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Laguna Niguel man dies in traffic collision in Newport Beach over weekend

A traffic accident occurred on Saturday night at 34th Street and Balboa Boulevard in Newport Beach.
A traffic accident occurred on Saturday night at 34th Street and Balboa Boulevard in Newport Beach. The accident resulted in the death of Benjamin Gusenkov, 25, of Laguna Niguel.
(Courtesy of Lisa Townsend)

A traffic collision Saturday night in Newport Beach left a Laguna Niguel motorcyclist dead after he collided with a BMW sedan.

Newport Beach police said they responded to reports of a downed motorcyclist at around 7 p.m. in the area of 34th Street and Balboa Boulevard. Officers arriving on the scene saw a man lying in the roadway unresponsive and attempted to perform life-saving measures. But the man, identified by the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office as Benjamin Gusenkov, 25, was declared dead at the scene.

The cause of the collision is under investigation, according to department spokeswoman Heather Rangel.

Neighbor Lisa Townsend said she had thought the accident was the sound of a car backfiring and that she didn’t hear any screeching, but she saw civilians gathering on the street when she stepped outside her second-story home on 34th Street to see what had happened.

Newport Beach resident Shari Kenefick was heading to Ho Sum Bistro on Newport Boulevard with her husband when, she said, she saw two motorcycles “screaming” past other cars in her rear-view mirror. She said she thought the motorcyclists were police officers because of their high rates of speed.

“They were going so fast. I could not tell you what the motorcycles looked like,” said Kenefick, adding that she saw the lights of a Huntington Beach police car shortly thereafter.

Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Carey confirmed that an officer of the department was in Newport Beach and called in the accident at the time it happened, but the officer was not in pursuit of the motorcyclist involved.

Carey said the officer had been conducting radar surveillance on Pacific Coast Highway when he saw a motorcycle unrelated to the accident speed past. The officer followed to conduct a traffic stop, turned on his lights and pursued the motorcyclist into Newport Beach.

When the Huntington Beach officer witnessed the accident, he stopped following the unrelated motorcyclist and put out a call for help to Newport Beach police, Carey said.

Kenefick said she kept driving after letting police pass her until “everything stopped,” and she saw the stopped motorcycle and a car that had spun around on the street. Later she saw police caution tape in the area and learned of Gusenkov’s death.

County authorities said Monday an autopsy on Gusenkov was planned.

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