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  1. #1
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Frame Builder killed in accident. Reportedly at fault.

    Im not familiar with this guy's work, but Tom Bruni was killed in an accident with a mini-van. This happened close to my in-laws, where I do have occasion to ride. I've never had a problem riding there, very rural, country roads with hills and turns. I don't know that I'm familiar with the intersection, but being familiar with the area I suspect that Bruni rode the route daily and rarely encounters traffic, so he was lax.

    Linky :

    Baltimore man dies when bike hits van outside Westminster
    By A Sun Staff Writer
    Originally published July 10, 2005

    A Baltimore bicycle builder died yesterday afternoon after his bicycle struck a minivan in Carroll County, state police said.

    Just before 3 p.m., Thomas J. Bruni, 54, of the 2000 block of Sylvan Ave. was riding south on Halter Road approaching Stone Road, about four miles north of Westminster. At the same time, a 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport minivan was traveling west on Stone Road, approaching the same intersection.

    State police said that the minivan passed through the intersection and was hit by the bike. Bruni had failed to halt at the stop sign, according to authorities.

    Bruni was taken to Carroll Hospital Center, where he was later pronounced dead. Five passengers in the minivan were taken to the hospital with minor cuts and abrasions.

    Bruni owned Bruni Bicycles, police said, where he designed and built mountain, road and tandem bicycles.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  2. #2
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Another article

    Bike maker dies

    By Janie Fichter, Times Staff Writer Sunday, July 10, 2005

    Thomas James Bruni, 54, of Baltimore, died after he collided with a van while riding his bicycle on Stone Road in Pleasant Valley Saturday.

    Bruni was riding one of the bicycles his Baltimore company designs.

    At 3 p.m., Bruni was traveling southbound on Halter Road, approaching the intersection of Stone Road.

    Bruni collided with the passenger side of a 1998 Pontiac Trans Sport Van, driven by Michael Gooch, 38, of Westminster, that was traveling westbound on Stone Road, just as it crossed the intersection. Bruni didn't stop for the stop sign, according to the Maryland State Police report.

    Bruni was wearing a helmet, police said.

    Following the collision, Bruni was taken to Carroll Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.

    At the accident scene, Therese Spadaro, Bruni's wife, was questioned by police but kept walking over to her husband's mangled bike, which lay in a grassy shoulder of Stone Road next to a cornfield. She would hunch over the bike, crying, from time to time.

    Bruni was the owner and designer for Baltimore's Bruni Bicycles, which makes tandem, road and mountain bicycles. The bikes range in price from $1,000 to nearly $6,000, according to the company's Web site.

    Five people in the van were taken to the hospital with minor cuts and abrasions: Wendy Gooch, 39, Isaac Gooch, 6, and Abigale Gooch, 3, all of Westminster; and Margaret Gooch, 80, and Carmen Gooch, 68, both of Palm Coast, Fla.

    Bruni was an active member of the Baltimore Bicycle Club, according to friend Peggy Dymond, of Aberdeen.

    "Tom was a very important member of the BBC," she said. "He will be thoroughly missed."
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  3. #3
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    In Houston, when a cyclist is killed by a motorist, the police close the investigation after talking with just ONE witness, the motorist. And, the death is ALWAYS the fault of the cyclist. And, of course, the cyclist's version will never be heard.

    A REAL investigation would involve trying to locate other motorists who witnessed the collision, and interviewing people who live near that intersection. Dozens of people interviewed over a period of days or weeks. Won't happen. He was JUST a cylist.

    A very sad day for Tom Bruni's family and friends.

    www.brunibicycles.com

  4. #4
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    You know, your worldly views from Planet Houston are getting tiresome. I know 2 of the resident state troopers there, and they are anything but complacent in any investigation. I'm shocked to learn that the famous Houston chivalry wouldn't have lead to someone getting their butt kicked. Maybe the 80 year old. If one road has a stop sign and the other doesn't, and there's a head dent in the side of the minivan, the investigation wouldn't be all that tough, would it? I don't know any of that of course, but I do know that the area is very rural, and again there isn't likely to be heavy traffic at 3 p.m. It's farm country. There is likely only physical evidence, not witnesses. While tragic, it was more than likely Bruni's fault.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  5. #5
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    My apologies. I don't mean to sound so rabid. I posted this because it is a tragic death of a cyclist, and as reported there is probably something for all of us to learn. I know the area, it's not heavily traveled. I've ridden a lot of the area but not through this intersection. Between the reports and what I know, I have speculated that Bruni went through the intersection, not expecting traffic because he normally doesn't see any there. That's an easy correction for a cyclist to make if we are willing to look at the accident from an objective viewpoint, rather than from a cynical viewpoint where the motorist is always at fault, and the police don't care.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  6. #6
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    A REAL investigation would involve trying to locate other motorists who witnessed the collision, and interviewing people who live near that intersection.
    How do you know that this has not taken place?

