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Safety Instructor's Message Hits Home

August 29, 2000|ROB O'NEIL

George Rico's message on bicycle safety probably carried more weight at Morningside Elementary School than at other schools on his schedule.

Two weeks ago, Morningside fifth-grader Frankie Pinuelas, 9, was killed in a bicycle accident. He was not wearing a helmet.

Frankie was a passenger on a bike that overturned while rolling down a steep dirt hill in Pacoima.

He was remembered by Morningside Principal Nick Vasquez as a helpful youngster who once gave his teacher a goldfish to replace one that had died.

Rico demonstrated bicycle safety and repeatedly reminded his attentive audience that "Your brain is the most important part of your body."

Rico is an instructor with the nonprofit educational organization Safe Moves.

Based in Van Nuys, Safe Moves was founded in 1983 by Pat Hines following the death of herbest friend in a traffic accident.

Monday's assembly at Morningside was sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the state Office of Traffic Safety.

Blending mime and magic with student participation, Rico shared bicycle inspection tips and demonstrated the proper way to wear and fasten a bike helmet.

Assistant Principal Sue Goldberg said she was grateful that Safe Moves visited the year-round school on short notice.

About 1,200 students are scheduled to start vacation Wednesday.

"They'll be out on their bicycles, scooters and skates, and we wanted to remind them about safety," Goldberg said.

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