Friends and family gathered on Wednesday evening to remember 77-year-old Andrew Jelmert, just hours after the man accused of knocking him down was charged with murder.
Fellow cyclists, community leaders and Andrew’s 28-year-old life partner mourned together, leaving candles, along with 77 roses in honor of the 77-year-old broker.
“This is proof of who Andrew was,” said Andre Goertiz, Andrew’s longtime partner. “He was love. He was all about love.”
Goertiz said he felt as if his soul had been “torn in half”, saying that another person’s recklessness was the reason a wake was needed in the first place.
Jelmert was killed on Saturday after 37-year-old Jairo Martinez hit the cyclist from behind with a silver BMW. Martinez then fled on foot, police say, but he was arrested shortly after. Alcohol is believed to have played a role in the fatal crash.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon announced that Martinez has been charged with murder, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and driving with a suspended license while under the influence.
For years, Elena Sherman had ridden alongside Jelmert as the two prepared for a 545-mile benefit ride for AIDS/LifeCycle.
Sherman says she’s going to drive for her boyfriend now.
With drivers often exceeding the 25 mph speed limit, cyclists told KTLA they are calling for greater safety in Griffith Park.
Damian Kevitt said fellow cyclists hope to turn this tragedy into a tribute.
“We can take this and make Griffith Park safer,” Kevitt said.
Kevitt nearly lost his life after being hit in the same park. Along with hundreds of other riders who showed up on Tuesday evening, he is calling on city leaders to honor Jelmert’s life by making a change.
He said the city has been discussing changes to the park for years to increase safety for cyclists. He told KTLA that enough is enough and now is the time for action.
An online petition is circulating around the cycling community hoping to eventually remove cars from Griffith Park altogether. Hundreds of people have already signed the petition.
Jelmert planned to participate in a benefit bike ride to raise money for the AIDS Foundation in San Francisco. If you’d like to support Andrew’s mission, click here.
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