Community mourns loss of 76-year-old Claremont cyclist

Family, friends and community members gathered on the corner of New Haven and Base Line Road Tuesday afternoon to honor the life of Ali Mirage, a 76-year-old La Verne resident who was struck by a car and killed last Friday while riding his bike in Claremont.

A “ghost bike” remains chained to the light post surrounded by candles and flowers as a somber memorial to a man family members describe as a caring husband and father and constant adventure seeker.

“He was so full of life and had so many dreams,” his wife Mitra Mirage recalled. “Unfortunately, he left with lots of unfinished business.”

Mr. Mirage was traveling east on Base Line Road for his ritual morning bike ride when he was hit by a car authorities say was also traveling east.  Claremont police officers arrived shortly after the incident along with LA County Fire Department, but Mr. Mirage was pronounced dead on scene.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The driver of the vehicle, a 54-year-old female, remained on scene Friday morning and has not been cited or arrested.

Ramin Mirage, son of the late cyclist, said he and his family had grown concerned when his father had not returned home from his bike ride after an hour, the usual time it took him to bike up Base Line and back to their home near Fruit Street and the 210 freeway in La Verne. Ramin was getting ready to grab lunch for the family and search for his father, but his mother insisted she would go herself. Not soon after, Ramin received a call from his brother Quincy informing him of his father’s death.

Ramin recalled passing his father in the hallway the night before the crash on his way to get a glass of water from the kitchen. Instead of allowing his son to continue on his way, Mr. Mirage handed him an extra bottle of water and insisted he take it. It’s moments like these Ramin says he will cherish.

“He was a good father,” he said.

In addition to his big heart, Mr. Mirage was known for his active spirit and health conscious ways, family shared. He loved to stay active and often tried to talk his wife into joining him on his bike rides, an invitation she politely refused. Though the bike was not for her, she enjoyed accompanying her husband in performing tasks around the house. Mr. Mirage, a noted handyman and carpenter, left his mark around the Mirage family home, taking pride in installing most things by hand.

“He could do everything. He knew about the electricity, plumbing, could install sprinklers,” she said. “He was restless. He always had to be doing something.”

A career as a rigging engineer for the Bechtel Corporation fed his active lifestyle, often sending Mr. Mirage on business across the country and around the world. His passport included stamps from Australia, Chile, Korea, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Though he was well traveled, he enjoyed returning to his family and his sunny southern California home.

Friday’s incident was the first cycling fatality in Claremont this year, according to local police, but not an unprecedented occurrence. Officers say on average of one or two cyclists are killed each year within city limits. Ms. Mirage reminded those in attendance on Tuesday to take precautions when sharing the road with other cyclists and motorists.

“It came out of nowhere,” she said of her husband’s incident.

The Mirage family—mother, Mitra and her five children, Soriya, James, Leesa, Quincy and Ramin—say they have been overwhelmed by the support received by the Claremont community, in particular Betty Crocker and the community group Keeping Good in the Neighborhood, who helped put together the weekday memorial.

“I have never seen anything like it in my entire life,” Ms. Mirage expressed. “It means so much to me.”

The community is invited to join in a commemoration of Mr. Mirage’s life at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 2 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, located at 21300 Via Verde Drive in Covina. A reception will follow at Darvish Restaurant, 946 West Foothill Blvd. in Claremont, at 4 p.m.

—Beth Hartnett


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