Tag Archive for Danae Miller

Cyclist assaulted on bike path, former Amazon CFO killed in bike crash, confirmation Britel killer paroled

The last thing he remembers is a woman putting her hand on his thigh and pushing his bike over.

Somehow, I missed this story last month, when Jack Bornoff suffered serious injuries after he was pushed off his black and white Schwinn by a pedestrian, as he was passing her on a bike path in Balboa Park.

It happened on August 22nd, a Thursday, around 10 am.

I’ll let him tell the story.

I approached the intersection of Burbank and Balboa on my bike and I was riding in the bike path.  I turned onto Balboa northbound and was confronted by a view of a high density of pedestrians in both the northbound and southbound bicycle lanes, including 2 females pedestrians blocking the northbound lane directly in front of me about 50 ft. ahead.  Immediately, I slowed down.  I noticed 2 pedestrians walking towards me in the southbound lane who were at least 50 feet ahead of the 2 pedestrians in my lane and determined it was perfectly safe to pass on the left with this substantial interval between these pedestrian couples.  As I passed by, the female pedestrian closest to me placed her right hand on my thigh and pushed me.

It wasn’t just a fall. Bornoff landed with enough force to knock him cold, and suffered numerous fractures.

I have no clear memories beyond this for at least the next 10 to 15 minutes.  This incident resulted in numerous fractures of the clavicle, scapula and ribs including damage to my lung.

A month later, he still doesn’t know who attacked him, or why. Or even who might have helped him as he lay injured on the bike path.

If you were there and offered to help, thank you and I regret I don’t remember it.  However, if you were there and witnessed this happen, please come forward and notify LAPD Detective Thornton.  818-374-7792.  Case #9C4-4.   Thank you and be safe.

He plans to be back at that same bike path on Thursday, October 10th between 9:45 am and 10:15 am — exactly seven weeks after the attack — to look for witnesses. And would appreciate some help if anyone wants to join him in passing out flyers.

Or if you find yourself walking or riding in the area some other time, he’s prepared a small flyer you could distribute to people in the area (pdf).

Because it wasn’t just a push. It was a deliberate, dangerous assault that left a man seriously injured.

And it needs to be taken just as seriously.

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Last night, it was just another tragic story of a bike rider killed in a left hook; a 22-year old driver turning his minivan across the cyclist’s path in San Mateo County.

Today, word broke that the victim has touched the life of virtually anyone who has ever used the internet or ordered something online.

Fifty-year old Joy Covey was one of the founders of Amazon. A woman whose 173 IQ took her from high school dropout to Harvard Business School, and on to become the CFO who helped the company grow from a book-selling website to the world’s dominant internet retail site. As well as leading it through a highly successful IPO in the late ‘90s.

She was working as treasurer of the National Resources Defense Council at the time of her death.

Initial reports indicated she was wearing a helmet. However, I’m told she may have been traveling up to 40 mph as she descended a steep downhill; in a broadside collision at that speed, no bike helmet is likely to offer much benefit.

As the links above show, there’s already been much written about her tragic death, and the immense and needless loss suffered by so many who knew and worked with her.

And it’s true.

Just as it is for the other more than 600 bike riders who will lose their lives on American streets this year, most of whom will never see their names in print.

In life. Or in death.

My deepest sympathy for Joy Covey and her family.

Thanks to Michael McVerry and Ralph Durham for the heads-up.

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Finally, last month we reported that Danae Miller, convicted in the drunk and distracted driving death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel, appeared to have been released from prison after serving less than half of her original sentence.

Now the Orange County Register confirms that Miller was paroled on August 15th after serving just 18 months of her original four year sentence.

Unfortunately, most of the story is hidden behind their draconian paywall.

However, I’m told that the story goes on to quote a member of the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee, as well as the Newport Beach city council member who heads the committee, as expressing their disappointment at the early release.

Get used to it.

