By Chris De Benedetti and Doug Oakley
BERKELEY — A 43-year-old Oakland man suspected of running two bicyclists off the road this week was arrested Friday on felony hit-and-run and drug possession charges, police said.
Berkeley police found Michael Medaglia, who was on parole in connection with an earlier incident, at the Jack London Inn in Oakland after Oakland police found his car, which Medaglia had reported stolen Wednesday, some time after the cyclists were knocked off their bikes on Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Medaglia is the registered owner of the vehicle involved in the collision with the cyclists, police said. Police did not release the make or model of the car.
Berkeley police arrested Medaglia in his hotel room on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, heroin possession, a felon in possession of ammunition and violating parole. He was on parole from a 2010 case for possession of a switchblade, police said.
The hit-and-run incident was caught on video by one of the victims’ helmet-mounted camera. The video was posted Thursday on YouTube by someone named only as “Bruno” and has received tens of thousands of hits and several pages of angry comments.
Berkeley Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood said the two cyclists were hit by a car that veered into them on about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. They were slightly injured and treated on the scene by the Oakland Fire Department, but did not require hospitalization. Their clothes and bikes “were significantly damaged as result of the collision,” Greenwood said.
In the video posted online by Bruno, the bicyclists are knocked down after they are hit from behind by a dark-colored car that veers right and off the roadway, but keeps going after the crash. On his YouTube page, Bruno wrote: “The guy did not stop! He ran away!”
ABC 7 identified the cyclist as Brazilian racer Bruno Gregory; attempts to reach him through YouTube weren’t immediately successful.
“It’s a horrific video,” said Dave Campbell, program director of the Oakland-based East Bay Bicycle Coalition. “It’s a very rare occasion where a car comes up from behind and hits a cyclist.”
Campbell said the accident highlights the need for a bike lane in that area, an idea that Caltrans and the cities of Oakland and Berkeley have been working on.
“That road is close to the highway and motorists tend to speed up when they get there, as they get ready to get on the highway,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to get a bike lane there.”
Still, the bike lanes can only do so much, Campbell added, noting the fatal April 7 crash in Concord in which a father and daughter were killed after being struck by a vehicle while riding bicycles on a sidewalk.
“Bike lanes won’t stop a motorist who veers out of their lane,” he said. “No amount of engineering is going to stop the kind of reckless driving like we saw in Concord.”
Campbell said the top three type of bicycle-car crashes involve turning movements in an intersection; incidents where a motorist park a car and then opens a door, striking a bicyclist passing by; and when a bicyclist rides on the wrong side of the street.
Much further down the list is being struck from behind, as depicted in the video, he said.
“This one, as horrific as it is, is much rarer,” he said.