Tag Archive for DUI

Bike rider killed in Newport Beach; DUI driver faces murder charge

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 elittle@nbpd.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.

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.

 

Update: Huntington Beach bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver

It’s the curse of a holiday weekend.

Bicyclists can encounter drunk drivers any day of the year. But the risk rises exponentially on holiday weekends — and seems to be even worse in beach communities.

That’s appears to have been the case in Huntington Beach Monday evening, as yet another bike rider lost his life at the hands of a suspected drunk driver.

According to the Orange County Register, a cyclist identified only as a man in his 50s was struck from behind while riding on Bolsa Chica Street north of Heil Avenue around 6:30 pm. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The driver, a resident of Huntington Beach, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI.

KNBC-4 reports that the victim was a father from Huntington Beach, while the driver was behind the wheel of a Mercedes. According to the station, several witnesses rushed to aid the victim following the collision, including medical professionals and a lifeguard.

The station offers a single photo from the scene, showing a crumpled bicycle in the middle of the street, while a satellite view shows a six lane roadway with a bike lane on either side.

Meanwhile, someone who came upon the scene shortly after the collision reports seeing two bikes at the scene, apparently recumbents. A white Mercedes was stopped in the left turn lane, while one bike — apparently the one photographed by KNBC — was in the center of the three lanes, and the other was in the bike lane.

That suggests there may have been more that one rider involved, either in the collision or riding with the victim.

This is the 64th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 13th in Orange County; that compares to 12 for all of last year in the county. And it’s the 4th bicycling death in Huntington Beach this year alone, and the 9th since 2011.

Update: I’m told the driver was cited for DUI and released on his own recognizance overnight. 

Update 2: According to the Register, the victim has been identified as 55-year old Michael Bastien of Huntington Beach. The paper reports he was riding a motorized bicycle, and places the location as just below Kona Dr

For some reason, though, the police arrested the 51-year old driver, who they have not identified, on a single misdemeanor DUI count, rather than what would appear to be a more appropriate felony. The difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI is that the driver’s drunken state resulted in the injury or death of another person. 

That would suggest that the police may be blaming the victim for causing the collision, despite the driver’s apparent drunken state.

Never mind that the paper says police located the driver nearby, suggesting he did not remain at the scene and failed to stop and offer assistance, as required by law. 

And yet, he was only arrested on a single misdemeanor DUI charge.

However, police are still investigating, and anyone with information is urged to call Investigators Tai Huynh at 714-536-5670 or Robert Barr at 714-536-5666.

Let’s hope any witnesses will come forward. Because this one is starting to stink already.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Michael Bastien and his family. 

Update: Pomona bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver early Saturday morning; 5th cyclist killed in the city in 17 months

This is not the news we wanted to start the weekend.

According to the Daily Bulletin, a bike rider was killed by a suspected drunk driver in Pomona early this morning.

The victim, identified only as a man in his 40s or 50s, was riding north on Garey Avenue when he was rear-ended by a white 2011 BMW 3351 just north of Philadelphia Street at 2:32 am. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died shortly later.

The driver, 25-year old Chino resident Rick Kyujin Lee, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving causing death and vehicular manslaughter.

The Daily Bulletin says the victim was riding on the right shoulder, while KABC-7 places him near the shoulder. However, a street view shows a typical four lane street with a center median, but no apparent shoulder; he may have been hugging the curb to the far right.

If they haven’t yet, someone will inevitably question in the comments why anyone would be riding a bike at that hour. Of course, bike riders travel at all hours of the day or night for all kinds of reasons, just as drivers do; it’s possible the victim may have been leaving work or coming home from a night out, or just out for a late night ride.

Given the frequent lack of follow-up, we may never know.

That said, the early morning hours after the bars close is one of the most dangerous times to ride due to the high number of drunks on the road at that time, requiring riders to be extra alert.

There’s also no mention of whether the victim had lights and reflectors on his bike, as required at that hour. However, the police and press usually go out of their way to mention the lack of lights if a rider wasn’t using them.

And the victim could have been lit up like a Christmas tree and still been unable to avoid a driver apparently unable to control his car and keep it from drifting to the right.

This is the 54th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 22nd in Los Angeles County. And it’s the 5th bike death in Pomona since the death of Ivan Aguilar in February of last year, suggesting that the city may have a serious safety problem.

