LAPD never responded to Susanna Schick road rage assault — and aren’t sure it was one

My worst fears about the Susanna Schick collision were realized today.

Despite being run down by a road raging driver just blocks from LAPD headquarters, the police were never notified that a cyclist was lying facedown in the street for upwards of 15 minutes Friday night.

Or if they were notified, they never responded.

And no police report was ever filed.

I spoke with a reporter from the L.A. Times Tuesday morning, who mentioned that he’d been calling the police all morning. And everyone he spoke with said this was the first they’d heard of the hit-and-run road rage collision that put Susanna Schick in the ICU with a concussion and multiple fractures.

Absolutely horrifying.

At best, the call fell through the cracks on a holiday weekend. Maybe the paramedics were notified, and the call never got to the police. That’s scary enough.

Far worse is the possibility that any of us — cyclist, pedestrian or motorist — could be left lying in the street waiting for police who might never come.

Hopefully, Schick’s family managed to work their way through the police bureaucracy and get an investigation started today — giving a dangerous driver nearly three full days to cover his tracks.

We may all be a lot less safe on the streets than we thought.

……..

Just received word that a police report was finally filed today. But without witnesses or video evidence, police are treating Schick’s injury as a solo fall, and ignoring — or at least downplaying — the allegations that there was another vehicle involved. Let alone that it was a case of a road rage assault and hit-and-run.

Evidently, we really are on our own out there.

And while they appear to be downplaying Schick’s allegations, I’m told that a cyclist was ticketed in the same area for riding without reflectors on his pedals, despite having both front and back lights.

Yes, it’s illegal.

But probably the most technical, BS violation they could write a rider up for, rather than focusing their efforts on keeping us safe from the drivers who want to run us down.

In light of the LAPD’s massive failure in the Schick case, this is just rubbing salt in the wound.

……..

As for a medical update on her condition, word is that Schick’s doctors are trying to avoid surgery if possible. But she’s looking at a minimum of two months in the hospital or an assisted living facility before she gets back on her feet.

Her family also asks that friends refrain from visiting for the next few days so she can get her rest; too many visitors — and reporters — have worn her out.

The other burning question has been how her bike got back home; I’m told the paramedics dropped the bike off after delivering her to the ER.

And people continue to open their hearts and wallets, as 105 people have contributed $3700 to help defray her medical expenses as of 11 pm Monday.

There are days I’m really proud of my fellow cyclists.

……..

Several news sources have picked up the story, including the L.A. Times, KTLA-5, LAist — including a follow-up —  KNBC-4 and KPCC public radio; ESBK offers a personal reflection, as does Gas 2.0 and Net Impact Los Angeles, where Susanna Schick is part of the leadership team. Even the L.A. Weekly had a surprisingly even-handed report, while KCRW’s Shortcuts blog picked up my own posts (thanks Kajon). Toronto bike blog Bike Lane Diary reported on the collision, as did our own Claremont Cyclist.

Meanwhile, KCBS-2 ignored the family’s wishes and invaded interviewed Schick in her hospital room; the hospital has been instructed to keep the press out in the future while she recovers.

……..

A couple other quick notes on other bike-related subjects —

The first public workshop on the proposed Beverly Hills Bike Route Pilot Project will take place Wednesday evening; Better Bike’s Mark Elliot offers his thoughts on the subject.

Central Coast cyclists are fighting ill-advised rumble strips on Highway 1; thanks to Al Williams for the heads-up.

In case you missed it, a Bay Area cyclist could face manslaughter charges after blowing through an intersection and killing a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The rider reportedly posted online that he had entered the intersection on the yellow and that the light had turned red before he could get all the way across, and that he had done everything he could to avoid injuring anyone. Right. I’ve laid my bike on its side to avoid hitting someone else, knowing it was going to hurt like hell. And it did. But the other guy walked away, and that was all that really mattered. Thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the tip.

Meanwhile, Streetblog SF points out that cars still kill a lot more pedestrians than bikes do.

A speeding teenage driver loses control in Concord, and kills a father and daughter riding their bikes on the sidewalk, leaving a second daughter with less serious injuries.

The recently founded West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition has started documenting hazards to cyclists in the city, and wants your help to add to the list.

My favorite non-L.A. bikewear designer offers a look at her new spring women’s line, which somehow manages to be practical, stylish and sexy at the same time. Hey Nona — you know us guys need clothes too, right?

And finally, Chris Willig sends a photo of the ghost bike that was installed for Mulholland bike victim Carol Schreder; let’s all be grateful we didn’t need another one this past weekend.

19 comments

  1. D. D. Syrdal says:

    My god. They’ve just given up. Are they encouraging people to just shoot it out on the streets to settle things? Frontier justice again?

  2. TQ says:

    I am horrified that the paramedics would be so fucking negligent in handling EVIDENCE. Yes, the condition and location of a bike are very important in determining the mechanism of injury, but are equally important in the police investigation… when the cops bother to investigate, that is.

    I will speaking to the LAFD to ask them to explain themselves.

  3. Words cannot describe just how upset this makes me. We should all change the words on our Road IDs to “If you find me lying in the street, call the POLICE.”

