The driver of a vehicle that crashed into five cyclists and caused major injuries to at least one of the riders near Hopland on Friday evening was arrested at the scene on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the CHP.
Gabriel Ray, 18, of Ukiah was driving a 1996 Honda Accord northbound on Old River Road about 10 miles north of Hopland when he slammed into the cyclists one at a time as they rode in a line close to the edge of the roadway, officials said. A passenger in the Honda, Timothy Elliott, 42, also of Ukiah, was arrested on a felony warrant.
The victims were identified as Mark Clifford, 60, of Los Altos; Michael Sokolsky, 53, of San Mateo; Laura Stern, 52, of Menlo Park; Lawrence Sokolsky, 54, of Portola Valley; and Deborah Banks, 57, of Sacramento.
According to a CHP report, Ray exited a curve in the road and struck the rear of Banks’ bike. CHP Sgt. Lanika Lee said Ray was traveling at approximately 40 miles an hour.
Banks hit the windshield of the Accord and was thrown to the shoulder of the road. Ray continued driving, plowing into each consecutive cyclist, according to the CHP.
Lee said the cyclists were in close proximity to one another and that the Accord hit one after the other, with no significant “time lapse” from one impact to the next.
As the vehicle hit Stern, she became stuck on the hood, eventually falling off and becoming trapped underneath the car. Lee said it was unclear how long Stern was dragged under the car.
She said that Ray’s car traveled about 300 to 400 feet from the moment Stern was struck till the point when she ended up trapped under the car.
Hopland firefighters freed Stern from underneath the car, and she was flown to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major injuries. The other victims were taken by ambulance to Ukiah Valley Medical Center with minor to moderate injuries.
Stern was in serious condition Saturday, said Katy Hillenmeyer, a Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital spokeswoman. The other four riders were all in stable condition and some had been released from the Ukiah hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Bruce Scott, a friend of Stern, said she is an avid cyclist who rides four or five times per week. She was in Hopland with Clifford, her companion, and the couple was training for a long-distance bike race in France.
“She’s a delightful person,” Scott said. “So generous and nice. It was crushing news to hear that she is injured.”
Originally from Boston, Stern works for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Scott said. Stern and Clifford spend three weeks every year cycling around Europe, Scott said. They had recently returned from a cycling trip in Spain.
The incident happened at 5:10 p.m. at 6210 Old River Road. The scenic road along the Russian River and through vineyards is popular with cyclists.
CHP officials said Saturday they still were trying to piece together details about the collision from interviews with the cyclists and that the investigation is ongoing.
CHP Sgt. Lee said she didn’t know if Ray had ever been arrested for driving under the influence.
Staff Writer Martin Espinoza contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MattBrownPD.