Big news on the legal front.
According to courtroom reports from cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, Dominique Rush, the driver charged with the hit-and-run death of 17-year old cyclist Alex Romero, will spend the next few years behind bars.
Wheels, who was in the courtroom for today’s preliminary hearing, reports the 23-year old Rush entered a plea of No Contest to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run.
Her father, Steven Rush, also entered a plea of No Contest to being an accessory after the fact for his efforts in helping his daughter cover-up her crime.
Romero was riding north along De Soto Avenue with a friend on the night of April 20th when he was struck by a speeding car near the intersection with Valerio Street. The driver, later identified as Rush, reportedly tried to pass another vehicle on the right, striking Romero’s bike from behind and killing him instantly before speeding off without stopping or slowing down.
That began a months-long investigation in which the police soon identified Rush as the suspect, but were unable to find the 2003 Toyota Corolla she’d been driving at the time.
According to the police, that difficulty was due, at least in part, to her father’s efforts. As KNBC-4 reported at the time of the arrest,
“The father went way beyond taking care of his child,” said Capt. Ivan Minsal of LAPD Valley Traffic Division. “He concealed the information. He concealed the car that his daughter, the driver, was driving.”
Now they’ll both have to pay for their crimes.
Wheels reports that Dominique will be sentenced to two years and eight months in prison on March 6th, while her father will receive 10 days in jail, along with 30 days on a Caltrans road crew.
I hope he works on a roadway where he’ll have to watch a lot of cyclists go by.
And yes, that sentence is a relative slap on the wrist for running down another human being and leaving him to die in the street where he fell. Maybe someday someone can explain to me how anyone could do that to another person.
Anyone with a heart, anyway.
But it may be the best prosecutors could do under the circumstances.
The fact is, this is one case the police didn’t give up on. Maybe it was pressure from the cycling community. Or maybe it was dedication to their jobs, and a commitment to keep going until they had the guilty party behind bars.
The LAPD investigators in charge of this case kept at it long after they could have given up and pushed it off the back burner. And long after many of us had given up on this case.
That they didn’t says a lot about them.
And the gratitude we all owe them on Alex’ behalf.
Wheels reports that his aunt Matilda addressed the court, saying Alex was a precious gift from God, and asking Dominique to repent. He says Dominique cried during the aunt’s comments, while Steven was tearful but composed.
I’m sure they’ll shed more tears in the days and years to come.
But it won’t begin to compare with the tears that have already been shed by Romero’s family and friends.
A couple other notes from Dj Wheels.
He reports that Jeffrey Ray Adams, the road raging driver charged with intentionally cutting off a cyclist in Santa Monica — then ranting about it as the camera rolled — had a preliminary hearing last Friday. The court found there was enough evidence to take the case before a jury; he’ll have a felony arraignment in a couple of weeks.
And a restitution hearing was held Tuesday in the case of Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, the underage driver charged with nearly killing cyclist Adam Rybicki last April when she collided with a group of Sunday morning riders while still drunk from the night before.
She may have gotten off with a slap on the wrist at her sentencing. But the judge lowered the boom in assigning restitution, ordering Garcia to pay $16,162,239.24.
Yes, that’s 16 million, one-hundred-sixty-two-thousand, two-hundred-thirty-nine dollars. And twenty-four cents change.
On top of that, she was ordered to pay 10% annual interest until the amount is paid in full.
Although I suspect they might be willing to write off that last 24 cents.
Which means that unless she’s phenomenally successful, Garcia will likely be working for the Rybickis for the remainder of her life. And that is a heavy price to pay for a night of youthful stupidity.
Yet it doesn’t begin to make up for what Garcia has put Adam Rybicki and his family through.
Speaking of Adam, Jim Lyle sends word that he continues to make slow, steady progress in recovery from his injuries. And that he’s back on a bike — even if it is a stationary bike in rehab.
That’s a lot more than most of us would have expected — or even dared to hope — just nine months ago. He’s clearly one tough, determined guy, with a support circle that refuses to give up.
I hope you’ll join me in offering my best wishes and prayers for Adam and his family for a full recovery.