Anselmo articles back to

General Pecos Road Info: see Pecos Road Death Trap?


Nov 4, 2004 Crash occurs. Anselmo was bicycling westbound on the wide shoulder of Pecos Road around noon when he was killed instantly by 18-year-old Clinton Cabanillas, also westbound. No mention of lack of insurance or registration. (what did police do about it? Why not issue these on the spot? Why was it not reported?)
Dec 18, 2004 Ride of Silence. Well attended. Phoenix police provide escort. Everything went well.
Dec 22, 2004 AFN: combined article covering the ride of silence as well as results (which it turns out were not final) of Phoenix PD investigation: "Police have completed their investigation of the fatal accident and will cite the Ahwatukee Foothills man for failure to control his vehicle."
Mar 2, 2005 Reporting on the final finalality of investigation AFN said: "The teenager...will face a simple ticket for failure to control his vehicle and a second ticket for not having insurance." The marijuana tox results were considered too weak, and lack of witnesses preclude criminal charges according to Maricopa County Prosecutor's office.
Note, this is the first published reference to no insurance that I am aware of (supressed?)
Nov 4, 2005 1 year from from crash. This would be the deadline for Phoenix to issue civil traffic citations. (deadlines are specified in 28-1592; 60/90 days, or 180 if involving an accident, or 1 year if involving fatality)
Aug 9, 2006 AFN: In a long article, which annoyingly is not online, Doug Murphy reports that the tickets that were repeatedly said to have been issued were never issued due to an apparent bureucratic snafu by Phoenix PD -- and that since the 180 days had passed they could never be issued.
Note, this is the first published reference to no registration that I am aware of (? 21months later!)
Nov 2, 2006 AZ Republic story Widow sues over bicycling husband's death 2 years ago. New information (new to the public) continues to trickle out almost two years later -- the story refers to the uninsured, unregister vehicle that Cabanillas was driving when he killed Anselmo as a "work" truck. Implying what? Who actually owned the vehicle? (I got some information after the story was published that said the truck was supposed to have been owned by a company, Associated Painting Contractors, Inc., and loaned to a family member and in turn was loaned to Clinton. Though there appears to be some confusion about the ownership)

Police reiterate thay made a "mistake" but nothing further -- e.g.: are procedures and policies in place to prevent this sort of "mistake" from re-occuring?

Traffic citations, we were assured, were going to be issued:

"[Cabanillas] will receive a traffic citation for not controlling his vehicle, [Phoenix Police Detective] Morales said"
-- Pecos bike ride a salute in silence, Lindsey Collom
, The Arizona Republic, Dec. 17, 2004

"The teenager who struck and killed an Ahwatukee Foothills bicyclist on Pecos Road with his pickup truck will face a simple ticket for failure to control his vehicle and a second ticket for not having insurance"
-- Law limits penalty in bicyclist's death, Ahwatukee Foothills News, March 2, 2005

Below is a chronological (newest to oldest) list of most of the news stories and letters-to-the-editor that surrounded this long, sad story:

Widow sues over bicycling husband's death 2 years ago

Kerry Fehr-Snyder The Arizona Republic Nov. 2, 2006 12:00 AM

As the second anniversary of her husband's cycling death on Pecos Road nears, Rita Anselmo restored a roadside memorial to him and sued the driver responsible for his death.

Anselmo, whose husband, Don, 68, was struck by a truck two years ago Saturday, resurrected a larger, more noticeable memorial near 18th Street and Pecos on Wednesday to replace an impromptu memorial that fellow cyclists and witnesses had erected. The original memorial included a gear and a chain from Don Anselmo's bike with a sign reading "ride on."

"We did leave the original parts of the cross that somebody made," Anselmo said. "I have no idea who did it, but whoever did that I would like to thank them."

The new memorial features a large rock and a flagstone on which Anselmo chiseled her husband's name, the date of his death and a picture of a bicycle.

Anselmo said she was motivated to restore the memorial and file a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court in late October for different but equally important reasons.

"So far, I haven't been able to get the state or city to reopen the case, which they botched up in the beginning," she said. "I'm hoping this brings pressure."

Phoenix police investigators determined that the driver, Clinton Cabanillas, 18 at the time, wasn't speeding or impaired when he struck Anselmo who was on a daily bike ride. But they missed the deadline by about two weeks to cite Cabanillas for driving a work truck without registration and insurance after the Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to file criminal charges. [this is the first mention of the term "work", suggesting that the driver did not own the vehicle. Who owns the vehicle? (I got some information after the story was published that said the truck was supposed to have been owned by a company, Associated Painting Contractors, Inc., and loaned to a family member and in turn was loaned to Clinton. Though there appears to be some confusion about the ownership)]

"Where we made an error, there was a window of a few weeks to issue a civil citation," Phoenix police Sgt. Joel Tranter said. [Police reiterate they made a "error" but nothing further -- e.g.: are procedures and policies in place to prevent this sort of "mistake" from re-occuring?]

Anselmo said the error wasn't a minor oversight and has led to financial hardship, including the loss of her medical insurance and a reduction in pension payments for her husband, who was an electrical engineer.[The reference here to an "error" was to me a little confusing -- as though the lack of citations by police somehow caused Rita Anselmo financial hardship. The author of the article confirmed to me via email that there were indeed some editing problems]

"It threw my life totally in a tizzy," she said, adding that Cabanillas has never apologized or been punished for the accident.

"He had no conscience. The family or he have never said, 'We're sorry.' Nothing."

Cabanillas' mother, Lynn Shelton, said Wednesday that the family has been advised not to contact Anselmo.

