwhile, Kent’s Bike Blog brilliantly puts the process of bike shopping in perspective.


Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer suffers some nasty road rash during Sunday’s Malibu Triathlon, crediting his helmet with saving his skull after experiencing the dreaded Wobble of Death.


I seriously want this jersey, featuring one of the greatest, and sadly least known, cyclists of all time. Last day to order is September 25.


After last year’s humongous non-event, I’m not falling for the massive hype of Carmageddon II — The Sequel this time.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the relatively car-free streets that should result, as a number of bike rides and events are being planned for the weekend.

First up, Streetsblog and the Bikerowave team up for a night of Streetfilms and fun to benefit C.I.C.L.E. founder Shay Sanchez on Friday the 28th, starting at 7 pm.

Culver City-based Walk ‘n Rollers is hosting a series of rides through the Westside on Saturday, September 29th, with family-friendly routes from eight to 22 miles. The same day, a pair of Valley rides roll along the Orange Line Bike Path and other nearby bikeways.

And Metro and C.I.C.L.E. are joining forces to promote the 2.5 hour, eight-mile Carmageddon Valley Ride on Sunday the 30th.


The next BPIT meeting is scheduled for 1 – 4 pm on Tuesday, October 2nd. Instructors from the LAPD’s bike patrol patrol Interbike for new gear. Downtown will soon have an ice cream shop churned by bike power. CLR Effect looks at ways to carry your stuff on your bike; Boyonabike considers larger options. Cyclicious encounters the LACBC’s own Bobby Gadda as he makes his way back down the coast on his tallbike. Gary considers walk and bikenomics from last week’s Pro Walk/Pro Bike in Long Beach. The Bike League declares last week’s National Women’s Bicycling Summit, part of Pro Walk/Pro Bike, a huge success; they aren’t the only ones.

Fallen Newport Beach cyclist Sarah Leaf is described by friends as funny, inspirational and extraordinary. Maybe a selfish driver who forced a 4th grader out of a crosswalk isn’t such a petty complaint after all. Should be a great party next week, as BikeSD officially launches as a citywide bike advocacy group; any organization formed by Sam Ollinger has my unqualified support — and hopefully, yours, as well. San Diego could have a bike share program of their own as soon as next spring; L.A., Irvine and Long Beach provider Bike Nation is one of the contenders. An apparently suicidal cyclist reportedly rides his bike into the path of a Redlands driver. Evidently they get it in NorCal, as a Red Bluff man is sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing a 73-year old cyclist while driving under the influence; I just wish courts down here placed that much value on a human life. Then again, not so much in Lompoc, either.

CNN considers why young Americans are bypassing the automotive right of passage — without once mentioning the word bike. Bicycling interviews bicycling actor Patrick Dempsey. An Arizona writer looks at life differently after surviving a bicycling collision. The Colorado Highway Patrol is looking for a driver who honked behind two cyclists for several minutes rather than passing. A board member of advocacy group BikeTexas is run down from behind and killed while riding her bike. Both sides in a Chattanooga debate agree that cyclists need to do our part to avoid collisions; make that all three sides, as I concur. How to conquer your fears as a beginning cyclist. Boston Daily asks why so many cyclists are dying on the streets, suggesting a summer-long truce between bike riders and motorists has ended. New York decides safety is more important than speed for delivery riders. The New York Daily News says it’s time to rethink bike share if it’s going to succeed. Brooklyn cyclists complain about the latest obstacles blocking bike lanes. I love this turn of the century postcard. Philadelphia finds more riders mean fewer collisions — not accidents, thank you. A Florida man is under arrest for faking a hit-and-run collision; his story was done in by one of those seemingly ubiquitous security cameras. A beginner’s guide to not dying while biking in the Everglades.

Why do so many people love cycling but hate cyclists? Intentionally run down a Brit cyclist, get a fine of less than $570. A mother finds her 27-year old cyclist son dead on the side of the road after he doesn’t return home from a ride. Olympic cyclists call for making British roads safer for bikes. A Scott writer calls for investing in bikeways while making cyclists liable for all the harm we do; wait, it is bike riders who kill tens of thousands of innocent people on roadways around the world every year, right? A Welsh writer complains about cyclists travelling at abnormal speeds while wearing supersonic helmets; bet I could have found one of those at Interbike. Retired Olympic gold medalist Alexandre Vinokourov auctions his bike for nearly a quarter million dollars, with the money going to charity. Police take mandatory helmet laws to the extreme, as a retired cyclist dies in a tussle with officers over his lack of a head gear.

