Friends and family gathered to remember 77-year-old Andrew Jelmert Wednesday night, just hours after the man accused of running him down was charged with murder.
Fellow cyclists, community leaders and Andrew’s life partner of 28 years mourned together, leaving candles along with 77 roses to honor the 77-year-old realtor.
“This is a testament of who Andrew was,” said Andre Goertiz, Andrew’s longtime partner. “He was love, he was all about love.”
Goertiz said he feels as if he soul had been “ripped” in half, saying the recklessness of another person is the reason a vigil was necessary at all.
Jelmert was killed Saturday after 37-year-old Jairo Martinez struck the cyclist from behind with a silver BMW. Martinez then fled the scene on foot, police say, but he was arrested shortly after. Alcohol is believed to have played a factor in the deadly crash.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon announced Martinez has been charged with murder, leaving the scene of a fatal crash and driving with a suspended license while under the influence.
For years, Elena Sherman had ridden alongside Jelmert as the two prepped for a 545-mile benefit ride for AIDS/LifeCycle.
Sherman says she’ll now be riding for her friend.
With drivers often exceeding the 25 mph speed limit, cyclists told KTLA they are calling for increased safety in Griffith Park.
Damian Kevitt said fellow cyclists are hoping to turn this tragedy into tribute.
“We can take this and make Griffith Park safer,” Kevitt said.
Kevitt almost lost his life after being hit in the same park. He along with hundreds other riders who showed up Tuesday night, are calling on city leaders to honor the life of Jelmert by making a change.
He said the city has been talking for years about making changes at the park to increase safety for cyclists. He told KTLA that enough is enough and now is the time for action.
An online petition has been circling around the cycling community which hopes to eventually phase out cars altogether from Griffith Park. Hundreds of people have already signed the petition.
Jelmert was planning on participating in a benefit bike ride to raise money for the San Francisco AIDS foundation. If you would like to support Andrew’s mission, click here.