On April 11, 2012, while training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Colorado, American Val Robichaux lost his life in an accident on the old coastal highway in Cozumel, Mexico. The official version given by the police commissioner, Eduardo Isidro Gutiérrez Sánchez, is that, "the bicyclist entered the lane the car was driving in."

However, the impact on the front right side of the taxi puts that version in doubt, and Robichaux cannot give his version because the died in a private hospital moments later.

Inexplicably, the attorney general for the Mexican state of Quintana Roo notified the Robichaux family that they have to pay for the damages to the taxi, which was being driven by Jocías Gabriel Díaz, when the taxi struck Val Robichaux head-on as the driver sped through a stop sign travelling at more than twice the posted speed limit.

Here is the story told by Rex M. Robichaux, Val Robichaux's son, who was bicycling with his father and witnessed everything.

"First and foremost a little on Val Ian Robichaux — the man I have had the privilege of calling dad for the past 26 years. Although he was born in Tempe, AZ — he has lived the last 35+ years in Colorado. Up until his death he lived in Cortez, Colorado, where he had been enjoying retirement for the past 10 years. Val was not an Ironman — nor was he training for the ironman…although he had the UTMOST respect for triathletes and ironmen athletes. He always joked about his swimming abilities and how that kept him away from Tris. That being said — you would be hard pressed to find a more avid cyclist than Val. This year alone his odometer on his Trek Madone had clocked well over 3,000 miles. He WAS training to finish the Iron Horse Classic Bike Race in Durango, CO in the end of May — one of many feats we planned to complete together. As far as personality goes — well I can't even express in words — I will simply leave it at that. Val and my mother came to Cozumel to suprise my girlfriend and I on Saturday knowing that I would be proposing to my girlfriend on Monday night here. He wanted to be here to help celebrate, and was nearly equally excited when I told him that we could rent bikes for a couple of days and loop the island. Luckily he was able to see his son get engaged the night before the last day of his life.

"On the day of his death we departed our hotel north of town around 9:30, and enjoyed a refreshing shower through San Miguel — we headed south out of town just moving right along with the tail wind that we joked would make our life a living hell when we hit the other side of the island. We had decided that when the opportunity allowed — we would jump on the "old highway" as it was slower and lower traffic amounts. At the first opportunity I did so — but my dad missed the turnoff — I (on the old highway) yelled over to my dad and he said "I'll meet you on up ahead" signaling forward towards the upcoming crossover — the entrance to the Ocean Beach Club / Resort. As he slowed and started to turn in / over towards the old highway to meet up with me I noticed a taxi FLYING towards me / us. I signaled with my left hand for my dad to stop and yelled over my left shoulder "DAD! CAR!." I remember thinking "Please GOD let my dad have stopped in time," but as I turned and looked over my right shoulder I witnessed taxi #73 plow into my father at 60+ km/h disintegrating his stout Scott mtb, and sending him torso first into the windshield, then 3+ ft over the vehicle. My heart stopped. The taxi coasted to a stop ~150 meters down the road as I sprinted over to my father screaming. He was motionless in an already large pool of blood. I noticed an ambulance just 100m further down the road and screamed for their assistance. To my amazement my father was breathing with extreme labor but unconscious with obvious lacerations, fractures, bruises and other injuries. Some concerned bystanding tourists came to our aid as did some Ocean club employees as the medical staff braced and loaded my father who was still unconscious. The driver never came over and within minutes there were 3-4 other cabs down in the area surrounding the lethal car.

"The 15 minute drive to CMC was the longest 15 minutes in my life as I heard my father fighting for his life in the back of the ambulance but was powerless to do a thing. We arrived, I offered what information I could and was asked to wait in the lobby as I watched the doctors try their hardest to keep my father alive — an effort they eventually could not succeed with as he passed away from cardiac arrest caused by complete torso trauma / lung collapse approx 30 minutes later. We later found out that he had multiple shattered bones, head injuries, extreme bleeding, shattered rib cage, collar bone, collapsed lungs, and several other injuries which simply are not possibly caused by a car traveling at 30 km / h (the posted speed limit). It was an absolute miracle he survived the initial impact — a testament to his health and strength. The medical examiner later told us one of the causes of death was due to his age and fragile condition. I nearly lost it on him.

"At this time I cannot release too much legal information — but what I can tell you is that the cries for justice from my mother, fiance, and myself have fallen on largely deaf legal ears here in Cozumel. We have hired attorneys and a legal team from Cancun who will continue to fight to clear my father's name after we leave the island tomorrow. The corruption here is unreal — as is the power of the taxi unions in this country. I truly pity everyone involved.

"The FACTS: My father had NO yield, stop, or otherwise regulatory traffic sign. My father reached and yielded at the intersection long before the taxi arrived. The Taxi was traveling at OVER DOUBLE the posted speed limit. THE TAXI HAD A STOP SIGN 50 METERS before he killed my father which he blatantly ran. According to the current "expert" opinion which was generated by the local DA's office my father was at fault because he ran a stop sign and failed to yield to oncoming traffic. The report makes NO mention of the vehicle speed (because there was no skid marks because the taxi ran right through my father, and slowly came to a stop afterward), nor the FACT that the taxi had just ran a stop sign a high velocity. The press is in our hotel so if anyone would like to know more — I will gladly post more later. Thank you all for your support and I hope this clears up any doubt of my father's unnecessary and innocent death which you will likely continue to hear from local "authorities". It is my hope that my father's case brings a heightened level of awareness to people around here to both watch out for athletes, as well as to the deep corruption that goes on largely unquestioned here and in so many other places in the world. He would light up with an illuminating glow if he knew an athletic event would be dedicated to his memory. You have no idea how much that means. God bless you all and watch over you.

  • Rex M. Robichaux"

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Comments

Zutano April 14, 2012 @ 7:54 a.m.

What was an avoidable accident seems to have morphed into a whitewash of those culpable. My condolences go out to the family. Mexico, being what it is, I suggest you go through the grieving process and try not to torture yourself in the attempt to have a public agency in Mexico set the record right.

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kchafey April 14, 2012 @ 1:21 p.m.

To Rex and Pat: I don't usually post on public spaces but don't know how else to reach out to you right now. We are all heartsick about our beloved cousin Val's death. Diana and I spent many happy hours with Val and Gwen when were kids and have continued to be good friends into adulthood and yes, into our senior years. I know I also speak for our Canadian cousins when I say we deeply mourn his loss and especially the hideous circumstances surrounding it. We are with you and your mom in spirit and look forward to a time when we can share memories of your wonderful Dad. Right now we are just very, very SAD and concerned for your well-being. Hope you can come home soon. With love to you both, Kathleen

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Terra April 19, 2012 @ 5:36 p.m.

I am so sorry to see this. My husband and son were killed in Playa del Carmen due to severe negligence. I know firsthand the helpless feeling of trying to fight such a corrupt and dangerous government. Please know our thoughts are with your family. And know too that telling your story is brave and will make a difference. Terra Charmont

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