A Santa Monica man, Scott Bleifer, was one of two bicyclists killed on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu Saturday morning.
A member of a bicycling club that Bleifer belonged to said Saturday’s ride was in preparation for next weekend’s Arthritis Foundation bikeathon ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Members of the Club Velo la Grange said they are organizing a tribute to Bleifer who worked in real estate financing.
Bleifer, 43, and another man, Stanislav Ionov, 46, of Calabasas, were struck from behind by a catering truck at a section of highway where the shoulder is barricaded off for construction, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy said.
The catering truck driver, Victor Silva, reportedly said he did not step hard on the brakes because his passenger was standing behind him and cooking hot food. The 37-year-old Compton resident was arrested on two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Deputies quoted witnesses who said the Silva “barely stepped on his brakes” and did not swerve to avoid the two men, who were riding abreast of each other in the right-hand traffic lane next to the barricaded shoulder.
County paramedics worked on both victims at the scene, and flew them to the UCLA Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.
The shoulder at the accident location is barricaded with concrete railings under a permit for construction of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. Heavy bicycle weekend bicycle traffic is forced to use the traffic lanes, where they have a legal right to be, according to deputies. .
Silva pulled the damaged catering truck over a quarter mile down the road and was later arrested there. He remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bond.
“These bicyclists were not in any way at fault,” Lost Hills Traffic Sgt. Philip Brooks said. “The truck driver had the obligation not to hit other vehicles.”
Northbound PCH was closed for about four hours while traffic investigators measured and collected the accident evidence. Traffic in the Civic Center area was snarled as motorists were directed on a 45-minute detour via Malibu Canyon, Mulholland Highway, and Kanan-Dume Road.
Brooks said the two men were the first bicycle fatalities of the year on PCH, which is traversed by thousands of road bicyclists most weekend days.
The other victim was Stanislav Ionov, 46, of Calabasas. He was an internationally-recognized laser optics expert who emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1980. He had worked at Hughes Research Center for 10 years.
“In 1999, Stas proudly became a U.S. citizen,” said a statement issued by his coworkers at the lab. “While at HRL, Stas worked on a variety of technologies and programs in lasers, optics and photonics.“In technical circles, Stas was known as a scientist with great inventiveness, deep scientific understanding and keen analytical skills,” his coworkers said.