If just a few details of 38-year-old Antonio Sandoval Aparicio’s commute home from work on May 10 were different, the avid bicyclist would likely be pedaling alongside the dozens participating in the Ride of Silence Tuesday. Instead the quiet, somber crowd will be honoring Sandoval -- the most recent victim of a fatal bike car crash in Philadelphia.
"He was a very good and beautiful person who had tons of friends,” described his tearful sisters, Claudia and Alejandra Sandoval Aparicio, through an interpreter.
Sitting alongside flowers, wreaths, candles and family photographs in the South Philly home they shared, his sisters describe their brother, nicknamed Tony, as a father figure who encouraged them to pursue English classes and provided both financial and emotional support.
Tony was struck and killed near 2nd Street and Girard Avenue in the city’s Northern Liberties neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. May 10, moments after he finished his shift at Johnny Brenda’s.
He was the second bicyclist killed in a car accident in Philadelphia since the start of the year, according to the Philadelphia Police Department.
It was his 38th birthday, as well as Mother’s Day in his native Mexico.
“It is hard to talk about now,” said Claudia, who had to call her parents who still reside in Mexico to share the devastating news. “My mother thought I was calling her to say happy Mother’s Day.”
“He was always cracking jokes,” he said. “We had a new guy who started in Johnny Brenda’s kitchen and immediately Tony, who didn’t even know the guy’s name, started grabbing his love handles.”
Acknowledging the void in the lives of Tony’s family, friends and coworkers is one of the reasons Ray Scheinfeld has helped organize Philadelphia’s Ride of Silence for the past nine years.
"We will honor the people that have been killed, the people who have been injured," Scheinfeld said. "And we assert our right to the road, that we should be safe out there."
Tony, along with the four other bicyclists who lost their lives in the Delaware Valley since last year’s ride, were acknowledged, he said.
The victims include an unidentified 73-year-old man killed Jan. 13 while biking on North Delaware Avenue in Yardley, 32-year-old Nehemiah Gredick, 24-year-old Andrew Capizzi and 15-year-old Zachary Gonzales, Scheinfeld said.
Gredick was struck Feb. 17 while fixing his bike chain on the shoulder of the 6200 block of Kingsessing Avenue in Philly. Capizzi was killed June 2, 2013 while training for a competitive bike race on a Burlington County highway. Gonzales, a Pennsbury High School Freshman, was hit by a car along Route 13 in Tullytown on Jan. 19. Police say the driver was under the influence when he struck Gonzales, who had lost both his parents before the age of 10.
Following a brief ceremony and prayer, bicyclists began the eight-mile trip at the Art Museum steps at 7 p.m. The silent procession headed along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, circled City Hall and continued to Independence Hall before trekking to West Philly on the Walnut Street Bridge.
The ride concluded around 8 p.m. with bicyclists traveling no faster than 12 miles per hour throughout the entire trip.
"We just want to ride following the rules while making sure we are safe and our friends are safe," Scheinfeld said.
At the end of the event, the wordless particpants hoisted their bikes in the air.
"We do what I think all bicyclists do to honor their friends that are killed," he said.
Many of Tony’s coworkers from Johnny Brenda’s, where he worked for the past five years, participated in the Ride of Silence.
The restaurant is also holding a benefit at Liberty Lands Park at 926 N. American St. in the city's Northern Liberties neighborhood on June 1 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A suggested donation for the event, which will feature live music and dancers, is $20. All proceeds will go to his family.
Tony's sisters, who attended the Ride of Silence along with more than 125 bicyclists, said the event will bring them some peace.
But Claudia and Alejandra say their hearts sink when they wake up each day since their brother isn't home to boisterously say in English, "good morning."