Update: The victim has been identified as 57-year old Luis Raymundo Espinoza-Moreno.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Luis Raymundo Espinoza-Moreno and all his loved ones.

 

 

 

Morning Links: Coddling drunk drivers, analysis of the new Bike League study and a moving new hit-and-run video

This is why people continue to die on our streets.

An Olympia WA man gets work-release despite his seventh — yes, seventh — DUI arrest; he’ll spend nights and weekends in jail, but be released every day to run his business. Odd that they don’t offer bank robbers and drug dealers the same consideration. And no word on how he plans to get there; let’s hope he won’t be driving.

And an Illinois lawmaker proposes a new bill to help keep more drunks on the road. Because it’s too inconvenient for them to find some other way to get around without killing someone.

………

More on the League of American Bicyclists’ 12-month study of bicycling fatalities across the US, as USA Streetsblog offers eight takeaways from the study released Wednesday, including:

  • Most fatalities occur on urban arterial roads
  • Hit-from-behind collisions were the most frequent cause of bicycling fatalities
  • Intersections are the most dangerous place for urban riders
  • Most victims were wearing helmets
  • The more people who ride in your state, the less risk you face

Vox provides their own analysis of the report.

………

A moving new documentary profiles Damian Kevitt and Ghost Bikes LA to call attention to the dangers cyclists face, especially from hit-and-run drivers. At only eight minutes long, it’s definitely worth watching.

………

Local

Streetsblog looks at Temple City’s new partially protected bike lane on Rosemead Blvd.

Both Milestone Rides and Boyonabike offer reviews of last week’s LA Bike Week, most of which I missed.

Santa Monica considers dropping speed limits to 15 mph near schools; then again, it doesn’t matter what the speed limit is if they don’t adequately enforce it.

Downey is preparing a new citywide bicycle master plan. They’d better hurry, as a bike rider was seriously injured attempting to cross a freeway onramp early Thursday morning.

 

State

Redlands gets a new Community Based Bicycle Master Plan, which will provide 175 miles of bikeways — a huge amount for a town of just 69,000. And a local market plans their own privately operated bike share program.

A new company plans to provide bike camping around San Luis Obispo.

Specialized finally puts their wind tunnel to good use by determining the aerodynamics of beards on bikes. Now if they’d just figure out if shaving your legs really makes you faster.

 

National

According to Forbes, American bicyclists save $4.6 billion a year by riding instead of driving; I’d like mine in cash, please. Meanwhile, Intuit explains just how that works.

A Grist writer says Idaho Stop laws infringe on pedestrians’ right-of-way; actually, cyclists are still required to yield to anyone with the right-of-way. Brooklyn Spoke says the subject is complicated.

Chicago drivers — including city bus drivers — are turning a buffered bike lane into their own traffic bypass lane.

The NYPD is back to ticketing cyclists in Central Park.

The US Pro National Championships roll in Chattanooga this Monday.

A Virginia lawyer offers advice on the eight things you should do right away if you’ve been injured in a bike collision. Seriously, though, you’d think an attorney would know not to call them accidents.

 

International

An Ottawa writer says the city doesn’t need any more bike lanes because they can’t make the climate bike friendly. Oddly, he doesn’t suggest they stop building roads due to adverse winter driving conditions.

Four hundred London cyclists stage a die-in at a notoriously dangerous intersection.

Liverpool plans to triple the number of cyclists who ride at least once a week.

A Melbourne bike rider is injured when she crashes into a police vehicle hidden by a blind curve on a bike path. The cops were targeting motorbikes and other motorized vehicles illegally using the trail, like… uh, them.

Aussie cyclists protest the country’s mandatory helmet law; ridership in Tel Aviv jumped 54% in just two years after the Israeli city revoked theirs.

Even Chinese robots can track stand, so why the hell can’t I?

 

Finally…

A road-raging New Hampshire bike rider shatters a driver’s passenger window, then takes his anger out on a nearby construction worker; no matter how angry you get, acting on it only makes things worse. A PA man posts a thank you for the man who stole his bike. And three young cyclists are arrested for speeding at a blistering 10 mph.

In 1899.

