The family of a woman who was training for an Ironman Triathlon when she was struck and killed by a metro bus in Malibu is hopeful that her death will spur needed safety improvements for bicyclists along Pacific Coast Highway.
Marisela Echeverria, a 36-year-old Cypress Park resident known as "Mari," was pronounced dead just after 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 on Pacific Coast Highway near Puerco Canyon Road in Malibu.
Echeverria was training for an Ironman Triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon, according to her boyfriend Dominique Zoida of Sherman Oaks, who said the family wanted to issue a statement through him.
"They are very hurt. They want to protect everyone else. They don’t want this to happen again," Zoida said. "...They want something good to come out of it. They are devastated beyond belief and they don’t want this to happen to anyone else."
Zoida said he would like to see improvements along Pacific Coast Highway, especially an extra line that parked vehicles would need to stay to the right of. He wants the improvement to be called "Mari's Line."
"If you are over that you could get a ticket or towed," Zoida said. "That would push the parked cars more to the right."
Echeverria was known among her friends and family for her big heart.
“She was one in a million,” Zoida said. "She meant so much to so many people She touched so many lives in so many ways … She was so charismatic, so full of life and it’s just so difficult.”
Echeverria was involved with Team in Training, and helped raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Andrea Greif, director of public relations for LLS, issued a statement Tuesday, stating that a fund has been set up in Echeverria's honor.
"The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and teammate Marisela Echeverria. As a long-time participant in LLS’s Team In Training program, Marisela was a dedicated volunteer, mentor and fundraiser, and was committed to our mission to find cures for blood cancers and provide help and hope to patients and their families," according to the statement.
In a post Echeverria wrote on the Team in Training website in 2011, she outlined her passion for helping others.
“’All in’ means we face our fears. This means we charge into the ocean, waves tumbling us all over the place, but with the promise that this time, we will make it just a little bit further out. It means riding on our bikes downhill without constantly hitting the brakes, although you are certain you should really not be riding that fast. It means convincing ourselves that we can run, even if our legs feel like lead after a few hours on the bike. It means we ask our friends, neighbors, coworkers, local businesses for a donation, even if they may say no, because we know that this is bigger than ourselves and a cause worth fighting for.”
Echeverria's family asked that donations be made at http://los.tnt.llsevent.org/marisela.