Not even a bike helmet could save 25-year-old Michael Ray Vega, the Norco resident killed in Rancho Cucamonga yesterday evening by a hit-and-run driver who left him to die along Foothill Boulevard.
"You were a great dude," his friend Lacey LeBlanc wrote on Twitter. "No one deserves the fate you received."
According to San Bernardino Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Jody Miller, the victim was riding his bicycle west on Foothill when, around 7:40 p.m., he was hit from behind...
... by a "white truck, possibly some kind of work truck" that "may have had a rack on it, or possibly a ladder in the bed."
Sheriff's investigators at the scene told CBS2 that the truck launched the young cyclist, who was wearing a helmet, into the gutter with such force that they believe the sheer impact killed him.
"He was just lying there," witness Dana Carter told the L.A. news station. "We were trying to help him as much as we could. We wanted to keep him from moving around a lot to risk any other injuries to his body."
Unfortunately, the Good Samaritan efforts were in vain: Vega died an hour later at a nearby hospital, says the Press-Enterprise.
Tea Tihanyi, another friend of the victim's (whose Facebook profile lists her as a Hollywood resident), wrote that she was in "complete shock" last night. And "for the person responsible for this," she added, "You will be dealt with by a power higher then any on this planet."
However, San Bernardino Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Kreps informed CBS2 that "unless the driver is intoxicated, nothing other than having a traffic accident taken is going to come out of this."
His reaction angered a Los Angeles bike blogger at CLR Effect, who says that he's left wondering...
...what ever happened to the serve and protect code (granted that is the LAPD motto, but have always believed it should apply to all in the public service sector).
That is it? A "traffic accident?" And don't get me started on that word, accident, you know how I feel about the long history of misuse with it. I was always under the impression that if you hit someone, or even something, and callously flee the scene, than a crime has been committed. Compound that with the loss of a human life and I would think that there should be some serious charges involved. But apparently, this is no big deal. Just another accident.
The case has since been transferred to the traffic division of the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department.
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However, sheriff's spokeswoman Miller defends the Sgt. Kreps quote: "His point was not to minimize it, but to put emphasis on the fact that the driver fled," she says. "Had that driver stopped, it could have been investigated for the accident that occurred. But the fact that the driver fled, that accelerated it, because now we have a hit-and-run, which is a felony."
Anyone with information that could help identify the suspect or vehicle is urged to call Rancho Cucamonga police at (909) 477-2800.
RIP Michael Vega. You were one of the good ones and didn't deserve this. You will be missed.
— Kevin Saravia (@ChemicalKidBP) August 29, 2012