Our Thoughts on the Investigation Results of Charles Gilbreth’s and David Ortiz’s Deaths

San Diegans tired of living in a City that is dangerous to vulnerable road users protest and demand a more livable San Diego at the Charles Gilbreth Memorial Ride. Photo: Randy Van Vleck

NBC News published a story on June 4 regarding two vehicle / cyclist collisions, both resulting in the cyclists’s death. Charles Gilbreth, a 63-year old grandfather, was killed while cycling home from work in a bike lane on Collwood Avenue. According to the NBC story, investigators have recommended criminal charges against the un-named driver responsible for Mr. Gilbreth’s death. As well they should have. That the motorist violated Mr. Gilbreth’s right-of-way is not subject to reasonable dispute. Mr. Gilbreth was exactly where he was supposed to be and it is a crime that he was killed.

David Ortiz, 29 and married, was likewise killed on the streets of San Diego, on Balboa Avenue. Unlike Mr. Gilbreth, David Ortiz was on his way to work when he was struck by a Ford Expedition, weighing at least 5,500 lbs. NBC quoted Lt. Rick O’Hanlon, who stated “[b]oth the driver and the cyclist share responsibility for [Ortiz’s death].” Investigators, however, have never provided a reasonable explanation how Mr. Ortiz, struck from behind, shares responsibility for his own death. Did the police determine Mr. Ortiz was responsible merely because he was a cyclist on Balboa Avenue, a road designed with no consideration for anything other than multi-ton vehicles, moving at close-to-freeway speeds? Did Mr. Ortiz veer into the path of the Explorer? Was the motorist blinded by the early morning sun?

The police – or our public officials – must explain to the community how they determined David was responsible for causing the collision that resulted in his death. BikeSD attempted to obtain the Ortiz police report, but its request was denied. BikeSD has reached out to Lt. O’Hanlon but, again, has not received a satisfactory explanation. This is the same Lt. O’Hanlon who previously commented to BikeSD that, “to be charged with a crime, there has to be a death.” That is apparently true for Charlie Gilbreth. But what about David Ortiz?

Chris Taylor is an attorney and everyday cyclist, committed to a more livable San Diego.