Update — Suspect arrested in fatal Newport Beach hit-and-run

Corona del Mar today is reporting that a suspect has been arrested in hit-and-run death of Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz last weekend. Campion Ritz was run down from behind as she and her husband were riding their bikes in a Newport Beach bike lane last weekend.

Details are still sketchy. However, the site reports that an arrest was made early this morning, and police have the suspect vehicle in custody. And yes, it is a Toyota Tundra, as had been suspected.

More information when it becomes available.

The fast arrest undoubtedly has to do with the seriousness with which the local police treated the case.

Not only did Newport Beach Police Chief Jay Johnson lose his own 18-year old brother in a traffic collision, as cdmCyclist’s Frank Peters reported last night, but he clearly understands the curse of rampant hit-and-runs.

“That was a hit and run accident, which absolutely disgusts me,” Johnson said. “This police department will not stop until we find this suspect and bring him to justice. We are not going to stop until we make this happen.”

When every police department adopts that attitude, maybe this epidemic will finally stop.

Half of the eight fatal cycling collisions in Orange County this year have been hit-and-runs; the County’s ninth cycling death was a solo fall. That compares with two hit-and-runs out of seven cycling collisions in both Los Angeles and San Diego Counties.

L.A. County has a total of 15 riding deaths so far this year, including solo falls and one train collision, while San Diego has 10.

Correction: Earlier I wrote that Chief Johnson lost his brother in a bicycling collision; it was actually a motor vehicle collision. Thanks to Amy Senk of Corona del Mar Today for the correction.

Update: The Orange County Bicycle Coalition identifies the suspect as 39-year old Anaheim resident Michael Jason Lopez.

Newport Beach police arrested Lopez around 2 am this morning; he’s currently being held on $100,000 bond on a charge of Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence. Hit-and-run charges will most likely be filed at a later date.

5 comments

  1. Duan Dao says:

    There is justice, this is awesome

  2. TQ says:

    A chief of police should know that a violation of CVC 20001(a)(2) is not an “accident.” It is a crime. The inaccuracy of such an egregious vocabulary error, especially coming from someone who should know better, absolutely disgusts me. It is dismissive of the seriousness of the crime and is an insult to the victim.

    Maybe it was just an “accident,” too, that Irvine Police Officer Kim, who had cited Lopez for driving without a license last March, let Lopez off with a citation for no seatbelt after pulling him over just a month later.

    The suspect, Michael Lopez, spent last New Year’s Eve in jail for possession of a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty, and at that time, a rack of backlogged charges that he hadn’t bothered to take care of was dismissed. Among the charges were two counts of driving without a license and failure to yield to pedestrians while turning right on a red light. He did plead guilty to one count of driving on a suspended license, though.

  3. Jeff says:

    Is this the same Michael Jason Lopez that has 11 contacts with Law enforcement and the Courts?

  4. Ness says:

    I just saw this on Channel 9 news. Here’s video that shows the ghost bike installed. So sad. It talks about how she helped those in the community without insurance. She will be missed. My condolences to her family.
    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/7739937-anaheim-man-arrested-in-hit-and-run-death-of-oc-physician/

  5. Opus the Poet says:

    Hit-and-run needs to be as serious a felony as could be avoided by using it, for instance DUI manslaughter. Also there needs to be a second class of hit-and-run where the act of leaving the scene is contributory to the death of the victim. This needs to be prosecuted as equivalent to murder, because the act of leaving (the “run” of the hit-and-run) prevented the timely administration of medical care to a victim that would have otherwise survived. This should be an added charge that is automatically invoked when a victim dies, but has to be defended against and sentenced separately if the charge of hit-and-run sticks.

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