Update: Cyclist killed in Agoura Hills DUI hit-and-run

It’s bad enough when someone is injured or killed on the streets because of what we euphemistically call accidents.

If everyone obeyed the law and used the roads safely, there wouldn’t be any accidents.

But worse still is when someone gets behind the wheel of motor vehicle after drinking or using drugs — or willing operates their vehicle in any other impaired or distracted manner — and takes the life of another human being as a result. And worse still, flees the scene, leaving a total stranger to die in the street.

According to the Ventura County Star, S.D. Whitmansegal did exactly that when she collided with a bike being ridden by 46-year old James Laing of West Hills; earlier reports indicated the then-unidentified victim was 30 years old.

The Star reports that Whitmansegal was followed by witnesses to a nearby parking lot where she was arrested on charges of hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

My prayers and condolences go out to James Laing’s family, friends and loved ones.

And don’t ask me what I think about someone who could do something like this. I wouldn’t like the answer I’d give right now.

Then again, she may find the real punishment will be trying to live with herself after this.

Thanks to the Ventura County Star for following up as more information became available.

Update: A few other details are slowly coming in. According to the L.A. Times, both Laing and Whitmansegal were both traveling east on Agoura Hills Road.

Meanwhile, the Star reports that Laing struck the side of Whitmansegal’s car and was thrown onto the road. When the case goes to court, the defense will undoubtedly claim it was a SWSS and that Laing swerved into the car for no apparent reason; hopefully the witnesses who tracked the driver down saw what happened.

And the Agoura Hills Patch inexplicably identifies the driver as Stephanie Segal of Woodland Hills, despite a police report identifying the driver as Whitmansegal.

Update 2: Bob points us towards a report on KCBS-2 that identifies the driver as Stephanie Segal, and says she is currently being held on $250,000 bail. The Associated Press confirms that S. D. Whitmansegal is also known as Stephanie Segal.

Laing is the 13th cyclist killed in Southern California in the last five weeks, and the 13th since the beginning of August.


27 comments

  1. Those witnesses deserve praise for following the driver. When is this crap gonna stop?

    • bikinginla says:

      You’re right Rach, I should have thanked the witnesses who gave chase; proof that there are decent people out there.

      I don’t know whether to scream or cry right now.

  2. Mark Fuentes says:

    Drunk driving and to run from the scene…people need to stop and rethink before driving. I walk dogs that have more compassion and sense than this woman. My condolences to the family and all that knew James Laing.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amanda Benedict and GTinLA, Ted Rogers. Ted Rogers said: What kind of person gets in a car after drinking, and leaves another human being to die in the street? http://bit.ly/bDe5ip [...]

  4. Cris says:

    I am so sad….he was my friend.An excellent co worker,husband and a great human being.There are no words to describe how horrible it will be getting to work tomorrow and not to see him :(

  5. SmartNonBiker says:

    Rant rave shriek. Maybe he was riding to the Chinatown event you encouraged people to go to.
    Maybe he was riding to beat his kids.
    Maybe he FELL in front of the unfortunate car driver.
    You have no idea what you are talking about, but that doesn’t stop you from hollering with your righteous indignation.
    Don’t want to get killed? Then stay off the streets, there are PLENTY of parks with bike paths. Insist on your “right” to participate in inherently dangerous behavior, then expect there to be tragedies like this.

    • bikinginla says:

      Sorry, my friend. There is nothing dangerous about bicycling; it’s the cars and careless, drunk and/or distracted drivers behind the wheel who create the danger.

      You could easily reverse your misguided indignation. If you don’t want to kill anyone, keep your car under control.

      And maybe you could show just a little more compassion for your fellow man.

    • Other Jared says:

      You are defending someone in a motor vehicle who was INTOXICATED? Disgusting. So you’re saying a drunk driver has more right to be on the road than a bicycle? Seems you do not grasp the law very well…

      • bikinginla says:

        I questioned that myself, Jared. How anyone could defend a drunk hit-and-run driver is beyond me.