"Due to lawsuits and how she feels, which is understandable, we cannot make any statements," Shelton said. "Any kind of expression of 'sorry' would be an admission of guilt."

There is no dispute that Cabanillas was responsible for the accident in which he hit Anselmo straight on.

Although Cabanillas tested positive for marijuana in his system, he passed several field sobriety tests, Tranter said. "There was no excessive speed. A drug recognition expert determined that there were no indications that the driver was at fault, except maybe for some inattention," Tranter said. [SOME inattention? My own amatuer crash reconstruction indicates nearly 30 seconds of inattention -- 50mph minus 15mph = 22fps. The sight lines there are loooong]

Shelton said the truck Cabanillas was driving was uninsured, preventing the family from filing an insurance claim with its own carrier. In addition, Shelton said, her son has a learning disability that prevents him from understanding certain concepts and words, but she said he never meant to hurt anyone. [this is also new news]

"Nobody knows what he's going through," she said.

Cyclist's widow wonders why there's no citation
Pain of '04 death lingers; husband was hit by truck
Kerry Fehr-Snyder The Arizona Republic Sept. 7, 2006 12:00 AM

The widow of a bicyclist who was killed in Ahwatukee Foothills nearly two years ago by a pickup truck cannot understand how the driver was not charged criminally.

Motorist Clinton Cabanillas was not cited for driving without registration and insurance in the November 2004 accident that killed Don Anselmo.

Anselmo, 68, was a retired electrical engineer who worked on the global Iridium satellite phone project for Bell Labs and on every Apollo moon shot project in the 1960s and 1970s.

Rita Anselmo would like her husband's accident case reopened and Cabanillas, 18 at the time, at least be cited for failing to control his vehicle and driving without registration and insurance.

But Phoenix police say there is little they can do at this point. A spokesman said the department would have cited Cabanillas but missed the window for such action by two weeks after the Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to file criminal charges. [ By my count (see timeline, above) eight weeks elapsed, but it doesn't really matter once the deadline has been blown ]

"I know this is a very touchy case," Phoenix police Sgt. Joel Tranter said. "Is this a tragedy? Absolutely, without a doubt it's a tragedy. In this case, he (Cabanillas) is at fault for the collision, there's no doubt about that. But he was going at a reasonable speed, within five miles of the speed limit, and there were no signs of impairment so it didn't rise to the level of criminal prosecution."

Cabanillas, who could not be reached for comment, tested positive for marijuana in his system, Tranter said. But Cabanillas passed several field sobriety tests showing that the drug did not affect his ability to drive.

Phoenix police decided to keep investigating the case before seeking criminal charges against Cabanillas.

"You don't issue any citations if you think there's a possibility of felony or criminal charges," Tranter said. "Otherwise, double jeopardy might come into play." [The "double jeopardy" explanation sounds more like an excuse -- certainly it would have no bearing on the no insurance and no registration citations??  ]

But Anselmo's widow doesn't buy that explanation.

"The thing that makes me mad is that this has all been my problem, it's not his (Cabanillas') problem," she said. "There's no remorse, nothing. All I heard from the police officer was, 'Poor Clinton, he was so visibly upset,' " she said.

Don Anselmo, who ran a small computer routing company in his retirement, reared six children and three godchildren. He also had eight grandchildren.

"He had done a lot of really neat things through his work," Rita said.

The accident occurred about noon near 18th Street and Pecos Road, a popular route for cyclists. Cabanillas drifted off the road and into the shoulder, where Anselmo was cycling.

According to police, Anselmo was thrown through the oncoming truck's window, dying instantly, and landed on the vehicle's floor.

A witness stopped and lent Cabanillas his cellphone to call police and report the accident.

A small roadside memorial with Anselmo's bike chain marks the site along the road's shoulder.

Written on the memorial are the words "ride on."

After the accident, Rita said she wanted to know one thing: "We kept saying. 'What about a ticket, what about a ticket, what about a ticket? "

She is not alone in her outrage, with the lack of prosecution worrying cyclists.

"There's no penalty, no liability. That would be horribly frustrating," said Brian Smith, a pilot for United Airlines who has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 18 years and rides Pecos Road every day when he isn't flying.

"I've been run off the road, honked at, thrown things," he said. "A lot of people just don't realize that a bicycle should be treated like a car. If there's not enough room to safely go around a bicycle, they (motorists) should just wait."

A month after the accident, Smith and other cyclists participated in a ride of silence in Anselmo's memory. The ride was designed to raise awareness about cyclists' rights, including that they are allowed 5 feet of usable roadway.

"It's shameful, I mean it really is," Smith said of the accident. "To think it was due to inattention is ridiculous."

Smith said he has noticed a lot of angry letters from motorists who resent sharing the road with bicyclists.

"But we're the ones out there every day dealing with it. People don't realize how close we are to getting hit, killed, maimed," he said.

August 9, 2006: Doug Murphy reports in AFN No penalty for fatal crash on Pecos Road that Phoenix PD neglected to issue the tickets (Failure to control, no insurance, no registration). The statute of limitations for issuing citations has expired (long since, apparently it is 180 days) so not only will there be no criminal charges, Cabanillas also escaped the tickets. Unbelievable

[ By the way: Lack of insurance ( 28-4135 and 28-4137 ) is a relatively serious infraction -- the penalty is a minimum $500 fine and a 3 month license suspension, for the first offense! A judge may waive or reduce the penalty but given the circumstances it seems to me that would have been unlikely ]

No penalty for fatal crash on Pecos Road

Local man died while bike riding in Nov. 2004. Doug Murphy, AFN, 8/9/2006 (not online)

It's been 21 months since Don Anselmo took his bicycle out for his daily ride along Pecos Road.

