Bicyclist Killed as Minivan Slams Into Compton Business

Witnesses heard no sound to indicate the driver tried to brake

A minivan driver crossed a double set of double yellow lines and oncoming traffic lanes, jumping a curb on a Compton street and fatally striking a male bicyclist in his 50s before the vehicle smashed into a building, sheriff's officials said.

The driver was eastbound on Compton Boulevard about 10:30 a.m. Monday when he struck the cyclist who was crossing the street, said Sgt. Alex Kim of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The cyclist was thrown onto the sidewalk, landing 10 feet from his crumpled cycle.

The 22-year-old driver was hospitalized.

The impact startled office occupants.

"Our building shook like an earthquake," said Latoya Kenneth, who described rushing outside and called 911 after seeing the bicyclist down and the minivan driver motionless, seat belt unbuckled. "He was unconscious and then when he woke up he asked us, 'What happened?'"

Witnesses heard no sound to indicate the driver tried to brake.

"You heard the impact, but you didn't hear any screeching," said Felicia Biggers, who was half a block away in her car.

Biggers and Kenneth work for Let Us! Inc, a nonprofit community service organization which occupies the building's streetfront office just west of where the minivan stopped.

The damaged storefront was being renovated for an office for Wallstreet Realty, due to open this week.

Called to the scene, company officials were grateful no one was inside, but expressed sadness at the death of the cyclist.

"My heart just dropped to see the person on the floor," said realtor John Pagani. Harvey Holt, his colleague, said the company would set up a benefit fund for the bicyclist. He was not immediately identified.

A shopping bag lay on the sidewalk near where the cyclist came to rest. Biggers and Kenneth said they had heard he had just stopped to pick up groceries.

Kim said the driver was cooperating with investigators, and had agreed to have his blood alcohol content measured, though Kim declined to reveal the result. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

The building was red-tagged so engineers could inspect the structure.

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