Harrowing first person account of collision that critically injured Adam Rybicki, and a call for justice

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia being taken into custody.

Last April, Adam Rybicki was critically injured in a collision with an alleged underage drunk driver while riding with friends in Torrance.

The collision occurred early on Sunday morning as a car driven by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia drove head first towards the cyclists, then suddenly jerked back to strike Rybicki and another rider as they swerved to avoid her. Despite her age and the early hour, 19-year old Garcia reportedly had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

Nearly three months later, Adam remains in a rehab facility, struggling to communicate using a white board; he still has both a feeding tube and a tracheotomy tube installed. Reportedly, he’s making good progress, though he has a very long way to go.

The driver who is charged with putting him there is facing a preliminary setting hearing on Wednesday, July 27th in Department 5 of the Inglewood Courthouse, Case #YA81126; she’s charge with two counts of DUI with injury, and two counts DUI with BAC of .08 and injury.

The case has been transferred to Inglewood after the Supervising Judge in Torrance recused all the judges in that courthouse because Garcia’s mother works as a court reporter there. Cyclists who knew Rybicki and were on the ride are worried that, even in another courthouse, Garcia could receive favorable treatment because of her mother’s relationship with local judges and prosecutors.

As a result, they want to get the story out about what really happened that tragic Sunday, and have sent me, and several prominent area reporters and columnists, the following, absolutely chilling, first person account of the collision.

Along with a signed petition calling for justice for Adam.

……..

At 7:15 AM on April 3, 2011, the group of riders known as “The Doctors’ Ride” was headed downhill on Camino de Encanto.

Minutes earlier they left the congregation point near the fountain at Malaga Cove Plaza, with ten riders headed north toward Marina Del Rey.  They use Camino De Encanto to avoid traffic on Palos Verdes Boulevard.

As the road curved slightly to the right at the bottom of the steep part, an oncoming car came into view.  The silver Kia driven by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia was already in the middle of the road and drifting into the path of oncoming bikes.

MB said to JT, “Watch the car.”

Incredibly and inexplicably, the car kept coming further into the cyclists’ lane.  MB and JT at the front veered right and hit their brakes, skidding on the pavement, but they had no place to go.  DC, behind MB, braked so hard he kicked up his back wheel, barely keeping control.  Adam, to his left, apparently saw an opening to go left around the car and headed that way.  KW and NG1 behind braked hard but stayed right.  Behind them, SH and NG2 also braked hard, skidding.  Well back, DS and DL watched the horror unfold.

At the front, MB yelped a primal scream as he braced for impact.  JT, an accomplished motorcycle rider, tried to keep control and find a way out.  At the last second, Garcia jerked her vehicle back to the proper side sparing MB his expected impact.  JT smashed his left handlebar into the left front fender and vaulted up, shearing off the driver’s side mirror and scraping his shorts on the left rear door handle.  He doesn’t recall hitting the ground but popped up with a smashed left hand and upper leg abrasions from the scrape with the mirror and door handle.

Adam was not as fortunate.  His chosen escape was abruptly cut off with no time to react. He struck the bumper and hood of the Kia just to the driver’s side of center.  His carbon fiber bike frame buckled and shattered from the impact, the only thing holding it together was the control cables.  His right femur also shattered from the impact to the hood.  He flew into the windshield just to the passenger side of center creating a hole about a foot in diameter and spraying shattered glass into the lap of the girl in the passenger seat.  Adam was tossed into the air and landed on the far side of the street, his chest and face-down head on the sidewalk, his pelvis and legs in the gutter.  His right leg stuck out at a horrible angle under his left leg; he looked dead.

MB circled back and assessed the situation.  The vehicle had stopped back in the proper lane about 10 feet beyond Adam’s body.  The engine was still running; he yelled at the driver to shut off the engine and stay in the car.  DS, an orthopedic surgeon, noted Adam had a pulse but was not conscious or breathing well; he had to be moved to clear an airway.  MB and DS moved Adam so he was laid out in the gutter face up.  He began moaning.  Neighbors emerged from houses to see what the commotion was about.  Riders franticly called 911 uncertain what the street name or block was.

