Weather, road conditions contributed to cyclist death

A ghost bike and memorial for bicyclist Joseph Hurlimann are seen on Sacramento Street, near Ada Street, in Berkeley, on Friday, March 3, 2017. Hurlimann, 78, was killed when his bicycle and a vehicle crashed on Feb. 8. Photo: David Yee

The car crash that killed a 78-year-old Berkeley native on his bike last month was caused by neither speed nor impairment, authorities said Thursday, about five weeks after the fatal collision took place.

“Poor lighting, rain, and a wet roadway” were the contributing factors in the crash that killed Joseph Hurlimann, said Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel, in response to a Berkeleyside query.

The collision report is slated to be complete this week.

Frankel said the crash, which took place Feb. 8 just after 7 a.m., involved a Toyota Prius and a cyclist near Sacramento and Ada streets in North Berkeley.


The Prius was traveling northbound on Sacramento, above Ada, when it collided with the cyclist who was heading westbound, Frankel said. The cyclist died from traumatic injuries at the scene.

A memorial service for Hurlimann took place last week, March 9. A “ghost bike” has been set up at the scene of the crash, along with additional memorial notes and stories for Hurlimann.

Berkeley resident Chris Lull, one of the first on the scene of the crash, who tried to help save his life, went to the service after learning about the event on Berkeleyside.

“I was glad to get to be there and to hear about his life from the people close to him,” Lull said. “He was really a remarkable fellow, the kind of person that makes Berkeley the wonderful place it is.”

Remembered fondly by all who knew him, he grew up near University Avenue and Curtis, and was still living in his childhood home when he died. Hurlimann had three degrees from UC Berkeley and worked for more than 60 years at Truitt & White, the family-owned building materials business opened in 1946. “He liked us and we liked him,” the company’s CEO, Dan White told Berkeleyside last month. “It was always a kick to have him around.” Read more about Hurlimann and his life.

Jeanne Gray Loughman, whose family knew Hurlimann as fellow parishioners at Saint Joseph’s, said there was a good chance Hurlimann was on his morning ride to Monterey Market, “where he’d pick through discarded produce.”

“When I lived nearby, I’d see him over there early in the morning,” she said. “He had a rickety bike for years, and when my Dad died in 2006, Mom gave him Dad’s much better bike that Dad rode all over Berkeley for years.”