Neighbors, riders talk bike safety following deadly Soquel accident in 2016

Fatal crash in Soquel sheds light on bicyclist safety across Santa Cruz County

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Neighbors living near Soquel Drive still remember the deadly crash last year, that killed 31-year-old Jack Meehan.

“His body was in the street, almost in the middle but to one side and covered, so I knew," neighbor Adrian Rosenthal said.

And the driver, 20-year-old Jacob Andrews, is facing one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

Andrews appeared at the Santa Cruz County Superior Court Friday but did not enter a plea.

He is accused of speeding and distracted driving before the crash on Oct. 26.

Investigators said cyclist Meehan was thrown from his bike and killed.
California Highway Patrol officers said drugs and alcohol were not factors, but at the time of the crash, Andrews was going 20 miles per hour above the speed limit and looking down at his music player.

It then took CHP eight months to investigate the case. Officers said it was a normal time frame.

"We want to make sure that we do a thorough investigation with any type of fatality. There's also a lot of documentation, witnesses, physical evidence that we need to follow up on," said CHP Officer Elizabeth Addy.  

In Santa Cruz County, CHP said bicycle-related traffic crashes hover around 70 cases a year.

Since the beginning of 2017, there have been 38 accidents.

"In any collision, in any fender-bender, as a cyclist, you always lose," Capitola cyclist Gary Gogol said.

Gogol is one of many in the county who enjoy getting around on bikes. Plus, it's a good form of exercise.  

"Cycling is just really a fun way to be outside and move around town and run to the grocery store and get back and forth to wherever you have to go," Soquel cyclist Scott Junker said.

Some cyclists wanted to remind everyone that a little patience goes a long way.

"There's often a fair bit of conflict between, you know, various groups of road users, and that's, of course, never fun. But it's not a battleground. It's just a road and we all use it," Junker said.

And for those who use Soquel Drive, neighbors wanted them to be careful.

"Any night, you can see people riding. It can be a very dark night and many of them don't have lights of have adequate lights. Often, you know, they are wearing dark clothing and you can’t see them. So, if you are not paying attention, it'd be really easy to hit somebody," Rosenthal said.

But in this case, CHP said Meehan did have a night light.

Andrews' next hearing is scheduled for Aug 14.

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