R.I.P. Rod Armas: A letter from the LA Wheelmen
The last photo of Rod and Christian Armas together:
Follows is a letter from the LA Wheelmen about how Rod was killed on the final leg of the Wheelmen’s 200 mile Grand Tour on Sunday:
“The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience
We’re spiritual beings having a human experience”
Susan Saint James who lost her 14 year old son in a plane crash
Tragedy struck a father and his 14 Year Old son on the Grand Tour early Sunday morning.
Pam Leven, the President of the Los Angeles Wheelmen who organize the Grand Tour, wrote:
“Dear Grand Tour Riders, Volunteers and LA Wheelmen Members,
Our community and the greater cycling community is mourning the tragic death of Grand Tour rider Rod Armas who was killed by a drunk driver just a few miles from the end of the Double Century. Rod’s son Christian, 14, was seriously injured, but released from the hospital on Monday. Rod was 45. He had ridden a double century years earlier and wanted to share the exhilarating experience with his son.
The tragedy was a sad end to an otherwise terrific Grand Tour. The Wheelmen organizers know that all credit for success belongs to the volunteers. On behalf of the Wheelmen, I’d like to thank you all very much.
You created the rest stop havens for riders, providing equal measures of food, drink and enthusiastic encouragement. You riders, in turn, gave volunteers the boost we needed to take care of everyone who rode in after you. You especially cheer us when you pause to say thank you and chat a bit, making a personal contact that distinguishes you from the moving mass of riders. Rod and Chris, late in the evening, had a number of the rest stops almost all to themselves. Volunteers spent time with the two and got to know them just a bit more than with everyone else. They developed an emotional investment in the pair’s success – and felt Rod’s death and the family’s loss even more deeply.
On behalf of the Wheelmen and Grand Tour communities, I sent condolences to the Armas family. Many people have asked about a tangible gesture of sorrow. As soon as I get information about a memorial fund for Rod or a medical fund for Chris, I’ll send out the details.”
“MALIBU – An Oxnard man was arrested in a hit-and-run accident after his truck allegedly struck and killed a father and injured his son cycling along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
The incident occurred about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Cyclist Rodrigo “Rod” Armas, 45, of Kern County, died at the scene, while his 14-year-old son was taken to UCLA Medical Center and was in stable condition with numerous broken bones, Los Angeles County authorities reported.
The two were riding east on the shoulder of the 34000 block of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
Driver Robert Sam Sanchez, 30, drove about a mile south of the crash and ditched the truck, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported. He was found a short distance away and arrested, still displaying symptoms of alcohol intoxication, authorities said.
He was being held Sunday night on $100,000 bail.
Sanchez is a records clerk for the city of Malibu and lives in Oxnard, according to Lt. Scott Chew of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lost Hills station.
Authorities said the cyclists were on their way back to Malibu during the annual 200-mile Los Angeles Wheelmen “Grand Tour” event.
The bicycling event starts and ends in Malibu and wends through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
Armas was a Los Angeles County deputy probation officer. He is survived by his wife, Shelly, his 14-year-old son and two daughters, ages 9 and 12.”
M.J. Grove works hard in making the Grand Tour so successful each year and she added her comment on that web page:
“The Los Angeles Wheelmen’s 51st Annual Grand Tour had almost 500 riders out on the road Saturday into early Sunday, riding 125, 200, or 300 miles. It is not a race, it is a recreational bike ride for people who want to enjoy the sport and challenge themselves to greater athletic achievement.
Thousands upon thousands of SOBER drivers passed them, safely and without incident. The riders were NOT anywhere they shouldn’t have been. They were experienced riders using a public highway, wearing helmets, lights, reflectors, and obeying all traffic laws.
The CAR was where it shouldn’t have been, driving on the already occupied shoulder, where the DRIVER steered it.”
The Grand Tour dates back to 1959 and many thousands of cyclists have enjoyed it’s beautiful scenery and great Southern California views over the past 51 years.
Lynn Katano supported so many riders at the Rincon Rest Stop Saturday and wrote last night: “I got this news this morning from various sources and I’ve been in shock all day. It was not even twenty-four hours ago that they were at Rincon swapping stories with us and resting up for the return ride to Malibu. They seemed like such nice, down-to-earth people…it’s such a tragedy.”
Lynn shared a photo of the Father and Son team at
Ken Campbell helped to support the Grand Tour Saturday with Dan Crain and wrote: “We were sweeping the highland course and stopped a couple of times to offer the two encouragement, water, and whatever. They were bringing up the rear and we thought the boy was doing better than the dad. Dad was on a hybrid bike the boy had a newer road bike with better lights and was in front. It really touched my heart having always wanted my son to do long rides with me but to no avail.”
Jim Watrous was also helping to support the Grand Tour. He did course sweep from Ojai to Rincon and helped Rodrigo and Chris Armas on that stretch. Jim wrote: “A tragic reminder why alcohol abuse or any drug abuse and driving should be dealt with much earlier. Given the circumstances, fetching and reducing the size of these pictures is hard to do. Here are the four pictures that I have. Who could have believed that their future would have ended in tragedy. I truly thought they were going to make it. And they would have, if not for an [alleged] drunk driver. In sadness, Jim Watrous.”
Jim shared his four beautiful photos which can be found at
Look at the joy in the eye of Rod and Chris as they were flying around the bend!!
Paul Haussler was also driving SAG Support on the Grand Tour. He wrote: “I had two bad feelings last night during the Grand Tour. I heard about a father and son as the last riders on the Highland Route. The next time was hours later when I saw an ambulance and paramedics racing north on PCH about 1:30 AM. Video can be seen at
Broad Beach, the location of the accident, is just north of Zuma. It must have happened shortly after we went through sweeping the Lowland Course.
We feel terrible for the cyclists and family. Our hearts go out to the Armas family.”
Sadly, the Armas family has been torn apart by another alleged drunk driver.
14 miles and Rod and Chris Armas would have finished an incredible achievement for a father and his son.
14 short miles.
Lynn Katano wrote: “I still get all choked up when I tell people about them.”
The family is in the process of setting up a College Fund Account for donations. We’ll pass the account number and address onto you when it’s available.
The service will be held on Tuesday July 7, 2009 at 10:00am at the Country Oak Baptist Church, 20915 Schout Rd. Tehachapi, CA 93561, Telephone number (661) 822-1379. Reception to follow.
Please help the Armas family with your donations and keep them in your thoughts and prayers at this most difficult time.
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“Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, and today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.
God is the author of the past and the future, and he’s the giver of the present gift.”
“Eternal Life is Now”
Mary B. Kirk