It was the last thing the retired electrical engineer, who worked on every Apollo space mission, ever did.

While riding west on Pecos Road, in the middle of the 8-foot-wide shoulder, around noon on a sunny November day in 2004, he was struck by an unregistered pickup truck with no insurance driven by Clinton Cabanillas, now 21.

According to the Phoenix police report, Cabanillas said he was tired, showed indications of recent ingestion of marijuana and was driving slightly faster than the speed limit.

But despite killing the 68-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills man, father of six and grandfather of eight, Cabanillas of Mesa walked away from the crash.

That's because the law says that unless there are aggravating circumstances involved including drinking or drugs, or excessive speed, that type of crash doesn't rise to the level of criminal negligence.

And detectives missed the deadline to issue Cabanillas a ticket after the county attorney's office decided not to file charges.

"We missed the window", admitted Sgt. Joel Tranter, a spokesman for the department.

"That is just absurd," said Rita Anselmo, Don's wife. "it's amazing that you can kill someone, not carry insurance and just walk away from it and not have a record."

Amazing but true.

And it happended time and time again in Arizona.


In June, Haluk Kandas, 29, of Ahwatukee Foothills, exited Loop 101 at Raintree Drive at between 60-70 mph and smashed into a van carrying the Walls' family to church. All four members of the family died in a fiery explosion.

Department of Public Safety detectives say Kandas was not impaired, although they are still investigation the case to see if charges can be filed.

In December 2004, Cherise Graham and her fiance and son were driving in Mesa when a 22-year-old drive through a red light, killing her fiance.

That driver had some traces of drugs in his system, but the Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute because, despite trace of drugs, it couldn't show the drugs resulted in impairment and Mesa police never issued any tickets in the case. [why not?]

To successfully prosecute this type of vehicular fatality, prosecutors must be able to convince the jury that the driver was impaired or acted negligently.

"There needs to be evidence of recklessness or crimnal negligence that can be proved in court beyond a reasonable doubt," Bill FitzGerald, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, explained last year.


Recklessness or criminal negligence would be driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, prescription medication or speeding, among other things, Tranter said.

"I can understand, they lost a loved one because someone wasn't paying attention; I can see that they are frustrated," said Tranter, who was a motorcycle officer for 12 years and investigated numerous crashes and collisions before becoming a spokesman for the department.

But he explained, a few miles over the speed limit, or trace amounts of drugs that a good defense attorney would argue had no impact on a driver, are not sufficient for the coutnty attorney's office to pursue a case.

"You must have impairment to successfully prosecute a case," Tranter said. [I'm going to assume that was a bit of a mis-quote -- it is flatly wrong as stated]

In the case of Anselmo, the Wall family and Graham's fiance, the drivers who killed them weren't what would be called drunk, high or speeding, so police and prosecutors had their hands tied as to what they could do.

Rita Anselmo has pushed friends to pressure the Phoenix police to take a second look at her husband's death, but, according to Tranter, the case is closed unless a witness comes forward.

"It was a thorough investigation by competent investigators," said Tranter, but added that "if a witness comes forward, yes, then we would look at it again.

"It's a tragedy," Tranter said, but "the facts have to speak for themselves".

For Rita, the facts do speak for themselves -- a driver with no insurance or registration veered onto the shoulder, killed her husband and walked away without receiving even a ticket.

"The whole thing is just maddening to me. There is no law." she asid last week.


  There is a discussion thread on the Arizona forum of (3/9/2005 letter)

Shining light on bicycle safety

Dear Editor:

This is in response to Ben Drabnis' letter in the Feb. 4 edition of the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He described a story of not being able to see cyclists at night and then ended the letter with, "Why can't regulations permit only daytime riding, or at the very least require lights front and rear plus reflective gear at night?"

Well Ben, the law does require lights. Arizona law 28-817 bicycle equipment states: A bicycle that is used at nighttime shall have a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a red reflector on the rear of a type that is approved by the department and that is visible from all distances from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear when the reflector is directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A bicycle may have a lamp that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear in addition to the red reflector.

As a cyclist, I can tell you I follow this law for my own safety as well as the safety of others. Cars turning left across the path of cyclists do not pay enough attention during the day. I cannot imagine riding in that situation at night without a light.

If you can still not see a cyclist when they are following this law, then you are most likely not paying enough attention, are driving too quickly or do not have adequate night vision to be driving a vehicle during those hours.

As you come across cyclists violating this law, I encourage you to remind them of it, or if you feel it is appropriate, report them to the authorities.

Mike Benjamin 3/2/2005

Law limits penalty in bicyclist's death

By Doug Murphy
Staff Writer

The teenager who struck and killed an Ahwatukee Foothills bicyclist on Pecos Road with his pickup truck will face a simple ticket for failure to control his vehicle and a second ticket for not having insurance.

That outcome is based on the decision from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office that no grounds can be found to charge 19-year-old Clinton Cabanillas with a more serious crime.

"There is no prosecution planned based on the (police) reports submitted," county attorney's office spokesman Bill FitzGerald wrote in an e-mail.

For Anselmo's widow, the lack of prosecution is surprising.

"It's amazing that you can kill someone, not carry insurance and just walk away from it and not have a record. It doesn't make sense," Rita Anselmo said last week.

According to the Phoenix police, on Donald Anselmo, a 68-year-old retired electrical engineer, was struck as he rode his bicycle on Pecos Road on Nov. 4, 2004.

Arizona has no vehicular manslaughter law, so because there was no evidence of recklessness such as speeding, or negligence such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there will be no more serious criminal charges filed.

