OCSD surprises 6-year-old boy with new bike following terrifying hit-and-run


The gap in his teeth matched the size of his grin:


Roque Antonio, 6, still is in the process of getting all of his adult teeth.

Members of the OCSD surprise Roque Antonio of San Juan Capistrano with a new bike donated by Jim Curwood, owner of Buy My Bikes (right in bee costume), after his former bike was destroyed in a hit-and-run collision. Roque was wearing a bicycle helmet and avoided serious injury. OCSD deputies present included Anton Pereyra, left, and Lt. Carl Bulanek, second from right. Family members included (from left) cousin Marina Esquiveo, mother Luz Hernandez, cousin Isaac Ramirez, 3, brother Jonathan, 19, brother Brent (orange shirt), 9, and father Roque Sr.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Late Monday morning, thanks to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, a volunteer, and a longtime business in San Juan Capistrano, Roque was surprised and delighted to receive something else:

A neon-green, Haro Shredder BMX bicycle to replace one destroyed in a hit-and-run collision that Roque escaped without serious injuries because of his quick thinking and the fact he was wearing a helmet.

In a harrowing incident witnessed by his mother, who was following Roque on her bike at about 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, a driver blew through a red light on Camino Capistrano near La Zanja.

Roque Antonio is interviewed by a television reporter after being presented with a new bicycle on Monday, June 18.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Roque saw the white Nissan sedan out of the corner of his eye and had the wherewithal to jump off his bike as he was moving through a crosswalk.

He escaped serious injury — or worse — by seconds.

As the Nissan momentarily stopped, a panicked Luz Hernandez, Roque’s mother, pounded on one of the car’s windows, urging the driver to get out and help.

OCSD Deputy Anton Pereyra and Jim Curwood, owner of Buy My Bikes, help put on 6-year-old Roque Antonio’s new helmet.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

She saw her son’s destroyed bike in front of the car, but not him.

She thought Roque was under the car.

She thought he was dead or dying.

The driver, however, suddenly sped off, running over Roque’s bike a second time.

That’s when a relieved Hernandez saw her son. Roque was on the curb across the street, shaken up and crying and with scratches on his helmet after his head slammed onto the asphalt.

Roque Antonio tries out his new bicycle with Dep. Rob Miranda on a trail by the OCSD San Juan Capistrano Police Services Substation.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

OCSD Deputies Ryan Anderson, Tony Franco and Austin Kaesman responded to the scene, as well as Sgt. Mark Peters.

A couple of hours later, with an assist from air support and the California Highway Patrol — and witnesses who had snapped photos and shot videos of the suspect vehicle’s license plate — deputies were able to arrest the suspect on Ortega Highway.

Josue Cisneros, 41, pled guilty June 8 to two misdemeanors: failure to stop at an accident hit and run with injury or death, and driving without a valid driver license, court records show.

Six-year-old Roque Antonio gets a congratulatory fist bump from OCSD Deputy Rob Miranda, a former professional BMX racer.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

He was sentenced to three years of informal probation, 60 days in jail, and restitution, court records show.

Monday, June 18, at 11 a.m., Roque and his family gathered at the San Juan Capistrano Police Services Substation on Paseo Adelanto.

Roque, wearing a red polo shirt and khaki shorts, his short hair styled with gel, had no clue what he was in for.

As deputies and OCSD support staff gathered around the Antonio family, a man wearing a bumblebee costume wheeled out Roque’s new bike.

That’s when the boy busted out a huge grin.

Brent Antonio, 9, runs alongside his 6-year-old brother, Roque, as he rides his new bicycle for the first time with OCSD Deputy Rob Miranda.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Volunteer Vivienne Da Costa presented Roque with a new helmet and lock she purchased.

“We’re very, very glad that you didn’t get hurt,” Buy My Bikes founder and CEO Jim “Bicycle Jim” Curwood told Roque.

“Thank you, everybody,” Roque said.

A woman in the crowd asked him, “ Can you tell us what kept you safe?”

“My helmet,” Roque responded.

Lt. Carl Bulanek, chief of the OCSD’s San Juan Capistrano Police Services, said doctors told deputies Roque’s helmet prevented him from suffering major injuries.

“He was doing everything he was supposed to be doing,” Bulanek said. “He was wearing his helmet and paying attention to his surroundings….

“Unfortunately these days, not only kids — we see adults doing it all the time — they just go across the street, they’re on their cell phones not paying attention,” Bulanek said. “Even at (just) 6 years old, he (was) cognizant of his surroundings…and essentially saved his own life.”

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Late Monday morning, Roque spent several minutes giving his new wheels a test ride as hot dogs sizzled on a grill.

Deputy Rob Miranda, a former professional BMX racer, helped Roque with riding pointers.

Hernandez said she was touched by the generosity of the OCSD and the San Juan Capistrano community, but said she was a spooked when she watched her son test out his new bike.

She said she worries something similar will happen again.

Hernandez was at the presentation with her husband, Roque Sr., who works for a solar panel company, Roque’s two brothers — Jonathan, 19, and Brent, 9 — and cousins Marina Esquiveo and Isaac Ramirez, 4.

Roque and his mother were bicycling to his soccer practice at Stone Field Park when the collision happened.

“It’s crazy,” Jonathan said. “When I was talking to (Roque) after the (collision) and asked him about it, he told me he saw the car coming toward him and his first instinct was to jump.”

Jonathan works at the YMCA and said he always emphasizes to children the importance of wearing a helmet.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies and other personnel with 6-year-old Roque Antonio and his mother, Luz Hernandez.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The gift of the bicycle was the result of a chance meeting between Curwood and OCSD Crime Prevention Specialist Celina Corley at El Adobe, one of SJC’s landmark restaurants.

Both of the longtime acquaintances recently ran into each other at lunch and Corley told Curwood about the incident.

“Why don’t we just get him a new bike?” Curwood asked.

And so it happened, with Curwood donating the new 20-inch bike, valued at $210, to Roque.

The bicycle is meant for 6- to 10-year-olds, so Roque is expected to get a lot of use out of it.

“I love this community,” Jonathan said.