        • Other Jared says:

          I’m pretty sure that person needs a major hug.

          Dear SmartNonBiker,
          I’m officially offering you a hug. It’ll be a solid one, and I won’t let go until you feel better.

          Word is bond,
          Jared

    • Jessica says:

      SmartNonBiker,
      We don’t insist on our right — it has been given to us by the law. Just because you don’t believe that it’s real, doesn’t make it less so.

  6. Derek says:

    Smartnonbiker, your brain cancer is not in remission yet is it? I’m sure if you died right now NO ONE would miss you. For you to come on here and state what you did just shows what a lack of parenting skills your parents had. I hope you are sterile so your rotten genes can’t be passed down the line. I’d love to b***h slap you until you pass out.

  7. Bob says:

    KCBS has done some followup on the identity of the driver:

    “The driver was detained by sheriff’s deputies until CHP officers arrived. The woman, originally identified as S.D. Whitmansegal, 44, of Woodland Hills, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, hit and run and gross vehicular manslaughter.

    The Los Angeles County jail system did not list anyone by that name, but did report a woman named Stephanie Segal, 44, was being held on felony charges after CHP officers arrested her at the crash scene Saturday night.”

    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2010/10/24/bicyclist-killed-in-hit-and-run-crash-by-suspected-drunk-driver/

    The ID seems is apparently confirmed by this listing for a Stephanie Drew Segal, which shows an aka of Stephanie Whitman Segal, 44, with a Woodland Hills address:

    http://www.veromi.com/Stephanie-Whitman.aspx

  8. graciela. says:

    You must have a great sense of humor “Smart non-biker” to give yourself such a name when your comments are lighting up the idiot meter.

    When will people learn that their personal biases against bikes really hold no water when someone was intoxicated and operating a 2 ton weapon?!! I really can’t believe that any person would side with a DUI driver. I would never wish that kind of tragedy on my worst enemy.

  9. DJwheels says:

    Assuming “Stephanie Segal” is indeed “S.D. Whitmansegal”…..

    One thing those reports left out is that the Sheriff’s Inmate locator page also notes that Stephanie Segal was released on bond at 2:30 AM on Sunday. So she’s no longer being held in custody.

    Bail was set at $250,000, so if she went through a bondsman she probably put up $25,000 cash or part of that amount in cash and some collateral to cover the rest, such as a lien on a house that has equity in it.

    Based on the location of the incident, she will probably be arraigned at the Malibu Courthouse in about three to four weeks.

  10. ATreport says:

    This is a terrible tragedy! It can make everyone out here think of how easily one wrong choice of drinking in the afternoon could turn into driving drunk and killing an innocent man. Obviously the woman driving most likely has an alcohol problem…that does not make it ok by any means…I think the consequences should be given to her and served. Most alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before helping themselves but this is something no one would want anyone to experience to learn to finally stop drinking.

    Now look at the poor guy just going for his afternoon exercise ride and then wham gets nailed by this woman who maybe had a bad day or who knows what her deal is…regardless it is a tragedy for both families and friends of each party. Both people lost their lives on this day…just one will be in prison and the other is a better plays above.

    My heart goes out to both but I would be pissed at the driver if my loved one was killed…I wouldn’t care how sick they were. The only thing we can all do is pray and learn from this and hope the families can move on and put this behind them. This story should make us all go and hug the people we love today because either one could be one of our family members and that would be a nightmare!

  11. [...] to Danny Jimenez’s comment on BikingInLA (DJ Wheels), she posted bail at 2:30am later that same day.  So she’s free to walk for now.  [...]

  12. Lulu Laing says:

    I’m Lulu Laing, Jim Laing’s wife. Ever since the catastrophic disaster of my beloved Jim’s sudden death, my life has been totally changed. Jim made me the happiest wife on earth, and now I have become the most miserable woman on earth! I have been busy with Jim’s funeral, and now I’m busy preparing for Jim’ s memorial service which is to be held from 3-5:00pm in Lundring Events Center of CLU (California Lutheran University, Jim’s workplace) on Nov.20 (Saturday).

