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Bicycle rider dies after vehicle collision
Bicycle collision

A 71-year-old man riding his bicycle on E. Harding Road Wednesday night was struck by a vehicle and died from his injuries, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The deceased was identified as Jose Del Toro of Turlock.

Del Toro was riding his bicycle eastbound on E. Harding Road, east of Lander Avenue around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was partially on the roadway, according to the CHP.

A 2005 Mercedes Benz being driven by Jesse Pernsteiner, 52, of Turlock was also traveling eastbound on E. Harding Road and was straddling the broken yellow line separating the eastbound and westbound lanes.

Pernsteiner later told investigators he did not see the cyclist as he came up behind him. The Mercedes struck Del Toro’s bicycle at an estimated speed of 40 to 45 miles per hour.

The impact caused Del Toro to strike the windshield of the Mercedes, which resulted in major injuries for Del Toro. He was rushed to Doctors Medical Center where he died from his injuries.

Pernsteiner was not injured in the incident.

According to the CHP, Del Toro was not wearing a helmet, had on dark clothing and his bicycle was not equipped with a rear reflector.

Alcohol and drugs were not considered to be factors in the collision.

The fatality comes just as law enforcement begins a campaign to promote cycling laws and tips as part of National Bike Safety Month in May.

Data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System indicates that during the past five years, 738 bicyclists were killed in collisions and another 61,000 were injured.  The data shows that improper turning and bicycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol are the major causes of injury or death.

The University of California, Davis, Trauma Prevention Program has reported that 50 percent of bicycle deaths are from head injuries.  California law requires that all riders under age 18 wear a helmet, but helmets are important for riders of all ages.  Eighty-seven percent of bicyclist deaths tracked nationally are persons ages 20 and older.

Bicycle safety is a shared responsibility between drivers and cyclists. Bicycle riders and vehicle drivers must follow many of the same laws, including stopping at stop signs, signaling turns, not being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, pulling off the roadway if five or more vehicles are lined up behind them, yielding to pedestrians, and not driving distracted. California also requires motorists to allow at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicycle.

“Whether you are driving a car or motorcycle, walking or bicycling, it is important to remember that the road belongs to everyone,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley.  “Regardless of a person’s mode of transportation, we all have a responsibility to know and follow the law.”