Drunk Driver Crashes Into Three Cyclists, Killing One. Arrested on ‘Suspicion of Murder’

Especially after the events of last Friday, it’s always a sobering moment when you read about cyclists being killed by drunk or otherwise reckless drivers.  However, in this instance there is a silver lining to the tragedy; for once the driver is being charged with murder and not a lesser assault charge as we see all to often.

From the Santa Clarita Signal:

“It appears the drunk driver ran into a group
of bicyclists that were riding in the canyon,” said Sgt. Brian Allen of
the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “Two of them were injured
and taken to the hospital, and one additional bicyclist was killed.”

The dead cyclist was identified as Joseph Novotny, 43, of Stevenson Ranch….

Valencia’s pickup truck allegedly crossed the
double yellow lines, traveling into the southbound traffic lane toward
a group of cyclists, including Novotny. Valencia’s truck allegedly
struck three of the riders and continued northbound, leaving the scene
of the collision, according to a CHP news release. Valencia also
allegedly sideswiped a Hyundai; the driver was uninjured….

Valencia, who was suspected of driving under
the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, was arrested and taken to the
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to be booked for investigation
of several felony charges, including murder, driving while under the
influence and/or drugs causing death and hit-and-run causing death, the
CHP report said.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the Novotny family.  If you know anyone who has a problem with drinking and driving, alcoholism treatment can help.

  • DJB

    This is very sad. Drunk driving is deplorable.

    It makes me wonder whether it is better to have cyclists in bike lanes in the street, or in bike lanes on wider sidewalks. I know this happened in a canyon which probably had no sidewalks, but in general wouldn’t it be safer to widen sidewalks and designate areas for bikes on the sidewalk than to have bikes attempt to share space with vehicles that weigh hundreds of kilograms?

  • Hellfire

    what a compete piece of shit. someone wipe his fucking ass across the concrete. fuck him up and shoot out his knee caps so he cant ever drive again.

  • Neil O

    Responding to DJB: The problem with that approach is that pedestrians, motorcyclists, and other drivers also get injured in accidents. Not just the bicycles. So if the solution is segregation then one could also argue for segregation of many other categories of vehicle, which is infeasible.

    We can’t separate everyone from anything that might cause them harm.

    Seems to me accidents aren’t *caused* by bicycles and cars sharing the road. Accidents are caused by poor visibility, poor judgment, acting erratically or unpredictably, operating a vehicle while impaired, unaware of the law, inconsistent enforcement of the law, unsafe speed limits, poor road design, insufficient signage… I would begin by addressing these factors in a way that benefits safe travel for all types of vehicles.

  • DJB, there’s is no protection from a drunk driver.

    I’ve seen collisions — I won’t call them “accidents” — in which a drunk driver has struck someone after crossing barricades, as well as jumping the curb and hitting someone on the sidewalk. In fact, one of my best friends in high school was killed by a drunk who somehow managed to jump a 20-foot median on an Interstate highway and hit his car head on.

    The only solution is to identify these drivers and get them off the streets before they kill someone. Instead of a temporary suspension, their licenses should be taken away permanently unless they can offer proof of sobriety. And no one, anywhere, for any reason, should ever get another chance after a second violation.

  • angle

    Another comment for DJB:

    Despite the occurrence of horrific collisions like this one (often involving drunk drivers), It is actually safer for cyclists to use the street rather than the sidewalk.


  • DJB

    Angle –
    That’s a good link.

    Remember though, my idea isn’t to say, get out of the street and ride on inadequate sidewalks, my idea is to extend sidewalks out into the street and mark off a portion of them as bike lanes (probably on the left) and extend the curb cuts to accommodate them, this would address the issue of poor visibility for cars that are trying to turn right. It wouldn’t address the problem of not having enough time to stop as cars pull perpendicularly through. As a countermeasure, bikers should ride more slowly when they ride on the sidewalk.

    As nice as it is to say that bikes have a right to the street, which they do, I wonder how many cyclists in the end will avail themselves of that right. Even when there are bike lanes, there is no guarantee of safety from inexperienced, reckless, irate, or preoccupied drivers who decide to cross that solid white line.

    It seems like there’s debate out there on how best to improve conditions for cyclists. I’ve heard some who don’t like bike lanes because they think cyclists should be more aggressive in asserting their rights to regular lanes and that bike lanes may seem to imply that they are the only allowable places to ride (bike lanes vs. “car lanes”).

    I dunno, I’m open to lots of ideas, just wanted to throw that out there. Just remember (as I’m sure you know) the average Joe is scared sh*tless to ride in the average street, and not without cause.

  • Neil O

    DJB: It’s a fair point. I’ve commuted to work by bicycle for 8 years and not without accidents (knock on wood!) It’s easy to see how less experienced riders would and should be apprehensive.

    Strategic use of bicycle lanes or separated paths may help, and I’m for them as long as they aren’t the whole solution in the eyes of the local government. It shouldn’t promote the average driver to conclude: “those are the only valid place a bike can be”. You know, like how many drivers assume bicycles should be on the sidewalk even without the special treatment you’ve described.

  • angle


    It also seems to me that the safety issue is the most-cited problem when people are asked why they won’t ride bikes for transportation. However, I do think a lot of this fear is psychological. As a comparison, about 12,000 people in the U.S. are injured or killed every single day in car crashes, and, apparently, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of thirty-four. Those are pretty stunning statistics, yet I’m not aware of many people who completely refuse to drive primarily for safety reasons.

    My opinion (borne out by some personal experience) is that it’s safest for bicycles to ride in the street as part of traffic, and that increasing numbers of cyclists on the streets, a slowly changing car culture and some creative street engineering can help to mitigate both real and perceived safety issues.

  • Shelley Armas

    My husband was killed on PCH while riding with my son by a drunk driver….My pain is unimaginable and I feel for the other families. My life will never be the same, but my son was not killed or left a para or quad….please pray for us… Shelley Armas

  • Vic

    Mrs. Armas, I was riding on the same ride as your husband and son, and was only a few minutes behind them when they were hit. The same drunk driver probably passed us just moments before. I just wanted to say two things.

    First, how sorry I am for your loss. Rolling up on the scene is a nightmare that I won’t soon forget.

    And second, how much I admired both your husband and son for being out there riding together. Some day, I hope to follow their example and do the same with my son.


A reckless rider pleads guilty to assault with a deadly weapon. But does that say more about the city that charged him than the cyclists that ride there?

Yes, bike riders are subject to the same laws drivers are. Maybe Santa Monica police and prosecutors wanted to send that message loud and clear. Maybe they wanted to make an example of one reckless cyclist so other bicyclists would straighten up and ride right. But to do it, they slapped a reckless, red light […]