"There needs to be evidence of recklessness or criminal negligence in an investigation that can be proved in court beyond a reasonable doubt," according to FitzGerald.

With no witnesses to the crash, police were left with what physical evidence they could discover and the statement of Cabanillas for the basis of their report.

"It's the way the law is written," said Lt. Mike Cecchini. "All we can do is follow the law. If enough people feel the law should changed they should call their lawmakers."

Police say Anselmo was in the middle of the 8-foot wide shoulder, far from the flow of traffic, when the pickup driven by Cabanillas struck him from behind near 24th Street on Pecos Road. Anselmo died instantly when he struck Cabanillas' windshield.

When Detective Brett Campbell interviewed the Mesa teen, Cabanillas couldn't explain what had happened.

"I don't know what happened, I can't explain this," Campbell quoted Cabanillas as saying in the official police report.

"I was just driving normal. He was right next to the white line. I swerved, but not far enough," said Cabanillas, who lives in Mesa with his parents.

Police say there was evidence that Cabanillas had used marijuana days before the crash, but no evidence that he was impaired at the time of the crash. 3/4/2005

Bicyclists' rights defended

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to an article published in the Jan. 26 edition titled "Maybe it's time to ban bikes from some streets."

My disagreement with this letter is twofold. First, I would like to know which streets could be designated as safe for cyclists to use. Ray Road is not safe, Chandler Boulevard is not safe, Pecos Road was utilized by cyclists well before it became a major thoroughfare for the ever-increasing population growth in the area, and the list goes on. The Phoenix metropolitan area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country and it is only going to keep growing. With this growth comes more roadways and more motorists.

My second disagreement is the fact that the case involving Don Anselmo, who is a close friend of the family, is not closed. There is an ongoing investigation into the initial analysis of the facts. I appreciate the author admitting that the only information he has about the case is from the newspaper, but do not believe all that you read. There is still speculation as to the facts, our only hope is that truth will eventually prevail and justice will be served.

It is my opinion that despite motorist speed, Pecos Road is an ideal road for cyclists to train on. It's flat, wide open, the "bike lane" is eight feet wide (much wider than designated bike lanes on Ray Road and Chandler Boulevard that do not meet code) and an all-around perfect training road. The law states cyclists are allowed to ride on surface streets without designated bicycle lanes (

The main problems are driver speed and inattention. In today's world, everyone is in a hurry and many factors prohibit full attention on the road. We are all guilty of it at some time or another, but how many incidents end in a fatality? We all need to take responsibility while on the road. There are attentive motorists and cyclists, and inattentive motorists and cyclists. But why should cyclists have to pay the price for a motorist's inattention? Nothing will bring Don or other fallen cyclists back to us, but public awareness and accountability can be prevention for the future.

Kristen Becker 2/04/2005  

Bicyclists need to make themselves visible

Dear Editor:

I agree that bicycle riders have rights to be on our streets, as long as they obey traffic laws in daylight hours.

I have had two instances recently of coming upon a cyclist at night and narrowly missed hitting them. This was not on some unlit back street without a bike lane, both instances were on 48th Street between Elliot and Warner roads.

The first time, I was making a left turn into my street and had to slam on the brakes to avoid the cyclist no lights, no reflectors and wearing dark clothes.

The next time, the cyclist was in the center left-turn lane, making a turn just in front of me.

Again, no lights or reflectors. Fortunately, he was back-lit by oncoming traffic and I was able to avoid him.

Why can't regulations permit only daytime riding, or at the very least require lights front and rear plus reflective gear at night?

Ben Drabnis letter, 1/26/2005

Maybe it's time to ban bikes from some streets

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter to respond to the ongoing war between bicyclists and motorist in the Ahwatukee Foothills area. Yes, I said war.

For the past year or so this war has been fought with words in the Ahwatukee Foothills News. The cyclists are demanding their right to the road, and the motorists are demanding that cyclists obey the rules of the road.

Recently this war has been elevated with the death of a bicyclist named Donald Anselmo who was killed in an accident on Pecos Road late last year when a motorist hit him from behind. I didn't witness this unfortunate event (my only source of information is from the Ahwatukee newspaper), but this appears to me to be an accident. The investigation conducted by the police dismissed speeding, reckless driving, aggressive driving, nor was the influence from drugs or alcohol involved. This was an unfortunate accident that could happen to anyone of us driving on Pecos Road, or any other road with these same conditions. The only thing the police could cite this motorist with was failure to control his vehicle. Without making light of this situation, this isn't exactly overwhelming negligence on his part.

I'm not a cyclist, but I believe they should have the right to operate on the streets just as a motorist if the conditions are right. Most people ride because they like the exercise, and then there are some who just enjoy the wind in their face on a beautiful day. However, maybe not all the streets in our beautiful city are suitable for bicyclists at this time. We don't allow bicyclists on freeways because of safety concerns. Perhaps some streets should be restricted as well because of the reputation they have for being dangerous even to motorists. I understand the rights' issues, but why would a cyclist want to ride on a dangerous, unlit road that doesn't have well-defined bike lanes? This to me is inviting more accidents such as Donald Anselmo. Restricting cyclists from certain streets may not be the most popular choice, but it just may save another cyclist from the same fate as Donald Anselmo.

Bobby Mota

Disjointed logic spoils letter

Dear Editor:

Either the facts surrounding the cyclist's death on Pecos Road have changed since the original reports or Mr. Tom Jennings (reader comments, Jan. 7, 2005) is using some disturbing logic.

