AIDS Ride Cyclist injured in Hit and Run on Golden Gate Bridge | Authorities Fail to Report

by Melanie Nathan, February, 19, 2012

Imagine waking up in hospital, after being transported by paramedics to ICU Emergency, in a metropolis such as San Francisco, unconscious, with broken bones and not a single policing authority has any record or clue what happened to you? That is what happened this weekend to Patrick Shortle and the incident occurred, of all places, on the greatly popular Golden Gate Bridge.

UPDATED PORTION of this report – 11.25 am 2/21/2012 Well it seems we may finally have the answer in this UPDATE to the below Report:

I received this e-mail today.   It seems really strange that no one single authority on the San Francisco side of the Bridge could inform Mr. Whelan and Mr. Shortle that the report was taken by the Marin side, and that Marin had jurisdiction over all bike incidents even on the San Francisco side. The Shortle and his husband as well as the community would have been relieved of a great deal of concern. Here is the e-mail I just received –

I am contacting you in regards to the article that you wrote about Patrick Shortle’s
bicycle collision on the Golden Gate Bridge. The Marin Area Office of the California
Highway Patrol handles all bicycle related collisions on the walkways and bike paths
of the Golden Gate Bridge. At Mr. Shortle’s collision on February 17, there were
three CHP officers on scene, as well as numerous Fire Paramedic Personnel. A Marin
CHP Officer took a report on the collision and received a statement from Mr. Shortle
in the back of the ambulance. Mr. Shortle’s collision did not involve a vehicle and
was not a hit-and-run. An independent witness described that Mr. Shortle struck a
curb and fell from his bicycle alone, and was the only party in the collision. We
attempt to investigate every incident with the highest adherence to our policy of
safety, service, and security for the public and it is frustrating when an incident
is reported without any follow up investigation on the part of the reporter. I
appreciate your concern for Mr. Shortle’s well being and I hope that in the future
you contact the Marin CHP with any questions you might have regarding bicycle
collisions on the Golden Gate Bridge. Thank you.
-Eric Hohmeister

According to James Whelan, his husband, Patrick Shortle, a San Francisco resident was struck by a motor vehicle on the the Golden Gate Bridge, near the gift store after completing a training session for the San Francisco to Los Angeles Fundraising AIDS ride.

The vehicle did not stop, a stranger called 911 and the unconscious and seriously injured Shortle was rushed to San Francisco General Emergency with not a single authority recording the event.

There are no reports available to Shortle’s husband and no one seems to have a clue about what happened that afternoon with not a single police officer visiting the badly injured Shortle in his hospital room.

I spoke to Whelan, who informed me that Shortle’s injuries included broken bones. He is now out of ICU and while it is believed that his injuries are not life threatening, he has been transferred to Kaiser and will remain under observation to ensure no brain damage or swelling occurs.

Whelan reports: “The Golden Gate Bridge Transportation District, The San Francisco Highway Patrol, The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, The Golden Gate Park Police (Park Presidio Division) don’t want to touch Patrick’s hit and run with a 10 foot pole.

Everyone tells me that it is not their jurisdiction.  I was told at one point that there was no accident.  Someone at the GG Bridge Highway Patrol told me that he remembers it happening, but he wasn’t paying attention because they were busy, so there is no record of it … he went on to say that Patrick couldn’t have been hit by a car because there would have been a record of it.”

When Whelan asked about Bridge cameras, he was told he would have to obtain a court order to view them, and the concern is they might be erased by the time that happens.

Surely someone out of the named authorities has the responsibility to investigate this incident!

In fact recently in Marin, when my friend fell down a few stairs and sprained her ankle, I called 911 for help and within three minutes firefighter- paramedics and a police officer were dispatched.  Surely the paramedics in Shortle’s case reported the badly injured man to someone? Yet his husband cannot find anyone who has issued a report.

While the San Francisco Fire Department Paramedics brought Shortle to ER ,“they couldn’t help me and I would need to contact records on Tuesday to verify that there even was an accident, ” Whelan notes.

“I am so angry at whoever hit my husband with their car and ran off and just left him there.  Even the 911 caller refused to leave a name. I hope we can find this person … I hope they are insured, and I hope they lock them up and let them rot in hell.”

Patrick Shortle, who suffered from polio as a child, had hoped to raise $5,000 with his ride this year!

Whelan has asked anyone with information to contact him or Melanie Nathan – with any relevant information about the accident

NOTE: I have not independently checked the records of the Golden Gate Bridge or other policing authorities mentioned in this article.

Second Update  02/27/2012

A CH Officer taking the report came to a conclusion that Shortle was not hit by a vehicle, that the extensive injuries were caused by a fall by Shortle as he hit a curb. The officer based this determination, regardless of Shortle’s extensive injuries which included a broken hip, broken collarbone, broken ribs and a concussion, and on the words of an unidentified wittness.

