December 20, 2013

A man was killed on Monday while riding on the 91 freeway in Riverside when a suspected drunk driver smashed into him from behind.

The victim has been identified as 25-year-old Mark Esparza of Rialto. According to the California Highway Patrol he was riding westbound in the center-lane on his 2005 Yamaha when he was struck from behind near Central Avenue in Riverside.

CHP Officer Travis Monks says that the driver of the other vehicle has been identified as 23-year-old Monique Elisa Johnson. Apparently she failed to see the victim slowing down.

Monks says that the Mazda's collision with the motorcycle caused "the rider to become ejected onto the roadway".

After hitting the rider, Johnson then fled the scene. A short time later she was found and arrested in the city of Riverside. She is not reported to have sustained any injuries.

Esparaza however was rushed to Riverside Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The charges against Johnson include gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run. The day after being booked into the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning she was released on $75,000 bail.

This story is a nightmare for responsible riders. We like to believe that as long as we keep our eyes open down the road we'll be able to avoid deadly scenarios like this one, however sobering cases like this remind us otherwise. Johnson villainized herself by driving drunk and fleeing the crash scene but we must remember that she isn't a special case. Everyday drivers hit the roads under the influence, putting other drivers and most specifically riders at risk.

We wish for a solution to guard ourselves against this type of tragedy, but all we really have is a perpetual and militant awareness on the roads along with higher visibility for ourselves and our bikes. This could be louder pipes, brighter lights, high-vis clothing or any other single or combination of means. Additionally, when riding on the roads at night always keep in mind the context and who you might be sharing them with. The Riverside motorcycle lawyers here at RiderzLaw offer our deepest condolences to those affected by this tragedy, and beg our readers to please be safe out on the roadways.