Cyclist dead, campus mourns 2020 SF State grad

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Andrew Sanders lying in the grass at Dolores Park. (Photo courtesy of Mary Evans.)

Andrew Sanders, a 23-year-old SF State graduate and San Jose native, died on July 19, two days after sustaining serious injuries from a bicycle collision near Dolores Park in San Francisco.

The accident occurred during a “hill bomb,” an annual event in which skateboarders and sometimes bicyclists ride down a steep section of Dolores Street. Sanders’ bike collided with a skateboarder participating in the event near the corner of 19th and Dolores street.

Sanders was a 2020 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art. Those who knew him say he brought joy with him wherever he went.

“It felt like he thought it was his job or something, but it came naturally to him,” Mary Evans, a junior at SF State’s art department, said. “I know that what he wanted was for everybody to feel good, because he wanted to feel good. He just naturally lit up a room when he walked in.”

Among his many passions, Sanders was enthusiastic about art, break dancing and bicycling. He was known for creating and cultivating friendships within those communities.

Andrew Harley and Sanders quickly became close friends while living in campus housing together as first year art students in 2014.

“He was a good person about connecting people. I have a lot of friends I met through Sanders because he could vouch for them,” Harley said. “He was just somebody you trusted, so if he showed up anywhere with one of his friends, it was automatically fine to assume they were good people too.”

Susan Belau taught Sanders in four classes during his time in SF State’s art department.

“I can just think of his big smile saying, ‘Yeah, that’s cool!’ and being encouraging toward his fellow students. But also having the same attitude toward himself and the things he was interested in,” Belau said. “The ones that he seemed to really blossom within were projects that he connected with his friends.”

“He was always someone to support whatever you were doing,” Harley said. “I think it inspired a lot of people to make their own art because they saw him doing it.”

Belau said Sanders was always a warm and positive addition to her classrooms, and that he was beginning to hit a new stride as an artist.

“He really enjoyed the in-person and tactile nature. The collaborative and the commaraduery aspects of those pursuits. I know when we went online he was really bummed,” she said of last semester. “It was really wonderful to work with him this last year. I saw how he had matured and focused and was very committed to the artwork he wanted to make.”

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Evans said that Sanders’ love for bicycling and involvement in bike culture was just as strong as his affection for art.

“He was always on his bike,” she said. “He was always trying to get better at biking, he wanted to be the fastest.”

Belau recalled one particular memory of Sanders and his affinity for bicycles.

“I had a flat tire one day; I bike to school sometimes,” she said. Unprompted, the next day Sanders came to school prepared to get Belau’s bicycle running again. “He had all the equipment to fix my flat so that I could ride home; he checked my chain,” she said.

For Harley, Sanders’ passion for biking will remain inseparable from his memories of his friend.

“I think it’s important that everyone knows that he went out doing what he loved, which was biking and going really fast and being out at the park on a sunny day,” Harley said. “Those were some of his favorite things to do. Apart from that moment when he crashed, he was probably having a blast. I think that’s really important because Sanders was always doing whatever he loved, and I think that’s why a lot of people liked him, because he was just himself and enjoying life.”

Evans reflected on her friends passing, saying, “I do feel like he would have done something great if he had gotten to stick around a little bit longer, and he did do great things.”

Sanders’ mother has organized a public celebration of his life to be held at 3 p.m. on August 1 at the intersection of 19th and Dolores streets.