Morning Links: Notes from Neil Storm Stephany sentencing, and update on new Camp Pendleton bike policy

For anyone who downloaded the full PDF of PCH bike crash stats yesterday, please note that I inadvertently linked to an earlier draft of the report compiled by Ed Ryder; the link has now been corrected to provide full stats through the end of 2015.

My apologies for the mistake.

………

Our anonymous Orange County correspondent offers some belated, and very hard-hitting, notes from the recent Neil Storm Stephany case.

As you may recall, Stephany was sentenced to 15 years to life for the heroin-fueled 2014 hit-and-run death of cyclist Shaun Eagleson on PCH in Newport Beach.

The impact statements presented at Stephany’s sentencing were brutal. The Register didn’t (and couldn’t) print half the poignancy. At one point, Eagleson’s mom yelled “I hate you! I fucking hate you!” at the back of Stephany’s head, which he kept bowed for most of the proceedings. She told the judge that no matter how long the murderer’s sentence is, it will never be enough, and she will be at every parole hearing he ever has. She ended her statement with, “I am Shaun’s voice.” No mama should ever have to say that.

Sandra, Shaun’s widow, presented two statements. One detailed the inescapable darkness left by the absence of her husband, who was “my past, my present, my future, my forever.” Although she didn’t quite offer Stephany forgiveness, she wasn’t going to hold onto her hatred, because she recognized it eclipsed everything her husband loved about her. As she was writing her statement, “each word was killing the woman Shaun loved so much. With every ugly word I wrote, I was killing Shaun’s best friend.”

Her second statement was a letter to her unborn child, begging forgiveness: “Once again, I have failed you. Please forgive me. I have cried for you since the first time I lost you. Please find your father wherever he is and tell him I love him.” She described the rush to the hospital, and the denial that flooded her as she clung to her husband’s lifeless body: “Wake up. This isn’t real. We still have adventures to go on.”

GODDAMMIT WHO PUT ALL THESE ONIONS ON MY KEYBOARD WHERE THE HELL IS THAT KLEENEX.

Stephany wrote a letter of apology to the family, but it didn’t get him any reduction in sentence, although the judge did grant 450 days of credit for time served. When the defense argued that “some degree of mercy is a appropriate here,” tsk’s of incredulity arose from one side of the courtroom.

Judge Paer used the word “mind-boggling” several times while pronouncing sentence. He pointed out that Eagleson, like many others who use that stretch of PCH, was a vulnerable road user. The judge was mindful of the irony that such “an ugly event could occurring one of the most beautiful places in the county.” “Hopefully,” the judge said, “this case will send a message.” That message is: If you’re gonna engage any homicidal activity, make sure you use a motor vehicle, ’cause otherwise you’re goin’ away for a long time.

My jaw dropped when the judge said, “Believe it or not, I have to give Mr. Stephany a Watson advisement again.” He then recited the advisement, even though it didn’t do Mr. Stephany any good the first time. He also revoked Stephany’s current probation, since it’d expire long before Stephany could even start hoping for release.

(As a side note, one probation was for assault; the victim died of a heroin overdose a month after the assault, with his broken jaw still not fully healed.)

Stephany’s sister is an LA County Sheriff’s Deputy; their uncle is a homicide investigator for the OC Sheriff’s Department. Young Neil was a Boy Scout, First Class. He played team sports in high school, while also taking ROP classes in fire science & first aid. He earned his Professional Mariner’s certificate. Unfortunately, he fell in love with a girl whose family had moved from up north to get her away from unsavory characters who influenced her opiate addiction. It didn’t help; the contagion spread to Neil.

On the day Shaun was murdered, Neil had left his apartment knowing he was going into rehab. When his parents went to his apartment to retrieve his belongings, they found his bags already packed, with his Bible and a rosary his mom had given him for strength.

In December, a juror recognized Neil’s mom and approached her. They spoke; the juror said they think of the family a lot, and hoped that Neil would get help. How kind to get a hug from someone who had to convict your son of murder.

………………………………………………………………………………..

The Stephany case is going to stick with me. Such a small percentage of people, especially in Orange County, commute by bike. Of that tiny percentage, even fewer do so because they like to, rather than out of economic necessity. And out of that number, how many commute fixed? I might be the only one left.