Whether mountain bikers are crowding him off desert trails (which is rude) or he's walking in the street instead of the sidewalk (forcing riders farther out into traffic), that has zero connection to Mr. Don Anselmo riding (with traffic) in the bike lane on Pecos Road.

He then provides some type of condolence while insinuating death can happen to those that don't follow the rules of the road. Excuse me! When did an auto drifting into the bike lane and striking a cyclist become the rider's fault?

With his disjointed logic and blame shifting, he'd make a great politician or attorney preferably in the East Coast city he came from.

Brad Hartsock

Cyclists' rights: The debate over the road

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to a letter published on Dec. 8, 2004, with the headline: "Article furthers misconception about bike lanes."

I agree with the author that there needs to be an improvement in public awareness regarding cyclists on the roadways; however, I am in disagreement about his opinion regarding bike lanes on Pecos Road. There are signs on Pecos Road that read "Share the road" and depict a picture of a vehicle and a cyclist each in designated lanes. In addition, the bike lane on Pecos Road is considerably wider than that of the average street.

The author mentioned that the only designated bike lane on Pecos Road is just before Desert Foothills Parkway, where signs and markings clearly indicate a bike lane and to "Yield to bicycles." If this is designated as a bike lane, but other sections of Pecos Road are not, then how do cyclists get to this lane? Residents in the area visibly see cyclists on Pecos Road throughout an average day. Regardless of if the lane is "designated," signs are posted and vehicles are not to be driving in it. By law, cyclists have every right to share the road, regardless of if there is a bike lane or not, as long as they follow the law.

Donald Anselmo was not only a close family friend for more than 30 years, he was like a father to me. He was riding westbound in the "designated" bike lane, not on the shoulder (gravel) of the road. Don was an avid cyclist and was following all bike laws; cyclists have to obey the same laws as vehicles.

Despite my disagreement with the author of the letter over facts of the case, as well as a bike lane on Pecos Road, I agree that the public needs to be made aware that regardless of whether you are driving a vehicle or cycling, you are responsible for not only the safety and security of yourself or anyone riding with you, you also have a responsibility to everyone on the road.

There is no excuse for what happened to Don, and regardless of the reasons under investigation, we are never getting him back. He has been taken before his time in a most tragic and inexcusable way. We cannot have him back; however, we can prevent this from happening to someone else in the future.

Kristen Becker

Addressing a tragedy, rude behavior both

Dear Editor:

I read the Dec. 22, 2004, article in the Ahwatukee Foothills News about Mr. Don Anselmo, and it touched my heart.

Not for the reasons you might think, however.

Any life lost is a tragic thing. I am not a bike rider but in March I had back surgery and the doctor said the best thing for me was walking. I live in Equestrian Estates and generally the most we have to worry about are coyotes and javelina, but lately the people on bikes are more rude than any animal I could encounter. They whiz by, don't say a word and give you the ugliest look in the world like you are invading their space. Please keep in mind that I grew up on the East Coast, and I truly know what rude is and bikers in the foothills are rude.

My heart goes out to any family that loses a loved one however, they have to obey the same rules of the road that people behind the wheel of a car do. Mrs. Rita Anselmo, Godspeed!

Tom and Dee Jennings

Traffic laws require certain vehicles to yield in specific circumstances

Dear Editor:

Doug Murphy would make a great politician with his "shared responsibility" view stated quite well in his Dec. 17 perspective column. He's always a good read. The problem is the reader comes away with the mistaken idea that he has a 50/50 obligation to the other traffic units when driving. Like the town of Perfect in the Walgreen's commercials, that would be, oh, so nice. But not real.

Driving defensively is demanded in this day and age because of the ways our traffic statutes are interpreted. I have no disagreement there, but the Rodney King approach quoted by Mr. Murphy is a warm-hearted, feel-good attempt to soften the harsh reality that certain traffic units are required to yield not share in restricted places at definite times. Pedestrians carry the biggest legal club in school zones, and drivers had best beware or that club will come down hard. The door swings the other way on our interstate highways where pedestrians and bicycles are banned. In short, and again quoting Mr. Murphy in part ... no "lug nuts," no access.

The idea that Congress would spend billions to turn an interstate into a playground for bicycles and shortcuts for pedestrians is ridiculous. It's high time the same logic is applied to state and city expressways. Riding a bike on residential streets where the speed limit is 25 mph for motorists is an enjoyable pastime, and one that I engaged in for many years. But today, to ride along 48th Street between Elliot and Ray roads, for example, is an invitation to the Grim Reaper.

If such is Mr. Murphy's idea of "sharing' ... well, he's welcome to it. Personally, I'll give the whole road to the rapidly overtaking cars and trucks I could not possibly avoid when one strays into the bike lane. It's a story of that 500-pound gorilla that has gained a lot of weight.

Bob McCarthy

All users of Pecos Road need to use more caution

Dear Editor:

It seems that George Durzi's (Ahwatukee Foothills News letters Dec. 1) disappointment over charges not being filed for the death of Donald Anselmo on Pecos Road was a bit premature.

As the editor's note mentions, no decision has yet been made on filing charges. The assumption that the driver was not paying attention is just that, an assumption. There were two parties involved, either of which could be culpable.

I travel Pecos Road frequently and witness aggravating factors that may or may not be responsible. I realize that the cyclist was alone, but there are many times when the cyclists ride side by side leaving one cyclist on the line or within the traffic lane. No movement to a tandem formation is ever attempted when vehicles approach. This creates a dangerous traffic situation as drivers cannot always surrender both the bike lane and right traffic lane to the cyclists.

There are also many times that the eastbound cyclists act even more recklessly and cross all four lanes of Pecos near the park and ride to either turn around or to exit Pecos onto 40th Street. I have witnessed these actions, causing traffic to brake heavily and nearly causing accidents, many times.