Finally, no, this isn’t from The Onion — the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills really is pursuing a bike share program. No, really.

Even if they can’t manage to paint a single inch of bike lane in the entire city.

Cyclist killed in solo Mt. Washington fall

According to the L.A. Times, a bike rider lost his life descending a steep hill in the Mt. Washington area early Sunday morning.

The Times reports that 34-year old Los Angeles resident Jean Carlos Galaviz was riding south on Canon Crest Street near Avenue 45 around 3:45 am Sunday. Galaviz had just left a relative’s home when he failed to make a turn and crashed into the hillside; he died of abdominal injuries and internal bleeding at USC Medical Center.

Police do no believe any other vehicles were involved.

No word on whether his bike had lights, which might have helped him negotiate the turn in the darkness.

This is the 47th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 12th in Los Angeles County. Galaviz is the 10 rider to die in a solo fall this year; half of those have occurred in L.A. County.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his family and loved ones.

Thanks to Danny Gamboa for the heads-up.

Update: Indian Wells cyclist dies from natural causes, rather than solo fall

The bad news just keeps on coming.

An Indian Wells man has become the latest bike rider to die in what has become a truly horrible month for SoCal cyclists.

According to mydessert.com, the rider, described only as a man in his early 60s, was riding east on Miles Avenue near Washington Street when he apparently struck a curb and fell, suffering critical injuries. He died sometime later at a local hospital.

A sheriff’s deputy suggests that he may have had some sort of medical condition that caused him to fall; however, no details were released and cause of death is being withheld pending an autopsy and toxicology reports.

This is the 40th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, the sixth in Riverside County and the second in the past two months in the small community of Indian Wells. It’s also the 11th bike-related death in this very tragic month of July; over a quarter of this year’s fatalities have occurred this month.

And we still have two weeks to go.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Update: The victim has been identified as 61-year old Gordon West of La Quinta. According to the coroner’s office, his death was due to natural causes, rather than a fall.

Update: Breaking news — CHP reports yet another SoCal cyclist killed in solo fall on Mulholland Highway

More bad news for Southern California cyclists.

A CHP transmission reports that yet another bike rider has died on our streets. According to the cryptic message, the coroner has been called to a solo bike wreck on Mulholland Highway at Stunt Road, just outside Stunt Ranch State Park and Red Rock Canyon Park above Malibu.

The first call came in at 9:33 this morning, with the coroner called just after 10 am. The transmission codes (1144, 1019 and 1039) indicate a probably fatality, with rescue personnel instructed to return to the station, followed by confirmation of the call to the coroner’s office.

The satellite image shows a three-way intersection with a stop on Stunt Road, and an uncontrolled intersection on Mulholland.

No other information is available at this time.

This marks the 39th cycling fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the 11th in Los Angeles County. This is also the ninth cyclist to die in a solo collision since the beginning of the year.

And it’s the 10th cycling death in just the last nine days, as the horrible, tragic string of recent cycling fatalities continues for yet another day.

My prayers and sympathy for the victim and all his or her family and loved ones.

Update: The L.A. Times reports that the victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was a black male approximately 40 years old, who died at the scene. A comment to this story says he left behind a wife and children.

The Times puts the time of the collision at 9:20 am, while other sources put it just before 9 am. However, all reports agree that the rider somehow veered of the road and down a ravine.

As always, the question is why. He may have simply lost control or had a mechanical failure, or could have been forced off the road or over reacted to a passing car. 

There’s no indication whether he was riding alone or with a group, or if there were any witnesses to the wreck.

Update 2: The L.A. Daily News has identified the rider as 42-year old Willis Veluz-Abraham of Winnetka. The paper also places the location of the collision as near Stunt Road and Mulholland; a comment places the location on the mid to upper section of Stunt.