California’s prison overcrowding crisis means most people convicted of traffic crimes will serve only a fraction of their sentences. Which means we need to find alternative forms of punishment — let alone rehabilitation, which seldom if ever happens behind bars — if we want to stop the carnage on our streets. Let alone the hit-and-run epidemic.

I’m told that Miller’s family was very supportive of her during the trial. Not in the usual sense denying her obvious guilt, but actually being there and giving a damn while expressing deep and genuine sympathy for her victim’s family and fiancé.

No word on where she is right now. However, there is speculation that she received the relatively light four-year sentence — she could have gotten up to 10 years — in exchange for a commitment from her family to place her in rehab immediately upon her release.

Let’s hope that’s the case.

And let’s hope that Miller, who already had 11 traffic violations on her record when she took Britel’s life, is never allowed behind the wheel of a car again.

Thanks to the OC Register for crediting this site with breaking the story. That wasn’t necessary, but it’s sincerely appreciated.

Now about that paywall…

A look at Camp Pendleton collision site; a killer driver may be back on the streets three years early

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent took a trip down to San Diego County in the wake of the Camp Pendleton collision that killed Udo Heinz and left fellow rider John Edwards critically injured.

Did you know you’re required to wear a helmet to ride at Pendleton? Learned that the Del Mar gate. So I own a helmet now. (And I want to read Heinz’s autopsy report to see whether his helped any.)

The site of the collision is on a shoulder-less stretch of two lane road, divided with a double yellow, between two guardrails. Signs indicate the bike route, set the maximum speed at 45 mph, and remind cyclists to ride single file. The shoulder completely disappears as the road crosses what appears to be a broad wash; the lanes may be substandard width, but I was too scared to stop to measure, partly because I was going too fast to discern whether there was non-sloping space on the other side of the guardrail to set my bike, and partly because there was just enough traffic to disincline me from stopping (or even slowing) long enough to find out.

The roadway’s in good repair; I didn’t notice any violent bumps or scary surface infrastructure like fissures or moguls. It’s certainly preferable to, say, Wilshire Blvd. This stretch of road is also completely straight, without even the gentlest curve that could possibly impair a driver’s view. The video from the NCTD bus shows absolutely no traffic coming from the opposite direction, although that video makes it seem as if the blind vertical curve ahead is much closer than it is. The hills worried me a lot more than the big vehicles on the road. In fact, the motorists on Pendleton seemed attentive and, frankly, kind of slower than I’d expected, not just in passing but generally. Passing through Oceanside afterwards was unpleasant in comparison.

New infrastructure on PCH stunned me. The stretch through downtown Oceanside is still bike-unfriendly, but going through other towns on the way to Del Mar blew my mind. There’s signage (regulatory & wayfinding), bike lanes, charming bike racks, bulbouts, ped-activated crossings with embedded flashing beacons, and even sharrows. Sharrows! On Highway 101! One town even had a portable message board parked in the median to inform road users what the heck these newfangled sharrows are for.

I crashed the memorial for Udo Conrad Heinz. Attendance was huge (I tried to count, but gave up after several attempts, and have to just estimate “well over two hundred”). Udo’s wife was clearly touched, and his son watched everything somberly with his great big eyes. I spoke very briefly with Susanne Davis, who left a comment on your blog, and she is hoping there will be a push now for a change in legislation to protect vulnerable road users, an Udo’s Law. (Also she mentioned in her comment the friendly attentiveness of the tank drivers at Pendleton, but part of this may be because she’s really attractive.)  The memorial touched everyone, family, friends, neighbors, fellow riders, former colleagues… I’m surprised the guy’s mailman didn’t show (maybe he did?) And the sunset was lovely.

