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Two local scientists die in separate bike crashes just one day apart

The first incident happened June 22 in Solana Beach, followed by the second on June 23 in La Jolla.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego's cycling and scientist communities are mourning the loss of two of its own after separate crashes that happened just one day apart.

On June 22, 75-year-old Allen Hunter II was killed after being hit while riding his bike on South Coast Highway 101 near Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

A 21-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run resulting in death or injury and felony DUI causing great bodily injury.

According to the Union Tribune, the victim was an Air Force veteran who went on to earn his PhD.

He retired in 2010 from San Diego-based Trex Enterprises.

On June 23, along North Torrey Pines Road near La Jolla Village Drive, 34-year-old Swati Tyagi was killed after she veered left into traffic.

San Diego Police do not believe the 74-year-old driver involved was impaired.

Tyagi was married with an 11-month-old son.

She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Hetzer Lab at the Salk Institute, where she received numerous recognitions, including the 2017 Salk Women & Science Special Award.

In a statement, Vice President and Chief Science Officer Martin Hetzer said,

"The shock and pain from Swati's sudden passing is raw and deep. We are struggling to process this heartbreaking news. Swati was a rising star with immense intelligence, noble modesty and boundless generosity."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support her family.

"It hits you as a cyclist a little hard," said Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego County Bike Coalition.

Hanshaw said crashes like these are avoidable, which is why he's advocating for more safety measures like physical barriers, and in some places, reduced speed limits.

"If there are corridors where we can lower speeds, the chance of survival is much higher at a slower speed," said Hanshaw.

Still, Hanshaw does credit city and county leaders, saying they've put more emphasis on cyclist accessibility and safety in recent years.

He hopes that work will continue, but said, drivers need to do their part too.

“There's a lot of positive things to keep these crashes from happening but really it's up to all of us on the roadways to be aware, be alert, slow down, don't be distracted. Don't be impaired.”

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