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Recumbent Cyclist Killed Was UCSB Grad Student

Mark Lafaille is on his daily 20-to-30 mile bike ride in the Santa Maria Valley.

“I was hit four months ago, lightly, but it was a car pulling in front of me”, Lafaille says, “luckily it just knocked me over.”

Lafaille says rural, back country roads can be dangerous for cyclists.

“I think people forget how vulnerable we are and they forget how close they are to us”, Lafaille says, “you gotta be prepared for them to cut in front of you.” there’s not a whole lot you can do about cars coming up behind you.”

Saturday, August 9 at about 7:30 pm, the CHP says a pickup truck towing a horse trailer westbound on Foxen Canyon Road near Dominion Road attempted to pass a recumbent bicycle ridden by 33 year old Matthew O’Neill who lived in Carpinteria.

The CHP says the truck clipped the bicycle and O’Neill, a Doctoral student at UC Santa Barbara,died from his injuries in the collision.

Drugs or alcohol are not believed to be involved in the collision which remains under CHP investigation for other possible factors including speed and distracted driving.

“We’re making sure we don’t leave any stones uncovered at this point”, says CHP spokesperson Officer Craig Carrier, “every avenue is being exhausted in terms of investigations.”

Carrier says the name of the 16 year old boy driving the pickup truck is not being released because he’s a juvenile.

The 18 year old passenger in the truck has been identified as Nicolas Maldonado, son of former California Lt. Governor, State Legislator and Santa Maria Mayor and City Councilman Abel Maldonado.

Neither boys were hurt in the collision.

Nicolas Maldonado was involved in another deadly collision on the same stretch of Foxen Canyon Road back in July 2012.

Nicolas Maldonado and his mother Laura were riding in an SUV when it slammed into a car at the intersection of Foxen Canyon Road and Dominion Road intersection.

A roadside memorial to 32 year old Joseph Scheurn who was killed in the crash remains at the scene.

The CHP says Scheurn was driving under the influence and failed to stop at the intersection which caused the deadly collision.

Attempts to speak to Abel Maldonado about Saturday’s accident involving his son Nicolas have been unsuccessful.

Posted speed limits in the area are 55 miles an hour.

“If you go by a bicyclist at an extremely high rate of speed, there is the possibility your wind gust could knock that person over so please be be aware of that”, Officer Carrier says, “and for the bicyclists on the flip side, give respect and get respect.”

“I think it goes both ways”, Mark Lafaille says, “cyclists riding side by side down the road, they are equally as bad, as cyclists you need to pull over as far as you can, you need to ride single file.”

“There’s not a whole lot you can do about cars coming up behind you”, Lafaille says.

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