Cyclist killed in accident well-known, beloved
By Mark Reagan
BROWNSVILLE — Brownsville’s bicycling community is mourning the loss of one their own after a fatal accident in Harlingen early Sunday morning.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the tragic death of 47-year-old Rosa “Rosy” Romo who was with other cyclists traveling east on FM 106 when a Ford F-250 struck four cyclists east of FM 509 just outside the Harlingen city limits around 7:30 a.m., said Ben Del Angel, president of the Brownsville-based nonprofit cyclist group City Cruisers.
The vehicle hit the cyclists with its right front corner, and DPS reported Romo and another cyclist, who suffered non-life threatening injuries, were taken to the hospital, where Romo died.
On Monday morning, DPS Spokesman Lt. Johnny Hernandez did not respond to questions asking whether the Ford F-250’s driver would be identified or charged or whether investigators had determined what caused the driver to strike Romo’s bicycle with its right front corner.
“Crash is still under investigation,” Hernandez wrote in response to emailed questions.
The Brownsville Herald also asked for a copy of the accident report, which Hernandez said could be purchased 10 days after the date of the crash. Instead, the newspaper filed a request under the Texas Public Information Act for the document.
Romo’s death has taken its toll on the bicycling community, which has rallied to her husband, Luis, and their son, who is entering the eighth grade this year, Del Angel said. She is also survived by two daughters, her mother, four siblings and two grandchildren.
“I think we are all hurting because she was like the life of the party,” Del Angel said. “She was always smiling, having fun.”
Del Angel, who said he’s a close friend of the Romo family, said she was a good person who always brought a smile to everybody, either making jokes or dancing or doing out of the ordinary things to make people laugh or enjoy life.
“She was always very happy, very active,” Del Angel said. “She was a person you could have fun with all the time. She was always persistent in her goals and finishing whether it was a 5K or 10K or doing a half marathon or finishing a 60-, 80-mile bike ride.”
He said Romo and her husband were always lively and smiles contagiously appeared on the faces of people who encountered the couple.
“I was there with him yesterday (Sunday) for a couple of hours at the hospital, and after the incident we went home and I was at their home for a couple of hours,” Del Angel said.
City Cruisers will be creating a page for donations for the family, who is need of financial assistance, he said.
“We’re going to open a page to help pay for the funeral costs, we are nonprofit, so we are going to take care of them as much as we can and help them out,” he said.
City Cruisers is also helping Romo’s eighth grader get school supplies and any assistance available through the Brownsville Independent School District.
Del Angel, who has twice been hit by vehicles while riding his bike, though both incidents didn’t result in serious injury, said taking part in an active, healthy lifestyle choice on public roads places cyclists at risk.
“It’s tragic that as cyclists we have to live with these kinds of things, it’s a risk we take every day being out there on the roads, doing what we love,” Del Angel said. “We love being active, to us it’s a de-stressor … it’s a way to get rid of our stress, either work stress or family stress, just to go out there and have fun. It’s what we do.”
While it’s still unclear what caused the accident, the thought of a drunk or distracted driver is never far from a cyclist’s mind.
“A lot of people say bikes don’t belong on the road, but there’s a space for us on the road,” Del Angel said. “It’s just that people are careless, either driver’s are careless or they’re drunk. It’s just an unfortunate thing, but it’s something we live with.”
Del Angel said he wishes drivers would be more aware and give cyclists a few feet of distance when sharing the road.
“I just wish for this not to have happened,” Del Angel said. “We are out there too. We have loved ones waiting for us at home.”
He says Romo’s memory will live on through the cycling community.
“She was the life of the party. It’s unfortunate that it happened,” Del Angel said. “We love her and she’s always going to be with us in every single ride, in every single run. She’s always going to be there looking after us and protecting us.”