Tag Archive for Calabasas

Update: DA refuses to file charges in Milt Olin case

The investigation is finally complete.

As predicted as soon as the LA County Sheriff’s Department inexplicably insisted on investigating itself in the death of cyclist and former Napster Exec Milt Olin, no charges will be filed against the deputy who killed him.

And as long predicated by myself and others, the immediate cause of the collision was the deputy’s use of the patrol car’s onboard computer while traveling on a winding road at 48 mph.

It was clear that the Sheriff’s Department was attempting to downplay their investigation — if not coverup the results — when they announced late on the Friday before Memorial Day that it had been turned over to the DA’s office for evaluation over a week before.

Then, nothing.

Not a word from the District Attorney for over three months, until news broke late this afternoon that the deputy responsible, Andrew Wood, would not face charges.

DA refusal letter (pdf)

Surprisingly, it actually appears the Sheriff’s Department recommended a charge of vehicular manslaughter; not surprisingly, the DA declined to file, saying they did not feel they could prove the deputy was negligent, which would be required for a conviction.

As we have discussed before, the case hinged on CVC 23123.5, which prohibits using electronic communication devices while driving — but exempts police officers and other emergency service workers in the performance of their duties.

According to the DA, that exemption applied in this case, as Wood was typing a response to a query from another officer when he drifted into the bike lane and rear-ended Olin’s bike without ever braking.

As often happens in such cases, Wood initially claimed Olin swerved in front of him in the traffic lane, and he only went into the bike lane in an attempt to avoid him. That is, until physical evidence and witness testimony proved him wrong, at which point his story changed to say he never saw Olin prior to the collision.

Yet somehow, the mere fact that Wood was driving at nearly 50 mph — in a bike lane — with no idea what was on the road directly in front of him is not sufficient evidence of negligence as far as the DA’s office is concerned.

Simply put, there are only two options.

Either the deputy was at fault for driving distracted — even though he could legally use the computer, he is still required to drive in a safe and legal manner.

Or the Sheriff’s Department itself is negligent for a policy allowing its officers to use the onboard computer in a manner that places everyone else at risk, as they will undoubtedly be found responsible for in the civil suit filed by members of the Olin family.

Either way, thanks to the complicity of the DA’s office, no one will ever be held accountable for the death of an innocent man, whose only crime was going for a bike ride on a sunny afternoon.

And a dangerous, if not deadly, policy will never be changed.

Thanks to Brenda Gazzar for breaking the story. 

Update: The afore mentioned Brenda Gazzar offers a detailed look at the case and the DA’s decision not to file charges in the LA Daily News, including this:

Eric Bruins, planning and policy director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said he was disappointed to see a clearly distracted law enforcement officer escape charges on what he called a technicality.

“Just because the law allows someone to do something while driving doesn’t mean they are allowed to do something unsafely while driving,” Bruins said. “Hitting someone from behind is very clear evidence that whatever was going on in that car was not safe and should have been considered negligent.”

It’s definitely worth a read to get the full story.

Meanwhile, LAist quotes several angry tweets from very pissed-off cyclists. Including yours truly.



Update — bike rider killed in wreck with Sheriff’s patrol car

Word is just coming in that yet another bike rider has lost his life on Mulholland.

And this time, the police may be fault.

According to KCBS-2, the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was riding in the bike lane on the 22000 block of Mulholland Highway in Calabasas around 1:05 pm today when he was hit by a Sheriff’s Department patrol car. Calabasas Patch reports that both the victim and the patrol car were traveling in the same direction, suggesting the rider was struck from behind.

The sheriff’s deputy behind the wheel was reportedly on routine patrol and not responding to an emergency call; a sheriff’s spokesman said speed was not a factor in the crash.

However, the driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor lacerations to his face and eye due to broken class from the impact, suggesting a significant impact. No explanation was given for why the driver apparently entered the bike lane to hit the cyclist; drug or alcohol use was not suspected as a factor.

This is the 82nd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 34th in Los Angeles County; that compares with 71 in the seven-county SoCal region and 21 in LA County this time last year. And this was at least the fourth cyclist to lose his life on Mulholland Hwy in the last four years.

My deepest sympathy for the victim and his loved ones.

Thanks to Carlos Morales, Danny Gamboa, sonofabike and John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Update: KABC-7 has just identified the victim as 65-year old Milton Everett Olin Jr. of Woodland Hills; a well-known attorney in the entertainment field. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information is urged to call the LASD Malibu/Lost Hills Station at 818/878-1808.