Commenting on this report, Shortle’s husband asserts that he is not satisfied with the report as being insufficient an explanation for the extensive injuries to Shortle.

One can only wonder how an officer can base his report and  rely on a witness who either refused to identify himself or who the officer omitted to identify. The passerby says he witnessed the accident, yet we do not know who he is or where to find him. How could the officer plan upon relying on that information to conclude his report?

The officer relies on the report to conclude that Mr. Shortle was riding in an “unsafe manner, riding into the raised concrete.  Surely this is an unacceptable conclusion given the circumstances, where (a) injuries were so extensive and (b) the only witness is unidentified? Shortle may well have a legitimate legal claim for damages, which could be seriously impacted by the incomplete reporting of the CHP officer.

Screen Shot of CHP Section regarding Cause in Report

The report can be found online at




37 thoughts on “AIDS Ride Cyclist injured in Hit and Run on Golden Gate Bridge | Authorities Fail to Report

  1. As my husband lies in his hospital bed, uncertain of what the future holds, he is most concerned about how this accident will impact his fundraising efforts … last year he raised over $7000 for AIDS charities with his ALC ride from SF to LA … he is hoping to raise even more this year. He is my hero.

    1. Well lets see maybe some of our readers will consider Patrick for a virtual ride…. We could figure out a way to donate to the ride in his name- although I know he would rather be out there riding himself…

  2. Interesting story! Are you telling us the readers that your Emergency Paramedics system, including whom ever call’d for the ambulance, that there is no records and the poilce were never informed of the action taken by that group when deliviering Patrick Shortle to the hospital? Would that also mean the hospital also didn’t report the accident incident to the authorities? My god!

    1. Yes, that is how it seems at this point – open to finding out that we are wrong! All information obtained is from Patrick’s husband who cannot find any authority with a record of a report at this time!!

  3. This is really weird and crazy! My girlfriend and I can’t even understand how it would be possible for a car to hit someone on the GG Bridge… People traffic and car traffic are totally separated, and there’s always SOOO many people at all times on the bridge and nearby. NO ONE saw or said anything? I too would love to get some information on this.

  4. a Phyllis Gardner, the woman who called 911 posted a message on Jimmy’s FB page. Please make sure he sees it if he hasn’t already.

  5. There is a video camera that monitors that area. It would clearly show all traffic at the intersection of the road and the trail.

  6. FWIW, Mr. Shortle wasn’t ‘on the GGB’, he was on the multi-use pedestrian/bike trail. That trail is closed to motor vehicle traffic. At that time of day it would have been filled with groups of tourists walking and riding to/from the bridge.

  7. If you were to walk up the path from the parking lot, you pass the Snack Shop, the pedestrian crossing, the stairs from the Gift Shop, and then the path turns left. Patrick was at that point.

    At least three people called 911. Two of those people roused Patrick, got him talking, and stayed with him until he was transported to hospital. They gave their contact info. I believe that one of these people has offered to talk to Whelan twice.

    AFAIK, the only damage to Patrick’s bike was that one of the tires was scruffed on one side.

    1. The damage to Patrick’s bike is not relevant. What is relevant is the damage to Patrick. If you were there, I encourage you to contact either me or Jimmy. If you have anything to fear, then I am willing to keep your anonymity, as a source, for more information, as long as you yourself did nothing illegal. Sometimes witnesses fear coming forward and I understand that – but if you can be hellpful and I will allow me to ask you questions, even off the record, It may help Patrick and Jimmy understand what happened. I can be contacted at

      1. Please don’t take Anony mouse’s comment with any disrespect.

        It’s a long held cycling tradition that after any survived crash someone will ask “But how is the bike?” We mean that with great affection for the rider, not flippant.

        We love and care for our fellow riders, we also love our bikes. It’s a tradition and expression of a wish that Patrick will recover swiftly, completely and ride again.

        To Anon and all if Patrick’s bike is carbon it is very important to have an LBS (local bike shop) methodically and completely check the bike.

        Micro cracks can ruin your whole day. We hope you heal quickly and fully and return to ride again.

        Now I’m a little confused. In the middle of the blog it states that he may have been in a cyclist only crash; hit a curb, a bump and took a hard fall. This is no less tragic than being hit by a car.

        The headline at the top still states he was in a hit and run which the authorities failed to report.

        Then the update says some confusion may be at fault. Seems that someone (authorities??) says all bike/ped crashes on the bridge regardless of where they occur are handled by Marin county. That’s good to know as a cyclist.

        So maybe some confusion, misdirection of who to call and even authorities themselves not checking the right source.

        So which is it?

        One thing is for certain whether you run, ride, bike, swim, skip please please please wear roadid. Someone may have to speak for you, find contacts when you can not speak for yourself.

