A tragic reminder that rules matter

DCW will place a ghost bike for Ryan Hodder at 2 pm on December 7, 2015.  Corner of Broadway Boulevard &  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue NE.

From Jolene Kruger, Albuquerque Journal, November 28, 2015

He never came home.

Ryan Matthews Hodder, 29, finished his overnight shift at a Circle K at Lomas and Broadway NE and headed south around 5 a.m. on the bike his fiancée had given him as a Christmas present.

“It was blue and black,” Chas Laila Tso said. “It was pretty pricey, but it was his pride and joy, so it was worth it.”

Hodder rode that bike everywhere, taking long treks from the couple’s home near Downtown Albuquerque to the trails along the Sandia foothills and back. It was a love not shared by Tso.

“I don’t do the bike,” she said with a laugh.

And Hodder, to her concern, did not do the bike helmet.

“He had some reason, something that happened to him when he was a kid – I’m not sure,” she said. “I’d say, ‘You better safeguard yourself,’ and he’d just talk about how many times he had been hit already.”

It was as if he thought he were invincible, immortal.

On that morning, though, Tso began to worry that he might be neither.

“We were texting through the night, and everything was fine,” said Tso, who also works a night shift caring for medically fragile patients. “It takes about 15, 20 minutes to make it home, so when 5:30 came around, I started to wonder.”

At 5:45, still nothing. She texted: “Where you at?”

At 6, she called his cellphone. The call went straight to voice mail.

At 7:18, she made a final call, and then she got in her car and started heading up Broadway to the Circle K.

She didn’t have to go far.

Ryan Matthews Hodder, 29, with his beloved bike, a gift from his fiancée, Chas Laila Tso. He died riding it in August. (Courtesy of Chas Laila Tso)

At Martin Luther King and Broadway, she saw the flashing red lights, the yellow tape, the police and paramedics and the blue and black bicycle.

“I kept hoping it wasn’t him,” Tso said, her shaking voice cracking as the tears come. “But I knew.”

The crash occurred about 5:20 a.m., Albuquerque police said. A motorist had been driving east on MLK with a green light, hitting Hodder on his bike in the crosswalk.

Hodder, the spokesman said, had ridden against the “do not cross” signal. He died about two hours later, no longer invincible nor immortal.

That was Aug. 27. Today, his body remains bagged at the state Office of the Medical Investigator, as Tso and Hodder’s mother continue to struggle to raise enough money to have him cremated and in their care.

Rosie Hodder Clemons, Hodder’s mother, who lives in Grants Pass, Ore., said she hopes to have enough money – about $485 – by next month to get her son’s body cremated and released to her. It’s hard, she said, to cobble together the money because she has lupus and is on disability.

It was also hard, she said, to learn of her son’s death while scrolling through Facebook.

“It was posted, and I saw it there,” she said. “His friends were trying to contact anybody in his family.”

She had not seen Ryan in a year, but wrote him often and knew that his life was going well, which had not always been the case. New Mexico court records indicate that he had been arrested on an out-of-state felony charge in February but was soon released and the charge dismissed after that state declined to pursue extradition.

“He had some struggles, but he was good, stable,” Clemons said. “He had a good job, a good place. He had his girlfriend. He was taking care of her real well. He was just a good kid with a good heart. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”

It’s another reminder that no one is immortal, that bike helmets are crucial and the rules of the road matter.

“Signalized intersections are useful only if we obey the signals,” said Jennifer Buntz, president of the Duke City Wheelmen, which advocates for safe biking and sharing the road. “That goes for not running red lights and also not crossing in a crosswalk when you don’t have the right of way. Avoiding another senseless death is a great reward for simply obeying the signals.”

The number of cyclist deaths per capita for New Mexico was second only to that of Florida from 2010 to 2012, and 50 percent higher than the national rate, according to the state Department of Health. How many, one might wonder, were caused by a cyclist’s decision?

A ghost bike is planned to be erected at the site where Hodder was struck, a visual reminder of a life lost and a road rule not followed.

