IRVINE, Calif. (BRAIN) — Some 200 to 250 cyclists and Southern California industry representatives turned out early Wednesday for a memorial ride and ceremony to honor Joseph Robinson, a local bike shop employee who was killed by a hit-and-run driver during a morning ride Sunday. He was 21.
Authorities found driver Sommer Gonzales about 15 miles from the collision scene Sunday as she and a friend were removing possessions from the damaged car. Investigators believe Gonzales, 18, was driving under the influence, and she was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. She was scheduled to be released from Orange County Jail today as authorities awaited blood test results, according to various media reports.
A student at Irvine Valley College in Orange County, Robinson had been working at Jax Bicycle Center in Irvine for only a few months but very quickly became part of the shop family due to his kindness and geniality, said sales manager Brian Covey.
“He was very, very soft-spoken—really a nice kid, an honest kid and very selfless. He was just an extremely smart, nice person to be around and he lifted the spirit of others through his presence,” Covey said.
Robinson worked on the sales floor at Jax, but he had also put himself through training at United Bicycle Institute before going to work for the retailer, and was poised for a larger role at the shop.
“We noticed he had a lot of talent both mechanically and sales-process-wise, so he was going to be a very valuable tool in our shop as kind of a hybrid wherever we needed him,” said Covey.
Riders from a host of Orange County shops and cycling clubs gathered early Wednesday at Jax in Irvine to ride about 10 miles—under escort from three separate law enforcement agencies—to the site of Robinson’s death on Santiago Canyon Road, where Jax erected a “ghost bike” in his memory. Irvine-based Shimano American provided a support car and representatives from Trek were also on hand.
Robinson took up cycling about three years ago, catching the riding bug from his girlfriend and her father, both of whom attended the memorial Wednesday along with Jax owner Dave Hanson and Robinson’s mother, Valerie DuBois.
“The way his mom describes it,” Covey said, “it was something to kind of earn some brownie points with the girlfriend’s dad, but it quickly consumed his life and it became his passion. He lived, breathed and loved cycling.”