        I’m a 5 time AIDS Lifecyle rider including being a TRL and a roady.

        1. Thanks for that from a ride around the park cyclist — I mean just the six miles in Samuel P Taylor Park and I am done. Maybe this will inspire me to cut an AIDS walk or a ride! Yesz I have kept the initial post and reported the Marin County piece as an update. I think its important to maintain the post with the update because I am still concerned about 2 things:-
          1. The Marin officer did not stay to talk to a family member to explain. I know that Patrick was asking for his husband and was badly enough injured to be placed immediately in ICU. I believe an officer should have stayed with him or assigned someone to explain to immediate family what had occurred. There may be no law or protocol to cover such a thing, but if tere were, then Jimmy would have not had the run around trying to find out what happened to his husband;
          2. It is odd to me that when Jimmy tried to find out what happened no one knew enough to tell the simple fact that the Marin authorities or CHP had the relevant jurisdiction. I would not in a million years have known that anyone but those on the SF County side of the Bridge were responsible for an incident on the latter side.

          The good news is Patrick is recovering, we got to the bottom of the mjsytery we think and maybe people will reconsider how things are done in the future.

          If anyone has ever been called to the hospital bedside of a loved one, they know what goes through the heart and mind and the trauma the family suffers in a quest to find out what happened. Alls well that ends well!!!

          1. Wasn’t there, no medical training, not a doctor, don’t play one on TV, no police background …. did take a Red Cross first aid class for what it’s worth.

            There I learned that if you help at the scene of an accident you are obligated to stay till first responders arrive. That may be the case for the officer.

            While I can imagine exceptions but once qualified first responders arrive they normally pass the patient off to them.

            Was there a break down in communication between officer and medical staff? Maybe.

            One thing is for sure whether you walk, bike, swim, run, skip … get road id or similar. In an accident this can communicate your needs and who to call and notify when you can not. We got ours here:


          2. I have a copy of the accident report, and all the information came from an “unidentified Witness” … Does the CHP really take reports for people who won’t indentify themselves? Patrick’s injuries do not match the report of clipping a curb at 4 MPH …

  8. I believe he was riding thru/by the parking lot and not the bike/pedestrian path. If he was by the gift shop area, he was likely riding past the gift shop, towards or thru the tunnel which is accessible to both bikes and cars to take you over to the south west side of the area.

  9. I was with Patrick that day on the training ride and he was giving me encouragement to ride up this steep hill. Although he was leading that day he took on the role for us newbies.
    We finished the ride and 15 minutes later this happened to Patrick. I’m devastated by the lack of compassion from the hundreds of tourist, GG staff and the police department for not helping out.
    If it were a child run over it would have made the front of the Chronicle.
    Get well Patrick. I need you on the ride giving me encouragement to get up Quad Buster.

  10. To Jimmie and all, We don’t know his speed. Agreed that riding through the lot he might ride slow. I know I would. Yet good riders quickly and easily and sometimes deceptively even to us get up to car speed.

    Regardless of the speed in a parking lot one hits both the pavement and cars/car parts on the way down. The injuries he sustained are quite possible in a FU (failure to unclip) fall. I have a dear family friend who died in a highly survivable fall, something he should have just laughed off. A cousin died hit by a truck while at an intersection. We’re so vulnerable out there, please be careful.

    I’ve taken falls, been hit by cars, so I can easily imagine such injuries possible in a lot.

    To those of you who don’t ride to get an idea; get in your car, strip down to your underwear, get the car up to 20-32 mph, jump out. That’s a bike crash. 😉

      1. Riding is really safe. Yes crashes occur but there are lots of sports more dangerous including not being active is a sure danger. Please try it. Riding with the ALC training rides and their leaders is a great way to learn to ride safely and well or find a local class like SFBF.

        Crashes happen and are tragic but considering the number of people who ride and the miles covered it’s very very safe with the right skills and a helmet ….

        The thing I always thought about the ride is it’s like skiing to LA 😉

        Everyone talks about the miles but one climbs about 26k feet which means you descend the same amount at speed and on pavement. And to do the ride well and enjoy it one has to train and train, put the miles in.

        My goal was to do 3+ times the miles of the ride to prepare. Each mile with awareness that a crash could occur. Riders train with the care, attention and leadership of ride leaders like Patrick. So I hope people will support him so that when he recovers and rides in June it’s with your sponsorship and support because I’m sure he’ll ride well and again.


    This is a fundraiser I set up for my cousin Patrick Shortle.
    He is unable to work and I want to raise some money to help him and Jimmy while he recovers. Patrick has always been so generous to me and others…now is a time he needs help paying his bills while he is out of work.

    Thanks for passing this on.

    Karen Hinkel (Shortle)

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