Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a piece of work this guy was

The 20 year old who allegedly struck a group of club riders, killing one and injuring two others, had been arrested before for driving while intoxicated. That and more from today's article in my town's newspaper:

Marco Antonio Valencia's alleged collision with a group of bicyclists that left 43-year-old Joe Novotny of Stevenson Ranch dead and two others injured followed a series of crashes and close-calls along Bouquet Canyon Road, witnesses and investigators said.

About 11 a.m., Saugus resident Sheldon Haselwood said a dark blue Ford F-150 nearly sideswiped him. Haselwood pulled up alongside the truck at a Bouquet Canyon Road stop light near Central Park and looked at the driver.

"It was this kid. He was sitting kind of low in the seat, his eyes were kind of puffy," Haselwood said. "He looked over at me and gave me a ‘peace' sign."

The 43-year-old got on his cell phone and started following the truck, reporting information to sheriff's deputies.

Haselwood said the truck kept drifting across lanes, running up onto the sidewalk and the median. At one point, Haselwood and Highway Patrol officers said, Valencia ran into a chain-link fence near David Way.

And after every misstep, the truck would stop, back up, then start down the road again.

Haselwood said he followed the driver as he began weaving back and forth on the narrow, winding stretch of Bouquet Canyon Road past Plum Canyon Road. The truck skidded and crossed into oncoming traffic as it took the road's blind curves.

Several cars had to swerve onto the shoulder to avoid a head-on collision, Haselwood said.

"We come around the curve and then there's about 10 guys on bikes," he said.

The truck crossed the double-yellow lines near the Big Oaks Lodge and slammed into the single-file line of bicyclists on the opposite shoulder, Haselwood and investigators said.

"They had no place to go," Haselwood said. "My wife's screaming as he's taking these bicycles out. The last guy in the line gets hit by the truck. This guy flies 20 feet ... doing sommersaults in the air."

The truck sped off, and Haselwood lost him. He pulled over to help the bicyclists; one had broken his hand, another was leaning up against a rock, panting, with back injuries and the third, Novotny, was lying face-down, motionless.

"I couldn't - I just couldn't believe it. It was like watching a horrible movie," he said. "When you see it in real life, it was like - it just didn't seem real to me, that it was really happening. That this guy was lying right there in front of me and I was putting the blanket on him."

Simply awful.

The Velo group has invited me to their board meeting this Sunday. I think we're going to try to plan a silent memorial ride for Joe Novotny. I hope we'll take to some of the larger streets in town and get a police escort. I want people to notice us, to realize they have to share the road and be alert when they drive. This isn't the only bicycling accident in the last few days- indeed, it's the third incident in a month.

Unfortunately it came too late for Novotny. I hope Valencia goes to prison for the rest of his life.

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