Once again, there’s no justice for a fallen rider.
Late Tuesday, I received an email from the sister of Kenneth Prevatte, killed in a rear-end collision while riding in a Sunset Beach bike lane on PCH in Huntington Beach over two years ago. She informed me that Becki Lee James, the driver charged in the death of the popular Long Beach cyclist, was acquitted in a trial this week.
She reports James had been charged with vehicular manslaughter; she had originally been arrested on suspicion of felony DUI causing great bodily injury & gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
No word yet on why the alcohol charges had been dropped or why she was acquitted in what seemed like a clear cut case; hopefully we’ll have more information soon.
But at least the Orange County District Attorney should be congratulated for filing charges in a case with no guarantee of victory — unlike the LA DA.
And hopefully, Prevatte’s family will get the justice they deserve in civil court.
In an aside to the case, one of the potential jurors dismissed from the jury pool in the James trial was the brother of teenage cyclist Sean Severson, killed while biking to school in Fountain Valley.
Pity that those who would make the best jurors in cases like this are the ones who are automatically excluded.
Speaking of civil court, I received a press release from Torrance-based law firm AgnewBrusavich, the firm behind the CalBikeLAw.com website, announcing they had filed a civil suit in the death of cyclist Debra Deem.
Deem, the wife of former Olympian cyclist and Cycle Werks bike shops owner Paul Deem, was riding in the bike lane on PCH in Newport Beach when she was right hooked by a driver turning onto Newport Coast Drive.
The suit alleges that the State of California and the City of Newport Beach were both negligent in the design and maintenance of what has been described as a very confusing intersection by cyclists who ride there. Unlike other intersections in the area, the bike lane reportedly disappears prior to the highway-style interchange, leaving riders with no clear pathway to the other side, and no guide for drivers on where bikes are likely to be positioned.
According to the release, Paul Deem filed the suit, at least in part, in hopes that it will bring much needed safety improvements to this section of PCH.
Meanwhile, I’m told that the case against the driver, 84-year old Robert James Anderson, ended in a mistrial on Friday; no word yet on why or if the case will be refiled.