On the return trip, I missed the Coaster because I was taking so many pictures of the aforementioned new infrastructure, so with darkness falling, I decided to catch the bus. I was standing under a lighted street lamp, wearing an extra large ANSI Class III hi-vis reflective vest, and shouldering a chrome bike with two reflective spoke cards. Also my bag, which has a prominent reflective stripe, was sitting on the bus bench next to me. I was almost blinded by the stupid blue-white high-intensity headlights of the approaching NCTD bus, which very clearly wasn’t slowing down or maneuvering towards the curb. I actually had to holler and wave to get the driver to notice me. As I boarded, I apologized sarcastically for my invisibility, and received no response. I’d hate to encounter this oblivious, unapologetic driver while riding.

Very shortly thereafter, the drivers changed shifts at a stop. The first thing the new driver did was wipe the front windows down. There was an amazing difference in visibility. The new driver said that it’s not a requirement for drivers to clean the windows, but it’s something he took upon himself to do as soon as he began driving Route 101, which is the coastal bus, because the sea spray builds up so fast. Sometimes, he said, he’ll even do it mid-route when it’s necessary.

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She also reports that Danae Marie Miller, — the driver convicted of killing Orange County triathlete Amine Britel while allegedly drunk and texting — appears to be out of prison well before her four year sentence is up, with no public explanation.

Danae Marie Miller’s out of prison. There’s no record of her within the California Dep’t of Corrections & Rehabilitation, at any rate. She could have been “realigned” to a county or city jail (not in any of the half-dozen I’ve checked, though.) She could be under monitored house arrest. She could be on unsupervised probation. She could be out there drunk & texting on the roads at this minute. Amine Britel? Still dead.

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LA’s hit-and-run epidemic hit a horrifying climax this past weekend, as four innocent victims lost their lives to murderous drivers who couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to save a life in four separate incidents.

Including a 19-year old woman and a three-year old child.

It’s clear that we need to change the law to halt this bloody crime spree. Including making the penalty for hit-and-run equivalent to drunk driving, to remove the incentive to flee the scene if a driver has been drinking.

If the victim dies, the driver should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim’s life might have been saved if the driver had stopped long enough to render aid or call 911 before fleeing like a coward — let alone lived up to their responsibility as a decent human being.

Yet as the Danae Miller case suggest, the current prison overcrowding crisis means that anyone convicted under such a law is unlikely to serve more than a fraction of their prison term. We need to take steps to insure anyone who flees the scene of a collision loses their privilege to drive for decades.

If not for life.

And the car they used to commit the crime is seized and sold, with the proceeds given to the victim; after all, you don’t give a bank robber back the gun he used.

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Last chance to help the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition set the city’s priorities for biking and walking.

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The MyFigueroa project is set for final approval, including LA’s first, albeit reduced in scope, cycle tracks, which even AARP approves of. Though someone might want to mention to LADOT that there are space-saving alternatives to creating semi-permeable car-blocking barriers.

And Streetsblog reports you still have to worry whether the long-planned Expo bikeway will survive latest assault from the wealthy homeowners in Cheviot Hills. These are the same people who argued in the past that a bike path would put their homes at risk from bike riding burglars who might try to peddle away with their 60” flat screens.

Just as an aside, I will be guest curating Streetsblog once again tomorrow.

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Don’t forget tonight’s public meeting to review recommendations to improve safety on PCH in Malibu. If you can’t make it, another meeting will be held on Thursday. This is your chance to stop another serial killer — this time, one of Southern California’s most deadly highways.

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LA traffic would be a lot better if the city’s commuters would follow UCLA’s example. Only 51% of campus employees drive alone, compared to 70% of Los Angeles commuters — and nearly 75% of the university’s students use some form of alternative transportation.

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Finally, anyone into adventure cycling will want to follow the exploits of Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley, who are just eight days into a planned 100 day, 11,184 mile ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa.

You can keep up with Pakravan and Pawley on Twitter as they make their way across three continents.

Wrist slap rescinded, as drunken hit-and-run driver John Hines resentenced to 4 years in state prison

So much for that slap on the wrist.

