Modesto bicyclist remembered as 'gifted teacher'

The Modesto cyclist who died Tuesday in Santa Rosa was a physical education teacher for a charter school district that serves minority students in the Central Valley.

Ruben Hernandez, 37, had been a teacher for six years at Aspire Rosa Parks Academy and Aspire River Oaks Charter School in Stockton.

"He was an extraordinarily gifted teacher who inspired students to do their personal best," said Mary Welch, superintendent for the 13 Aspire Public Schools in the Central Valley. "He was warm, kind and caring. He really had a crusade to improve children's lives."

Hernandez was in Santa Rosa to attend an Aspire Schools conference and was staying at the Fountaingrove Inn, less than a mile from where the crash occurred on Fountain Grove Parkway.

An avid cyclist, Hernandez was riding west on Fountain Grove about 7 a.m. when a pickup driven by Adam Bigham, 22, of Sebastopol turned left in front of him heading toward <HY0>Thomas </HY>Lake Harris Drive.

Hernandez, who was riding at the speed of surrounding traffic and may have been going as fast as 40 mph on that steep stretch of road, hit the pickup cab and died at the scene, police said.

Preliminary indications of an autopsy held Wednesday are that he died of head injuries, Sgt. Rich Celli said.

Celli said Bigham was on his way to work in construction when the collision occurred.

He described Bigham as cooperative and said there were no indications he was driving under the influence or distracted by a cellphone.

"He was not impaired, totally cooperative and has a valid driver's license," Celli said.

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