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Star reports that Olin’s bike somehow hit the patrol car, rather than the other way around — despite obvious damage to the car’s windshield. The LA Times confirms the car’s windshield was broken, making it virtually impossible for the rider to have struck the car if they were both traveling in the same direction. 

Update 2: KTLA-5 reports Olin and the patrol car were both traveling east on Mulholland Hwy when the collision occurred.

The Times fills in Olin’s work history, noting that he was Chief Operating Officer at Napster from 2000 to 2002, at a time when the file-sharing service was under fire from the music industry for enabling piracy, and forced to liquidate in bankruptcy court. 

He’d been a practicing attorney since graduating from UCLA Law School in 1975, and worked as vice president of business development for A&M Records — which was chiefly responsible for the lawsuit that led to Napster’s bankruptcy. He also served briefly as the senior vice president for business development for Firstlook.com before joining Napster.

The Star has corrected their story that repeatedly blamed the victim for the collision in a later report, although they’ve left the initial biased story online; thanks to Lois for the tip.

Update 3: Too often, we never learn anything about the victims of bicycling collisions, or the pain their loss leaves behind. But in this case, both the LA Times and KNBC-4 fill in the blanks with nice reports on a man who loved his family and riding his bike.

Although it does not build more confidence in the investigation to know the lead investigator in the case took yesterday off. Or that I’m told the CHP was willing to conduct an independent investigation, but wasn’t asked.

Meanwhile, a reader forwards an email exchange with the editor of the Ventura County Star in which he complained about the bias in the initial report. And received a very nice response promising to look into the matter — which resulted in the updated report correcting the misinformation, as well as changes to the initial story.

Too often, complaints like that get ignored. So let’s give credit to VC Star editor John Moore for doing the right thing.

Update 4: The LA Sheriff’s Department offers an apology, but doesn’t accept responsibility.

Update 5: The Daily News identifies the Sheriff’s Deputy who killed Olin on as a 16-year veteran from the Malibu/Lost Hills station, despite a lack of confirmation from the department. The collision is still under investigation; two weeks later, investigators still haven’t spoken to all the witnesses. 

Update: Twelve-year old bike rider killed in Camarillo; fourth SoCal bike death in just four days

And that makes four.

Four bicycling deaths across the northern SoCal region, from San Bernardino County through Pasadena and, now, Camarillo.

All in just four tragic days. And all at roughly the same time of day.

The Ventura County Star reported earlier tonight that a 12-year old boy was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries after he was hit by a vehicle in a possible hit-and-run.

Now KABC-7 is reporting that the victim has died of his injuries; they also say that police have spoken with the driver.

The collision occurred at the intersection of Carmen Drive and East Edgemont Drive around 5:10 pm Sunday. No information yet on how the collision occurred, and the victim has not been publicly identified.

KABC-7 reports the victim was not wearing a bike helmet; California law requires one for any bike rider under the age of 18. Whether it could have done any good in this case remains to be seen.

This follows a pair of teenage riders killed in train collisions in Montclair and Upland on Thursday and Sunday, respectively, and a cyclist killed while riding near Caltech in Pasadena on Saturday. Oddly, each of the collisions took place between 5:10 and 5:30 pm.

This is the 35th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the fifth in Ventura County since the first of the year; that compares to three bicycling deaths in Ventura County for all of last year.

My prayers and condolences go out to the victim and all his family and friends. 

Update: Details are still sketchy, and no ID on the victim yet. However, KTLA-5 reports the boy was riding west on Carmen Drive with two friends when he tried to cross the street and was hit by a 2000 Toyota Avalon driven by a 79-year old woman. 

Update 2: The Ventura County Star identifies the victim as 12-year old Joseph Johnson of Camarillo; unfortunately, any other details are hidden behind a subscriber-only paywall.

Update 3: A police report corrects the information in the KTLA report above. According to the report, Johnson and his friends were riding salmon, headed north on the southbound side of Carmen Drive, when he cut across Carmen at Edgemont Drive, where he was hit by the car.

Based on the description, it sounds like it may have been a difficult collision for the driver to avoid, as the bike would have darted across her path from an unexpected direction. And depending on the speed of the car, which is not noted in the report, a helmet may actually have made a difference in this case.

