"I was totally shocked, I couldn't believe it. You see a guy one day, I was talking to him here two days ago, and then he had this terrible accident," fellow research professor John Yoder said.
Friday, authorities identified 47-year-old Kentaro Inoue as the victim of the fatal accident. West Sacramento police told FOX40 just before 8 a.m. Wednesday, both Inoue and the driver of a Waste Management truck were traveling westbound on West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento when the garbage truck turned into a driveway and struck Inoue.
Inoue's wrecked bicycle was found in the bicycle lane. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities said the collision appeared to be an accident and that the driver of the truck was very distraught, but said an investigation would take time.
"Students really liked him, they would come in the hall and there would be 20 people sitting in this little office and they'd be out in the hallway, spilled out, trying to talk to him," Yoder said.
Inoue taught at UC Davis since 2002, most recently in the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, where he conducted research in plant biology and worked on projects with a select group of graduate students in his lab. Yoder said he also taught lecture style classes with between 150 and 200 students at a time.
"So he was really interested in how molecules in the cell got to where they were supposed to get to," Yoder said.
Yoder said everyone who knew Inoue also knew that his second passion in life was riding his bicycle. He was known to ride his bike from the home he shared with his wife in Sacramento all the way to Davis to commute to work. Yoder said he also rode mountain bikes.
No word on whether or not the driver of the truck will face any charges.
Inoue's is one of a string of recent car versus pedestrian and car versus bicycle deaths on West Capitol Avenue that already had a special task force within the West Sacramento police department examining driving patterns on the road.