Tag Archive for SWSS

Update: Woman killed in Oxnard crash after allegedly swerving in front of SUV

In any bicycling crash, the question is whether there were any witnesses other than the driver.

Because too often, the victim is in no shape to tell his or her side of the story.

That’s what happened in Oxnard this morning, where a bike rider was killed after allegedly swerving in front on an oncoming SUV.

According to the Ventura County Star, the victim, identified only as a 44-year old woman from Port Hueneme, was riding west on Hemlock Drive near Seaside Drive around 5:30 am, when she allegedly swerved into the path of the 26-year old driver.

He was unable to stop in time, and slammed into her bike.

She was taken from Oxnard to the Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, where she died.

The driver remained at the scene, and cooperated with investigators. Police don’t suspect he was under the influence.

Unfortunately, Oxnard police didn’t indicate whether there were any other witnesses, or if they were relying on strictly on the driver’s description of what happened.

Bike riders often call crashes like this an SWSS, or single witness suicide swerve, because in the absence of any other witnesses, it’s just as likely that the driver drifted to the right to hit the victim as she rode in the bike lane.

Especially at that hour, when the driver is likely to be sleepy and inattentive.

It’s also possible that she was in the traffic lane, and the driver failed to see her until the last moment, and mistakenly assumed she swerved in front of him.

And it’s possible, if not likely, that the driver was exceeding the 40 mph speed limit, which would have reduced his reaction time, and given the false impression that she had sufficient time to safely move to the left.

Chances are, we’ll never know.

This is at least the 36th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 2nd that I’m aware of in Ventura County; the previous death was in Oxnard, as well.

Update: The victim has been identified as Port Hueneme resident Dana Kuehl; she was actually 39, not 44.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Dana Kuehl and her loved ones.

Thanks to Victor Bale for the heads-up.

 

Man riding bicycle killed after allegedly riding in front of driver in Oxnard crash

Once again, a bike rider is dead after somehow magically appearing in front of a driver.

According to the Ventura County Star, the victim was struck by an 18-year old driver on Saviers Road near Iris Street in Oxnard around 8:10 pm Thursday, although a local TV station places the time of the crash shortly after 10 pm.

The driver was headed south on Saviers when he said the victim, identified only as a man in his mid-20s, “suddenly appeared in front of (his) vehicle.”

The bike rider was taken to Ventura County Medical Center, where he died.

The driver, who hasn’t been publicly identified, stayed at the scene, telling police he was unable to avoid the man’s bicycle.

There’s no explanation given for why the driver wasn’t able to see the victim or his bike.

However, in any case like this, where there doesn’t appear to be any surviving witnesses other than the driver, it’s important to remember that we’re only getting one side of the story.

It’s entirely possible that the victim somehow rode out in front of the driver’s car. But it’s also possible that he may have been riding safely in the bike lane on southbound Saviers, and the driver just didn’t see him.

Because no one, ever, comes out of nowhere.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Senior Officer Paul Knapp of the Oxnard Police Department at 805/385-7750 or email paul.knapp@oxnardpd.org.

This is at least the 13th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first I’m aware of in Ventura County.

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

Woman killed in Lancaster bike crash earlier this month

Somehow, we missed this news earlier this month.

Looking for information about yesterday’s fatal collision in Lancaster uncovered news of a woman who was killed while riding her bike in the same city on Monday, August 13th.

According to the Antelope Valley Times, the victim, identified only as a Hispanic woman in her 50s, was riding north in the bike lanes on Sierra Highway below Oldfield Street when she was struck and killed.

The paper reports that she attempted to cross the five lane Sierra Highway, unexpectedly swerving left in front of an oncoming driver traveling in the same direction.

She was taken to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries.

A statement from the sheriff’s department said it doesn’t appear that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, nor was excessive speed.

As always, the question is whether there were independent witnesses to the crash. Drivers who drift to the right or fail to see a bike rider often assume the victim must have swerved in front of them, when that’s not always the case.

Anyone with information is urged to call traffic investigators at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station at 661/ 948-8466.

This is at least the 33rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 16th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and all her loved ones. 

Update: Road bike rider killed in East San Diego County crash

A man has been killed riding a road bike in an unincorporated area east of San Diego.

According to the Union-Tribune, the victim was riding south in the bike lane on Avocado Blvd just above Nabal Drive in the Casa del Oro neighborhood of San Diego County around 8 am. He reportedly swerved into the traffic lane, and was struck by a car driven by a 63-year old woman.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to a regional trauma center, where he died from his injuries.

The only identifying information given is the make of his bike, a Masi Gran Corsa road bike.

As always, the question is whether there were any witnesses other than the driver.

It’s possible that he may have swerved out of the bike lane to avoid an obstruction, or moved left to turn onto Nabal Drive without checking for traffic.

However, it’s also possible that the driver may have been speeding, or drifted into the bike lane and only assumed the he swerved in front her. The lack of physical evidence in bike crashes can make it difficult, if not impossible, to identify the exact point of impact.

Crashes like that are so common they are often referred to sarcastically as an SWSS, or Single Witness Suicide Swerves.

Hopefully we’ll get more information soon.

This is at least the 29th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 6th that I’m aware of in San Diego County.

Update: The victim has been identified as 61-year old La Mesa resident Daniel Lusteg

And yes, he was wearing a helmet. In this case, it was not enough to help.

Meanwhile, Frank Lehnerz forwards a Google image showing what might have made Lusteg swerve.

What hasn’t been mentioned is that if he swerved around this or any other object, it would suggest that the driver didn’t give a three-foot passing distance as required by law.

Otherwise, anything less than a swerve into the left turn lane shouldn’t have been enough to cause a collision. 

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Daniel Lusteg and his loved ones.

Thanks to Jeff Kucharski, Charles Schenck and Frank Lehnerz for the heads-up. 

 

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