It is time that all who use Pecos do so more responsibly. I can list as many or more dangerous actions taken by drivers turning onto Pecos, but will save them for another time. It is unfortunate that the only time there is a police presence, and laws are enforced on Pecos, is after a death. We should all urge the Phoenix Police Department to patrol Pecos more consistently.

As for the unfortunate events surrounding Donald Anselmo's death, only those involved know who was at fault. I am confident that the investigation will reveal what happened, allowing for the appropriate consequences for the driver if he was at fault.

Rick Harris

Bicyclist deserves better

Dear Editor:

I was very disheartened to read comments (in the Nov. 12 issue) by police spokesman Detective Tony Morales regarding the recent fatal bicycle accident on Pecos Road. According to Detective Morales, if this fatality was the result of a moment of inattention on the driver's part, he could merely be cited for "failure to control his vehicle."

I find it incomprehensible that one could take another's life with careless abandon and still only be cited with a minor traffic violation. I also find it appalling that some individuals emblazoned with the moniker of "Car Aficionados" seem to feel that bicyclists do not even belong on the streets at all!

It's a sad day in this community when carelessness and bigotry receive more consideration than a slain cyclist.

Frank O'Brien

Article furthers misconception about bike lanes

Dear Editor:

Please communicate to Doug Murphy that Pecos Road does not have designated bike lanes as he has printed in an article published Nov. 10 in the Ahwatukee Foothills News.

The cyclist killed was riding on the shoulder, not in a bike lane or even in the designated roadway. The only place on Pecos there is a designated bike lane is heading westbound just before Desert Foothills Parkway. This is a huge and common misconception of Ahwatukee residents. I advise Mr. Murphy to do his research prior to printing incorrect information.

Due to his lack of research, he and the Ahwatukee Foothills News are contributing to the animosity motorists have toward cyclists here. The city of Phoenix acknowledges Ahwatukee does not have properly marked bike lanes on many roadways.

Earlier this year, as race director for Strada Racing Club, I was working with our City Council and with support from the Ahwatukee (Foothills) Chamber of Commerce to put on an event promoting bicycle safety, education and awareness within our community.

The loss of Mr. Donald Anselmo's life is a needless waste. I feel as a community we should do more to value and protect the lives of all our residents.

If you would like to discuss this issue, I may be reached at (602) 321-7954.

Brian Smith

Possibility of accidental death bothersome

Dear Editor:

As a cyclist and Ahwatukee resident, I was extremely disappointed when I read that charges might not be filed against the driver who killed cyclist Donald Anselmo on Pecos Road.

I ride my bicycle on Pecos Road regularly. I've had teenagers throw water bottles at me and intentionally drive really close past me. So, forgive me if it strikes me as odd to believe that the cyclist was accidentally rear-ended by the driver.

As mentioned in the article, he was riding west on the shoulder on Pecos Road, which is easily more than 6-feet wide. How could a driver rear-end a cyclist unless he obviously was not paying attention to his driving?

Have you considered the possibility that the driver was intentionally "messing around" with the cyclist? Was the driver tested for drugs and alcohol? Were there any witnesses on the scene?

How can this possibly be so easily dismissed as an accident?

George Durzi

Editor's note: The Ahwatukee Foothills News published a clarification regarding the Nov. 10 article George Durzi relies on for this letter, which explained that although it is possible that no charges could be filed in this case the decision to file charges depends on unfinished tests being conducted as part of the ongoing investigation.

  12/22 afn had article about ride + results of inv.

Hundreds ride bikes to honor fallen comrade

By Doug Murphy
Staff Writer

More than 200 bicyclists from Ahwatukee Foothills and around the Valley rode in silence along Pecos Road on Dec. 18 in tribute to a fellow rider who was killed in a collision with a pickup.

Don Anselmo, 68, of Ahwatukee Foothills, was struck from behind and killed instantly Nov. 4 as he was riding on Pecos Road, Phoenix police report.

The driver of the truck that struck him, Clinton Cabanillas, 19, was not injured and was not arrested.

Police have completed their investigation of the fatal accident and will cite the Ahwatukee Foothills man for failure to control his vehicle.

Detective Tony Morales, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said that state law limits the Police Department's options.

Because Cabanillas was not impaired in any way, had no evidence of reckless driving or high speeds, the hands of the detectives were tied, Morales explained.

"Right now you have nothing more than failure to control," Morales said. "Tragically it happened to be a man on a bicycle."

Anselmo's wife Rita was angry with how Arizona's laws would allow the driver to escape punishment.

"It's the law that you can kill somebody and get away with it," she said before the bicycle ride began this past Saturday.

The silent memorial ride was organized by bicycling groups across the Valley to honor Anselmo and to emphasize safety on the road for bicyclist.

"Bicyclists are second-class citizens," said Sharon Rhodes, an Ahwatukee Foothills real estate agent who rides on Pecos Road every weekend with her husband.

"Every time I get home safely, I thank God," she said before joining the memorial ride.

The ride began at 24th Street and Pecos Road in the parking lot of Mountain Park Community Church. An estimated 250 riders participated. 12/17/2004 (editorial column)

Street safety is a shared responsibility

"We have met the enemy, and they is us."

  -- Pogo cartoon character created by Walt Kelly

Saturday morning bicyclists will be on Pecos Road, riding in silence, in memory of a friend who was killed in a tragic collision.

Within days I predict that letters to the editor will flow in about how bicyclists take up too much of the road, and how they should all simply go back to where they came from and leave the streets to cars.

