Cyclists Mourn Loss of Fellow Rider Killed by Car in Pursuit

A cycling community is mourning the loss of a fellow cyclist who was fatally struck by a driver being chased by sheriff's deputies in Loma Linda last week.

Mark Wingo is grieving over the loss of his close friend Randy Stephenson, a 62-year-old computer designer who was also an avid bike rider and part of Wingo's riding club named Redlands Water Bottle Transit Company.

"He was just an all-around good guy that was just very giving," Wingo said. "Very happy guy. It's just a tragedy that this happened."

On Friday, Stephenson was struck and killed while riding his bike. It happened during a pursuit involving San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies and Eric Tafoya, a domestic violence suspect.

"I feel that they could have let him go and could have gotten him at a later date," Wingo said of Tafoya. "But to chase him into a busy area where there's a lot of cycling a lot of pedestrians and cars, I think they created the danger."

Sheriff's investigators say the pursuit lasted only a few seconds. It began when deputies spotted Tafoya on Benton Street and pulled him over. But as the deputy approached Tafoya, he allegedly drove away and headed down the bike lane to avoid heavy traffic, eventually striking Stephenson, a father of two adult children, from behind.

Tafoya allegedly continued to flee then ran into a van, ending the pursuit, sheriff's officials said.

Fellow cyclists placed a ghost bike at the scene of the fatal crash in Stephenson's honor. They are also still mourning the death of fellow bike club member Duane Darling, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver a few weeks ago.

At Don's Bicycle Shop in Redlands, where Stephenson spent a lot of his free time, workers are remembering him as a rider who cared deeply about other riders.

"He was the kind of guy if you were new into cycling he'd kind of take you under his wing if you will, and get you into riding," said employee Paul Robinson.

Tafoya, 3, will be in court Wednesday morning, where he will face charges including murder.

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