San Diego Cyclist Killed by Suspected Sleepy Driver
Cyclist killed was college professor; driver who hit him was asleep at the wheel
POSTED 7:23 PM, APRIL 19, 2018, BY SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
SAN DIEGO – A Grossmont College political science professor who was an avid cyclist was killed Tuesday in the Flinn Springs area when he was hit by a minivan driven by a woman who fell asleep, authorities said.
Brian Jennings, a 58-year-old Alpine resident, was riding his mountain bike when he was hit around 3:15 p.m. on eastbound Old Highway 80 east of Soldin Lane, the county Medical Examiner’s Office said.
He was wearing a helmet and riding in the bike lane when he was struck.
The woman driving the Toyota Sienna, a 67-year-old Spring Valley resident, fell asleep at the wheel and drifted across the painted white line and onto the right hand shoulder, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.
When paramedics arrived, bystanders already were performing CPR on Jennings but his injuries were too severe. He was transported to a hospital, where he died.
“Professor Jennings was well known among students for his humor, his respect for divergent political opinions, and for his passion for teaching comparative politics and U.S. government,” Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh said in a note sent to college staff. “In addition to his classroom commitments, Professor Jennings served in faculty leadership roles on and off campus, especially in helping to cultivate student leaders.”
Jennings was a popular teacher and gifted speaker who often had a waiting list for his classes. He would act as a social justice advocate for his students, looking out for the underdog and the downtrodden, said Agustin Albarran, Grossmont’s dean of the English, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and a close friend of Jennings.
Albarran said he and Jennings often took long bike rides together — sometimes longer than 100 miles — and would have deep conversations about life, family, work and “contemplating our existence” while riding.
“He was just a person who loved life and lived life to the fullest, the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back,” he said.
On Wednesday, Albarran told Jennings’ classes about his death and he said his students were “absolutely devastated.” People at the college have begun discussing ways to honor Jennings, including organizing a voter registration drive in the fall and scheduling a memorial ride.
Jennings received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from San Diego State University and taught at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, SDSU, and a Central Texas College program on Navy bases. He began teaching full time at Grossmont in 2005.
“My favorite thing about teaching is watching the lights come on for students when they grasp concepts,” he said in a biography posted on a teachers union website. “My favorite comment from a student was, ‘Now I know why they make us take this class.’”
Jennings is survived by his wife, Nancy Jennings, a communications professor at Cuyamaca College, and sons Brennan and Kenny.
In the past year, Jennings traveled with his wife and rode all the tallest peaks in Colorado, Arizona and California. “At the age of 58, he was riding like he was in his 20s,” his wife said.
He also enjoyed camping, hiking and sailing, and at one point lived aboard a boat for two years while island hopping from Florida to Venezuela. He also was an amateur astronomer.
“He was very passionate and his students loved him because he was funny and tried really hard to not be biased with his political beliefs, which is hard to do, especially as polarized as we are today,” Nancy Jennings said.
“But maybe more importantly he was a huge bicyclist and adventurer. He just loved travel and adventures and he was passionate about sharing those things with his children.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune- “Cyclist killed was college professor; driver who hit him was asleep at the wheel” by Karen Kucher- April 18, 2018 3:30pm