No charges in Salinas traffic death of bicyclist

SALINAS (BCN) — A truck driver who collided with and killed a bicyclist last month in Salinas will not face charges because the bicyclist was high on an illegal drug at the time and his bike had no working brakes, police said Friday.

The bicyclist, 33-year-old Rogelio Vasquez, was riding east on the sidewalk on East Market Street near Kern Street at 2:09 p.m. on March 26 when truck driver Anthony Martinez made a right turn in front of him in the driveway of a Shell Gas station, officers said.

Vasquez then went down onto the pavement and the rear tires of the truck ran him over. He suffered major internal injuries and died later at Natividad Medical Center, according to police.

An investigation, including an autopsy by the Monterey County coroner’s office, determined that Vasquez had a high level of methamphetamine in his system when the collision occurred, police said.

An examination of his bicycle, which was not damaged at all in the crash, found that it had no functioning brakes whatsoever and so Vasquez was forced to lay the bike down to try to avoid the crash, according to officers.

Sgt. Gerald Ross said that at first police suspected that Martinez made an unsafe turn, but later found he was not negligent enough to file charges.

Since the bike’s brakes did not work, Vasquez clearly was unable to stop, Ross said.

“The brakes is what really did it,” he said. “He (Vasquez) just slid away from the bike and got run over.”

Vasquez, who was “very high” at the time, also should have known to be more careful when riding on a sidewalk, he said.

The Salinas Police Department’s traffic unit concluded that Vasquez was most responsible for the crash because he was driving under the influence of methamphetamine and had no functioning brakes prior to the collision, police said.

Police decided there was not enough culpability on the part of Martinez to charge him with a crime.

The investigation took some time to complete as police waited for the results of toxicology tests on Vasquez’s body, Ross said.

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