A man died after a motorcycle crash Saturday during a fundraising ride to help two Los Banos police officers injured in a shooting.
California Highway Patrol officers responded at about 12:50 p.m. to the crash involving two motorcycles on Highway 59 at Reilly Road, Sgt. Steven Lewis said.
After talking to people taking part in the ride – which was traveling north on Highway 59 – the CHP determined that one of the lead riders in the group had braked for slowing traffic, Lewis said.
That rider lost control of his motorcycle, which fell down, Lewis said. Another motorcycle with two riders was unable to stop in time and collided with the first motorcycle.
A man and a woman riding on the second motorcycle were injured and transported to Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Lewis said. The male rider of the first motorcycle was transported to a Modesto hospital but died.
No information was released on the identities, ages or towns of residence of any of the victims.
Los Banos City Councilmember Deborah Lewis, who was representing the city and police department during the fundraising ride, confirmed that the crash involved members of the ride.
Deborah Lewis said the riders had split into groups and her group was ahead of the one involved in the crash. Several motorcyclists from her group pulled back to the scene of the crash when they received the call, while others continued on the ride.
They were not aware at the time that one of the riders had died, she said.
The ride was a fundraiser for Los Banos officers Kristifer Hew and Aaron Pinon and their families caring for them. The officers were responding to the Pacheco Village apartments in Los Banos on July 31 when they were shot by 39-year-old suspect Norberto Nieblas Reyes, who officials say managed to grab a gun from one of the officers.
The suspect was shot by one of the officers and killed during the encounter.
Pinon was shot once in the upper torso and Hew was shot three times, once each in the torso, leg and head, above an eye.
The fundraiser was set up by co-organizers Jesse Rodriguez, Monica Gallagher and Geneva Brett.
About 100 riders had gathered outside the Los Banos Police Department around noon Saturday, where Rodriguez, Deborah Lewis and others thanked them for participating and preached safety and caution.
The riders were expected to pass through Merced, Snelling, La Grange, Colterville, Oakdale and Turlock before making their way back to Los Banos for a dinner at the Los Banos Sportsmen’s Association.
Organizers of the ride couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday afternoon on whether the fundraising event was to continue Saturday evening.
This story may be updated with more information.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562