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Old 01-08-09, 03:45 AM   #1
Blue Order
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Inattentive driver kills San Diego cyclist

RANCHO BERNARDO: Cyclist hit by car was retired Navy captain, avid athlete

By SARAH GORDON - Staff Writer | Wednesday, January 7, 2009 6:08 PM PST ∞

A 55-year-old Rancho Bernardo bicyclist who died after a car hit him on Sabre Springs Parkway on Tuesday evening was a retired Navy captain, a family man and an avid athlete, friends and family said Wednesday.

Walter Carl Joller Jr. was nearing the end of his 55-mile bicycle commute from the Point Loma area of San Diego, where he was a program manager at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, when the fatal accident occurred.

A BMW drifted into the bike lane and struck him from behind, severing one of the experienced cyclist's legs and causing other serious injuries, San Diego police Sgt. Jeff Fellows said. Paramedics were unsuccessful in their attempts to save him.

On Wednesday, Joller's wife of 31 years, Susan, was not ready to talk publicly. But friends and extended family who gathered at Joller's Rancho Bernardo home on Calle Suntuoso recalled him fondly.

"He was a fun guy to be with; he was positive, jovial and ebullient," said close friend Mike Wertz, a retired Navy commander from Rancho Penasquitos who said he had known Joller for more than 30 years and served with him in five different commands.

Joller was a captain and flight officer last assigned to the Tactical Training Group Pacific in San Diego when he retired from his 30-year career in 2005, Navy officials said.

Wertz said Joller's chief concern as a Navy officer was the well-being of his sailors.

"He was in it for the people," Wertz said. "His mantra was that he could improve the Navy by improving the lot of its people."

Joller was raised in Buffalo, N.Y., and lived there before attending the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and spending most of his career in San Diego, Wertz said. A star athlete in high school, Joller remained in top shape his entire life, running, cycling, and playing tennis and racquetball.

But he was the opposite of a cut-throat competitor when it came to friends, Wertz said.

"He was a fun guy to run with; he'd stay with you whether you ran a 5-minute mile or a 9-minute mile," Wertz said.

For decades, Joller competed in marathons, including the Athens Marathon in 1979, Wertz said. About 10 years ago, he gave up distance running because of knee troubles, but he continued cycling.

Joller talked about cycling in a 2003 USS Nimitz newsletter story on the ship's cycling club:

"I am a HCC (Hard Core Commuter)," Joller said. "I bought a new bike in the late '70s during the gas crisis. I didn’t want to stand in line for gas, so I commuted to work. When we’re in port, I commute 58 miles round-trip two to three times a week. That’s why I ride. I am a commuter first, a social rider second. The people, the fun and the love of the sport keep me going on rides."

Sister-in-law Sally Fluernoy of San Diego said that in recent years Joller had taken pleasure in supporting his children's athletics.

He would ride his bike alongside his 26-year-old daughter, Emily, as she trained for marathons, and he traveled all over the country to cheer her on at races, she said. He also attended his 23-year-old son Erik's college volleyball matches.

His love of family and friends was his hallmark, she said.

"He was certainly the energy at any gathering; he hugs, he laughs, he plays ---- he loves babies," she said.

Fellows, the San Diego police traffic sergeant, said Joller was wearing a reflective vest and helmet when the crash occurred about 7:15 p.m. Friends said he also used illuminated flashers on his bicycle. The BMW's driver had not used alcohol or drugs and the accident apparently was caused by inattention, Fellows said.

"This is just an example of how important it is to keep your mind on the road," he said.

Police will forward their traffic investigation to the San Diego city attorney, who will decide whether to file misdemeanor manslaughter charges against the driver, Fellows said.


Police did not release the driver's name Wednesday.

The family said donations may be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in lieu of flowers.

Contact staff writer Sarah Gordon at (760) 740-3517 or sgordon@nctimes.com.
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Old 01-08-09, 04:08 AM   #2
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It's so tiring seeing 'wups lol' being a valid defense for stuff like this.
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Old 01-08-09, 04:14 AM   #3
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It's so tiring seeing 'wups lol' being a valid defense for stuff like this.
"I didn't see him" should be taken as an admission of negligence in a court of law.

Of course, that would mean a spike in the number of cyclists inexplicably "swerving" in front of all these suddenly attentive drivers...

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Old 01-08-09, 07:03 AM   #4
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it is sad news. i'm telling you
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Old 01-08-09, 09:19 AM   #5
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Reflective vest and flashers, and still the motorist hit him.

Currently the police are considering a charge of "misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter."
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Old 01-08-09, 12:43 PM   #6
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Reflective vest and flashers, and still the motorist hit him.
Tuesday was my first night out with my new reflective vest. I still managed to get left-crossed near the end of my commute. Collectively we were going about 5 m.p.h. which made it easy to stop, but makes it even more absurd that the lady didn't see me. I should have had my front light flashing instead of on steady.

Exactly 2 months until Daylight Time kicks in. Ride safe everyone.

It's a damn sad day for this man and his family. Condolences.
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Old 01-08-09, 12:52 PM   #7
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I think the nation needs to have a serious discussion on what is the proper action.

Clearly our nation is failing to protect cyclists by allowing motorists to walk away from it all.

