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Inattentive girl bicycles into police car’s path

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POSTED March 29, 2013 2:16 a.m.

LATHROP — An 8-year-old girl that dashed out into traffic in a Lathrop neighborhood on her bicycle and was struck by a passing vehicle is home with her parents after suffering only scrapes and bruises.

But it wasn’t just an average motorist involved in the collision that could have turned out much differently.

According to San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department Public Information Officer Les Garcia, a Lathrop Police officer was patrolling along Orlando Lane Wednesday afternoon – in the area considered Central Lathrop – when the girl rode out into the street from between two parked cars.

The officer, Garcia said, didn’t have time to stop or swerve, and the young girl wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time.

“Fortunately the deputy was driving slowly and the young girl didn’t sustain any head damage,” Garcia said. “We like to push bicycle safety, and surely wearing a helmet is part of that discussion.”

And she might not have to go very far to make sure that she has a helmet in the future.

Each year Lathrop Police Services hosts a “Bicycle Rodeo” where deputies talk about the importance of proper safety while pedaling through the neighborhood or to school – outlining the proper way to cross the street, what to watch for and why it’s necessary to wear a helmet (besides complying with a California law that requires anybody under the age of 18 to have one on).

Local businesses and individuals make donations every year that allow the agency to purchase enough bicycle helmets to outfit every child that attends – keeping those that aren’t doled out on hand for parents that want to come down to the department headquarters on 7th Street and pick one up.

“It’s an event that Lathrop holds every year and it’s important for young people to learn about bicycle safety,” Garcia said. “It’s important that we get our young bicyclists to attend so they can understand what constitutes safe riding and the importance of wearing a helmet.

“I think this situation is proof of that.”

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