Former fire captain John David Hines, scion of a leading Long Beach fire fighting family, had the book thrown at him by an angry judge, turning a one-year sentence in a relatively plush pay-to-stay cell into over four years of hard time in the state penitentiary.

Hines had been sentenced for the drunken hit-and-run that left cyclist Jeff Gordon lying severely injured on a Seal Beach street, after drinking himself silly at a Long Beach bar last April Fools Day. When police arrested him at his home, drenched in urine soaked pants, Hines had a BAC of .24 — three times the legal limit.

In what many cyclists — or maybe just me — considered an overly lenient sentence, Santa Ana Superior Court judge Erick Larsh sentenced the former fireman to four years and four months in state prison — then suspended the sentence in lieu of one year in the Orange County jail and five years probation.

And rather than force him to consort behind bars with OC’s criminal element, the judge allowed Hines to buy his way into the Huntington Beach jail, where he could serve his time in greater comfort.

All he had to do was stay out of trouble for a few months.

Yet the former EMT-certified fire captain, trained to save the lives of victims just like the one he left lying in the street, couldn’t even manage that.

This past January, jailers noticed him wobbling, and discovered he had extracted alcohol from hand sanitizer by filtering it through salt. Then he drank enough of the resulting extract to result in a blood alcohol level of .22 — almost as high as when he nearly killed Gordon.

And enough to turn that gentle slap on the wrist into a good swift kick into the state pen.

That’s exactly what happened on Friday, as Judge Larsh ruled that Hines had violated his probation, and resentenced him to the full four years and four months of his original sentence, saying “I can’t fix you.

Don’t get me wrong.

I have no sympathy for hit-and-run drivers. And even less for anyone who gets behind the wheel after drinking — let alone nearly taking the life of another human being.

But Hines is clearly a very sick man.

Whether he’ll get the help he needs behind bars is highly questionable. We can only hope he comes out of prison a much healthier man than when he went in.

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I’m told that Danae Miller, the DUI/distracted driver convicted of running down world-class triathlete Amine Britel in Newport Beach last year, is settling in nicely at the Chowchilla women’s prison, where she can expect to spend most of the next four years.

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On a slightly less serious note, reader Mark Pryor sends a warning that Huntington Beach will host the 2012 Surf City Open later this month, from March 29th through April 1st.

And no, it’s not a bike race. Or even a surfing championship.

It’s a paint ball tournament. Which means that cyclists can expect to be used for target practice.

Consider Mark’s story —

In Spring of 2008 I was shot at close range with a paintball gun on PCH in Seal Beach while heading towards HB. I stayed up and was unaware of what happened, until a relative explained what it was later that day.

I was informed the next day that a major PB Tourney for Pros was underway in HB. I did report the incident to OC Sheriffs, but they were uninterested since I was OK.

My back was beet red from the injury, although nothing appeared to penetrate the skin.

Moral of the story: when the PB Players are in town, cyclists will be considered as easy targets.

Its shameful that the tournaments are allowed when people are victimized this way by participants traveling to and from the events.

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Today’s news kept me from updating this week’s events tonight; hopefully I can get to that later this weekend.

But don’t forget Saturday’s Get Sum Dim Sum ride, or the early morning Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race prior to the L.A. Marathon on Sunday; over 1,300 riders have already registered to take part.

Saturday is also St. Patrick’s Day, which means tens of thousands of amateur drunks will be on the roads all day.

So assume every driver you see on the streets has had about three green Guinness too many.

And ride accordingly.

Update: If you’re looking for something dry to do tonight, the Now Pro Women’s Cycling Team unveils their 2012 roster starting at 7pm at Cynergy Cycles, 2300 Santa Monica Blvd in Santa Monica.

Red-light running(?) cyclist killed in San Bernardino; another slap on wrist for killer hit-and-run driver

Just 10 days into the new year, we’ve already had our second cycling fatality.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, 61-year old San Bernardino resident Bernard F. Culbertson was hit by a vehicle driven by an unlicensed driver while riding at 5:31 Monday morning, and died of his injuries nearly 22 hours later.

