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Hundreds gather at crash site in vigil for bicyclist killed in east Las Vegas

Updated October 29, 2020 - 4:56 pm

Hundreds of people gathered on the side of a busy street for a vigil honoring a Las Vegas bicyclist who was killed last weekend, when a man leaned out of a car and intentionally struck her.

Michelle “Shelli” DiCesare Weissman, 56, was remembered by her co-workers at the Eastside Cannery, her family, friends and local bicyclists after she was killed Sunday near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Sahara Avenue.

Spray paint still marked where a shoe had landed, next to the 3-foot wide bike lane on a 35 mph road. On the other side of the sidewalk sat a dirt lot and a 10-foot deep cliff.

“My wife was a beacon of light,” her husband, Lonny Weissman, told those gathered Thursday night. “This world has suffered a huge loss. Her legacy will always live on.”

Michelle Weissman was riding her bike on Hollywood Boulevard early Sunday when police say a man intentionally leaned out of a car and struck her. That man, Giovanni Medina Barajas, 20, also died when he fell out of the vehicle.

Police said the driver of the vehicle, Rodrigo Cruz, 22, of Las Vegas, has been charged with murder. Investigators believe Cruz had been driving in the bicycle lane at the time Weissman was hit.

“This was 100 percent a tragic death and it was 100 percent avoidable,” said Weissman, 54.

The couple lived about 2 miles up the street and enjoyed riding their bikes to Clark County Wetlands Park, about 8 miles from their home. Lonny Weissman said he’s confident that’s where his wife was going that day because the outdoor cameras in their driveway showed she was wearing her backpack.

Mourners filled the sidewalk for about two hours before several silver balloons flew into the sky. There were tears and laughter as people remembered the things about Michelle Weissman that left a lasting effect on their lives.

‘A heart as big as anyone you know’

Michelle Weissman was a twin and the youngest of six siblings, including a half-brother. Her oldest sister, 70-year-old Karen Reda, left Mickey Mouse toys for her little sister, who years ago had helped her decorate a whole room in Reda’s house with memorabilia of the Disney character.

“She had a heart as big as anyone that you know,” Reda said. “She took care of everyone.”

Reda remembered her sister visiting and caring for their 90-year-old aunt, and when the pandemic started, she brought presents for Reda twice a month, leaving them at the door for a contactless delivery.

“Shelli was the light that brightened the room,” Reda said.

A procession of people gathered around a blue SUV a few feet from the vigil site where 86-year-old Toby DiCesare sat in the passengar seat listening to stories from people who knew his daughter.

“I just thank God for bringing her back to Him,” he said, remembering his youngest daughter. “God did a good job with her.”

DiCesare worked as a casino host at several Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana, Sands and Bally’s until his retirement three years ago. Many of his friends came to pay their respects as well.

“It’s incredible,” he said admiring the crowd of hugging family members and coworkers. “It’s really amazing that this many people thought that much of her.”

Fred Victorson, 82, played racquetball with Toby DiCesare for about 40 years and remembered Weissman as the little girl who teased her father on the court.

“She was a sweetheart, absolute sweetheart. She loved to be in the middle and watch us play,” she said. “She was just a good person … She loved her father and her family and shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Alan Snel said he heard about Weissman’s accident from fellow bicyclists and rode over to pay his respects.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” the 58-year-old Summerlin resident said.

“I find the motorists in this city are very reckless and I’ve had to change my riding style to keep away from danger,” Snel said. “They drive way too fast and forget that bicyclists are co-users of the road.”

Michelle Weissman’s sister-in-law Sylvia Mayers said she still remembers babysitting her when she was 10, long before Mayers’ brother married one of Weissman’s sisters.

‘She was always there for me’

“She was a beautiful little girl,” Mayers said, greeting brothers and cousins who had all gathered to tie balloons and lay down posters with Michelle Weissman’s photo. “We were so proud of what she accomplished at work.”

The longtime Boyd gaming employee most recently served as a front-desk manager. Henderson resident Chassity Gulley, 39, was among the dozens of employees who remembered their coworker as “a light of a person” who loved to talk about her husband and pets.

“When I think of her, I think of kindness, compassion, she was an absolute blessing,” said Gulley, who knew Michelle Weissman for about two years.

Elena Presilla spoke publicly to the audience, remembering her teenage years with her friend after they were in junior high.

“I don’t know anybody that met Shelli that didn’t like Shelli,” she said. “She was always there for me. When I had my son she’d bring me diapers and food. She took care of my mother and would bring her chocolates and lollipops.”

Presilla encouraged the group of mourners to stay strong but her voice wavered during her quick speech.

“She was everything to me,” she said through tears.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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