And bicyclists also will write in complaining about how automobile drivers look right through bicyclists and turn in front of them like they don't exist.

In the immortal words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Yes, automobile drivers in Ahwatukee Foothills are terrible. They speed through school zones, endanger children, collide into one another trying to race through intersections after the light has turned red and make right and left turns without signaling or checking to see if it is safe.

Don't believe me? Look around.

The city of Phoenix built a $1.1 million pedestrian bridge at Thunderhill Place and Ray Road in front of Kyrene Monte Vista Elementary School.


Because motorists, especially in the morning, were speeding by the school, rushing through yellow and red lights, terrifying the two adult crossing guards.

Fortunately the only fatality at the intersection was a saguaro that was cut down in its prime by a speeder who lost control several years ago.

But drivers in a rush have injured other school crossing guards.

And these drivers aren't out-of-towners they are us.

The traffic in Ahwatukee Foothills at 7:30 a.m. isn't made up of Gilbert residents driving to Laveen it's local moms and dads going to work or dropping kids off at school. The speeders on Pecos Road are people who live out there and are in a hurry to get home.

We are the enemy.

But bicyclists aren't without fault.

A wise man once explained the lug nut test where the vehicle with the largest number of lug nuts wins in any collision. So a bicycle loses to a Yugo, a Honda loses to a Suburban and everyone loses to a H2 Hummer.

But despite that logic, some bicyclists insist on riding in a giant peloton, with the pack taking up a couple of lanes of traffic, forcing the bigger and faster and heavier vehicles to somehow maneuver around them.

And some bicyclists feel comfortable speeding through red lights, weaving in and out of traffic and breaking the law.

It isn't about us or them.

We all use the streets, we all have loved ones who use the streets, and we all want get home at night in one piece.

So let's all just slow down, drive defensively and act like our lives and the lives of others depend on our actions, because they do.

Staff writer Doug Murphy can be reached at (480) 898-7914.

Pecos bike ride a salute in silence

Lindsey Collom
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2004 12:00 AM

Valley cyclists will ride in silence Saturday to honor an Ahwatukee Foothills man who died last month while doing the same.

Don Anselmo, 68, was killed Nov. 4 as he rode his bicycle on Pecos Road. A truck heading west struck Anselmo when it veered onto the road's shoulder, killing him instantly.

Cyclists will circle that very road during the Ride of Silence that organizers say will commemorate Anselmo's life while bringing attention to safety. A national Ride of Silence will be held in May.

"Everybody who bicycles understands that . . . this could have been any one of us," said ride coordinator Jane Meneely of Ahwatukee Foothills. "I think it is important to draw attention to the safety factor of cycling and the fact we're sharing the road."

Police say Anselmo was doing everything right by riding in the makeshift bike lane with the appropriate safety gear. The accident was likely caused by inattention, according to Detective Tony Morales of Phoenix police.

Police have declined to pursue charges on the teenage driver. Tests show the 18-year-old was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He will receive a traffic citation for not controlling his vehicle, Morales said.

There have been a number of close calls on Pecos Road, says cyclist Gene Lauritano of Ahwatukee Foothills.

"(We have) brushes with car mirrors, debris and potholes in the bike lanes," Lauritano said, "trash tossed out of windows, being driven off the road, being honked or cursed at, being followed very closely."

Cyclists will meet 8 a.m. Saturday outside Mountain Park Community Church, 24th Street and Pecos Road. Riders are asked to stay silent and maintain a speed of 12 mph or less. Call Jane Meneely at (602) 431-6598 for additional information.

Bicyclists plan ride to honor killed rider

By Doug Murphy

Staff Writer

Bicyclists from across the Valley are planning a Ride of Silence on Saturday to honor Donald Anselmo who was killed in a collision with a pickup on Pecos Road last month.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there were 400 to 500 riders," said Kevin Miller, sales manager of Supergo Bicycles at 5955 W. Ray Road in Chandler, whose store is helping to promote the event.

Anselmo, an experienced bicycle rider and Supergo customer, was traveling on the shoulder of Pecos Road near 18th Street when he was struck from behind by a small truck driven by Clinton Cabanillas, 19, of Ahwatukee Foothills, according to police. The accident occurred shortly after noon on Nov. 4.

The investigation into the collision continues pending the results of blood and urine tests for Cabanillas.

Miller said that Pecos Road is popular and usually safe for bicyclists.

"But since they hooked it up to the freeway there has been more traffic and more speeding," Miller said.

The bicycle ride to honor the 68-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident and to promote awareness of bicycle safety will start at Mountain Park Community Church, 2408 E. Pecos Road at 8 a.m. Dec. 18. Bicyclists will ride one loop on Pecos Road, about 12 miles.

The ride is free and open to the public.

Anselmo left behind a wife, six children and numerous grandchildren. He was a retired electrical engineer who worked on every Apollo space mission. 

Police investigation of bicycle fatality continues

By Doug Murphy

Staff Writer

The death of Donald Anselmo last week continues to disturb bicycle riders in the community.

An avid bicyclist, Anselmo was killed Nov. 4 after colliding with a pickup truck on Pecos Road. The 68-year-old rider was hit from behind while traveling in the same direction as the pickup.

Christian Noglik of Ahwatukee Foothills said the tragedy has made him think.

"I'm a bicycle rider myself and spend a lot of time on Pecos. Things can happen all the time. It doesn't have to be on Pecos Road, it can be anywhere," Noglik said.

Adding to his uneasiness is an Internet chat room for car aficionados that advocates keeping bicyclists off the streets.

"There were people exchanging thoughts about bicyclists and how they shouldn't be on the streets," said Noglik, who has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 10 years.