    He was JUST a cylist.
    Pulling out the strawmen a bit early aren't we?

  7. #7
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I know people like to blame the victim a lot, but there are times when it truly is the cyclists fault.
    But w/o knowing exactly how it happened, I don't see how slamming into the side of a van can completely kill someone, unless they were dragged under or actually hit by the van first.

  8. #8
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    I know people like to blame the victim a lot, but there are times when it truly is the cyclists fault.
    But w/o knowing exactly how it happened, I don't see how slamming into the side of a van can completely kill someone, unless they were dragged under or actually hit by the van first.
    Headfirst into a solid object at, say, 25mph? I'd say that runs a pretty good chance of being fatal.

    What I find interesting is that all five occupants of the van had minor injuries. I wonder how that happened?

  9. #9
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    It's quite hilly in the area. This is just a little south of Gettysburg, think hilly farm country. Roads tend to be in good condition, and you want to take advantage of downhill runs when you can, since cross roads are often along a valley. Meaning you are going into the valley, cross, then going up. I suspect that when he hit the van, or the driver saw him coming, he tried to evade and ended up in the ditch himself.

    I'm headed up to the in-law's tomorrow night for a couple of days, just to satisfy curiosity, I will go check the scene out and report back. Also see if I can find out any other information regarding the investigation and circumstances of the accident.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  10. #10
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    Headfirst into a solid object at, say, 25mph? I'd say that runs a pretty good chance of being fatal.

    What I find interesting is that all five occupants of the van had minor injuries. I wonder how that happened?
    Well, assuming the van crumples and the bike crumples, that absorbs a lot of impact, most people, when they run into a solid object, usually hit with their front wheel first.
    Last year I flew into a trench in the road at around 20mph, flew off, and landed on my head, cracked a rib, was able to ride to work and continue a full working day.
    I wouldn't say completely fatal, maybe 50/50.

  11. #11
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    Without seeing the crash area, this is purely speculation, but speculation from an officer who has investigated dozens of fatal crashes over my 15 year career as a police officer. A bike with enough speed can do considerable damage to another vehicle. I've seen a motorcycle T-bone a car with so much force it embedded the motorcycle rider half way into the car and flip the car onto its top.
    I am sure the passengers in this crash were injured by flying glass and other debris. Also, in a crash it is usually the sudden stop that kills a person. I've investigated several crashes where the crash was not that bad, but the sudden stop tore an aorta and the person bled to death internally prior to any medical help arriving. Also, if the car had the right of way and the bike ran the stop sign, sorry, but Bruni caused his own death.

  12. #12
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sentinel
    I've seen a motorcycle T-bone a car with so much force it embedded the motorcycle rider half way into the car and flip the car onto its top.

  13. #13
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    Looked pretty much like that, except the rider was still in the riding position while embedded in the car. This picture shows exactly what can happen in a crash.

  14. #14
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    This accident happened on a Baltimore Bicycle Club scheduled ride with a cue sheet. I know the ride leaders and have had communications with them since the accident. Nobody has disputed the official version of the accident.

    The injuries to the passengers in the van could have happened if the driver of the van slammed on the brakes or swerved suddenly and slammed on the brakes to attempt to avoid the collision. Maybe the passengers did not have seatbelts on.

    It's very sad. Tom was renound in the area for his 'open' tandem frames (no lateral tube) that utlized oversized stainless steel tubing.

  15. #15
    But Getting Smaller Bigmark's Avatar
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    Well, assuming the van crumples and the bike crumples, that absorbs a lot of impact, most people, when they run into a solid object, usually hit with their front wheel first.
    yes, but what you are forgetting is the van is also moving.
    Yes if the vehicle was stationary the crumple zone will give some protection. When the vehicle is moving and the bike and vehicle are absorbing impact the cycles momentum shifts from a straight to an angled movement swinging the bicycle’s rear end towards the rear of the vehicle, while the cyclist tends to continue forward. This puts the cyclist behind the area where the vehicle and the bicycle absorb the impact, and bad things happen there. This is where the metal is crumpled, and crumpled metal tends to be more ridged than smooth metal. It is the cyclist hitting this that is bad.
    ~~"Get on your bikes and ride!"~~
    Working to be JustMark

  16. #16
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    I'm not aware of this being an organized ride, nothing was reported to that effect, but since Galen is closer to the area full time than I am I defer to his knowlege of that.

