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Friends, loved ones recall slain bicyclist

More than 100 people gathered at Grace Baptist church for memorial

Posted: July 16, 2009 8:59 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.

It only took seven months for Joseph Novotny to mark the lives of everyone he met, a fellow co-worker said during a memorial service Thursday for the slain cyclist.

“Joe Novotny is irreplaceable, we are all better for knowing him,” said Jaime Nelson, human resources director at Western Filter, where Novotny worked.

Novotny, 43, of Stevenson Ranch, was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver, while Novotny rode with the Santa Clarita Velo bicycle club Saturday.

More than 100 family members and friends gathered at Grace Baptist Church on Thursday afternoon for a memorial service.

“We’re here to reflect, remember and honor the life of Joe,” Pastor Paul Leitzell said.

Loved ones looked at pictures of Novtony, exchanged hugs and shared stories.

“Joe had a caption in his office that said ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of fight in the dog,’”  Nelson said. “Losing or failing was not in Joe’s vocabulary.”

Marco Valencia, 20, has been charged with one count of murder, several felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury with prior convictions and a misdemeanor count of driving with a suspended license for allegedly slamming into Novotny with his pickup truck and fleeing the scene.

The Canyon Country man, who had two prior DUI convictions on his record, faces 27 years to life in prison if convicted.

Novotny was fairly new to California, Nelson said. He moved to Santa Clarita seven months prior to his death after a life that had taken him from the Midwest to Europe.

Novotny was born and raised in Minnesota and lived in Brussels, Belgium for two years before moving to Stevenson Ranch.

He was also an avid cyclist, which is how Bob Santella met Novotny.

Santella and Novtony met on ride with the Santa Clarita Velo club.

“I didn’t get to know Joe very well, as I wish I had,” Santella said.

Santella said he and Novotny shared their love for cycling with each other when they met up for Saturday rides with the club. Losing a fellow cyclist during a ride has changed Santella permanently.

“I will never ride the same again,” he said.


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