‘Legend of Mount Diablo’ dies from injuries after car hits him in Lafayette intersection

A bicyclist who was fatally hit by an SUV at a roundabout intersection in Lafayette was a “legend” in the local cycling community who once road his bike up Mount Diablo every week for nearly a decade.

Joe Shami, 86, died from his injuries Tuesday night, authorities said. The Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office released his identity publicly Wednesday morning.

According to police, an SUV hit Shami while he was in the roundabout intersection at Pleasant Hill Road and Olympic Boulevard  just after 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. An off-duty nurse who was passing by the scene provided care until paramedics could arrive, and an ambulance took Shami to a hospital.

He died there.

Joe Shami, 86, died after being hit by a car in a Lafayette intersection on Tuesday. 

On a social media page for a cycling group, Shamsky was called “The Legend of Mount Diablo.” In 2018, Shami completed a streak of riding up the mountain at least once a week for 500 consecutive weeks.

“Eighty-seven years young, and just an amazing cycling ambassador,” friend and fellow cycling enthusiast Al Kalin said. “He was the friendliest guy, and so helpful on so many levels. He was a very good friend.”

A message on the same social media page called Shami “an inspiration to many, and a friend to all.”

Shami lived in Lafayette and was a regular on his two wheels. During his streak, he would ride either 8 miles to the state park’s North Gate entrance or 12 to the South Gate entrance. It’s about 11 miles from the bottom of Mount Diablo to the top, no matter where a cyclist starts.

At the time, he said he made the commitment after his earlier attempt at riding up the mountain for 500 straight weeks was interrupted when he was hit by a car. He started over again in July 2008.

“It’s a spiritual experience,” Shami said at the time of his accomplishment. “You’re with nature and when you go early, it’s quiet and peaceful. The mountain is awesome. You really don’t know what to expect each time. The seasons change. It goes from green and verdant to completely dry. It’s always different — every week.”

Shami also was a runner before he found his bicycling passion, running 10 marathons.

“He was such a gentleman, inspiration and one you respected so much,” bicyclist Gary Spinella wrote in a comment on the social media post. “Maybe more than anyone else on the mountain.”

Police have not said what caused the collision to happen. Police did not make any arrests and said the driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene and spoke with police.

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Author: Rick Hurd

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