The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC) and VeloStreet, owners of Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo, are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information regarding a hit and run during the 2010 event.
King Ridge GranFondo rider, Anoush Zebarjadian, was hit during the 9 October event; the offending driver then fled the scene. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reached out to the two cycling entities for help after exhausting all leads in the investigation.
“When an investigation matures, the CHP will want to hear from the public, making a reward a really useful tool,” said Levi Leipheimer. “So, yes, I think that offering a reward, especially one from a community that's as charged as ours is about this situation, will help find the person responsible for the hit and run."
Zebarjadian was riding the King Ridge Gran Fondo when a maroon Ford Explorer allegedly struck him from behind with the side view mirror at 4:15pm on Graton Road in Santa Rosa. The driver had allegedly harassed cyclists along the event route previous to the incident.
Zebarjadian was taken to Santa Rosa Hospital with severe head injuries and was later transferred to a hospital in San Francisco. He is expected to make a full recovery.
“We’ve been interested in doing something since the day of the hit-and-run,” said Sandra Lupien of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. “We immediately notified our membership once we had a description of the vehicle and we [notified] our members that they should contact the California Highway Patrol with any information that they might have about the possible driver of the vehicle.”
The city of Santa Rosa located in Sonoma County is a well-known cycling destination for its warm climate and rolling vineyard backdrop. The SCBC has pushed for an effort to create a safer and more cycling-friendly environment through new bike facilities and infrastructure.
However, the some of the public hasn’t displayed the desired friendliness. Subsequently, SCBC has taken action against cyclist harassment through an online form that documents each incident and files the form to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
“Santa Rosa and Sonoma County generally has a very safe and bike-friendly exchange between cyclists and motorists,” Leipheimer said. “The GranFondo and other cycling groups are working with the City and County to improve bike infrastructure throughout our community, so it's going to get even better in the future. Just like everywhere else though, a few rotten apples ruin it for everyone and, as great as our area is, we're not immune to those people. As far as specific reports during the GranFondo, this is the only one that has surfaced in the two years we've run the event.”
According to a recent press release, anyone with any information regarding this incident can contact Detective Mike Phennicie or Sergeant Robert Mota at 707-588-1400 during business hours (M-F, 8-5 PST) or at 707-551-4100 outside of business hours.