My heart goes out to the family I can't imagine the frustration I would be feeling.
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Old 01-08-09, 02:23 PM   #8
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I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of not being too draconian with people who do this. To me, loss of their drivers license is appropriate. They've demonstrated the lack of ability to simply look out the front of their vehicle. People manage without cars.
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Old 01-08-09, 02:23 PM   #9
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I think the nation needs to have a serious discussion on what is the proper action.

Clearly our nation is failing to protect cyclists by allowing motorists to walk away from it all.

My heart goes out to the family I can't imagine the frustration I would be feeling.

I have to agree..... this is a nightmare situation for a cyclist... here he was a long time cyclist, so not likely to have been riding in an unpredictable manner... and he had blinkies, and a reflective vest and was riding off the main traveled way in a bike lane, and yet he was still hit by a motorist.

Locally there was a bit of a brief discussion suggesting that the cyclist could have yet protected himself by "dynamic lateral lane positioning," but hell if a sober motorist can't avoid a lit up cyclist on the other side of a well demarcated white line... there is a far far bigger problem.
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Old 01-08-09, 02:46 PM   #10
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I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of not being too draconian with people who do this. To me, loss of their drivers license is appropriate. They've demonstrated the lack of ability to simply look out the front of their vehicle. People manage without cars.
The problem is too many people can't imagine "managing without cars", and even taking away their license is often not enough to prevent them from continuing to drive.
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Old 01-08-09, 02:48 PM   #11
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I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of not being too draconian with people who do this. To me, loss of their drivers license is appropriate. They've demonstrated the lack of ability to simply look out the front of their vehicle. People manage without cars.
I think it would be fair to expect a large civil settlement in this sort of case. This doesn't bring the man back, but it should now be the BMW driver's responsibility to makeup for the financial aspects of the loss of this family's father. And I think him having to take a bus for the rest of his life would be very appropriate punishment.
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Old 01-08-09, 03:00 PM   #12
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I'll bet a cell phone was involved; but, it will never be admitted to.....
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Old 01-08-09, 03:01 PM   #13
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Clearly our nation is failing to protect cyclists by allowing motorists to walk away from it all.

By failing to take automotive negligence and crimes seriously, our society is failing to protect all citizens - cyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers.
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Old 01-08-09, 03:18 PM   #14
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Clearly our nation is failing to protect cyclists by allowing motorists to walk away from it all.

By failing to take automotive negligence and crimes seriously, our society is failing to protect all citizens - cyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers.
Amen.
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Old 01-08-09, 03:19 PM   #15
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I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of not being too draconian with people who do this. To me, loss of their drivers license is appropriate. They've demonstrated the lack of ability to simply look out the front of their vehicle. People manage without cars.
I agree, and society should simply take away a persons gun, who inadvertently shoots someone to death, while mishandling said gun.
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Old 01-08-09, 04:47 PM   #16
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A couple things, a Navy Capt. is a pretty high ranking officer. Retired or otherwise, the guy had a distinguished career obviously and I mourn the loss of another fellow sailor.


The general response to this will be 'accidents happen' and the community will forget about it.

Sadly, taking away the driver's license doesn't fix the problem, nor rehabilitate them from their actions. It just makes them go a little out of their way to get a car and illegally drive it still, this time without insurance.
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Old 01-08-09, 05:44 PM   #17
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I'll bet a cell phone was involved; but, it will never be admitted to.....
Records will be checked... they have been in this area for other somewhat similar type situations.
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Old 01-08-09, 06:46 PM   #18
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It isn't too much comfort, but the wife of he Captain will surely take the BMW driver for all they are worth in Civil court.
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Old 01-08-09, 06:56 PM   #19
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It isn't too much comfort, but the wife of he Captain will surely take the BMW driver for all they are worth in Civil court.
Sure hope so... too bad however that the grieving widow has to go through all that...
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Old 01-08-09, 11:27 PM   #20
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"A BMW drifted into the bike lane and struck him from behind..."
At least he felt safe while riding in the bike lane.
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Old 01-08-09, 11:29 PM   #21
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"I didn't see him" should be taken as an admission of negligence in a court of law.

Of course, that would mean a spike in the number of cyclists inexplicably "swerving" in front of all these suddenly attentive drivers...
"SWSS" -Single Witness Suicide Swerve.
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Old 01-09-09, 12:12 AM   #22
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I think him having to take a bus ... would be very appropriate punishment.
That's it! Wow, I am truly amazed. All these years I've been riding the bus and wondering what it is. I am in your debt for eternity. You have shed sooooo much freaking light on my situation. When I am on the bus - I'm being punished.

Wow it is such a relief to finally know why it felt so weird.

Now, can you please tell me what I and all the other people who regularly take the bus are being punished for?
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Old 01-09-09, 12:19 AM   #23
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...inattention
Secret code for TEXTING.
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Old 01-09-09, 03:03 AM   #24
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Secret code for TEXTING.

Yeah I'm seeing alot of this activity , A women in her car passed us last year, texting away, she must have drifted a good ten feet across the highway when she was in front of us.

I see tons of it at junctions. FFS pull over! What makes these texters so fr*ggin important that they have to communicate with someone when driving? It drives me crazy.
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Old 01-09-09, 08:15 AM   #25
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texting is an addiction. I've seen it. We told my daughter she was costing us $50 a day, and she had to stop until we could get her an unlimited plan. She didn't stop. Fortunately for my daughter, my wife pays the bills and she's a softy.
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