Bike to Work Day accident kills United Airlines worker

Judy Castillo sat at her desk Thursday morning chatting with her boss about Bike to Work Day. She pointed to a newspaper article about a man who rode 10 miles to work each day, and joked that the paper should have profiled her husband, who rides his bike 22 miles to work each day.

A half-hour later, she got a call from the San Mateo Police Department: Her husband had died in a cycling accident on his way to work.

Her husband, 66-year-old Joseph Castillo, was found by another cyclist around 6 a.m. next to a bike path in Coyote Point Park in San Mateo. He apparently ran into a three-foot-tall wooden barrier next to the bike path and flipped over it, said David Holland, director of the San Mateo County Department of Parks.

Castillo had been wearing a helmet, Holland said. An autopsy will be conducted today to determine the exact circumstances around his death, he said.

The accident occurred behind the Peninsula Humane Society on the Bay Trail, which Holland said is one of the busiest bike routes in the county. He said it’s not known how long Castillo was laying there before he was found. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Thursday was Bike to Work Day and had particularly high participation, local organizers said. However, Castillo’s wife said he was not a one-day-a-year cyclist. The avionics mechanic, who worked for United Airlines’ maintenance base near the San Francisco International Airport for 17 years, had been biking to work every day for about nine months, his wife said.

He started biking to work after his car broke down and he decided not to replace it, she said.

“He didn’t really like to drive very much anyway, and his neighbor had just given him a bike, so he decided to ride his bike to work that week,” she said. “Then he just got into it and wouldn’t give it up.”

The pair met nearly 50 years ago on a San Mateo roller rink and have lived in their home on Rossi Way for decades.

Several neighbors gathered on a front lawn Thursday afternoon on Rossi Way and talked about Joseph Castillo. One said she had had a hard time explaining to her young son how he had died even though he had had his helmet on, and even though he was in great health, she said.

“He was 66 going on 40,” said the neighbor, who didn’t want to be named.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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