Riders quickly ascertained that Adam and JT were the only riders hit, JT far better off than Adam.  Minutes seemed like hours as riders awaited help.  A neighbor produced a blanket to cover Adam against the morning chill.  DS tended to Adam imploring him to hang on.

Five girls gradually emerged from the vehicle and wandered to the curb to sit away from the cyclists.  One stated within earshot of KW that this was bullshit; she had to get to work.  KW, uncertain if this was the driver, told this girl she wasn’t going anywhere, this was a serious accident and she should calm down and stay put.  Jaclyn Garcia told the girl to come sit down with her.

After about five minutes, the first police appeared on scene.  Minutes later, paramedics showed up and took over first aid from DS.  Others were trying to contact Adam’s wife, Barbara, by calling information.  JT had someone call his wife, also.  JT insisted paramedics tend to Adam first.  Ambulance arrived on scene, the paramedics cut off Adam’s jersey, a nearly new Bike Tour of Colorado jersey he bought last June.  In the back of the jersey was his wallet, his mini pump and his phone.  They loaded Adam onto a gurney and hauled him away in the ambulance headed for Harbor UCLA Trauma Center.

The police secured the block with crime scene tape and segregated the car girls from the riders.  Everyone except Adam was interviewed over the next hour.  Garcia was field-sobriety checked and failed.  She was cuffed and stuffed into the back of a cruiser for a trip to Torrance Memorial Medical Center for Blood-alcohol content testing.  At age 19, the legal limit is zero.  When tested, hers was closer to 0.15.

Adam’s phone and other jersey contents disappeared from the trauma center.  It was later determined that someone in South Central LA was using his phone to make international calls.  Messages were sent to try to retrieve the phone; there were no responses.  After multiple surgeries in the trauma center, his condition was stabilized.

Three-and-a-half months later Adam is conscious, but has severely limited motor ability.  He was moved to a sub-acute care center where he receives 24-hour-a-day monitoring.  He has been bed-ridden for three months. He has a trach tube, a feeding tube and cannot do anything for himself.  He cannot hear or talk.  He can respond to written questions with yes and no nods of his head.  He has no memories of the crash.  He appreciates all visitors and well wishes.  We are all hoping that he can eventually recover some semblance of a normal life.

A number of the riders and friends of Adam have circulated a petition.  It has been deemed inappropriate for us to send it directly to the DA or the judiciary.  We feel that we’d like to put it out there anyway so we are sending to you, the press.  We appreciate any public airing this case can get.

……..

A Demand for Justice in the Case of Jaclyn Andrea Garcia

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia was 19.  She was a former student athlete at Palos Verdes High, a babysitter and a Jr College Student.  She was drunk and driving in south Torrance with four other girls in her Kia mini-SUV.  Adam Rybicki was 49.  He was a fit, enthusiastic, avid bicyclist, who was very well liked by all who knew him.  He was a productive software engineer and, perhaps more importantly, a loyal husband and father.  April 3, 2011 brought them together in a horrible, violent collision.

At age 19, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content is zero.  When tested, JAG’s was closer to 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit for adults.  She and friends had purchased alcoholic drinks (illegally) on Saturday night and spent the night drinking at JAG’s boyfriend’s house.  How or why they emerged at 7 AM Sunday and decided to pile into JAG’s car is unknown.  But by doing so, they sealed Adam’s fate.

JAG drove her car across the centerline into the path of a group of ten cyclists.  In the mad scramble to escape her vehicle, two cyclists were struck.  Adam was by far the worst casualty.  He was struck head on with a closing speed of nearly 55 mph.

Adam’s progress is slow.  He still cannot hear.  He is still on a feeding tube and a trach tube for breathing.  He cannot speak.  He cannot do anything for himself.  Nobody knows if he will ever recover those abilities we all take for granted.

Some feel that the District Attorney should tie JAG’s fate to Adam’s; as long as he’s in his ‘prison’, she should stay in the state’s prison.  That is probably not within the law and it is not going to happen.  But it would be a travesty if she walked just because of her youth and sympathy for her family.  Adam Rybicki has no ‘inside’ connections.  District Attorneys, as we have seen in the Colorado case (see http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/06/news/the-explainer-a-follow-up-to-the-sleepy-investment-banker_177721), can make decisions on how to prosecute.  They have autonomy to make deals in criminal court that determine the defendant’s destiny.  They have no say in Adam Rybicki’s destiny.

