BERKELEY, Calif. - Bay-Area based Sports Basement is mourning the loss of its chief financial officer. Tom Trauger is one of five bicyclists killed in a tragic crash in Las Vegas.
Trauger split his time in Berkeley and Las Vegas. He was a top executive for the sporting goods chain for 14 years. The company said he will be greatly missed.
“Utter disbelief,” said Sports Basement Chief Operating Officer Aaron Schweifler. “Tom is the most healthy, strong individual I probably know.”
At the 10 Sports Basements throughout the Bay Area, workers are devastated over the sudden death of Trauger. The 57-year-old accounting whiz is a fixture in the company.
“He was also a kid in a candy store when it came to Sports Basement,” said Schweifler. “He was a nationally ranked triathlete. He didn’t pick up the sport until after his 40s.”
Trauger wanted to test his ability and asked to join a group of 20 riders for the annual 130-mile loop ride through Las Vegas and surrounding towns last Thursday. Organizer Michael Anderson helped calm his nerves.
“I’ve done this ride so many times,” said Anderson. “It’s going to be wonderful. Don’t worry. I’m going to take care of you. That’s what kills me I said those words to him and he's not here anymore.”
Forty miles into the ride on Highway 95, a box truck plowed into the group killing five riders instantly, injuring three others.
It’s unclear what caused the truck to hit the group. Nevada Highway Patrol does not suspect drugs or alcohol. Speed limit is 70 miles per hour. The riders said to be going 20 miles per hour.
“Any inattention that that driver had is easily 50 miles an hour plus slamming into those riders,” said Anderson.
“We’ve ridden together all over the East Bay, Marin, South Bay,” said Ritch Viola of Tiburon. “We’ve basically ridden all over the Bay Area together.”
Viola has known Trauger for 10 years as a member of the Every Man Jack triathlon team. Viola is promoting bike safety in honor of his friend. He said by saving other lives, it makes this loss less sad.
“We have every right to be on the road,” said Viola. “Any text or if you’ve been drinking or your tired it’s not worth getting behind the wheel.”