………

Camp Pendleton riders, don’t panic. Not yet, anyway.

There’s still a lot of confusion over upcoming changes in the access policy for bicyclists at the Marine base.

So Mike Wilkinson reached out to Joe A. Grabman, Assistant Services Officer with the base’s Provost Marshal’s Office, and got this response.

A final decision on the procedure for recreational bicyclists after 01 Feb 2016 has not been made.

Which is about as clear as the mud the base’s Marines have to crawl through after an El Niño rain storm.

Mike writes…

I was confused by Officer Grabman’s response, so I called and left a voicemail asking for clarification. He called back just a few minutes ago and told me this:

  • There will be a process or an accommodation that will allow recreational bicyclists who comply with certain requirements to ride through Camp Pendleton.
  • The exact form and requirements of that process or accommodation have not been determined yet. However, they are scheduled to be in place by March 1.
  • Until March 1, bicyclists will be able to ride through Camp Pendleton the same as they have been able to do recently. They will need to present a U.S. or state government issued identification card.

I wish that I had some exact quotes for you, but Officer Grabman talks very quickly. He told me he has been contacted by hundreds of people about this issue, so I guess he’s a busy guy.

Based what I have learned on my own, those who want to ride through the base should remember the usual advice: Your ID must be the original – no copies; comply with the traffic rules of the base, because as you wrote a couple of days ago, “…don’t mess with the Marines!;” the base closes from time-to-time, some times on short notice.

………

Local

Streetsblog’s Joe Linton says the proposed new Griffith Park plan is a step in the right direction, but questions why a currently car-free road has to be opened up so tourists can avoid a lousy 1/3 mile walk to see the Hollywood Sign.

CiclaValley talks Griffith Park with Larry Mantle, and get caught up in the LA River bike path closure.

A Streetsblog piece says the proposed anti-growth Neighborhood Integrity Initiative would ban the planning process, and throw a wrench into plans to reshape Los Angeles around transit and bikeable, walkable streets. Meanwhile, LA Curbed says the initiative would be dangerous for Los Angeles, and maintains the city’s addiction to parking.

Downtown’s new upscale residents are looking forward to bikeshare coming to DTLA.

It looks like the 41-year old Hermosa Cyclery will survive despite leasing their property to a developer; plans are announced to move into a new hotel to be built on the site.

 

State

San Francisco’s Streetsblog looks at the psychology of road rage, and asks if Bay Area drivers and cyclists can get along.

Former LA newsman Roger Rudick says bike advocates must never yield to regressive politics, despite the veto of San Francisco’s proposed Idaho stop law.

Caught on video: Where’s the best place to offload a truckload of new Mercedes for a San Francisco dealership? In the bike lane, of course. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the link.

A road raging Mill Valley driver gets a slap on the wrist for brake checking a cyclist who flipped off his horn-honking wife; he gets off with just two years probation and 80 hours of community service. Although someone please tell me what the hell difference the make of car he was driving makes.

Lake Tahoe will break ground on a three mile, $27 million separated bike path, which planners say promises to be one of the most spectacular bikeways in the US.

 

National

Here’s what happens if your bike has to live outside.

Despite its stated Vision Zero goals, New York proposes to rip out a vital bike lane and replace it with two-directional sharrows. Maybe they didn’t get the memo that sharrows don’t improve safety.

 

International

A sales slowdown at the UK’s leading bike dealer suggests the county’s bike boom may be ending.

Someone needs to tell Arnold they drive — and ride their bikes — on the other side of the street in Scotland. Thanks to cdp8 for the heads-up.

What to do when you call off your celebrity divorce? Go for a romantic bike ride through the streets of Paris, of course.

Sometimes a new wheel just isn’t enough. After American pro Tyler Farrar crashed into a ditch at 40 mph in Australia’s Tour Down Under, a fan loans him his bike. And his shoes.

 

Finally…

They already make bikes and helmets out of wood, so why not bike paths? Ride the next CicLAvia in style on your very own $25,000 gold seahorse fixie; thanks to Cyclelicious for the tip.

And if you’re riding a stolen $5,000 bike, remember to leave your drugs and paraphernalia at home.

 

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