    My parents and brother came here yesterday. I felt much better to have my close relatives be with me at such disastrous time. My son (with Japanese nationality) and nephew are flying to Los Angeles from Osaka on Nov.19. My son is going to settle down here.

    I still cannot accept the reality that I can no longer spend the rest of my days on earth with Jim any more. His clothes he wore for the last time are still in the hamper, the pillow he slept on still smells Jim’s smell, everything in the house is still the same as before except one crucial fact that my dear Jim is gone forever from this physical world where I am still living! I scream for Jim! I cry for Jim! I long for Jim! Jim! Jim!Jim! I want you back! My heart is bleeding!

    The following is an article I wrote for my dear Jim.
    To my dear husband-Jim
    Lulu Laing
    I always think I was born to live for love. The love is for the man I love. I could give up everything just for the man I love. That’s why I gave up my tenure full professorship at Osaka Sangyo University in order to live with my dear Jim in Los Angeles. My relatives and friends couldn’t understand me. They thought I was crazy. At Pierce College when I teach my first class of economics for each semester, I would always tell my students about how a happy economist like me makes her decisions. An economist makes decisions based on benefits and costs, while a non-economist is based on either benefits or cost. I quit my tenure full professorship at Osaka Sangyo University with a six figure income ( I gave them an assumptive $130,000). Well, this is on the cost side. I will tell them I only teach part-time at Pierce College. I gave them an assumptive number of $40,000. Then I would ask them “Do you think I’m crazy?” They would nod their heads. I said “well, if I’m really crazy, then I shouldn’t be standing here teaching you.” I told them “besides my salary, my benefits include wonderful friends, wonderful students like you guys (they would smile with satisfaction), beautiful blue sky and puffy clouds, and my beloved dear husband. Now can you give me a number about the benefits? “ Some would say $140,000, some would say $200,000….I told them my answer is ∞(infinity), because the benefits cannot be measured by any numerical numbers. I would then ask them “now do you still think I’m crazy?” They would shake their heads. So my students know how happy I was and how much I love my dear husband.
    Jim and I have been super happily married for 13 years. My friends all know we are the two happiest loving birds on earth. On October 23, 2010, our perfect loving life was destroyed at 3:45 p.m. Saturday when my 46-year-old dearest husband was hit by a drunken driver as he was pedaling along Agoura Road. In the morning of that day, I was going to a once-in-a-year event with my friends. When I left home, my dear Jim came out of the house to see me off as he would always do. He kissed me on the cheeks and said “ Have a good time, baby (I love to be called baby by him) ! Today I’m going to have a long ride. So please don’t worry about me if I am not at home when you come back.” As my red car was rolling down the driveway, he waved his hands, watching me with loving smile on his face until I could no longer see him any more. Who on earth would know that was my last look at my dearest Jim!
    From the bottom of my heart, I didn’t want him to do cycling. But he loved cycling so much and I had to respect him. That day, I didn’t see him off. Usually, I see him off and offer a blessing – a prayer that says please come home safe.
    I love this man so much. He is the most wonderful man in the world. A wonderful husband. A wonderful son. A wonderful brother.
    When I rushed back home from the event, I didn’t see Jim. But I remembered what he had said to me when I left. So I didn’t feel too bad. I even called my friend Louise about how wonderful the event was. I met many famous artists and I almost got to buy one beautiful painting which I saw how it was finished before me by a great artist. Unfortunately that one was bought while I was wondering from one artist’s stand to another. I was so excited about the event and couldn’t wait to tell Jim in every detail about it.