We will see what happens in this criminal proceeding; it bears watching and those prosecuting and/or dealing should be and will be accountable – no under-the-table or behind-closed-doors deals should be allowed.  This is no longer a juvenile offender – no more sealed verdicts.  Justice is supposed to be blind and beyond reproach .

Drunk driving is a crime.  Offenders are to be cited and prosecuted.   Bicyclists constitute some of the most vulnerable users of the roadways.  They are entitled to use the roadways.  Accidents happen.  This was not an accident; this was a crime.  By illegally drinking and driving, Jaclyn Andrea Garcia became a criminal.  She should be properly prosecuted and should be properly penalized.  Any parent can appreciate wanting to spare a child distress and life disruption due to penalties.  But take a look at Adam Rybicki’s life and family.  They did not sign up for this and did nothing to deserve it.  We are all hoping that Adam can eventually recover some semblance of a normal life.

We, the undersigned, implore the District Attorney and Judge to consider the facts of the case and impose the maximum possible sentence for these crimes.

Thank you.

Richard Lull
Javier Murphy
Richard Shrader
Cynthia Tenhouse
Davis Jensen
David Perez
Dave LaForest
Raymond Eastwood
William Klahr
Paul and Kelley Swanno
Ed Taylor
Benjamin Konell
James K Yokotake
John Thomson
John Reidy
Judith Elliot
Gus and Gail Ohlsson
H. Marq Prince
William Height
Marcus Edwardes
Michael C Barr
Susan Kessler
Robert Cedergreen
Jeff Dykzeul
Kathy Risley
Jon Rosen
Kathy Nelson
 
If the authors of this petition don’t mind, they can add one more name to this list. Mine.
 
Ted Rogers, BikingInLA
 

12 comments

  1. Biker395 says:

    And mine too. I’m an occasional participant in the “Doctor’s Ride,” and have ridden with Adam and some of the others on that petition.

    In comments people have made about this story, I have read that Jaclyn Garcia had regularly driven drunk, and had already destroyed at least one automobile because of her drunk driving, and that her parents simply replaced it. I’ve also heard that at her initial hearing, her attorney stated that she had “voluntarily” given up her license and entered rehab. Obviously too little, too late. It would be a travesty if all she gets is a slap on the wrist. In her girlfriends words … that would be “bullshit.” Notwithstanding all of the all the maneuvering and posturing, she deserves jail time.

    The DA should also be looking to bring anyone who participated in this tragedy up on charges … that includes anyone who served her alcohol, especially those knowing her history. There are good reasons why it is illegal to drink in this state until you are 21.

    I have a small correction on the petition, if you don’t mind. It states that Ms. Garcia crossed the “centerline,” but there is no painted centerline at that location on Encanto. Other than that, sign me up.

    • Biker395 says:

      FYI … here are some of the comments I was referring to:

      http://discussions.ktla.com/20/ktla2/ktla-teen-dui-crash-cyclists/10

    • braden cypress says:

      if any of you want JUSTICE for Adam then PLEASE “urge’ who ever the hell Jaclyn Garcia’s probation officer is to monitor her! She has been a drunken NIGHTMARE for the past few months and posts these “escapades” to her social media sites! and does anyone know how a 20 year old ALCOHOLIC who is supposed to be paying 16 million dollars in restitution can afford to take her much older, unemployed, suspended license having boyfriend on weekly vacations to Palm Springs, Catalina, Vegas, Etc??? I have 2 degrees, no criminal record, a good job and I still cannot AFFORD to do most of those things!!!

  2. Jim Lyle says:

    Thanks, Ted. I was riding in the opposite direction and arrived at the scene of the accident only seconds after it happened. The sight of Adam lying in the gutter, moaning will be with me forever. What a waste.

  3. George Wolfberg says:

    Please add my name to the list.

