ICE holds driver in fatal collision

NEWPORT BEACH — An Anaheim man involved in a fatal collision with a bicyclist has a history of being ticketed for driving without a license and was previously deported by immigration authorities, police said Friday.

Jose Luis Huerta Mundo, 38, was being held in Orange County Jail without bail after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials ordered that he be held for possible deportation proceedings.

Court records show that in 1999, Mundo was convicted of driving with a suspended license and not having proof of insurance. In 2002, he was convicted of not having his license on him and a year later, for not having his vehicle registered. He was convicted two more times of driving without a license, in 2005 and 2006.

Mundo, a landscaper, was detained by Newport Beach police Thursday morning his truck collided with bicyclist Michael Nine, 43, of Santa Ana. Mundo was driving a white Chevrolet stake bed truck that collided with Nine, who was riding his bicycle near Spyglass Hill Road and Harbor Ridge Drive. Nine died from his injuries, and police are investigating what happened.

Federal authorities would not say if and when Mundo was previously deported, but a record of a past deportation showed up when officers verified his identity at the police station, said Sgt. Evan Sailor.

The area is frequented in the morning by cyclists who coast down the swerving, downhill street.

This was the third fatal bicycle-vehicle collision here in less than a year.

Darryl Benefiel, a 43-year-old bicyclist from Newport Beach, was killed July 23 in Newport Coast. Donald Murphy, 49, of Irvine, died from injuries Dec. 9 when he was rear-ended on Jamboree Road.

After Benefiel's death, the city created a task force to study bicycle safety in Newport Beach. The task force came back to the council in May with a list of recommendations to improve bicyclist safety and drivers' awareness of bike riders in the city.

Group members consider Thursday's crash a wake-up call to the city to do something about bicyclists and drivers, especially in popular biking areas like Corona del Mar and the Balboa Peninsula.

"I'm not sure anything we discussed in the task force would've prevented this," said group member Daniel Murphy. "Anytime a bike and a car tangle, unfortunately the car is going to be the victor. I do think what it does is bring back into focus how important bike safety is. Hopefully it'll jump start discussions."

Task force member Tony Petros agreed.

"Each situation has to be evaluated on its own merits," Petros said. "Right now we don't know whose fault it is. We don't even know if there's fault to be assigned."

He said the city could add street signs warning drivers about bicyclists, or add bike lanes among other things. But the city can only do so much, Petros said.

"We can plan and design but no amount of planning and design can mitigate the individual," he said. "Unfortunately, good planning and design can always be trumped by the individual, be it the cyclist or the motorist."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World