Culbertson was reportedly riding without lights an hour before sunrise when he crossed North Waterman Ave headed west on Third Street, and was hit by a car driven by Benito Bustos-Gonzalez of Fontana.

Police report that Bustos-Gonzalez had the green light, suggesting that Culbertson ran the red light; however, there is no indication whether that was observed by independent witnesses or reported by the driver.

It’s a common problem in bike collisions that the victim is killed or incapacitated, and unable to give police their version of events. As a result, barring other witnesses, police are often forced to rely on statements given by the drivers involved, who have an incentive to cast events in the most favorable light.

The paper reports that investigators have not indicated if Bustos-Gonzalez will be charged or ticketed, but notes that jail records show no indication of an arrest.

This is the second fatality in Southern California so far this year, and the first in San Bernardino County.

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The Ventura County Star reports that Shannon Richard was sentenced to 270 days in county jail and three years probation for the hit-and-run death of Jose Louis Carmona last year.

That’s significantly less than the two yeas the D.A. had asked for, or even the one year prison and five years probation the probation department had recommended.

Richard hit and killed Carmona as he was walking his bike along PCH near Faria Beach Road; she was arrested at her home after fleeing the scene, reportedly telling police she thought she hit an animal.

Of course, hitting an animal isn’t likely to explain why she felt the need immediately begin drinking again as soon as she returned home, muddying the results of the blood alcohol test after she had admitted drinking a few beers before driving home.

Pro tip: begin drinking as soon as possible following a collision so police won’t be able to establish what your BAC was at the time of the collision.

On the other hand, Carmona was wearing dark clothes with no lights on his bike, with a BAC of .20, and may — or may not — have been walking in the traffic lane at the time of the fatal collision.

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Our anonymous OC/South Bay court case reporter writes that the arraignment for Danae Miller in the death of world-class tri-athlete Amine Britel has been pushed back until February 27.

That’s almost exactly one year after Miller ran Britel down while he was riding in a Newport Beach bike lane in allegedly drunken/distracted collision.

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That same anonymous source also notes that the “private jail” where Adam Garrett has been allowed to serve his 180 day sentence for the hit-and-run death of Hung Khac Do — when he’s not out for work, school or church — is actually a halfway house in a converted apartment building.

And he’s not actually incarcerated yet, as the judge generously gave him until April 10th to begin his sentence, so he could wait until a spot opens up for him.

And that 180 days actually turns out to be just 90, since the judge generously stayed half of it. And if Garrett keeps his nose clean for just one full year, his felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Slap, meet wrist.

No wonder people continue to die on our streets, and drivers continue to ignore the legal requirement to stop at the scene of a collision, when we can’t even get the courts to take it seriously when an innocent person gets killed.

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She also notes that five of the 50 organ donors featured on the Donate Life float in the recent Rose Parade were killed while bicycling. That’s not to say cycling is dangerous; you could just as easily die sitting on your sofa as on your bike.

But no one gets out of this world alive.

And however I go, I want some good to come out of it.

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LAist reports that a driver has been arrested on hit-and-run charges after hitting a cyclist in Monrovia last night. Jason Travers allegedly fled after hitting the victim from behind at Violet Ave and Foothill Blvd around 6 pm.

Fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured.

……..

A Colorado driver has been sentenced to eight-years in prison for a fatal hit-and-run — despite beating a DUI charge for the same incident.

Maybe someday California courts will take hit-and-run cases that seriously.

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Finally, Bike lawyer Bob Mionske writes about when you need lights on your bike and why. And yet another anti-bike bigot broadcaster, this time a Brit, blathers about his hated of bikes.

Who knew we are responsible for global warming by forcing speeding drivers to actually slow down for a few seconds?

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