    I prepared Jim’s favorite chicken dish for dinner and waited for him to return. I became increasingly worried as it got dark. I tried his cell phone, but the call didn’t go through. I called Jim’s mother. She was worried and asked me to call her immediately if Jim came back.
    Then came the call from a CHP officer. She said, “Are you Jim Laing’s friend?” I replied in an anxious voice, “No, this is Jim’s wife! What happened to my husband?” She told me calmly, “I’m sorry. Your husband didn’t survive.” I simply couldn’t believe my ears, as if I was hit by a sudden lightening on a sunny day. I started screaming “Oh,no! No! No!Jim! Jim! Jim! Please don’t go! I love you so much!…” My hands were trembling, my heart seemed to stop beating, and things were getting blurry with hundreds of little stars jumping in front of my eyes. The officer was still talking, but I couldn’t hear a word. I told her I had to hang up. She asked me not to do that, because she wanted to know my address. I told her the address and I dropped the phone in total despair. I dialed the number to Jim’s Mother and told her about the catastrophic news. She burst into tears instantly and told me she would come to me right away…
    I then called my friend Nelson, a retired kernel from Taiwan. Immediately my living room was full of friends trying to save me from this catastrophic disaster hitting my body and soul so hard that I felt I was going to die. I screamed, screamed and screamed. My friends didn’t know what to do about me. Nobody could stop me. In my utter sorrow, I called my dear parents in Beijing. My mother on the other side was calling my name, “Xiao Qun! Xiao Qun! You cannot die. If you die, I’ll die,too!” I’m the baby of my family with two elder sisters and on elder brother who always love me and took good care of me during my childhood. I’m my parents’, especially mother’s favorite. I always know how to make her happy, and I always feel very happy for the fact that I’m able to do that. Even now I would call my parents every other day. Each time when I am on the phone, we seem to have endless topics to talk about. My parents know every detail about my life here. After about 4 hours’ screaming, I suddenly stopped, and I asked my friends to be quiet. Even though he was away from me physically, I felt him in my heart. And I heard him tell me”`Baby, be strong, I love you! I’ll be waiting for you!”
    I have to be strong for my beloved Jim. I’ve been busy doing things that I’m sure Jim would love me to do. I went back to teach at Pierce College three day after the terrible accident. After they found out what happened to me three days ago, my students cried. One of the students came up to the front to give me a hug. I could see those lovely young lives grow a lot within just one class time-1:25minutes. That day I taught three classes. I want to touch more lives and I want to show those who have lost their beloved ones that the best way to express our sorrow is to be strong and carry on with a meaningful life which leads to a wider world full of friendship and love.
    I have so much to do for Jim. I’m arranging for the Memorial Service for Jim which is scheduled to be on Nov.20 (Saturday). I’m waiting for the answer from Pierce College(my workplace) and California Lutheran University (Jim’s workplace).Today I’m going to meet Jim’s students at CLU. My college is going to interview me on 11/8. I am invited to a radio station to give an on-air talk about Jim between 3:00-4:00pm on 11/17. I’ve already recorded 18 hours of contents for a book which will be written both in English and Chinese. As my friends know, I was a person who just cared about my private life with my loving husband Jim, for whom I quit my six-figure income tenured full professorship/Ph.D supervisor position at Osaka Sangyo University(I was known as Luqun there) in Japan. When I was in Japan, NHK(the Japanese gov.TV station) invited me to participate in a TV program called “Successful Foreign Women in Japan” . I declined without hesitation, because I didn’t want to be famous at all. However, now I was pushed to the front by Jim’s sudden death. My dearest Jim will not die in vain. I love you, Jim! And I miss you, Jim!

    • bikinginla says:

      Lulu, my heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry for your loss. I never knew Jim, but from what I’ve heard, he was a wonderful man and will be deeply missed. And I promise you, the cycling community will not forget him.