For Tso, Clemons and those who love and miss Hodder, how he died makes the pain even sharper. In some ways, though, that’s just how Hodder was – free-spirited, adventurous, artistic, outspoken, unencumbered by that which govern us mere mortals. He learned too late that he was mortal, too.

Tso and Clemons had never spoken to each other until after Hodder’s death, and though their brief relationship has been cordial it has also been spotty, with one woman or the other not able to contact the other at times. That has, in part, contributed to the delay in obtaining the body and laying it to rest.

But they agree on how much they loved Hodder. And they agree on the plan to raise enough funds to obtain his cremains, take them back to Oregon, to Mount Hood, a place Hodder loved to snowboard, where his ashes will be scattered. Only then will he be home.

More information
To donate, search “Ryan Matthews Hodder Memorial Fund” on gofundme.com or at any Wells Fargo branch under that same name.
Bernalillo County Unclaimed and Indigent Cremation Program:bernco.gov/finance/unclaimed-indigent-cremation-program.aspx
Duke City Wheelmen:dukecitywheelmen.org

DCW will accept donations via our PayPal account, or at to the ghost bike dedication.  

 2 pm on December 7, 2015.  

Corner of Broadway Boulevard &  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue NE.

You can read more from the Albuquerque Journal on traffic safety, or the lack thereof, HERE.

To all my fellow New Mexicans, please, we need to do better.

Ghost Bike Refurbish Day May 30, 2015

2015-05-08 18.51.55 2015-05-08 11.58.37We’ll meet at 8:30 am at the Trek Superstore. From there, teams will go out to ghost bikes, for clean up and placing new flowers. All hands welcome!
We’ll send teams out with at least one Duke City Wheelmen member, someone with experienced working with ghost bikes.
Message me here, from the website, or our Facebook page for more information!

Can’t come, but want to help?  Use our PayPal donation button to help pay for flowers!
Donations can also be dropped off at Trek Superstore.
Please clearly mark donations for Duke City Wheelmen.Thanks,2015-05-08 11.56.41
Jennifer Buntz
President, Duke City Wheelmen

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Extra attentiveness can help keep you holidays happy

This time of the year traffic always seems to get a little crazy.  As I worked on freshing up the flowers on Michael Ryan’s ghost bike today, I noticed the traffic.  Mike was riding in a bad place, but as we know, that doesn’t always matter.

Just stay alert out there, car, bike, truck, two feet, etc.

locationJust think if Albuquerque had spent 1% of its traffic infrastructure investments on alternative means of transportation….IMG_20131204_153408_733Michale Ryan

 

IMG_20131204_161714_581Matt Trujillo

IMG_0559Paula HigginsIMG_20131204_141048_710Chris Ore

 

IMG_20131204_110901_826Adam Hollander

 

Donate for Mike Ryan

I am thrilled to report that more than enough funds have been raised for Mike Ryan’s ashes to be claimed.  Due to the generosity of Burqueños, we received enough additional funds to purchase tires and additional reflective gear for the bicycle riders we help at Noon Day Ministries.  Our next morning at Noon Day will be August 22 from 9-12 in the morning.

Thank you!

If you want to help friends of Michael Ryan, 1953-2012, put his remains to rest properly, please donate using this PayPal link.  Your donation will be forwarded directly to this effort (less the processing fee).

We will place his ghost bike June 29, 2012 at 10:00 AM, Lomas NE at the Pan American frontage road, just east of I-25.

Thank you!




David Anderson Ghost Bike

A new ghost bike has gone into the painters, JTC Coatings.

We will be replacing this ghost bike soon.  Watch for details.

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Everyone, please keep your eyes open when you pass by this ghost bike descanso.  Someone is vandalizing it and these acts need to stop!  Thanks to KRQE reporter Lysée Mitri for giving this problem wider publicity.

Watch for notice on when we will be out to fix the ghost bike.  Thanks!

Scott Dwane Lane

Dwane Lane was riding his bicycle home from work on January 10, 2012 when Carol Svinarich ran a red light, killing Lane. He is survived by his wife Sheryl Kearby and four children. Lane was a family man, Scout leader, business man and well respected community member.

