A group of friends gathered Sunday evening at 19th and Dolores streets to pay respects to Andrew Sanders, a cyclist who died earlier that day after succumbing to injuries from a collision that occurred during a “hill bomb” event near Dolores Park.
Sanders was riding his bike down a steep section of Dolores Street Friday when he was involved in a collision with a skateboarder, according to witnesses. The skateboarder suffered injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening.
As they placed flowers and candles near the site of the collision, friends described Sanders, a recent graduate of San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in art, as a passionate and skilled cyclist.
“Anyone and everyone he met, he could always find something to connect with them,” said Jonathan Concool, Sanders’ roommate of five years. “He’s the most full of life person I’ve ever met.”
Friends say Sanders also enjoyed drawing, photography, dancing and making T-shirts and other items of clothing.
“He was a very versatile guy, he wasn’t boxed into one thing,” said Concool.
“Not only did he like that stuff, he was really good at it too.” added Pierre Sjogreen, another friend of Sanders. “Even though he’s gone, he’s left me with so many pieces to remember him by. Little pieces of art — I still have all the clothes that he’s made, all the shirts that he was selling.”
Last year, Sanders raced his fixed-gear bicycle in Mission Crit, a criterium race held annually in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“That was his safe space. When he was on his bike he could do no wrong,” said Concool. “That’s when he was his best self. It does give me some sort of peace to know that he was on his bike when he went out, doing what he loved.”
The hill bomb event, an annual staple within The City’s skateboarding community, drew scrutiny from city officials this week after multiple serious injuries occurred.
A block up the hill from the candles and flowers left for Sanders, The City installed a strip of raised pavement markers on Saturday aimed at stopping skateboarders from descending the hill in the future.
Daniel Mejia, a friend of Sanders who also participated in Friday’s hill bomb event, said this year’s event became disorganized after the wrong date was initially promoted, causing the normally single-day event to take place on three separate days, including two days earlier in the week.
The Dolores hill bomb is normally a positive event that brings people together, he says, but “this third hill bomb shouldn’t have happened.”
“There were a lot less people,” said Mejia. “The energy and the overall vibe of it was very odd. Even before it started, it felt like it shouldn’t have happened.”
During previous years and during the week’s prior two events, crowds of spectators lined the street, blocking intersections and alerting hill-bombers of crashes further down the hill.
But Friday’s event drew a much sparser crowd and lacked the same level of organization, Mejia said.
Mejia says a crash like the one Sanders was involved in is not uncommon at a hill bomb event, but Sanders hit his head, leading to an aneurysm.
Mejia, like Concool, says he will remember Sanders as someone who could connect with anyone.
“He was one of those people that introduced us to a lot of each other, a lot of us wouldn’t know each other without him,” said Mejia.
Concool says Sanders’ parents are not seeking funds from the public but hope to set up a fund to promote the arts in Sanders’ name.