Tragedy struck the Redlands Bicycle Classic on Monday morning when a rider who was previewing the stage 1 time trial course died after colliding with a vehicle that turned in front of him. Tate Meintjes, 19, was pronounced dead at Loma Linda University Hospital, according to a statement the race released late on Tuesday evening.
Meintjes, who rode for Team California, was with a group of riders who were previewing a downhill section of the out-and-back course the day before the race, starting with a descent on Sand Canyon Road outside of Redlands in southern California. Meintjes collided with an automobile when the vehicle's driver turned suddenly into his path. Meintjes suffered major injuries when he crashed through the vehicle's window. An emergency room doctor who was riding her bicycle nearby was quickly on the scene and administered CPR before Meintjes was transported to the hospital.
The California Highway Patrol told the Redlands Daily Facts that Meintjes was following a Honda Accord that was travelling in the same direction when the crash occurred.
"The Honda made a U-turn directly into the path of the cyclist and the cyclist crashed into the Honda," the CHP said. The crash was reported at 10:52 a.m., according to the CHP.
Meintjes, of Reno, Nevada, started racing mountain bikes in 2013 and excelled as a junior, winning the Pro XCT race in the 17-18-year-old category in Fontana in 2017 and then following it with third in the Pro XCT in Bonelli. His results garnered the attention of USA Cycling, which sent him to the Canada Cup later that year.
He joined California's Bear Development Team in 2018 and enrolled at the University of Nevada in Reno to study mechanical engineering. Meintjes took up road racing at the end of last season and joined Team California this year, most recently finishing third in the Bariani Road Race in Zamora, California.
Team California will take to the start line on Wednesday for stage 1 on the time trial course where the crash occurred. Meintjes' parents drove from Reno to Redlands at news of their son's crash, and on Tuesday evening asked the team to continue with the race. Team California will use the hashtag #ridefortate throughout the event.
"We are absolutely heartbroken by the tragic collision that occurred Tuesday," said Marc Shaw, president of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. "The cycling community is a very tight knit one, so the loss of such a talented, young cyclist is being felt across all cycling disciplines. The race committee is working closely with our entire field of talented athletes and support staff to ensure they are receiving the assistance they need during this difficult time."
Tuesday's fatal crash was the second instance of a cyclist dying in a crash in San Bernadino County, California, this week, according to the Redlands Daily Facts. A 13-year-old boy died on March 11 when he lost control of his bike, police say, and fell into traffic. The Redlands Bicycle Classic also experienced tragedy in 2015 when racer Erica Grief died in a car crash while driving from Reno to Redlands for the start of the race.
This is the second death to rock the US cycling community in recent days after it was reported over the weekend that Olympic silver medalist and three-time Team Pursuit world champion Kelly Catlin, 23, died in her Stanford dorm on Thursday.
A friendly reminder to our community and friends to please watch out for cyclists this week when driving on our roads. Give them plenty of space when passing, and overall please be aware of your surroundings. Thank you! #redlandsClassic— Redlands Classic (@redlandsClassic) March 12, 2019