    Now, I do know a couple of things. The van was hit in the side. I visited the site today. Stone Road, along which the van was travelling, is 40 MPH speed limit, and curves in the road kind of limit speed, especially in a mini-van with old folks in it. Where Tom was coming from is a short but steep downhill run to the stop sign. There are corn fields on both sides, making Stone Road disappear completely to the right, from where the van came, and only a small portion to the left visible. Coming to the stop sign, you can't see past the corn until you are maybe 15 feet from entering the intersection. I was there at 1:30 in the afternoon, and there was not traffic at all.

    There are three facts in this case that I believe are beyond dispute:

    1. Tom blew the stop sign
    2. Blowing this stop sign, with zero visibility, is insane
    3. This was a tragic accident, and the cyclist was clearly at fault.

    We can take some valuable, maybe life-saving lessons from this. Never assume that traffic patterns will remain constant. Visibility means a lot, if you don't have it, don't risk it. Sometimes experienced cyclists make mistakes, and they can easily be fatal.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  17. #17
    Headed to the Library... DC_Emily's Avatar
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    so sad to hear. god bless.

  18. #18
    ...until I can ride again killingtime's Avatar
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    Another article in "Baltimore Sun"

    Thomas J. Bruni, 54, designer and builder of customized bicycles



    By Frederick N. Rasmussen
    Sun Staff

    July 15, 2005

    For nearly two decades, Thomas J. Bruni quietly designed and built bicycles in his Hamilton home - innovative mountain, road and tandem bikes that were highly sought after by riders.
    "They were completely unique, fast and beautiful bikes. Tom was a custom fabricator, who would meet you, measure you, and fabricate out of a few pounds of steel tubing some of the best bikes on the planet," said Phil Feldman, who owns three of them. "Bruni Bicycles are a common sight in Baltimore, and his customer base extended across the country and even to Europe."

    On Saturday, while riding one of his bikes, Mr. Bruni was injured in a collision with a minivan at an intersection near Westminster and died at Carroll Hospital Center. He was 54.

    Mr. Bruni who was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., attended City College of New York during the late 1960s.

    "He was such a city boy that he thought that trees grew between the concrete cracks in the sidewalk," said his wife of 16 years, the former Therese Spadero, a Baltimore County public school teacher. "He came to Baltimore on a train with his bicycle in the early 1970s. He knew it was a good place to come because he liked the small-city aspect that Baltimore offered."

    A master welder, Mr. Bruni held a succession of jobs - among them building ships at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point yard, teaching welding and sheet-metal working, and service technician for Electric Motor Repair Co. He also taught math, physics and electronics at area community colleges and Anne Arundel County public schools.

    In 1990, he went into business for himself with the start of Bruni Bicycles.

    "Riding bikes was a lifetime passion. His philosophy was that he wanted to enjoy riding and not get burned out or obsessive about it. When he was riding, which was sometimes three times a week, some days he'd go 30 miles and then there were rides of 100 or 150 miles," Mrs. Bruni said.

    "His forte was designing and building bikes, and he also loved trouble-shooting and finding solutions for mechanical and design problems," she said.

    "His belief that he could build the 'better bike' drove him to start expanding his craft of building his own bikes to help others get more out of their lives," said Larry Black, a longtime friend and owner of College Park Bikes and Mount Airy Bikes. "He was never afraid to try new things or reinvent old ideas to make them better."

    Mr. Bruni fashioned his bikes out of British-made steel tubing rather than the more popular aluminum, carbon fiber or titanium, and they weighed no more than 17 1/2 to 23 pounds. He patiently catered to every whim and need of the purchaser.

    Every floor in his Sylvan Avenue home seemed to contribute some vital process in the assembly of the bikes, whose prices ranged from $950 to $4,500. Articles published on his Web site extol his "suspension bicycles" that ride smoothly, despite bad road conditions, and even make railroad tracks "almost cease to exist."

    "When he custom-made a bike for you it took several months, and no two were ever the same," said Debbie Taylor, who has ridden more than 6,000 miles on her Bruni bike. "He was an eccentric and a genius, a real out-of-the-box guy."

    "He was outspoken, and he'd definitely tell you how it was. He'd answered the phone, 'Bruni,' and after 30 or 40 seconds, would say, 'I gotta go. I've got lots of work to do.' And it was always A-plus work," said Bobby Phillips, a longtime friend and local bicycle racing legend known as 'The Baltimore Bullet."