      • Peggy Laing says:

        Hi, I’m Jim’s oldest sister, Peggy. I was wondering if you are with the Biking in L.A. newsletter that first reported about my brother, Jim’s death. I would like to know if you can find out when this woman will be going to court. I have been checking the “Legal Cases” portion of your newsletter and haven’t seen anything for Stephanie Segal. Could you let me know if you find out an arraignment date? Much appreciated! Peggy

        • bikinginla says:

          Hi Peggy. Please accept my condolences for your loss; James death is simply heartbreaking. I haven’t gotten any information on this case yet, but I’ll try to find out what I can and let you know. Feel free to contact me directly at bikinginla at hotmail dot com.

  13. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martin Beck, Ted Rogers. Ted Rogers said: Widow of cyclist James Laing, Agoura drunk-driving victim, left comment today; it will make you cry: http://bit.ly/a9TQ6Z [...]

  14. beany says:

    Lulu: My heart really does go out to you. I am so very sorry about Jim.

  15. Gord Blackburde says:

    My condolences to Lulu Laing. Okay, with that said – there are some people who feel justified in venting their anger on this matter, and rightly so. However, I don’t think it’s constructive to argue about opinions regardless of how stupid and ridiculous they may seem. Some things are better left ignored. Furthermore, I think people’s uproar may be misplaced if it doesn’t affect positive change in some manner. The U.S., as many first world countries, has a serious substance abuse problem. That’s the issue with drunk driving – not poor choices, bad decisions or immoral behaviour. Of course, these enter the ‘alcoholic/drug picture’ but the fact is people drink to excess to escape problems (mental, emotional, psychological, pick one). They cope by drinking, smoking, injecting what-have- you. If you see someone in trouble reach out to them and, try to get them some help before they or someone else becomes a statistic! P.S. the “stop drinking” advert is a joke

  16. BikersRbrave says:

    Mrs. Laing, I am so sorry for what has happened to your husband. I say a prayer for you, your family and Jim’s family often…for peace and comfort for all of you. You, and his family, are brave people and I hope you begin to heal quickly. We are here but a short time and will be reunited with our loved ones in time. I didn’t know Jim or any of his family or friends. I work near the sherrif’s station and I happened to go in on Saturday Oct. 23rd. On my way home, I had noticed a woman standing by a biker laying on the ground and I knew immediately what had happened. There were no sherrif’s officers, police or paramedics there when I stopped to help but they showed up shortly after. I want you to know that there were many people around Jim willing to help in any way. Everyone was very concerned for him and a young lady was already on the phone with a 911 operator before I stopped. Your husband was not left there alone and there were many people who cared enough to stop for him. This tradgedy has affected me greatly…even though I don’t know you or your family. I have stopped at his memorial to pay my respects to Jim and I want to learn more about him and his family. I support you through this and I want justice to be served for Jim, for you, for his family, his brothers and sisters, nephews….and for our community. I support enforcing tougher penalties on drunk drivers. This has changed my life forever and I want our society to be more respectful of everyone’s safety. I say to our elected law makers…how many people have to suffer at the hands of drunk drivers? Any time I see a drunk driver, I report them immediately to the authorities. I would have loved to go to Jim’s memorial service but I was not able to that day. The person who caused this has affected everyone who stopped to try and help Jim that day. The drunk who did not stop and and help caused me to temporarily lose faith in a safe society. The memorial for Jim, by the Lost Hills sherrif’s station, is very touching and it tells me how much he is loved by you and his family. I am so sorry for your pain and suffering. I commend all the people who have supported tougher laws against drunk drivers….I pray for all of the family members who have lost a loved one to a drunk driver. It has helped me to see that cross and the flowers and all the biker’s who have left water bottles at his memorial….that has helped me to see that people are good and care for one another. There are good people out there who want a safe society and who respect other’s by acting responsibly. Mrs. Laing…I pay my respects to you, your family, Jim’s family and to Jim. My prayers are with you all for comfort and healing.

  17. [...] excuses based on their commonality: the SMIDSY (“sorry, mate, I didn’t see you”) and the SWiSS (“single witness suicide serve”) are two I know; there may be others. The near-insouciant means [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × five =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this: