Bicyclist dies days after being hit by suspected drunk driver

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, May 23, 2021

Mark Osborne

A ghost bike set up as a memorial for Mark Osborne near the site of the accident. (Courtesy Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition)

One of two bicyclists struck by a suspected drunk driver on May 12 in unincorporated Sebastopol has since died, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer David deRutte.

Fifty-three-year-old Mark Osborne, from Santa Rosa, was hit by a driver headed north on High School Road who lost control and collided with a 12-year-old boy and then Osborne while riding along the right shoulder of the road, deRutte said in a May 21 interview.

The officer said he does not yet know the cause of Osborne’s death nor the exact timing, but that it was “a bit unexpected” and that he believes Osborne died at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. A May 13 press release from the CHP said both bicyclists and the driver were taken there after the crash.

According to deRutte, the child has since gone to Oakland’s children’s hospital, now known as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Both Osborne and the 12-year-old bicyclist suffered major injuries, but the officer said he did not know the specific details.

The suspected driver of the Ram Rebel, named by deRutte as 27-year-old Ulises Valdez Jr., of Sebastopol, also suffered major injuries, including damage to his back, deRutte said.

Valdez was arrested the night of the crash for a felony DUI at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, he said, although his extensive injuries led authorities to transfer his custody to the hospital.

deRutte said Valdez was discharged from the hospital in the last couple of days, and though he is not in the county jail, he remains under arrest. The initial felony arrest did not involve fatalities, he said, “so, now there’s going to be additional charges, after Mr. Osborne passed.”

Osborne and the 12-year-old bicyclist did not know each other, deRutte said, and Osborne had been ahead by roughly 50 feet when the crash occurred.

Valdez was driving northbound and lost control on a left curve on High School Road, first hitting a 12-year-old bicyclist riding along the right shoulder that the car careened into, a May 13 CHP press release said.

According to Santa Rosa CHP, he was traveling “at a high speed” when approaching the bicyclists. The local CHP officers responded to the crash on High School Road, south of Gaye Road, at about 6:01 p.m. on May 12.

Next, the Sebastopol driver re-entered traffic and then the right shoulder again where he collided with Osborne before driving off the road and crashing into a utility pole and tree, per the press release. Valdez was discovered to be under the influence of alcohol, the press release said.

The Santa Rosa CHP requested that those who may have seen the crash “or the events leading up to it” contact the office at 707-588-1400.

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