SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - One bicyclist is dead; a second clings to life at a South Bay hospital. This, after the pair was struck by the driver of an SUV while riding early Monday morning. San Jose police officials have identified the two cyclists involved and the female driver of the SUV who hit them.
"Well you can imagine she hit two bicyclists. She obviously very shaken up, and distraught," said Gina Tepoorten, an officer with the San Jose Police Department.
San Jose police investigators say the fatal accident took place around 7:45 a.m. Monday, near the intersection of West Capitol Expressway and Vistapark Drive in South San Jose. The driver of a Chevrolet SUV was leaving the parking lot of the Bonfare Market on Vistapark. Some locals say the high-volume strip mall is ripe for potential collisions.
"I've lived here for 20 years. It's unsafe for me, even though I can be on that roadway to make a left-hand turn," said Pamela Meek, a neighbor who navigated the sidewalks near the accident scene in a scooter.
Police say the female SUV driver was making a right turn onto Vistapark, the cyclists riding in the same direction. Despite painted marking for the bike lane, and signage, she didn't see them, and hit both men. One man was killed, and the second is in critical condition.
"There have been situations where I had my life in danger," said bicyclist Larry Marquez.
He says even though he uses mandatory safety gear such as bells and lights that near misses are a constant hazard on San Jose streets.
"I have my bell. I wave. I yell out, ‘Here I am!' I give some type of signal. Hand signal, voice signal. And I stop, I don't keep going," said Marquez.
So far this year, there have been three fatal bike versus vehicle collisions. In June Anthony Trusso allegedly hit and killed a cyclist near Curtner Avenue and Briarwood Drive.
The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition issued a statement in response to the recent loss of life saying in part, "Our streets are one of the most dangerous places for anyone to be regardless of whether you're a person walking biking or driving. People need to understand driving is a huge responsibility…"
San Jose police say regardless of bike lanes, the cyclists had the right of way.
"Anytime you're exiting a parking lot, you have to yield to pedestrian traffic, as well as bicyclists as well," said Tepoorten.
San Jose police say this is the 26th fatal accident on city streets so far this year. Officials say both cyclists were wearing helmets at the time of the collision. The Santa Clara County coroner will release the identity of the man who was killed.