Truck driver charged in death of bicyclist who was crushed by sliding shipping container

A truck driver has been charged with vehicular manslaughter after a shipping container slipped off his trailer and fatally crushed a bicyclist in 2015, prosecutors said.

Wesley Phil Blake, a 50-year-old Utah resident, was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty in the case involving the death of Robert Castorena, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He posted a $50,000 bond.

Castorena, 51, of Long Beach was riding his bicycle on Oct. 27, 2015, on Santa Fe Avenue along the Carson-Long Beach city border when the fatal accident occurred.

According to prosecutors, Blake was driving a truck with a flatbed trailer that was carrying the shipping container. At some point, the container clipped a railroad bridge north of the 405 Freeway and became loose.

As Castorena rode to the right of the truck, the container slipped off the trailer and landed on him, prosecutors said.

Deputy Geoff Lidman, an investigator with the traffic detail at the sheriff's Carson station, told The Times that authorities inspected the bridge and found scrapes underneath.

After the container struck the bridge, Lidman said, the force of the collision caused the fastening straps that were holding the cargo to break.

Blake told authorities he “thought the container was shorter than it was," the investigator said.

The truck belonged to Western Pride Inc. in Cedar City, Utah.

If Blake is convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA


UPDATES:

3:50 p.m.: This article was updated with Wesley Blake pleading not guilty.

This article was originally published at 1 p.m.

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