Mike Harris | Ventura County Star
September 20, 2011
Rick Fish, senior pastor of Live Ride Christian Church in Simi Valley, remained resolute in his faith Monday even as he mourned a weekend motorcycle collision on Highway 33 that killed one of his flock and injured three.
“Bad things happen to good people all the time,” said Fish, whose congregation caters to motorcyclists, although not exclusively. “And I know God has not left his place of being in control. His ways are harder to understand than we can even fathom. ”So none of this says, ‘Bad God,’ ” he said. “This says that we live in a world where bad stuff happens.” Killed in Sunday’s head-on crash on the scenic highway popular with motorcyclists was church elder Gary Shanks, 54, of Simi Valley, president of the church’s Live Riders ministry. Injured were congregates Charles Garcia Jr., 61; Arthur ‘Tudy’ Lara, 51; and Lara’s wife, Bonnie, 43. All are Live Riders from Simi Valley.
Also killed was Orlando Castellon, 19, of Lancaster, who was pronounced dead at Ventura County Medical Center. Jeffrey Granados, 25, of Sun Valley was riding with Castellon’s group and also was injured.
The California Highway Patrol said the crash occurred about 12:30 p.m. when Castellon, riding southbound with a group of younger riders, lost control of his motorcycle while speeding, crossed into opposing traffic and slammed head-on into
See MOTORCYCLE, 2A
Shanks, who was riding north with his group of older riders.
The crash in a rural area between Lockwood Valley Road and Pine Mountain Summit in Los Padres National Forest caused a chain reaction that injured the four other motorcyclists. Fish was at the church and not among the riders.
“The serendipity of the moment,” he said, “that they would be in that curve as those four bikes came over the line, you know, it’s one of those things. I guess the best thing to say is, ‘When it’s your time, it’s your time.’ ” He said Shanks typically took the lead on rides. But at the time of the accident, Shanks had the misfortune of dropping back to the third slot, where Castellon slammed into him, Fish said.
Fish, refusing to point the finger at Castellon, said the teen’s death was equally tragic.
“I remember when I was 19 and bulletproof and thought I could do anything,” Fish said. “You know, that kid’s dead.”
Sunday’s deaths were just the latest in a series of motorcycle fatalities on Highway 33. Three people were killed in two accidents there April 17. In response, the California Highway Patrol said it would increase enforcement on the highway north of Ojai.
The deaths bring the number of motorcycle fatalities in the county this year to at least 15, according to preliminary data compiled by the county coroner’s office. Eight people were killed in motorcycle accidents in the county in 2010, coroner’s officials said.
A Los Angeles-based motorcycle expert witness from Expert Witness Solutions has traveled on Highway 33 many times, said Monday:
“It’s a place that’s known for riders to test their skill limits. And Sunday’s collision is the result of someone failing that test. IT’S UNFORTUNATE THAT THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY OF RIDERS WERE IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME AND WE’RE SUBJECTED TO A FATAL EXPERIENCE BY AN IRRESPONSIBLE RIDER,” HE SAID. FIRESTONE SAID THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE RIDERS – “THOSE THAT HAVE GONE DOWN AND THOSE THAT ARE GOING DOWN. AND I WOULD SAY THAT IN MY OPINION, A LOT OF THESE YOUNG RIDERS HAVE NOT GONE DOWN, AND THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND FATALITY.”
Fish said his congregation planned to hold a service Monday night to remember Shanks.
“Everybody’s in mourning,” he said. “Everybody’s sad. We’re getting together so we can mourn together.”
Staff writer Adam Foxman contributed to this report. | Ventura Star