    Mr. Bruni was always on hand to lend his bicycle-repair expertise at races. He also provided engineering expertise for several human-powered, all-terrain vehicles for the American Visionary Art Museum's annual spring Kinetic Sculpture Race. One of them included the elaborate and fanciful "Cirque du Sore Legs" circus train that provided a dramatic rescue in the 2004 race after the pedal-driven engine separated and the cars carrying costumed riders drifted away off Canton Waterfront Park.

    "The 15-mile race is on land, water and in sand, and he certainly raised the bar for us," said Theresa M. Segreti, the museum's director of design and education.

    "Tom loved bicycles - their efficiency - and the fact they were affordable transportation for almost anyone, and the absolute joy of descending a twisty tree-lined road at 40 mph or more," Mr. Feldman said.

    "There will be no services because he believed in the Church of the Spoked Wheel. He'd say that every Sunday when we were out riding, taking in the countryside," Mrs. Bruni said.

    Other survivors include his mother, Celestina Bruni, and a brother, Steve Bruni, both of Fort Myers, Fla., and several nieces and nephews.



    Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

  19. #19
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    >A very sad day for Tom Bruni's family and friends.
    >www.brunibicycles.com

    Yes it has been some very sad days. I consider myself lucky to have been able to work in his shop for a year, building a tandem with him in between his paying projects.

    Please, let the speculation go. I spoke with Therese on Tuesday and she said that Tom had been dropped by the faster riders and there was no one there to see it, but that there was no reason to believe anthing but the account given already. I like to believe that Tom was just a little more tired than he should have been resulting in a momentary lapse of judgement. I prefer to ignore the suggestions that he "blew" the stop sign, at least on purpose. But that just makes it easier for me.

    Telling my 2 1/2 year old that Mr. Bruni won't be at his shop any more was hard. Knowing that he won't receive the same well rounded education that I did is harder. A trip to Tom's shop, or his adjoinging living room, was a learning adventure - politics, physics, sociology, physiology, psychology, metallurgy, engineering, nutrition, even music appreciation... sometimes he learned a little from me, but mostly I learned from him. Unfortunately, I didn't go visit the shop as often as I now wish I had. Distance, school, work, home, projects...

    Tom has been described elsewhere http://www.bike123.com/Tom%20Bruni.htm (sorry, it's a retail website, but as Therese said, "What Larry wrote was beautiful") with much more eloquence than I could ever achieve.

    Some have said Tom was opionionated. What makes Tom stand apart in my mind was that despite being opinionated, he chose to socialize with a very diverse community with vigor. He would listen to your point of view, disagree with it and give you facts as to why he did, then he'd move on to another subject as if he had never disagreed. He was an American in the truest sense - the freedom that we all share to disagree and discuss topics freely he thrived on. You could be his friend, his customer, his colleague, AND his polar opposite. Too few people in this country and world seem to have that ability. Our politicans on all sides could have learned something from Tom.

    Tom was one of the most giving individuals you could ever meet. He volunteered on many local bike events as a mechanic and often ended up doing full tune-ups on bikes he had never seen before just because he wanted to see someone ride a little easier and enjoy the sport he loved a little more. I am sure that he took me on as apprentice not because he thought I would be good help or because I made him work more efficiently but because he loved teaching people his craft. And because he liked people and collaboration. The ideas were all his, but bouncing an idea around in someone elses head helped him to fine tune it... it was almost like he just had to hear himself say it... like tuning a piano... if he worked alone it would be like tuning the piano without hearing the tones.

    We should all be so fondly remembered by so many people.

    Ride safely

    -Ken

  20. #20
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Ken, thank you for your personal insight. Please do not take my comments about the accident as being disparaging toward Tom Bruni, I did not intend that feeling at all. I posted this and approached Tom's accident because it did seem fairly clear that this was not a case of "road rage" from a "cager" as so many here like to refer to motorists, nor does it appear to be carelessness on the driver's part. It appears that Tom made a mistake which he tragically gave his life for. I assumed that he rode in the area often, and it sounds like he did not. Having visited the site of the accident, and knowing the direction that Tom approached the intersection from, it's entirely possible that he was experiencing "the absolute joy of descending a twisty tree-lined road at 40 mph or more" except that it was cornfields rather than trees. The cross road really isn't visible, and neither is the stop sign, until you are very close to it, due to the corn, the descent, and a curve in the road shortly before the intersection. In any case I just wanted to share the accident, hoping to inspire people to ride more carefully. I'm sorry for your personal loss.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

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