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Newport Beach Hit-and-Run Collision Proves Fatal for Bicyclist

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Catherine Ritz, 57, of Irvine, was killed in a Newport Beach car accident after she was struck by a pickup truck whose driver fled the scene. According to a news account in The Newport Beach Patch, the fatal bicycle accident occurred the morning of September 15, 2012 on Newport Coast Drive, between Ocean Vista Drive and Vista Ridge Drive. Police say Ritz was riding her bike north on Newport Coast Drive when a black pickup truck hit her from behind. The driver of the truck did not stop and was last seen going northbound on Newport Coast Drive. Ritz was taken to an area hospital in critical condition and succumbed to her injuries.

Police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver. The suspect vehicle has been described as a black, full-sized pickup truck, possibly a 2001 to 2004 Toyota Tacoma with significant damage to the right front area of the vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to contact Newport Beach Traffic Investigator Eric Little at 949-644-3746 or email him at elittle@nbpd.org.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family and many friends of Catherine Ritz for their profound loss. Please keep this grieving family in your prayers.

Bicycle Accidents in Newport Beach

Although the city has been witnessing a downward trend in bicycle accidents over the last few years, this is the second fatal bicycle accident in Newport Beach in the last few days. On September 14, 2012, 29-year-old Sarah Leaf died when a stake-bed struck hit her at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Bayside Drive. One person died and 93 were injured as a result of bicycle accidents in Newport Beach, according to California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS).

Leaving the Scene of a Crash

Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the pickup truck not only rear-ended Ritz and critically injured her, but also left her lying on the street without care or medical attention. Appalling! In addition to being an inhumane and irresponsible act, leaving the scene of an injury crash is illegal under California law. California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”

Holding Hit-and-Run Drivers Accountable

I trust that the driver in this case will soon be apprehended and brought to justice. If you have any information about this suspect or the vehicle, please visit our dedicated hit-and-run web site at www.hitandrunreward.com to offer an anonymous tip and become eligible for a $1,000 reward.

Families of deceased hit-and-run victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Newport Beach personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. A knowledgeable accident attorney will be able to advise families about how their own auto insurance policy might apply to an incident where the driver is not apprehended or in a case where the at-fault motorist is uninsured or underinsured.

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