Monday, July 13, 2009

Joe Novotny, RIP

I just learned a friend and workmate was killed this weekend while riding his bicycle with his Santa Clarita Velo team in southern CA; hit and run by a drunk driver.
Joe was a hell of a good man. I worked with him quite a bit on a project when he was living in Belgium, and I always looked forward to seeing him several times a year when he came back to MPLS from his new home in CA. You are missed.

updated with photo and news link.

Motorist from Canyon Country gets 26 years to life in prison for killing Stevenson Ranch cyclist
A Canyon Country man who was on probation for two underage drunk driving convictions when he drove into a group of bicyclists, killing one, was sentenced Tuesday to 26 years to life in prison.
Marco Antonio Valencia, now 22, was found guilty in April of the July 2009 death of Joseph Novotny, a 43-year-old bicyclist from Stevenson Ranch.
Valencia, who was 20 at the time, drove his Ford F-150 pickup truck into a pack of four cyclists on Bouquet Canyon Road in the Santa Clarita hills. Novotny was killed and the other three riders were injured.
Valencia fled the crash scene and was arrested 90 minutes later by the California Highway Patrol. Three hours after the crash, his blood alcohol level was at .17 - more than double the legal limit, according to officials, who pegged his BAC at .23 at the time of the crash.
Valencia was convicted of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a .08 percent blood-alcohol level causing injury.
At the time, he was on probation for two misdemeanor DUI convictions, including one from a 2008 crash into a power pole in Canyon Country, which knocked out electricty to nearby homes.
Novotny had been riding down Bouquet Canyon with about 30 other bicyclists from the Santa Clarita Velo cycling club about 11a.m. on July 11, 2009.
The Minnesota native, who had moved to Stevenson Ranch the winter before to work as the general manager of a liquid-filtration company, was in a smaller group of bikers when Valencia came barreling down the two-lane road.
The truck threw Novotny about 20 feet, according to a witness.
"There was just this carnage of bikes," Bob Santaella, a fellow biker who came upon the group soon after, told the Daily News in 2009. "Joe was the first guy I saw. He never said a word. I knew he could hear me because I could see his eyes moving and he was breathing. I just asked him to hang on and wait for help.
"Joe took his last breath right in front of me."
A witness reported seeing Valencia's truck weaving up the road for several miles, crossing over into the opposite lane, running into a chain-link fence, and nearly sideswiping a car.
Novotny has since been honored with a cross that the cycling club's members placed at the crash site.


Vito Altieri said...


Sorry about your freind Joe. I was riding with him that morning talking about the tour and how come their weren't any decent Belgium riders anymore, how are riding styles were similar, etc. I turned around a little early from the group ride and was shocked to here about it. Didn't know him long but he seemed like a hell of a great guy. We are going to miss him out there.

mark e said...

Joe and I go back a ways. Sold him his first road bike in 1988. We started riding and racing together from then on. Was my best man at my wedding. Devestated by the phone call yesterday. He was a great riderand a great friend.

He could climb like a madman. He would rub it in on the climbs and ride alongside and torment me mentally. Then he knew he needed to make a gap before the top I would torment him on the flats. It was always a challenge to to draft behind him he was 5'5" 140lbs I go 6'1" 175 lbs. Joe "little wind block" Novotny. Many good times and conversations were shared on the bike.

Mark Ebner

bikinginla said...

Mark, sorry for your loss. Having lost a close friend myself recently, I know how devastating it can be. My heart and prayers go out to you, and all those who cared for him.

Jen Andersen said...

Hey Mark Ebner and other riders.....I stumbled upon this blog and wanted to extend my thoughts to you with the loss of our friend Joe. PJ had many a great rides with Joe and Mark and the other MPLS riders during his/our years out there. I will cherish the Cable, WI memories and the Fat Tire Races, amoung the other numerous races that Joe conquered!
Hope you are doing okay Mark and just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you this week!
Take Care
Jen & PJ

j f metz said...

I just found out about Joe yesterday. We were roommates for four years in college and had a lot of great times. He always had a one-of-a-kind sense of humor and we shared a lot of laughs back in the day. I don't recall us ever having harsh words with each other, and I'm not an easy man to live with.

Joe and I got back in touch a couple years ago and kept in touch with email. I was planning a cross-country motorcycle trip this summer, and when he told me he was moving to L.A. we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to meet up and catch up.

I was planning on seeing him next week. Then I got the phone call yesterday. I hadn't seen him since 1991, but that didn't make the news any easier to take.