………

The Memorial Day weekend means heavy traffic this afternoon as people get off work early and rush to get home and get out of town. So ride defensively and watch out for drivers today, because chances are, they won’t be watching for you.

I expect to see you all back here safe and sound on Tuesday.

 

Update: Dana Point bike rider killed in suspected DUI collision

Yet another bike rider has lost his life to a suspected drunk driver.

According to the Orange County Register, the 30-something victim, whose name has been withheld pending notification of next of kin, was riding south on PCH in Dana Point around 11:14 last night when he was hit from behind. The car, a 2001 Acura, then overturned, injuring both of the people inside.

The victim was pronounced death at the scene, while the driver and his passenger were both taken to a local hospital with head trauma. And yes, alcohol use is suspected of playing a role in the collision.

The collision occurred on PCH near Green Lantern; a satellite view shows a clearly marked, if intermittent, bike lane, with a posted 35 mph speed limit. The story does not say which side of Green Lantern it happened on.

This is the 36th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the eighth in Orange County; that compares with just two in the county this time last year.

At least three of the Orange County deaths have involved drugs or alcohol, compared to a quarter of the deaths throughout Southern California.

Update: The victim has been identified as 38-year old Dana Point resident Haitham Gamal. The driver has been identified only as a 19-year old Dana Point man; his passenger was 18.

As an underage driver, any alcohol in the blood would be a violation of the law.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for Haitham Gamal and his loved ones.

Thanks to James Johnson of the Johnson Attorneys Group for the heads-up.

 

Morning Links: Eleven years in drunken Victorville hit-and-run, great Arizona three-foot law video

Now that’s more like it.

According to the Victorville Daily Press, 28-year old Jason Thomas Scott of Victorville was sentenced to 11 years for the — allegedly — drunken hit-and-run that took the life of a cyclist two years ago.

Apple Valley resident David Epperson was walking his bike along Ridgecrest Road just east of Victorville when he was plowed down from behind by Scott’s vehicle, which dragged him over 60 feet before leaving Epperson to die on the side of the road.

Scott was reportedly driving with a suspended license due to a previous DUI conviction at the time of the collision. He’s been behind bars since his arrest in June, 2012; the paper reports he could be out in another three-and-a-half years with good behavior following his plea deal.

Five-and-a-half years behind bars barely seems sufficient. But it’s far more than many other drivers have served under similar circumstances.

And it’s nice to see the life of a bike rider taken seriously for a change.

……..

Great short video from Arizona looks at the state’s three-foot passing law. And clearly demonstrates just what three-feet looks like on the road.

……..

Local

Note to David Shaffer of Woodland Hills: It is perfectly legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Los Angeles, as long as it’s done in a safe and non-aggressive manner.

Streetsblog looks at the highlights from Thursday’s LADOT and City Planning webinar on the second year study corridors for the LA bike plan.

You could be the next director of LA2050.

A series of Hermosa Beach workshops could determine the future of bicycling in the city, among other things.

Something is seriously wrong when a cyclist gets run down from behind in Palos Verdes Estates, and sheriff’s deputies write it off as “just an accident” before the investigation is even complete.

 

State

An Orange County cyclist has to be recued from the Santa Ana River bed when he’s thrown 15 feet off a Katella Ave overpass after hitting an object in the roadway.

I like it. Silicon Valley bike riders are challenged to Bike to Shop during next month’s Bike Week.

Oakland’s famed Telegraph Avenue could soon sport parking protected bike lanes.

 

National

Arizona officials are trying to determine who killed a cyclist and how after the victim is found on the side of the road covered by a blanket, with his “unique” bike missing.

Boulder County CO officials tweak those ubiquitous black-tube vehicle counters to distinguish between bikes and other vehicles, which could revolutionize bike counts.

Cincinnati cyclists and business owners are engaged in a classic battle over protected bike lanes versus lost parking and reduced road capacity.

Not only is Beyonce one of us, she gives a shout out to a Chicago bike shop.

The Washington Post says more cyclists really does make for safer streets.

Turns out the Archbishop of New Orleans is one of us, too. Then again, he’s just following the Pope’s advice.

 

International

Bicycling is booming in Santiago, Chile even though bad road design forces many riders onto the sidewalk.

The Ottawa Bicycle Club offers a great decision matrix for deciding when to take the lane and ride abreast, and when to hug the shoulder single file.

