Cyclists set memorial for fallen Fil-Am biker

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 07 2012 02:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 07 2012 10:55 PM

MISSION HILLS, California - The mood is somber at the Fix Fixie bike shop in Mission Hills as the bicycle community mourns 18-year-old Filipino American Jerico Culata who died in a fatal bike crash on Friday night during the monthly Critical Mass bicycling event.

Cyclists remember him as a young man that did a lot for the cycling community.

“You can see the pictures on Facebook and everything. Everyone showed love. It got better, just because of him. He’s something else. If you don’t know him, it’s really sad because you didn’t get to meet how great he was. He was great, you wouldn’t anything bad to happen to anything to anybody,” said friend Kirk Orellana.

According to police, Culata had lost control of his bicycle as the group of 700 riders made their way down a hill on Friday night. Culata crashed into a wall and was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center.

Since 1992, 300 cities worldwide have participated in the monthly Critical Mass movement which celebrate the bicycle culture as well as raise awareness of bicycle use.

Orellana said the Los Angeles ride is usually easy, family-friendly and on flatland. However he said the route was changed that night to include the hill, on which Culata lost control.

Reports said several other bikers had also fallen while going down the same hill.

“Any ride, they don’t want to take people down hills, because we have little kids that are 14, they just ride. They don’t want to see people get injured. I don’t know why they changed that route,” said Orellana.

The community remembers the recent high school graduate as a bicycle enthusiast that volunteered to build the Fix Fixie shop earlier this year, creating a space for bike enthusiasts. He volunteered at the shop, fixing bikes, and organizing rides.

“Jerico did a lot for the biking community. He built this shop, from start. From a little store that was a smoke shop before, a little tattoo shop to the greatest bike shop ever. We got so much people that come here all the time just to hang out, just right here,” recalled Orellana.

The Los Angeles Police Department could not be reached for comment. Culata’s friends, many of whom were among the 700 riders that night, are still traumatized by the incident.

They organize a memorial ride for Culata with 300 people over Labor Day weekend. Culata’s serviced are scheduled next week.