Andrew Messchaert, the bicyclist who was seriously injured in a solo crash on Saturday, Feb. 14, while with a group of cyclists traveling down South Fork Drive in Three Rivers, died in a Bakersfield rehab facility on May 25. The official cause of death is still pending, according to a spokesperson with the Kern County Coroner’s Office.
The Coroner’s report stated that Andy fell in the shower shortly before his death at Centre for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield. In the 100 days since the accident, Andy had made some remarkable progress on his way back from the serious head trauma he had suffered in the accident.
A popular philosophy professor at Porterville College and colleague of Jim Entz of Three Rivers, Andy shocked his entire community of students, coworkers, friends, and family with his untimely death.
“When I first visited Andy at the trauma center in Fresno shortly after the accident he could hear but he couldn’t speak,” Entz said. “I saw him again last month at the Bakersfield facility, and he was showing flashes of his old self.”
Entz, who counted Andy and his family among his good friends, described him as a “bright and witty guy.” He estimated his recovery to be approximately 80 percent at the time of his death.
Trying to understand his friend’s tragic accident, Entz revisited the crash site on South Fork Drive.
“He [Andy] was an experienced cyclist and even though he was in a downhill stretch of road, there was no apparent reason for the crash,” Entz said. “The only witness, who was riding behind Andy, said he looked down at the road and then just suddenly crashed to the pavement.”
Messchaert, 45, leaves behind a wife and two young sons. A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, June 20) at 2:30 p.m. in the Porterville College gymnasium. Immediately following the service, there will be an open house to celebrate Andy’s life at the Messchaert home.
Memorial tributes are being accepted online at www.salseranddillard.com. Because of Andy’s efforts as Social Sciences Department chair, Porterville College was among the first colleges in California to offer an Associate Arts degree in Philosophy for transfer.
An Andy Messchaert Memorial Scholarship fund has been established with the Porterville College Foundation. Donations to the fund may be made by contacting Carol Bodine in the PC business office at (559) 791-2319.