On January 31st, 2010, former professional road cyclist and Grass Valley area resident Jim Rogers was struck and killed by an SUV on Highway 174 whilst out for a recreational morning ride. The driver, Patricia Hernandez, was charged with vehicular manslaughter, and her trial begins in early May.
Rogers was riding on one his most beloved routes, the scenic and winding road that connects Grass Valley and Colfax when the Ford Explorer approached from behind and hit him, knocking him off his bike. He suffered severe head injuries, despite wearing a helmet, and died in hospital shortly afterwards. He left behind a wife and two children.
Rogers raced professionally in the 1980s, dominating the popular Nevada City Classic as a member of the PenVelo team. He became quite famous locally, and was considered one of the finest, most aggressive and talented riders ever to come out of California.
Rogers’ widow, Carolyn, has continued advocating for greater car/bike relations in the year since her husband’s death, calling for a focus on the dangers of distracted driving. Authorities prosecuting Hernandez suspect she may have been using a cellphone while driving, which accounted for her failure to avoid colliding with Rogers.
A memorial fund has been established in honor of Jim Rogers, with proceeds to go to college tuition for his son, Nate. You can view the memorial and donate here.