Boyfriend blames pickup in Sebastopol woman's cycling death
A Santa Rosa man blamed the driver of a pickup Sunday for a crash that killed his girlfriend as the two pedaled their bicycles a day earlier near Windsor.
Andy Dean said he was riding ahead of Amy Suyama, 55, of Sebastopol, on Saturday as the two participated in the annual Tour de Fuzz cycling event on Eastside Road. Dean said he looked up to see a pickup barreling toward them after passing a slow-moving grape truck.
At first, Dean said, he thought the driver, Courtney Rudin, 72 of Healdsburg, would fall back because there didn’t appear to be enough room to get by.
But Dean said Rudin accelerated instead, sideswiping him near the shoulder of the road and knocking him off his bike. Suyama was struck either by the truck or by Dean and his bicycle, and thrown to the ground, he said.
“I saw him coming,” said Dean, Suyama’s boyfriend of more than a year. “He had a big dualie truck. There was just nowhere we could go.”
Suyama, an organic produce distributor, briefly regained consciousness but died in the ambulance outside Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
The Maine native and Sebastopol resident of more than 30 years left behind her mother, five siblings and two dogs. She was a caregiver for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease who lived on Suyama’s Elphick Road property, friends said.
“She was the most amazing and beautiful human being I’ve ever known,” said Barbara Iannoli, a longtime friend.
A memorial is being planned for about a month from now, she said.
Rudin, who stopped after the crash, was not cited. The Eastside Road resident could not be reached Sunday night.
CHP Sgt. Jason Bahlman said it was clear Rudin caused the crash. An investigation was ongoing to determine what exactly happened and if he would be charged with a crime.
“He was legally passing in the sense that he was allowed to do so,” Bahlman said.
Suyama was an avid cyclist who rode her bike three times a week, friends said.
She and Dean signed up for the 60-mile leg of the Tour de Fuzz, a fundraising ride benefiting the law enforcement chaplaincy.
Suyama and Dean had completed about 45 miles of the route when the crash happened shortly after 11 a.m.
It was along a stretch of road with many other riders and cars driving slow, Dean said.