'This was bound to happen' Pleasant Hill neighbors mourn cyclist hit, killed by big-rig

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- A community is grieving tonight after a cyclist is hit and killed on his lunch break.

Martin Nelis was the public information officer for Pleasant Hill and loved to ride his bike. Nelis was riding along Reliez Valley Road between Gloria Terrace and Withers Avenue in Lafayette around noontime Thursday, when a call came in to the Contra Costa County Sheriff about a man being hit by a big-rig truck.

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"We're still trying to process the tragic events of yesterday" says Pleasant Hill mayor and friend of Nelis, Tim Flaherty.

Nelis was transported to the hospital where he died a short time later.

Nelis worked as PIO for Pleasant Hill for more than a decade and had grown close with his colleagues and the community.

"There's been a huge tear in the community fabric. He became so involved in virtually every public aspect, like community events. Martin was incredibly bright and witty and a true Irishman."

In the neighborhood where Nelis was hit Reliz Valley Road appears quiet. However, neighbors say looks can be deceiving, and a recipe for disaster.

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"A lot of people drive down this street and it's heavy with bikers any given day of the week, especially on weekends." Says Jason McBride who has lived in the neighborhood for years. "Over there is a blind corner...and on the Next Door app there are a lot of instances of people having close calls and collisions. You see it all the time. It's because of the fact, with more development, more people are coming to this area."

Another driver stops on the side of the road to lay flowers and mentions how the GPS navigation app WAZE often directs drivers through Reliez as a shortcut.

As residents in Lafayette search for solutions, the community of Pleasant Hill mourns a tremendous loss.

Tears well in Mayor Flaherty's eyes.

"Pleasant Hill is a wonderful place to live, work and play and a great part of it was Martin's hard work. We're going to have a very difficult time filling the hole in our community fabric that's been created by this loss."

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