  4. Allan says:

    I notified the person that put a post out that said, “if you want to keep up with how Adam is doing, please let me know and I’ll add you to the emails.” Well I did but I guess you have to be a friend of Adam, or have been on the ride, or belong to the group that rides this “Doctors” ride, or something. Anyways if you want to add my name to the list, feel free to do so.

    It’s sad to hear stories like this and I feel that I’m just one nutcase away from adding to the misery.

    Allan Alessio

  5. Chris Iorio says:

    Please add my name as well.

    Though I’m a resident of Ontario, Canada, I’ve had the pleasure of riding with Adam and other members of “The Doctor’s Ride” while on vacation in L.A. I’ve been deeply disturbed by this incident and have been following Adam’s progress as he tries to recover from this criminal act.
    I wish Adam well in his recovery and I especially hope JAG is punished to the full extent of the law, and receives no special favours from the DA.

    Chris Iorio

  6. kl says:

    she never crashed her car drunk before and never got in trouble drinking and driving. If your going to leave a comment at least make sure your accurate. As for adam my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family this is such a horrible story i hope everyone learns from this.

    • Biker395 says:

      I was accurate. I said “have read that Jaclyn Garcia had regularly driven drunk, and had already destroyed at least one automobile because of her drunk driving, and that her parents simply replaced it” and gave you a link to where I read it. How is that not accurate?

      Well, kl … maybe you could answer a few of questions:

      1. Since you apparently know her, perhaps you’d like to comment on how often she drove drunk? Silly me, but from the admitted facts, my guess is that she did it regularly. Were you there when she crashed that car earlier, and if not, how do you know she wasn’t drunk?

      2. How is it she was drinking anyway? She’s not even close to 21 years of age.

      3. What was Adam supposed to learn from this? Regale me.

      • kl says:

        my daughter played soccer with her in high school. I am friends with her parents so yes I do know what happened during that crash…..and not saying its right but you never drank alcohol when you were a sophmore in college? people can comment on here and say whatever they want but the truth is its is her first drinking and driving offense she never should have been drinking in the first place but it happens thats how our society is. and she is actually 20 so yea she’s pretty close to 21……

  7. Biker395 says:

    Here we go, kl:

    1. Unless you were a witness to the crash, you have no idea what really happened … only her parents’ version of what she told them. In all honesty, that is no better than the information from the person who posted the comment I linked.

    2. It may be her first drinking and driving offense, but the rest of us are not foolish enough to believe that it is the first time she had driven drunk. Didn’t she check herself into an alcohol treatment program? Casual drinkers do not do that.

    3. Of course, I drank alcohol. I still do. I don’t drive with a BAL of 0.15 … almost twice the legal limit. She wasn’t just intoxicated, she was blind stinking drunk.

    4. She was 19 when she crashed into Alan … not “almost 21.”

    5. You never told me what Alan was supposed to “learn” from this. Enlighten me.

    “Almost 21″ … “only her first drinking and driving offense” … “that’s how our society is” … it sounds like you’re only the latest in a long line of people who are willing to make excuses for her.

    I’m not so inclined. Should a drunken driver with a long list of excuse makers in their past kill or maim someone you love, you might think better of it too.

  8. John W says:

    Anyone who is sticking up for this girl is absoutely absurd. Especially the person who said she’s never crashed drunk. I saw the car after! If you dont believe me, why else did her parents get her pretty much the same car? Makes no sense, they’re not loaded, and they certainly do not have 16 million, so yea what the hell is she doing going on vacations and basically fueling her alcohol addiction? Several witnesses saw her stuffing balogna in between her skin and the alcohol detector on her house arrest anklet at parties only weeks after the accident. SEVERAL people who didn’t even know each other.

    Oh and kl, your daughter probably only played soccer with Jackie for about a year or so, because in case you don’t recall she quit the team when she started drinking and partying heavily.

    I talked to a guy who was at the same house that jaclyn stayed at the night before the accident. He said none of the girls even slept because they drank so long into the morning. Then, realizing they all needed to sober up for work that day, several of the girls from the accident started snorting cocaine before they quickly scurried out of the house. That’s just society huh? haha, morons.

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