Fire Chief Finds Downed Cyclist, Aids in Search for Suspect

An Irvine man died at the scene. Deputies arrest an 18-year-old woman in Rancho Santa Margarita.

A 21-year-old Irvine man was killed as he was cycling down Santiago Canyon Road. The suspect was caught in Rancho Santa Margarita. Patch file photo.
A 21-year-old Irvine man was killed as he was cycling down Santiago Canyon Road. The suspect was caught in Rancho Santa Margarita. Patch file photo.

On his way to work Sunday morning, Orange County fire Battalion Chief Marc Stone noticed a vehicle pass by him on Santiago Canyon Road with a heavily damaged windshield.

At first, he thought it must have struck a deer. Stone kept his eyes peeled, according to a series of emails shared between Orange County firefighters.

But a shoe lying in the roadway said otherwise.

“He turned around to investigate and found a 21-year-[old] bike rider that had been struck,” wrote Senior Fire Communication Supervisor David Paschke. “Both the victim and bike may have never been located for several hours or until this lone riders family/friends reported him missing, as he had been flipped over the guardrail into the brush.”

Stone notified the California Highway Patrol, which also notified Orange County Sheriff’s depuaties, who eventually caught up to suspect Sommer N. Gonzales, 18, of Tustin, who was arrested in Rancho Santa Margarita.

“During this investigation, it was determined that (Gonzales) was under the influence,” said California Highway Patrol Officer J. Childers.

The coroner identified the victim as Joseph Robinson, 21, of Irvine. Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gonzales was booked into the Central Womens Jail without bail on suspicion of felony driving under the influence causing injuries and felony hit and run causing injuries. She was due to appear in Central Jail Court in Santa Ana today.

“If it wasn’t for Chief Marc Stone’s gut instinct that something was wrong, the 18-year-old might have evaded arrest,” said Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Steve Concialdi. “This is why we want people to call 911 when they see something suspicious and something just doesn’t feel right.”

A post on the SoCal Trailrider’s forum identifies Robinson as an employee of the Jax Bicycle Center in Irvine. 

“This morning a friend of mine was hit and killed while riding his Road Bike on Santiago Canyon Rd by a hit and run driver. Joey worked with me at Two Wheels One Planet in Costa Mesa for about a year and was currently working at Jax in Irvine. He was 21. Joey was a really good road cyclist and one of the safest riders I know of.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Gail Neuman February 03, 2014 at 10:41 PM
So sad-big hugs to the young man's family


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