Partner seeks answers in death of cyclist David Sexton

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday August 16, 2023
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David Sexton was an avid cyclist. Photo: Courtesy Bob Burnside
David Sexton was an avid cyclist. Photo: Courtesy Bob Burnside

It's been more than a month since gay San Francisco cyclist David Sexton was killed in a hit-and-run crash in the East Bay city of Richmond, and his partner told the Bay Area Reporter that he's frustrated with the slowness of the investigation.

Mr. Sexton, 60, was killed July 1 at about 10 a.m. on the Richmond Parkway. He was en route to Napa to meet his cycling partner, Gordon Dinsdale.

"Cycling had been essential for David for decades, even cycling vacations in Europe," his longtime partner, Bob Burnside, wrote in an email.

Burnside, a handyman known by many in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro neighborhood, and Mr. Sexton had lived together in an apartment at Castro and Market streets for over 30 years.

According to Burnside, a car struck Mr. Sexton and he died seconds later. The driver fled the scene, though Richmond police found the abandoned vehicle. The police have not released further information, Burnside said.

Messages left with two Richmond police officials were not returned.

The East Bay Times reported July 6 that Richmond police had obtained an arrest warrant for felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter. Police did not give information about the suspect or identify the person, the paper reported.

Richmond Police Captain Eric Smith told the B.A.R. August 15 that officers are working to apprehend the suspect and confirmed police have secured an arrest warrant.

"The case is still under investigation," Smith said. "We do have an active arrest warrant for the person involved and haven't been successful so far, not that we haven't tried."

Gay Richmond City Councilmember Cesar Zepeda offered his condolences to Mr. Sexton's loved ones.

"Maybe all the great memories bring them comfort in this difficult time," Zepeda wrote in a message. "I will be working to make this bike path and crossing safer for all."

Mr. Sexton worked as a chemotherapy nurse at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. He completed a physician assistant course at Stanford University, Burnside said.

Burnside said that Mr. Sexton worked in the San Francisco jail for a couple of years. He then worked at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center in the emergency room for a couple of years before joining Kaiser as a chemo nurse. While working at the jail Mr. Sexton wrote about his experiences, but the essays were never published, Burnside said.

"He loved his patients so he stayed a nurse though qualified for a higher position," Burnside wrote of Mr. Sexton's career at Kaiser.

Helen Krochik is a nurse at Kaiser who worked with Mr. Sexton. She told the B.A.R. in a phone interview that she still misses her colleague.

"David was an exceptional person, and it's not an exaggeration," she said. "He was very kind and very curious about everything."

Krochik, a straight ally, said that Mr. Sexton was also loved by his patients. The two worked in the oncology department, where things could be difficult at times.

Mr. Sexton would help Krochik, whose first language is not English, if she was looking for a word to use when writing something. "His use of language was outstanding," she added.

People at Kaiser continue to talk about Mr. Sexton and mourn his loss, said Krochik.

"I have his picture over my desk," she said, adding that other co-workers do too.

"He trained a lot of our new nurses," Krochik added, noting that there was turnover during the early years of COVID. "I would say that 70% of the new people that work with us were trained by him."

Avid cyclist

Mr. Sexton was born July 31, 1962 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Burnside said that Mr. Sexton moved to San Francisco in 1990 after a traveling nurse assignment brought him to the city and he fell in love with it. Burnside and Mr. Sexton met at a house on 14th Street when both were showing friends from out of town "our gay world," Burnside wrote.

"He biked with his bike partner, Gordon Dinsdale all over the world — Hawaii, Vienna to Venice, Crater Lake, Yellowstone, Croatia-Albania-Bosnia. He even did Vietnam," Burnside wrote.

Mr. Sexton also completed AIDS/LifeCycle rides and belonged to Different Spokes, an LGBTQ cycling club in San Francisco.

In fact, it was through Different Spokes that Dinsdale met Mr. Sexton, he recalled in a phone interview.

"We met in about 2011," said Dinsdale, a gay man who retired last year as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.

Dinsdale said he and Mr. Sexton took many cycling trips over the years. They particularly enjoyed Maui, Hawaii — and went there a lot — where they cycled to the top of the Haleakala Summit. It is the longest continuously paved ride in the world, which runs 69.4 miles out and back. The trail begins at the small seaside town of Paia and then climbs 10,000 feet.

"People would drive cars on the trail and look at us like we were from the moon," Dinsdale recalled.

The pair also enjoyed cycling around Elba Island in Italy, he said.

A post on Different Spokes' blog noted that Mr. Sexton "was a careful cyclist."

"Death makes everything insignificant and at the same time also immensely valuable and cherished," the post reads. "When a friend dies and we grieve the loss, everything else falls to the wayside and we are left to wonder what could have been. ... And then we pedal on anxiously glancing over our left shoulder."

Burnside stated that he and Mr. Sexton enjoyed Scrabble and traveling to the East Coast to see family and friends. The couple established a community garden on States Street in the Corona Heights neighborhood after two years of meetings, Burnside added.

In addition to Burnside, Mr. Sexton is survived by two sisters, Beth Sexton and Mary Blake; and his many friends and patients.

Two memorial services for Mr. Sexton were previously held, Burnside said.

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