Update: 3 cyclists hospitalized after Seal Beach DUI hit-and-run; Palms Desert cyclist critically injured

Over the weekend, I heard numerous reports of a bad hit-and-run collision on PCH in the Seal Beach area Saturday morning.

It wasn’t until Sunday night, though, that I received an email from a member of Long Beach’s Lightning Velo bike club confirming that three cyclists participating in the club’s Saturday Social Ride had been sent to the hospital with moderate to serious injuries.

Fortunately, none were life-threatening, and the driver was quickly apprehended; I’m told this was her 2nd DUI offense.

From the reports on our email group – Our ‘C’ group (the slower group) was on Pacific Coast Highway on Saturday, in Seal Beach, near the Taco Surf going into Sunset Beach.  The bike lane is very wide there and our group was riding 2 wide completely in the bike lane. A driver swerved into the bike lane and hit several riders and then swerved back to the left and drove away from the scene. The group got a good description of the car and also had the side mirror in their possession. They reported it to the Seal Beach police, who spread the word and the Huntington Beach police were able to locate the car.  The police went back and got two of our riders to identify the vehicle. The driver failed a sobriety test (This was before 10AM!).

One of the cyclists involved stated today: “The Seal Beach police officer, Joe Garcia, is going to bring me my bike today, which is supposed to be in pretty bad shape. The officer stated that the driver was not only drunk, but she had cocaine and prescription meds in her car to go along with her two felony warrants and the hit and run. The case # is: 12-0246, in case anyone would like it.”

Three of our riders went to the hospital and two stayed overnight.  One reportedly had elbow surgery for a bad break. Another has a severe bruises & road rash all over, sprained elbow & ankle, neck & head trauma, and a concussion. The 3rd has a broken right thumb, hairline fracture of the pelvis, a large hematoma on his right hip, road rash, pain in his neck & back. All in all, they are VERY lucky to be alive.

We are discussing as a club how we can take our concerns to the justice system. This person should be taken off the roads.

It’s long been my belief that every hit-and-run driver should automatically lose their driver’s license — not suspended, but permanently revoked, since they’ve shown themselves unfit to be behind the wheel by failing to observe one of the most basic legal requirements for any driver.

Or any human being, for that matter.

I think any car used in a hit-and-run should be impounded as evidence until a trial is held. If the driver is convicted, the vehicle should be seized by the state and sold, with the proceeds going to the victim.

After all, we don’t let bank robbers keep the gun they used to commit the crime. And California law already allows seizure of a vehicle if it’s used in a drug crime or to solicit a prostitute.

Isn’t a hit-and-run that leaves an innocent person bloodied or dead in the street just a little more serious than asking a hooker for a blow job?

My prayers and best wishes go out to all the cyclists injured in this case; it was a large hematoma that laid me up for three months after the Infamous Beachfront Bee Encounter, and it was at least that long before my head finally cleared from the effects of the concussion I suffered.

So I know just how serious those injuries can be.

And I wouldn’t wish road rash on my worst enemy.

Update: An anonymous source identifies the driver as Juli Ann Brown. Brown reportedly was convicted of two separate DUI counts in 2003, one for drug use and another for a blood alcohol level greater than .08. In a sign of just how lenient  the courts are in what should be a serious crime, she was sentenced to just 10 days in jail — which as then stayed — 90 days of driving restriction, and fines and restitution. In addition, she was required to attend a nine month alcohol treatment program and a MADD victim impact panel.

In other words, not one day in jail. And she had her license back in just three months.

No wonder people continue to die when the courts refuse to get drunks off the road.

The Seal Beach Police Department is looking for more witnesses; contact Officer Joe Garcia directly at (562) 799-4100, ext. 1649

Update: The Orange County Register reports that Brown, a 46-year old resident of Anchorage, Alaska, has been arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run, suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of narcotics. She was arrested by Huntington Beach police near the intersection of PCH and 17th Street in Huntington Beach. Thanks to Duan Dao for the link.

……..

In related news, a Palm Desert cyclist was sent to the hospital in critical condition after a collision at Portola Avenue and Frank Sinatra Drive at 11:18 Sunday morning; no other information is available at this time. Also, a San Diego cyclist suffered a serious arm injury when he was hit by an 85-year old driver in a left cross around 1:20 pm Saturday.