The report notes that the collision is still under investigation, and asks anyone with information to contact the Camarillo Police Department at (805) 388-5100.

Oddly, it also asks to hear from people who are “aware of anyone that might have been involved in the accident,” suggesting that there may have been another vehicle involved, which would explain the early reports that this could have been a hit-and-run.

Great food, coffee, beer and a bike shop — what more could L.A. cyclists want?

I love great food.

Not to mention exceptional coffee. And I’ve seldom been known to turn down a good beer, especially on a pleasant outdoor patio after a good ride.

So when I heard a group a cyclists was planning to open a new restaurant in Calabasas specializing in just that — and marrying it all with a small bike shop — they had me at hello.

I’ll let one of the restaurant’s creators, Gideon Kleinman, explain what will await you next year with the opening of Pedalers Fork.


Front view of restaurant

Pedalers Fork was conceived by a group of riders who wanted to make a home for cyclists. A place that really has everything one needs to enjoy some of the greatest aspects of riding in our wonderful Santa Monica mountains.

Three of the four founding members just rode and completed the Leadville 100 and we are already training for next year, both on road and mountain. With that said, you can see that the passion is there for our pursuit of the sport and lifestyle. We wanted to create something where we could ride everyday, and enjoy the finest coffee, food and beer. Having partnered with a restaurant owner in the San Fernando Valley, we began to look for just the right space and community to establish Pedalers Fork. When we saw the space directly across from the Sagebrush Cantina in Old Town Calabasas we knew that was it. The community is there and a better location for roadies and mountain bikers hardly exists in Southern California.

We plan on having a variety of aspects that should appeal to the entire cycling community. The coffee will be furnished by our very own 10 Speed Coffee, which we partnered with and are bringing down from Hood River, Oregon. We will be roasting daily on site, and doing all of the most sought after coffee preparations and service. From single cup drips to the beautifully poured lattes, we will be bringing the a level of coffee sophistication that hardly exists in Southern California, and is so sought after by cyclists.

Rear view with cafe and bike shop

After, before or really anytime, Pedalers Fork will be an amazing place for cyclists and non-cyclists alike to dine. Our chef comes from one of the finest restaurants in Los Angeles, he is a cyclist as well and is crafting a menu specifically for the community. Pedalers Fork will be completely Farm to Table and will go to rigorous lengths to ensure that we are working with local farmers to get the absolute best and freshest ingredients. Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, poultry and everything else on the menu will be sourced locally and will always be in season. We feel that many of the places available to cyclists don’t have the level of food in terms of quality and good healthy options that most cyclists really want.

Another of the post ride remedies that we knew we had to excel in was beer. We will have around 40 rotating beers on tap at all time and an extensive bottle list. From the micro brews of the Pacific Northwest to the oldest Trappist Ales, our selection will appeal to even the most discerning beer drinkers. We have likened our patio and bar area to a beer garden and want nothing more than to see everyone gathering at the tables and enjoying a few pints in the afternoon sun. We will be creating beer/riding clubs where people will get the chance to sample a variety of beers at a discounted price and enjoy them with friends, riders and anyone else who wants to join.

The last and perhaps the most crucial aspect of Pedalers Fork will be the bike shop. We wanted to make a meeting place for riders that can really serve them. We will have all the ride essentials; with tubes, tires, tape, food, etc, the shop will be a cyclist’s dream convenience. We plan on doing minor repairs if needed, but we are huge proponents of our local bike shops and we do not want to compete with them. It will be a fun place to watch races, pick up a few essentials, or just relax after a hard ride. Our self-locking bike rack will always ensure that your ride is safe so you needn’t keep looking over your shoulder to make sure your bike is still there. The shop will be the focal point of the restaurant and when not open, it will be lit and on display as a window into the cyclist lifestyle.

With all of these elements together, we feel that we are not only creating something perfect for cyclists and the community but will have an establishment that is totally unique. We are aiming to open around March and encourage people to friend/like us on Facebook (Pedalers Fork) and follow us on twitter @PedalersFork.

Thanks again and we look forward to riding with you all!

From left: Gideon Klienman, Head of Marketing and Creative Development, Owner/Partner Robbie Schaeffer and Chef Sam Baxter


I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for March.

And at about 23 miles from my home, it’s easily within riding distance. Although after a few good beers, the ride back could be challenging.

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