Update 3: Starting to get a little more information. In a comment below, Justin Murray identifies the location as a curve near Mile Marker 3 on Stunt Road, and points the finger at newly installed rumble strips in the center of the roadway. If anyone has photos of the location or the rumble strips, please let me know.

While they may seem harmless to motorists, rumble strips can be exceptionally dangerous to cyclists. Someone taking a corner a little to hot could easily drift over the center line and lose control after hitting them. It’s especially dangerous if the strips were newly installed, as Murray suggests, as riders may not have known they were there if the strips had been installed since the last time they’d ridden that road, especially if there were no warning signs pointing to their installation.

Update 4: One of the saddest things about any tragedy like this, to me at least, is that most of us never get to know the person that was taken away from us. Not just the name, or barest details of his or, but who they really were. 

That’s why I’m elevating a couple of the comments that came in this afternoon after Veluz-Abraham was identified as the victim. Maybe they’ll touch you as deeply as they did me — and remind us all just how much is lost when any one of us is taken away needlessly.

From Daniel:

Willis was a co-worker and a friend of mine. Since the first time I met him, he was always friendly and he always had a smile on his face. His wife and him recently had their second child.I had a conversation with him a few days ago and he was mentioning how important it was for him to have quality time with his wife and children. 

Willis was also very active in his Church. He was a graduate of UCLA and he was originally from Northern California. Willis love to eat and he enjoyed trying new foods. Willis and his wife enjoy salsa dancing. 

Everyone at work is crashed that he died this way. I take some comfort that he died while doing something he loved to do and that he live his life to the fullest.

From Fellow Bruin

I’ve known Willis since my college days.  Such a bright light he is/ was to anyone who knew him.  Such a shock and a terrible loss for our entire community.  He and his wife just welcomed their 2nd son into the world in February.  That’s the worst part– he’ll never remember just what a special dad he had.  Willis was no dare-devil.  I don’t know how this could happen- but ride carefully, folks!

Please, take that last part seriously. We may not know exactly how or why he died, but we do know how to avoid the next one.

Ride carefully, ride smart, ride defensively.

There are people who love you, and count on you to come home from your rides.

Update: 8th Southern California cyclist killed in last 8 days, as Chula Vista cyclist dies in solo fall

I don’t even know what to say any more.

In the single worst period in memory for Southern California cyclists, eight riders have now died since Friday of last week, as a Chula Vista cyclist succumbed to injuries suffered yesterday in a solo fall.

According to a release from the Chula Vista police, a 39-year old bike rider, who has not been publicly identified pending notification of next of kin, was riding northbound on Broadway near C Street around 2:50 pm. A witness saw him lose control going downhill and tumble on the roadway, suffering a serious head injury.

He died shortly after being transported to the UC San Diego Medical Center.

The report notes that the victim was not wearing a helmet; for once, that actually might matter, since this would seem to be exactly the sort of collision bike helmets are designed to protect against.

Eight deaths.

A rate of one a day, distributed throughout the seven county SoCal region — although, as you’ll see below, San Diego County has suffered far more than their share, accounting for well over half of the cycling deaths in the last week.

And from a wide spectrum of causes, from solo falls to late night hit and runs, and cyclists of seemingly every possible description.

If there’s a common element, I can’t find it. And I have no idea how to stop this outrageous streak of roadway carnage.

All I know is this can’t go on.

It just can’t.

At the end of May, we were on a pace for just 48 bicycling deaths this year; as of today, that’s risen to 68.

This is the 37th cycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 10th in San Diego County — the same rate as Los Angeles County, but with less than one-third the population. He was also the fifth cyclist to die in San Diego County in just the last eight days.

And he was the eighth cyclist to die in a solo riding incident since the first of the year.

My prayers and condolences to the victim and his loved ones. And my prayers for everyone who rides today; may you all return home safely.

Thanks to Sam at Bike SD for the heads-up.

Update: The San Diego Union-Tribune identifies the victim as 39-year old George Sandoval of Chula Vista. According to the paper, Sandoval was riding on the sidewalk when he began of steer his bike into the street; his front wheel somehow detached and his fork dug into the road, throwing his over his handlebars and onto the street. He was pronounced dead a little more than an hour later.

Let this be a reminder to have your bike checked out by a qualified mechanic on a regular basis to avoid mechanical failures like this.