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Cyclist, former SDPD helicopter pilot hurt in Point Loma hit-and-run crash

Cyclist, former SDPD helicopter pilot hurt in Point Loma hit-and-run crash
Posted at 4:55 PM, May 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-01 20:06:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A former San Diego Police officer and helicopter pilot of out of the hospital, and asking for help finding the hit-and-run driver who seriously injured him during a bike ride.

A Ring camera captured the moment a white pickup struck cyclist Tristan Gonzalez, 51, along Catalina Blvd, leaving him yelling in pain.

It happened two Thursdays ago, during rush hour. Gonzalez was an hour and a half into a bike ride, and not far from home.

Gonzalez says near Narrangansett Ave., he suddenly saw a truck driving very close to him, so close it tapped his handlebars.

With the truck stuck behind a car, Gonzalez says he looked inside but the driver wouldn't look at him.

Gonzalez kept going, and a few blocks away, near Bernice Drive, he heard a horn honking behind him.

“I hear him speed up, just had time to look, and see it was the truck. I saw his hands on the steering wheel. He just turned suddenly. He just cranked it hard right, and I knew it was coming,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez says he was hit, went flying, and landed on his back. Moments later, a car came around a curve.

“The bumper hit my helmet, made that scrape sound, lifted, dropped over me. Now I see the tire coming. In my head, my next thought is, ‘This is how I die,’” said Gonzalez.

Amazingly, the tire would stop just before going over his head. But Gonzalez would not escape unscathed, suffering a fractured clavicle, hip and a collapsed lung.

Gonzalez, a former helicopter pilot for San Diego Police, retired from the department last year after 23 years.

“I don’t believe it was an accident. I believe it was intentional, the fact he went out of his way to catch me, to get me,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who once helped in searches for hit-and-run suspects, is now hoping tips will track down the driver who hit him.

“He needs to be caught. He’ll do it again, and next time, someone could die,” said Gonzalez.

The suspect is described as between 30 and 50 years old, wearing a baseball cap. Gonzalez says the truck is a newer white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with an extended cab.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.