  4. […] morning, again from Biking In L.A., comes word that the LAPD is treating this dangerous assault as a solo crash and not putting […]

  5. Erik G. says:

    Is it standard LAFD policy not to inform LAPD when they find a person who is obviously involved in a vehicular accident?

    • bikinginla says:

      That’s what I’m trying to find out right now. Logic would dictate informing the police, but logic doesn’t always seem to come into play in situations like this.

  6. Many cyclists know this, but we can’t take for granted the non-cycling public does: the injuries Ms. Schick sustained are completely inconsistent with a solo accident on city streets. A professional first responder still may not have realized the extent of her injuries. And even the ER staff may not have put it together in a relevant way. But, a crushed – even a “taco’ed” – rear wheel should generate a response similar to a gunshot victim: police should be alerted at the earliest possibility of a potential crime.

  7. Eric B says:

    It is very unlikely that a first responder could (or should) make this kind of determination. The assumption should be that a bicyclists don’t just fall down without cause and that, without a known cause, the police should be called to the scene. Even if there is no wrongdoing, we need some kind of a police or traffic report to document incidents for data collection purposes.

  8. Biker395 says:

    The LAPD has no excuse for not investigating this kind of thing. Hopefully all of the publicity will scare up a tip.

    21201(d)(3) requires “A white or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle visible from the front and rear of the bicycle from a distance of 200 feet.”

    Most bicycle shoes include reflective material on the back that would probably meet the rear facing part of this requirement, but not the front-facing part. There are optional reflectors that can be purchased for popular pedal styles, for example:

    http://techdocs.shimano.com/media/techdocs/content/cycle/SI/Pedals/SM-PD58/SI-PD58F-003-ENG_v1_m56577569830706616.pdf

    IMHO, they should be standard equipment anywhere where jurisdictions require reflectors.

    Another requirement not met by many is the requirement for a red reflector (not a light):

    “21201(d) (2) A red reflector on the rear that shall be visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle.”

    Note also that the front light must be visible from the side. That’s not always the case with a lot of high-end bike lights.

    “21201(d) (1) A lamp emitting a white light that, while the bicycle is in motion, illuminates the highway, sidewalk, or bikeway in front of the bicyclist and is visible from a distance of 300 feet in front and from the sides of the bicycle.”

    It’s also my understanding that flashing rear lights are illegal. If a light is to be used, it must be steady.

    My suggestion: Lots of reflective tape. Couldn’t hurt. Could save your life.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thanks for explaining that.

      Like many cyclists, I regularly violate the law when I ride at night. I actually exceed the legal requirements, but don’t conform to the letter of the law.

      It would take a real jerk to write me up for such a violation. But it’s always possible.

    • Joe B says:

      “It’s also my understanding that flashing rear lights are illegal. If a light is to be used, it must be steady.”

      I’ve never heard of that law. Do you have a citation?

      • Biker395 says:

        Are you kidding? If I had it, I would have given it to you. :-)

        I’ll keep looking, tho.

        The red reflector thing is kind of odd. I see the rationale (operational at all times, regardless of battery status), but I think a flashing LED is far more visible. There are a few rear blinkers that actually qualify as a rear reflector too. I think Cateye used to make one.

        The pedal reflector rule is why a lot of ride organizers require cyclists to wear reflective straps around their ankles.

        • Joe B says:

          Ooh, good find!
          But 25250 applies to vehicles, and bikes are devices, not vehicles.
          21200 says that cyclists are subject to the provisions applicable to drivers in (parts of) divisions 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18. But 25250 is in division 12, so it doesn’t apply.
          IANAL. :)

          • Mike says:

            Under Section 670 of the Vehicle Code — “A ‘vehicle’ is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

            Since a bicycle is a “a device moved exclusively by human power,” it’s not ordinarily a “vehicle.” There may be some exception that would bring it back into the definition of “vehicle” but, under the oridinary rules, it isn’t one.

            • Mike says:

              Also Section 231 provides: “A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears, and having one or more wheels. Persons riding bicycles are subject to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and 21200.5.”

  9. Sgt. David Krumer says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I just returned from vacation and was dismayed to hear about what happened to Susana as well as the reported LAPD response. I made some inquiries and while I can not disclose certain details I would like to clarify some misnconceptions:

    1) The LAPD were at the scene when the incident took place and contacted an ambulance for Susana.

    2) Two detectives went out and spoke with Suasana to get the details of what occurred.

    3) A report was made.

    Any information that suggests that the LAPD did not respond or take action is inaccurate. A press release may be forthcoming to address the concerns of the cycling community.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m glad to hear the LAPD did in fact respond, and I’ll look forward to a further explanation of the events in this case. However, if the police did respond, that raises a number of other questions:

      1. Why did no one in the department seem to be aware of the collision or that a report was filed when approached by reporters on Monday morning?

      2. Why did it take until Monday afternoon for a detective to visit Susanna in her hospital room? Did this case fall through the cracks because of the holiday weekend, or did the responding officers think it wasn’t important enough for immediate follow-up?

      3. Why didn’t the police secure her bike as evidence of a crime? At the very least, the evidence should have pointed to a hit-and-run.

      4. Why did no officer attempt to speak to Susanna after she woke up at the scene? Had they already left before she was taken away?

      I really, really want to believe that the department did everything it could in this case. But the LAPD has a lot of explaining to do on this one.

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