And I’ve received an unconfirmed report — from a very reliable source — about a cyclist struck by a hit-and-run around 6 am Friday in Laguna Beach; let me know if you have any information.

……..

The call for bike safety inspired by the Times of London spreads, with a must-read letter from a business writer for the Independent to UK Transport Minister Mike Penning.

I should say, Mr Penning, I am also a motorist – or at least I was before I was seriously disabled by that tanker. And I can tell you that, as a motorist in London, the thing I’m afraid of is other motorists, not cyclists. That is because other motorists can hurt me even when I’m in a car. And when I’m on a bike, they can kill me.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand paper calls for taking cycleways — and cyclists — seriously.

Cyclists, in particular those who commute, are not obscure oddball hobbyists; they are the trailblazers of a transport future whom we should applaud and accommodate.

And be careful what you wish for — the new call for bike safety could go a little too far.

……..

After dragging his name through the mud for the past several years, we’ll never know the truth after federal investigators drop their investigation into seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. However, even though US cycling officials welcome the end of the probe, the doping investigation may go on.

But do we really care?

Then again, by the time you read this, we may finally know the outcome of the Contador clembuterol-tainted meat case. Or not.

Update: In a major shock, Alberto Contado has joined Floyd Landis in being stripped of 2010 Tour de France title, and has been banned for two years. Très surpris!

……..

The Westside Cities Council of Governments wants your opinion on closing gaps in Westside bikeways. Rick Risemberg writes in praise of the new Main Street road diet and bike lanes in Venice, and suggests turning bus benches into bike racks. How can we stop bike thefts when police are doing the stealing? More grants for environmental projects — including bike paths — goes to NorCal than SoCal. Pomona plans a ciclovia of their own.

Frank Peters of cdmCyclist takes a ride up the coast. A San Diego cyclist may never walk again after he was run down by a 76-year old driver who never knew she hit him. Some schmuck fled the scene after running down three girls walking on a Ventura County bike path. Police say 70% of people killed in Petaluma in the last 25 years have died from traffic collisions, and 30% from criminal attacks; evidently, no one ever dies from accidents or other causes in Petaluma.

This year’s Ride the Rockies will travel 442 miles across the Colorado high country through two national parks, five mountain passes and the highest continuous road in the U.S. An Amarillo banker fights bikeway improvements in the city. A Louisville KY family moves two-and-a-half miles to a new home by bike. A Baton Rouge engineer says it’s time to put the brakes on the bicycling movement, and blames a biased liberal press for pushing it; an LSU Ph.D candidate seems a little more rational. Pennsylvania’s Governor signs a four-foot passing bill into law, unlike California’s governor who doesn’t seem to think we deserve three. A 79-year old PA woman gets a whopping $500 fine and six months suspended license for killing a popular Bethlehem bike advocate. A New York writer says it’s time to stop accepting the culture of traffic deaths. Writing in Bicycling, a copy editor for the Washington Post says you can’t trust other people to do the right thing. In a heartbreaking story, a 68-year old South Carolina man is killed while riding a tandem with his wife.

An Ontario study shows you’re three times more likely to have a collision in a roundabout than a signalized intersection — but three times less likely to be injured if you do. Ottawa authorities throw the book at an alleged drunk driver who critically injured a cyclist. Even so, cycling may make you a happier person. Some Japanese cyclists will be forced from the roads and onto a bike path. Eight years later, a daughter complains about the lack of justice in a notorious hit-and-run case that took the life of her father.

Finally, a great photo of a cyclist walking his bike through the weekend blizzard in the plains states.

One comment

  1. Matt O says:

    We’ve got to do something to get these problem drivers off the road. Courts and DMV are far too lenient in giving offenders their licenses back. They still drive drunk or drugged, or outside their restrictions; or if they have no license they drive anyway.

    Danae Miller was already a problem offender when she (allegedly) killed Amine Britel last year in Newport Beach, on a wide road with bike lanes. Why was she still driving at all?

    Similarly, Marnie Lippincott, with a history of drug offenses, was allegedly under the influence when she hit 17 year old Crystal Morales in a crosswalk in front of Newport Harbor High School.

    Cyclists aren’t safe in bike lanes, and our kids aren’t safe in crosswalks, because our courts and police are letting problem drivers keep driving. The problem is, in our car-dominated culture, there’s more sympathy for drivers losing their licenses, than the people they might maim or kill.

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