British cycling legend Beryl Burton is finally getting the attention she deserves prior to the UK start of the Tour de France, with an amazing 122 national titles over five decades.

The UK’s Emma Pooley discovers winning a women’s world championship barely pays enough to pay the bills.

A road raging Brit van driver loses his job and gets convicted of assault after getting caught on helmet cam head-butting a cyclist.

Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert wins the Amstel Gold classic for the third time. No word on who won the Amstel Light.

An Aussie website asks if cyclists are fair game. Game, yes; fair, no.

 

Finally…

This is why you don’t spit in the face of a truck driver, even if he did almost hit you. Aside from the fact that it’s rude and disgusting — and illegal — and the driver will get away with stomping on your bike.

 

Update: Chula Vista bike rider killed by drunk driver in stolen car

A drunk driver. A stolen car. A dead cyclist.

A San Diego area bike rider has lost his life at the hands of a criminal apparently too drunk to control the car he stole.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, 29-year old Michael Reyes was traveling westbound on Chula Vista’s East J Street at Dennis Avenue around 4:15 pm Monday when he somehow crossed into oncoming traffic. He hit cyclist head-on before crossing over the sidewalk and crashing into a utility pole.

Reyes allegedly admitted to the police that he had been drinking, and that the silver Nissan Maxima  he was driving had been stolen earlier that afternoon. Inside the car, police found property that appeared to come from other car burglaries.

The 44-year old bike rider, who has not been publicly identified, was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center where he died.

There was nothing the victim could have done to avoid the collision. He does not appear to have done anything to contribute in any way to his own death, other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, sharing the same planet with a drunk on a crime spree.

If there is any justice, his killer won’t be back behind the wheel of any car, stolen or otherwise, for a very long time.

This is the 20th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first in San Diego County. This is also the fourth cyclist killed in Chula Vista since 2012.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

Update: The victim has been identified as 44-year old Chula Vista resident David Voight. According to San Diego’s 10News, Voight was a regular bike commuter, and was just eight blocks from his home when he was killed. 

Update: Riverside bike rider killed by suspected drunk driver; first SoCal bike fatality of 2014

That didn’t take long.

Just five days into the new year, Southern California has suffered its first bicycling fatality, as a Riverside rider was run down by a suspected drunk driver on Sunday.

According to the Press-Enterprise, 22-year old David Mendez was riding east on Central Avenue, approximately three-quarters of a mile west of Victoria Ave, at 3:47 pm yesterday when he was hit from behind by a suspected drunk driver. An earlier story puts his location close to the Olivewood Cemetery.

The story says he was riding in the far left lane, suggesting that he may have been preparing for a turn.

Mendez was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead half an hour later. The story reports he was wearing a helmet; clearly, it was not enough to protect him from the force of the impact.

The 20-something driver was detained at the scene on suspicion of DUI; no word on whether he was arrested.

Anyone with information is urged to call Riverside Detective Ken Madsen at 951/826-8723.

This is the first bicycling fatality in Southern California this year and the first in Riverside County; there were 11 cycling deaths in the county last year. Mendez is also the fifth bike rider to be killed in the City of Riverside since 2011.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for David Mendez and all his loved ones.

Thanks to Zak and West Seegmiller for the heads-up.

Update: As a comment from John McB notes, the Press-Enterprise story has been corrected to say Mendez was riding in the far right lane nearest the curb, rather than the left lane as originally reported.

The story also reports that the driver, 31-year old Christopher R. Banning was arrested at the scene on suspicion of vehicle manslaughter without gross negligence and driving under the influence. Any charges will be determined by the Riverside district attorney’s office.

Update: Fatal bike collision on Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades

The aftermath of today's fatal collision; photo by Clifford Phillips

The aftermath of today’s fatal collision; photo by Clifford Phillips

I’m still waiting on official confirmation, but the news doesn’t look good.

A tweet from West LA Traffic Division Captain Brian Adams reports that the LAPD is working a fatal traffic collision at Temescal Canyon Road and PCH in Pacific Palisades.

At the same time, I received an email from a reader who had just passed the intersection and saw a mountain bike with the rear wheel crushed, and a car stopped nearby with its windshield bashed in; the rider was nowhere to be seen.

