In the City of Fairfax's second traffic fatality this year, Andres Blanco, 40, died Monday, Dec. 12 from injuries he sustained when his bicycle collided a vehicle a week earlier. Amid heavy snowfall Monday, Dec. 5 around 3 p.m., Blanco was riding his bicycle from work to his home in the 9500 block of Blake Lane, said City of Fairfax Police reports. As Blanco rode northbound in the sidewalk along Pickett Road, a 1999 Jeep Wrangler, attempting to leave the City of Fairfax property yard at the 3400 block of Pickett Road, had stopped at a stop sign. The driver, 23-year-old Charles Shillenburg of Manassas Park, did not see Blanco and struck him as he pulled forward from the stop sign, said Officer Jeff Morrison, spokesperson for the City of Fairfax Police Department. Shillenburg was not injured, said the report, and Blanco was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died.
The investigation is continuing, said Morrison. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident, and no charges have been filed against Shillenburg at this time, he said.
Morrison urged bicyclists to use caution when riding through intersections.
"This is not of [Blanco], but in general, bicyclists need to make sure they are wearing some type of reflective clothing so that drivers can see them," said Morrison.
Blanco was a caring, friendly person who had come to the United States from El Salvador in search of a better future for his children, said family members. After his arrival seven years ago, said niece Sandra Blanco, Andres Blanco worked on the maintenance crews at the Army-Navy Country Club in Fairfax. He also had part-time jobs at Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster in Fairfax, she said.
"[Blanco] was here to make a better living for his kids and his family," said Sandra Blanco. "He was a great person. He got along with everybody and had lots of friends."
Jose Martir Ramirez, Blanco's brother-in-law, agreed. "He was friendly with everybody. Friendly with youth, friendly with the elderly," said Ramirez in Spanish, translated by Sandra Blanco.
Blanco's wife, Ana Rubio-Blanco, and children, 7-year-old Gabriela and 10-year-old Roberto, live in El Salvador, said Sandra Blanco. She said that Gabriela has never seen her father, who came to the United States a few weeks before his daughter's birth.
"He missed his family a lot," said Sandra Blanco. "It was a big struggle with him." He had planned on visiting El Salvador next year, she said.
"He left a lot of memories for everybody," said Ramirez. Over the years, he said, Blanco had managed to give everyone who knew him some sort of souvenir or present. The day before he died, said Ramirez, Blanco put up Christmas decorations in the apartment he shared with Ramirez and brother Domitilio Canales Blanco. Ramirez and Sandra Blanco pointed out a large wreath on the front door, garlands and lights along all the walls of the apartment, and a large tree standing in the living room, all arranged by Blanco.
"His beauty was in his humbleness," said Ramirez. Blanco was like a second father, said his niece, someone she could always count on.
Blanco was proud of his Catholic faith, said Sandra Blanco, and was especially devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe. The day he died, Dec. 12, was the feast day of St. Mary of Guadalupe.
"I think that means something to him," she said.