For once, the charges fit the crime.
Last night, we linked to news that an Orange County bike rider had been hit by a vehicle Sunday evening. Sadly, the Newport Beach police announced this morning that the victim died later that night.
According to the police report, 30-year old Fountain Valley resident Shaun Eagleson was riding west on East Coast Highway just east of the Los Trancos entrance to Crystal Cove State Park when he was rear-ended by a pickup truck around 5:03 pm.
He was taken to a local trauma center for treatment, where he succumbed to his injuries at around 9:45 Sunday night.
The driver, identified as 23-year old Neil Storm Stephany of Huntington Beach, fled the scene, but was arrested shortly afterwards near the intersection of Newport Center Drive and East Coast Highway. He was taken into custody on charges of including Felony DUI (causing Great Bodily Injury), Hit and Run, Narcotics Possession and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; bail was initially set at $100,000.
The charges were later amended to include one count of murder, based on Stephany’s previous DUI conviction. According to the press release,
Further investigation revealed that Mr. Stephany has a prior conviction for Driving Under the Influence. In California, a previous DUI conviction, and the subsequent required alcohol education, is considered an adequate indicator to suggest “implied malice” in subsequent DUI arrests involving the death of another party. That fact, combined with Mr. Eagelson’s passing, lead Newport Beach Police to change Mr. Stephany’s booking charges to include 187 PC – Murder. Mr. Stephany is currently being held without bail.
Yes, they even revoked his bail.
And they added one more thought that can’t be repeated enough.
Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime, with the potential for tragic and fatal consequences. It is also completely preventable. The Newport Beach Police Department urges all members of the Community to make responsible decisions and to avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or prescription medications.
Newport Beach police are still investigating the case; anyone with information is urged to contact Investigator Eric Little at 949-644-3746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nice to find a police department and prosecutors that take traffic crimes seriously for a change. Let’s hope they don’t plead this one away.
This is the 73rd bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 15th in Orange County; that compares to 12 in the county for all of last year. And it’s at least the eighth fatal bike collision in Newport Beach in just the last five years.
Update: The Orange County Register reports Stephany has an extensive criminal record, with prior convictions for felony assault, possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to sell, in addition to the prior DUI.
He is also currently facing a charge for domestic violence.
With a background like that, it’s possible that a murder conviction in this case could be his third strike, resulting in life in prison.
Update 2: A fund has been established to help pay funeral costs; in just one day, it’s already raised over half of the $15,000; thanks to Olivia Eagleson and Chris Nguyen for the link.
Meanwhile, Corona del Mar Today reports that Neil Stephany was formally charged with murder, as well as felony counts of hit and run causing permanent injury or death, and possession of a controlled substance, identified as SUBOXONE sublingual films.
Chris Nguyen also says in his comment that Shaun Eagleson was an avid reader of this site, which makes this one even more personal and heartbreaking for me.
Update 3: The following comment appeared on the original story about the collision on the Corona del Mar website; if true, it raises a lot of very uncomfortable questions. Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the tip.
I think this accident could be prevented and this was the fault of Laguna Beach Police and paramedic. I was following the driver who hit the bicyclist and killed him, from Laguna Canyon in Laguna Beach and I noticed that he drives out of control. Immediately I contacted 911 and gave his license plate number, but 911 kept me waiting for 6 minutes and asking not important questions and finally they told me since you reached the Newport Beach we have to transfer to Newport Beach department. Instead of wasting time they could send immediately someone to catch this guy before he kills someone. But they didn’t and I saw that the driver hit the poor bicyclist. I pull over and contacted for paramedic it took for them about 10 to 15 minutes to show up and they were not at rush at all. I told them to hurry up the bicyclist is bleeding from head. And I don’t know with having so many closer trauma center why they took him to Mission Viejo Hospital which end up that young man dye at age of 30? big question for me….. who is really responsible for his death Laguna Beach Police, Paramedic or both?
Update 4: Sandra Eagleson, the wife of the victim, describes just how much she has lost as she becomes a widow at just 31 years old. Meanwhile, the OC Weekly details Stephany’s priors; I’m told by someone with knowledge of the case that he has “fuck the police” tattooed on his forehead, along with a swastika on the back of his head.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Shaun Eagleson and all his loved ones.
Thanks to Frank Peters, Patrick Pascal, Lois and Jeffrey Fylling for the heads-up.