12/23/13, a beautiful day for a ride. Christmas shopping! Yeah that’s my excuse to hop on the bike. My bike is a clean, green, dialed-in machine that needs to be ridden constantly so it doesn’t feel neglected (we all know bikes don’t have feelings…). And, of course I take my bike Christmas shopping, this way my kids know not to expect a 60” flat screen TV.
I decided to go to Sears Grand in Rancho Cucamonga. A nice drive on Rt. 66 from where I live in Upland – This is Southern California in case you don’t know how to use Google Maps.
Traffic is starting to build up a little since it is about 3:15 pm.
About half way to my destination, traveling east on Foothill Blvd. (Rt. 66) I was driving in between the cages that were waiting for the red light to change at the intersection of Foothill and Archibald Avenue. Out here it is safer to lane split and be in front of the waiting traffic because of all the idiots who think they can text or post something on Facebook and drive a car at the same time. Anyway, I’m waiting for the light to turn green and I see another bike coming up behind me. So I took a step forward to allow this person to come up next to me on my right side, which he did.
I glanced and acknowledged him. He leaned toward me and pointed at my bike and said something like; “nice bike”, and gave me the “ok” sign. I shook my head in thanks, I couldn’t hear him since I had my ear phones on so I assumed that’s what he said. I looked back up at the light and was surprised that it was already green. I put it in gear and started to take off. I think the green light surprised him as well. He did the same, however, he decided to pull a wheelie just into the intersection and ride it. By now we are both just through the intersection and he is slightly in front of me to my right so I have to turn my head slightly to see him. We were not, well at least I wasn’t really getting on it, I was just watching him ride this wheelie. I noticed that he was leaning slightly to the right and starting to drift to the edge of the road.
Just past the intersection there is a Bank of America on the corner and just past the bank about 75 to 100 feet from the intersection there is an entrance to a service road that runs parallel to and about 1 foot lower than the road we were on. This service road is separated by a 2’ wide curbed island. This curbed island is in line with the curbing in front of the bank. He just missed the curb in front of the bank when I cringed thinking oh, Sh*t. One second later still riding a wheelie, his back tire hit the island curb sending him airborne. I think we were going about 45 to 50 mph. I saw the whole thing, but the image that is stuck in my mind is the fraction of a second before his back tire hit the curb. I think he might have just noticed the curb as his tire ripped into it, because I think he tried to brace himself. I don't really know.
He flew over the first parked pickup truck and bounced off the back window of the second parked car, finally planting his head into the trunk of the third parked car. (see diagram below)
I turned into the next entrance to the service road to back to help. He was lying face down, wedged in between the curb and the driver side of the third parked car. There were already two or three people next to him; one was a lady praying for his soul to be saved. He was unconscious but gasping for air. There was nothing we could do but wait for the paramedics to arrive.
He died within minutes upon arrival at the hospital, I don’t think he ever regained consciousness. In fact, the accident took place so fast, that if he didn’t notice the curb he doesn’t know what hit him.
I didn’t know the guy, but I was the last person to communicate with him. From a friendly gesture to lying on the side of the road dying all in a matter of about 25 seconds shows one how quick your life can change.
I keep thinking; if I was not there or if I didn’t move for him to come forward, maybe he wouldn’t be dead.
A hell of a price to pay…