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Teenage Bicyclist Killed by Vehicle on Way to School

Pedestrian accidentA 15-year-old was killed as he rode his bicycle to school in Pacoima on Tuesday morning. The teen was a 1oth-grader at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center and the accident occurred just about a block from the school. The accident remains under investigation at this time and a cause of the crash has not yet been identified.

The accident occurred at 7:00 a.m. on November 15, at the intersection of Vaughn Street and Glenoaks Boulevard. The bicyclist was crossing in the crosswalk of the intersection when a 2016 Dodge Ram pickup and a 2006 Chevrolet pickup collided. The Dodge was heading south on Glenoaks Boulevard and the Chevrolet was heading east on Vaughn Street when the collision occurred. The impact of the crash sent both vehicles in a southbound direction toward the bicyclist, pinning him underneath one of the trucks.

The victim of the accident was identified by family members and later by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office as Saul Lopez of San Fernando. Although emergency personnel arrived to render assistance, Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene a short time after the crash. Due to the “traumatic” nature of the accident, law enforcement called in a crisis response team to talk to parties involved in the crash, as well as students and teachers at the nearby school.

Unanswered questions

Authorities are uncertain at this time which of the trucks had the right of way in the intersection at the time of the accident. A woman that was driving one of the trucks was taken to an area hospital after the crash, where she was listed in good condition. There was no word on whether the second driver suffered any injuries. Both drivers stopped to offer assistance and cooperated fully with law enforcement officials that arrived on the scene.

Sadly, accidents involving bicyclists are not an uncommon occurrence in the state. According to BikinginLA, Lopez’s death marked the sixty-ninth bicycle fatality in Southern California in 2016 and the 29th in Los Angeles County alone. In May, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that 2016 was shaping up to be one of the deadliest in Southern California. In the first five months of 2016, there were 40 bicycle fatalities, compared to just 21 for the same time frame in 2015.

Liability in bicycle accidents

Liability in accidents involving a bicyclist and a motor vehicle is not always completely clear. Most states have a “side-of-road” law that requires bicycles not traveling as fast as motor vehicles to travel on the right side of the road, out of the way of traffic. However, even when bicycles obey these “side-of-road” laws, they can still be the victims of accidents caused by open car doors, vehicles brushing too close to them as they pass, or vehicles turning right in front of the bicycle. In many of these situations, the motorist is held liable.

However, when bicyclists do not obey the laws of the road, they can also be held liable for accidents. Examples might include bicyclists that proceeded into an intersection when they didn’t have the right away, leading to a collision with a motor vehicle. Cyclists are also responsible for ensuring they are sufficiently visible when they are on the road. If they do not provide appropriate lighting or reflective gear at night, liability could also go to the bicyclists.

If you are the victim of a bicycle accident, it is not unusual for the motorist and the insurance company to try to pin liability for the crash on you. Proper legal representation will ensure your rights are protected. Bicycle accident attorneys at Ellis Law ensure that victims can pursue fair compensation for their injuries.

Call our Los Angeles personal injury firm at 1-800-INJURED to receive a free case review.

  1. NBC4 News, ‘He was Brilliant:’ Teenkilled in Crash While Riding Bike to School in Pacoima, http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Bicyclist-Killed-in-2Car-Crash-in-Pacoima-401298975.html
  2. Los Angeles Daily News, GoFundMe Created for Vaughn Charter School 10th Grader Killed in Bicycle Crash, http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20161116/gofundme-created-for-vaughn-charter-school-10th-grader-killed-in-bicycle-crash
  3. BikinginLA, Update: Teenage Bike Rider Killed in Collision between 2 Vehicles; Second Bicyclist Killed in Pacoima in 3 Weeks, http://bikinginla.com/category/bicycle-safety-2/injuries-and-fatalities/
  4. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Pedestrians and Bicyclists, http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/pedestrians-and-bicyclists/fatalityfacts/bicycles