Of course, that does not necessarily mean the rider was killed. But it sounds like prayers or good thoughts are in order.

More details as they come in.

Update: According to KCBS-2, the collision occurred around 9:15 Sunday morning when a vehicle drifted into the bike lane on Temescal Canyon and hit the rider from behind. The victim was declared dead at a local hospital, later identified as St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica; another report says he was taken to UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.

And yes, the driver remained at the scene. 

A comment from Lois below indicates the collision occurred about a quarter mile above PCH on the eastbound, uphill lane. 

Having ridden through there many times myself, that is one of the few bike lanes where I don’t feel comfortable, as many motorists drive far above the speed limit and drift from their lanes on the many curves, both up and downhill.

This is the 84th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the 36th in Los Angeles County. It is also the 16th cycling death in the City of Los Angeles since the first of the year — over three times the number of bicycling fatalities last year.

Update 2: Pacific Palisades Patch reports the victim, who has not been publicly identified, was approximately 25 to 27 years old, and was hit hard enough to throw his body up to 20 feet through the air.  

One commenter on the site said she was told by an officer at the scene that the driver had been drinking — at 9:15 am — while the writer of the Patch piece says the driver himself suggested he was texting when the collision occurred.

John Rapley; photo from The Age

James Rapley; photo from The Age

Update 3: Police officials have identified the victim at 29-year old Australian tourist James Rapley from Victoria; the driver was 19-year old Mohammed Kadri of Santa Monica.

There’s something horribly wrong when someone can’t visit this country without returning home in a coffin.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for James Rapley and his family.

Update 4: Australian publication The Age confirms a comment from a friend of the victim that Rapley was just passing through Los Angeles when he was killed.

The paper quotes his father as saying Rapley, a software developer for Groupon in Chicago, had rented a bike during an extended layover on a flight back home to Melbourne for the holidays. An experienced rider, he may have enjoyed the challenge of tackling the steep climb, even on a rental bike.

His father also confirms the report that police said the underage driver had been drinking at that early hour.

“He was the sort of kid everyone hopes to have as a son,” John Rapley said.

“I just really want to get the message out that drink driving can affect you anywhere and it’s so stupid.”

No word yet on any charges the driver may face. Let’s hope the authorities take this one seriously — especially if reports that he was texting as well turn out to be true.

I can’t overstate the tragedy that someone just passing through our city is murdered by someone too young to legally drink, let alone be on the road in that condition. 

Update 4: The Santa Monica Mirror reports Kadri was arrested on an unspecified felony charge at 10:50 am, and released on $50,000 bail Sunday night — which seems low under the circumstances.

He is scheduled to appear in Downtown Municipal Court on January 16th; we should be able to learn what charges he’ll face then. Thanks to John McBrearty for the heads-up.

Breaking news: OC DUI hit-and-run driver Juli Ann Brown gets serious jail time

It looks like a dangerous driver may be off the streets for awhile.

And for once, she didn’t have to kill someone to get the court’s attention. Just nearly kill three people in an allegedly intoxicated state.

I’m told that Juli Ann Brown, the driver who ran down three members of the Long Beach Lightening Velo bike club in a drunken hit-and-run on PCH last year, was sentenced on Friday to a total of one year in county jail, 15 years in state prison, plus fines, restitution and an 18-month alcohol offender program.

Yes, you read that right.

A total of 16 years, though what that will mean in real life remains to be seen, as she was convicted of multiple counts, and some or all of those terms may end up being served concurrently.

Brown was convicted of plowing into a group of cyclists riding in the bike lane on PCH in Seal Beach in February 2012, then fleeing the scene. Three of the riders were hospitalized with moderate to severe injuries.

Brown was arrested shortly afterwards when Huntington Beach police officers observed her damaged car swerving repeatedly, and booked on suspicion of hit-and-run, driving under the influence and possession of narcotics.

All before 10 am on a Saturday.

This is her second conviction for a DUI offense. Brown was convicted on two separate DUI counts in 2003, one for drug use and another for a blood alcohol level greater than .08. Amazingly, she was sentenced to just 10 days in jail — which as then stayed — and just 90 days of driving restriction, as well as a nine month alcohol treatment program.

This time, at least, she should do some serious jail time.

Whether it will be enough to keep her sober and off the streets once she gets out, only time will tell.

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