After nearly a month of investigation, Svinarich was charged with the maximum charge under curent New Mexico law, which is the misdemeanor charge of careless driving. This charge can result in a penalty of up to $300 dollars in fines and/or 90 days probation or jail time.

“It’s probably a good day for her. You know, 90 days is nothing, I’d be happy,” Sheryl Kearby, Lane’s widow, told KRQE News 13.

Duke City Wheelmen Foundation was able to assist the Lane family by placing a ghost bike at the site of the crash on March 23, 2012.

Another man riding a bicycle was also hit in Albuquerque on January 13, 2012. This man, later identified as Michael Ryan, died a few days later from his injuries. Ryan was thought to be a homeless individual. Unlike Lane, Ryan was riding improperly, crossing Lomas on a red light when hit. All cyclists’ are well served by riding with traffic and following all traffic rules, just as we expect from any vehicle on the road.

Everyone is safer when we all follow the rules.

Chris Ore

Although Chris Ore died in 1999, this ghost bike was placed for him in 2012.  Chris was killed crossing University Blvd. at Los Lomas by a driver who ran their red light.  His parent, wife and now grown childern came to dedicate this ghost bike .  Although Chris died 13 years ago, he is still loved and missed, with this memorial giving his family another way to express their feelings.

Dan Montoya

Out on his twice weekly lunchtime ride, Dan Montoya, 53, was nearing the crest of the climb up Tramway Blvd. east bound from his office at Honeywell. Bruce Wickensburg, 78, was driving his white Chevrolet passenger car westbound on Tramway on this same fine spring Thursday, May 12, 2011.

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Traffic Investigator Leonard Armijo said in concluding his report:

Based upon the crash investigation completed at the scene, road evidence, debris, as well as the oral interview it is this investigators findings that the driver of the motor vehicle, Mr. Bruce Wickensburg, failed to maintain his traffic lane he drove left of center and onto the shoulder of Tramway Blvd. crashing into the bicyclist (Daniel R. Montoya) which resulted in his fatal injuries. Therefore Mr. Wickensburg was found to be at fault for the crash which resulted in Mr. Montoya’s death.

The Office of the District Attorney for the Second Judicial District here in Bernalillo County has said that although the case does not fit the Homicide by Vehicle (DUI or Reckless) we will precede with Careless Driving charges against Bruce Wickensburg.

 

David Anderson

A set of “reckless driving” circumstances were documented sufficiently for the case against Miranda Pacheco, 25, in the death of cyclist David Anderson, 56, on March 22, 2010. Bernalillo County investigators were able to obtain statements from witnesses to Pacheco’s reckless driving prior to her swerving out-of-control, cutting across three lanes of traffic, traveling up the embankment, through a fence and crashing into Anderson on the Paseo del Norte multi-use path killing him instantly. Without this documentation of poor driving behavior before the crash she would NOT have been charged with “Homicide by Vehicle (reckless)”. The first trial began October 11, 2011, but resulted in a hung jury. The case will be retried starting October 1, 2012.

Roy Sekreta

Roy Sekreta, 43, was headed home from work, commuting by bicycle as he did most days. One of the reasons he had come to Albuquerque was because it was possible to commute by bike most of the year. Northbound on the North Diversion Channel multi-use path he was attempting to cross Comanche Blvd on March 3, 2008. Nathaniel Martin, 25, traveling east bound on Comanche, hit Sekreta sending him flying through the air across the median into the westbound traffic lane and his bicycle all the way into the diversion channel. Sekreta was pronounced dead at the scene by an investigator from the Office of the Medical Examiner.

Meanwhile, Martin fled the scene. He returned about 30 minutes later. Martin told the investigating APD officer in a taped interview that “he made a lane change to the left lane so he could pass that vehicle in the right lane when all of a sudden a bicyclist came out of nowhere in front of him. Nathanial said that he estimated his speed to be about 50 M.P.H.” Comanche Blvd. has a posted speed limit of 40 mph in that area.

Examination of New Mexico court records reveals that Martin paid a $15.00 fine for speeding “up to 10 mph over limit” and $79.00 in court costs for his actions on March 3, 2008.