The death of Anselmo has rekindled fears among bicyclists that they are not safe or welcomed on Valley streets.

According to Phoenix police, Anselmo was wearing a helmet and riding in the designated bicycle lane on Pecos Road near 18th Street when he was struck by a pickup driven by Clinton Cabanillas at 12:15 p.m. The investigation into the collision continues pending the results of blood and urine tests to see if Cabanillas was impaired.

According to Phoenix police spokesman Det. Tony Morales, what happens next depends on the toxicology results.

If Cabanillas was impaired by drugs or alcohol, the case will go to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for a decision on prosecution, said Morales.

But if there was no impairment, "it could have been an instant of inattention. If that's the case then you're talking nothing more than a traffic violation," for failure to control his vehicle, Morales explained.

The investigation and toxicology results could take several weeks he said.

The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or by e-mail at

Police: Criminal charges might not be filed in cyclist's death

By Doug Murphy, Staff Writer

A competitive bicyclist was struck and killed last week while riding on Pecos Road, leaving behind his wife Rita, six children, eight grandchildren and three godchildren.

Donald Anselmo was struck and died instantly when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck just after noon Nov. 4.

Anselmo, 68, was a retired electrical engineer who had worked on all the Apollo space missions in the 1960s.

"He was very accomplished in everything he did. (Bicycling) was his love," daughter Heidi Harrod said on Monday.

Police say that Anselmo was riding westbound on the shoulder of Pecos Road when he was struck by a pickup driven by Clinton Cabanillas, 18, of Ahwatukee Foothills.

Cabanillas was not injured in the accident.

Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales said the investigation continues, but that he didn't think charges would be filed against Cabanillas.

Services for Anselmo were scheduled to be held at Corpus Christi Catholic Church at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The family asked that in lieu of flowers donations be sent to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Bicyclists across the Valley were saddened by the death of one of their own.

"I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in the area and I train on that section of road as well so it was some hard news to swallow," Arizona State University cycling team member Ernesto Ramirez wrote in an e-mail to the Ahwatukee Foothills News.

The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or by e-mail at

Cyclist dies in Pecos Road collison

By Georgann Yara

Staff Writer

A bicyclist is dead after being rear-ended by a vehicle on Pecos Road around noon Thursday.

Police did not immediately release the identity of the man who was riding west in the 1800 block of East Pecos Road when a 1980s model pickup truck traveling in the same direction struck the rear of the bicycle, according to Phoenix police Lt. Mike Cecchini.

The bike rider died after flying into the windshield of the truck, Cecchini explained.

The unidentified male motorist was not injured. Thursday afternoon, Cecchini said the driver had not been charged.

"Impairment does not seem to be a factor. At this point we don't know if it was inattention or any other factor," he said.

The police investigation blocked off the westbound lanes of Pecos Road for hours.

The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7917 or


Cycling proves last challenge
Foothills man's death on blacktop ends passionate life

Lindsey Collom The Arizona Republic Nov. 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Don Anselmo was a man of many passions.

His latest took him across 30 miles of Ahwatukee Foothills blacktop each day.

Cycling was more than a hobby for the 68-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills resident; it was an obsession. He documented each ride, logging detailed journal entries that included temperature and humidity. "He was so passionate about mastering it," said daughter Jill McClanahan of Austin, one of six children.

That quest for mastery carried over into everything Anselmo did, she said, whether it was woodworking, baking or blacksmithing. Cycling, though, would be his last challenge.

Anselmo was riding a familiar stretch of Pecos Road shortly after noon last week when he was struck from behind by a truck. He died instantly.

A roadside memorial sits on the rock-strewn earth near 18th Street and Pecos, marking the place where Anselmo died. Flowers flank a wooden cross that is lined with pieces of bike chain and inked with the words "ride on."

And his family, rather than focusing on his death, is celebrating the richness of his life.

Anselmo broke his routine the morning of Nov. 4, leaving for his ride later than usual to prepare for a move to Austin. He, wife Rita and three godchildren planned to relocate to be closer to family.

The prospect excited Anselmo, as he hoped to meet one of his idols there: Lance Armstrong. In her father's mind, Armstrong was "the perfect bike rider," McClanahan said.

"He put him on a pedestal," she said. "He read all of his books and followed his career. He even bought all of (Armstrong's girlfriend) Sheryl Crow's CDs to listen to in his car."

That was just his way, Anselmo's wife said.

"If he didn't know something about it, he found out, and he found out more information than anyone probably would think," Rita said. "He was an incredible man."

Anselmo was once an electrical engineer involved in each Apollo space mission during the 1960s and early 1970s. He had also worked for Motorola in its computer and satellite communications division.

Retirement in 1999 didn't slow him down. He took to various projects, crafting humidors and making iron gates for neighbors. Cycling wasn't a new endeavor for Anselmo, who has biked on and off for most of his life. It was just recently rediscovered.

Police say Anselmo seemed to be doing everything right. He was wearing a helmet and other protective gear and rode in the makeshift bike lane to the right of the main thoroughfare.

There were no tire marks at the scene and the speed of the truck's driver, 18-year-old Clinton Cabanillas, is unknown. Cabanillas hasn't been charged. His blood was drawn to determine whether he was impaired, and results are pending.

Anselmo's funeral was Tuesday. Family members plan to scatter his ashes next year in Italy, the place of his heritage and where he loved to travel.

Rita said she hopes it was a freak accident.

"I'm hoping the driver was not the cause, that this really was an accident," she said. "If that's true, I want him to know that it's OK because I don't want to ruin his life.

"He's just a young kid. It could have been one of my kids that did that."    

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